In 1957 when Ghana gained independence from British colonial rule to become the first independent Sub-Saharan Africa nation and spark the independence movement in Africa.
The only name on the lips of people were the men who worked for the attainment of nation hood.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first prime minister and later President continues to enjoy the poster boy status as Ghana’s liberator alongside his compatriots later turned enemies also known as the Big six who led the fight against colonialism.
Namely; Dr J.B Danquah, Ako-Adjei, Obetsebi-Lamptey, Akufo-Addo (father of Ghana’s current president, Nana Akufo-Addo) and William Ofori-Atta. These men continue even after death to enjoy a special place in the psyche of Ghana with buildings, roads, monuments and even the currency named after them.
Ghana’s historians and scribes have however failed to bring to the front the various ways Ghanaian women helped in securing independence from the British. Literature currently available seems to glorify only the men as the main actors in the attainment of independence and is really unfortunate.
For example, in the 1948 riots that led to the imprisonment of the Big Six, Ghanaian market women joined in the boycott of European goods which had been instituted by Nii Kwabena Bonnie, the Osu Alata Mantse. The Makola Women Association was one of such groups that contributed immensely to the activities of Dr. Nkrumah and the Convention’s People Party in gaining independence.
Dr. Nkrumah also gave lofty praise to Deede Ashinkinshang and Akua Shorshoorshor during his inaugural speech in 1957 for their roles in the struggle.
Women also queued up to vote in the elections and plebiscite that heralded nationhood. Wives and partners of the independence front-liners paid a heavy price for their association with these gallant men.
From keeping their secrets, providing/feeding them to taking care of their children as single parents, Ghanaian women were really the unsung shereos of the independence struggle.
In honor of Ghana Month and Women’s History Month this March, we throw the light on these 7 Ghanaian women who broke the status quo during their time and decided to take the role of the men in driving out the colonizers. Nana Yaa Asantewa, Queen mother of Ejisu will be really proud of these illustrious daughters.
Check out the 7 Sheroes of Ghana’s independence below
One of the women who cannot be forgotten when it comes to the fight for Ghana’s independence is Madam Susanna Al-Hassan. Madam Susanna was an author and politician who is credited with being the first Member of Parliament in the Northern Territory. She is also the first African woman to hold a cabinet portfolio and became the first female to be appointed a minister. Her endless activism during the colonial periods helped her rise through the ranks in politics.
Mabel Dove Danquah
Mrs Mabel was a writer and journalist who I known as the first female member of Ghana’s legislative assembly in 1954. She used her column in the times of West Africa Newspaper to urge Ghanaians not to relent in their fight for independence and also called women to take an active role in the fight against the colonizers. She is also the first woman to be elected into the African Legislative Assembly.
Sophia Oboshie Doku
She was one of the first female parliamentarians in the first parliament in the first republic of Ghana under Ghana’s first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Madam Oboshie was known to be a fierce activist for the independence of Ghana and was a role model in her community for many women who previously had been side-lined when it came to politics.
Miss Hannah Cudjoe was a women’s activist who mobilized a mammoth gathering of Ghanaians from all works of life to petition the colonial masters for the release of the big six. Her crowd gathering abilities gave her the nickname “Convention Hannah”. When many decided to give up on the Big Six after their imprisonment, Hannah did not give up and pressed on.
Gloria Amon Nikoi
Mrs.Gloria Adwoa Amon Nikoi, née Addae was the first Ghanaian woman to hold the position of Foreign minister. Both old Achimotans, Mr and Mrs Nikoi played a pivotal role in the independence struggle and her husband was made Ghana’s permanent representative to the United Nations in 1957.
Agness Oforiwa Tagoe-Quarcoopome
Unlike the aforementioned women, Agness Oforiwa Tago-Quarcoopome was a market woman. She is celebrated as a stalwart and a trailblazer in the independence struggle by people who knew her. She played a strategic role galvanizing for support for Dr Kwame Nkrumah to gain Independence for the country. Affectionately known as Auntie Oforiwa, she together with the Makola Women Association threw their weight behind Osagyefo and used her connections within the organization to generate funds for the activities of the CPP.
Theodosia Salomey Okoh
Another woman worthy of mention is the designer of the Ghana flag, Madam Theodosia Salomey Okoh. The artist and stateswoman submitted her design which was adopted as the official flag of Ghana. In an interview, she explained the rationale behind what has become a symbol of Ghanaian-ness all over the world.
“I decided on the three colors of red, gold and green because of the geography of Ghana. Ghana lies in the tropics and blessed with rich vegetation. The color Gold was influenced by the mineral rich nature of our lands and Red commemorates those who died or worked for the country’s independence. Then the five-pointed lone star which is the symbol of African emancipation and unity in the struggle against colonialism” she pointed out. She is also the first female head of the Ghana Hockey Association.
*This article was originally written by Rudolph Larnyoh, a freelance journalist with additional writing by Yaw Tollo.