Founders Day: Ace Anan Ankomah writes on new holidays

Ace Ankomah – Legal practitioner

Is the new, proposed Founders’ Day holiday really new?

Stick with me if you may. This might be long.

Once upon a time, Ghana had a holiday with no name and, unlike the rest of our holidays, with no disclosed historical or religious significance.

I understand that it was simply called “Bank Holiday.” That was quite anomalous. In Britain, a “bank holiday” is a day on which banks are officially closed, kept as a public holiday. In Ghana, historically, we have not had such holidays. All our holidays have some historical or religious significance. To the extent that banks do close for business in Ghana, every holiday is also a “bank holiday.” But a stand-alone bank holiday was and is quite a stranger to our legislative history.

Background: On 24 February 1966, the CPP had been overthrown. The military government of the NLC, on 6 May 1966, passed LI 509, which deleted three holidays including ‘Founder’s Day’ and introduced two new holidays in their stead: 24 February, called ‘Liberation Day’ and one simply called “the first Monday in August.” Elsewhere i have surmised that this might have been to placate Ghanaians for deleting as many as three holidays from the Nkrumah era.

But when the Progress Party (PP) took over power from the NLC on 1 October 1969, it revised the holiday list on 1 December 1969 by passing LI 649, which, among others, removed the August ‘Bank Holiday.’

Then on 3 April 1974, it got bizarrely interesting. The NRC, which had overthrown the PP, passed NRCD 253 to, among others, declare that 6 August 1974 would be the last celebration of the ‘bank holiday.’ However, and as pointed out above, the PP had earlier on removed it as a holiday in LI 649. So why the need to kill something that was already dead?

I have joked that it is only a military government that can pass a law to remove something that an earlier law had removed. But was it possible that, although the bank holiday had been formally removed as public holiday, it was still being marked or celebrated like the mythical “phoenix which can burn itself in a funeral pyre and then rise from its ashes with renewed strength and live on?” (I am borrowing from Justice Archer’s favourite imagery that he used in Ampadu v. Dadzie, Fattal v. Minister for Internal Affairs and Hammond v. Odoi.)

After writing about this in #Rants, I hadn’t paid any more heed to this evolution and phoenix-kind death of this nameless holiday. Until…

In the face of the debate after the government proposed to introduce 4th August as “Founders’ Day,” to mark the day on which the UGCC was formed in 1947, I went back to check on what day of the week 4th August 1947 fell.

It fell on a MONDAY!! First Monday of the week in August…

If, like me, you believe that there are no coincidences or happenstances in Ghana politics, just start putting two and two together. Don’t blame me if you conclude that the reason why the NRC felt the need to do a “double tap” on that nameless August Holiday was…

And if so, then this new holiday isn’t exactly new. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” a wise, ancient King of Israel once said…

Graphic Online


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