Dr. J. B. Danquah dies February 4th 1965

57 years ago, today, on February 4th 1965, Dr. J. B. Danquah – Dr Joseph Kwame Kyeretwie Boakye Danquah-died of a heart attack whilst in detention at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, for trumped-up charges of subversion, for which he was never tried.

That morning, Danquah came from the bath to discover his cell had been searched and turned upside down for the umpteenth time. As he berated the warders on duty, he suddenly collapsed and died, apparently of a heart attack.

Fortunately, the gory details of his arrest and treatment in Nsawam Prison till his death have been recorded for posterity in a white paper – Dr. J. B. Danquah: detention and death in Nsawam Prison: extracts from evidence of witnesses at the Commission of Enquiry into Ghana Prisons

The details in this White Paper show that he was fed for several months a Flagstaff House proscribed diet of gari, water and salt; he was chained on many occasions; he was refused medical attention even though he was suffering from hypertension and bronchial asthma; he was housed in the Condemned Cell intended for the most hardened of criminals; he was refused books and other reading material and he was only allowed 15 minutes exercise occasionally.

On his arrest, Danquah’s clothes, shoes and underwear were exchanged for a 4ft wide piece of cloth that reached only his knees and for 9 months, his bed was the hard, concrete floor.

His sad death was not enough for the powers that were. President Kwame Nkrumah decreed at his death that:

He was to be buried within 12 hours.

He was not to be laid in State.

No funeral could be held.

No crying was allowed.

No drums were to be beaten to mourn him.

Today, 57 years on, I mourn a man whose research gave our country its name-Ghana. Today, I mourn a man whose legacy lives in through the New Patriotic Party, a formidable force in Ghanaian politics today.

Today, I mourn the man who established the Gold Coast’s first daily newspaper –The Times of West Africa. Today I mourn the first Editor of the Ghana Law Reports.  Today, I mourn a man of academic excellence.

Today I mourn a Statesman, Selfless Politician, Legislator, Philosopher, Poet, Lawyer, Journalist, Theologian, Historian, Chief, Playwright and Prolific Letter Writer and Author.

May his soul rest in perfect peace.

Odehye, nante yie.

 Kwame Kyeretwie,duei ne amanehunu.

Dr J.B. Danquah, damirifa duei! duei! Duei! 

Abyna-Madame Adjei

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