Tomorrow, February 28, 2022, Ghana will mark the 74th anniversary of the 28th February Christianborg Crossroads shooting incident, which led to the killing of three war veterans in the colonial era.
The landmark incident, which occurred in 1948, led to the killing of Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe and Private Odartey Lamptey.
On February 28 each year, the State holds a special ceremony at the Freedom Monument, near the Black Star Square at Osu, in Accra, in memory of the three Ghanaian World War II veterans.
The killing of the three veterans provoked a major strike and the call for an end to colonial rule – and a major precursor to the country becoming an independent State on March 6, 1957.
The celebrated World War II veterans and their allied forces in the then Gold Coast Regiment of the Royal West African Frontier Force were demanding their gratuity through street protest when they were killed.
The protest followed several appeals to the colonial government, which yielded no fruitful results.
The veterans then decided to march to the seat of the Christiansborg Castle, Accra, Gold Coast (Ghana), to present a petition to the colonial governor demanding their end of war benefits promised them.
But the peaceful protest turned deadly when they were intercepted at the crossroads — the exact location of the present “Freedom Monument” — by a contingent of armed policemen who shot and killed the three.
A British police superintendent, Imray, shot and killed the three veterans.
Imray was said to have killed the veterans after a subordinate he had ordered to do so had failed to execute the order.
The act sparked widespread uproar and condemnation, with people in Accra and other parts of the country taking to the streets and attacking European and Asian businesses and property.
Shortly after the disturbances, the leadership of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), a political organisation advocating an end to colonialism, sent a cable to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London.
In the letter, the UGCC warned that the situation would get out of control if the Colonial Government was not changed.
“…unless the Colonial Government is changed and a new Government of the people and their chiefs installed at the centre immediately, the conduct of the masses will be completely out of control with strikes threatened in Police quarters…and result in worse violent and irresponsible acts by uncontrolled people,” it said.
The protest lasted for five days and on 1st March, 1948, the Colonial Governor declared a state of emergency and put in place a new Riot Act.
Leading members of the UGCC (The Big Six), including Dr Kwame Nkrumah, were accused of orchestrating the disturbances.
They were subsequently arrested and incarcerated in remote northern parts of the country.
Dr Nkrumah later broke away from the UGCC to form the Convention People’s Party (CPP).
The CPP, through a campaign dubbed: “Positive Action,” waged a successful anti-colonial campaign and achieved an end to colonial rule and the realisation of an independent Ghana on March 6, 1957.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Ex WOI Bright Segbefia, Public Relations Officer, Veterans Administration Ghana (VAG), said the commemoration of the Christianborg Crossroads incident was an important occasion on the calendar of the Administration.
He said the ceremony did not only honour the three veterans who were killed during the 1948 protest but all veteran officers who had contributed significantly to the security and protection of the nation.
“This year, we will be honouring two veteran officers for their dedication and service to the nation. It is important to let our officers know that they will be honoured for their sacrifices to the nation,” he said.
WOI Segbefia appealed to the Government to pay critical attention to the health needs of veteran officers as way of showing appreciation for their service to the nation.
He said many retired officers suffered various health complications but had no money to treat their conditions.
“They have to rely on their pensions and that is not enough to give them the best of care,” he said.