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Yeboah-Afari: The Unsung Hero Of Brong Ahafo Region
News Date: 26th January 2010
The Akans say; "Apupuo a oboo ne nsuo da asu kakyi" to wit "the pond snail that created the pond is confined to the edges of the pond" and so it came to pass that the Brong Ahafo Region celebrated the 50th anniversary of its creation and the role of politicians for one reason or the other was downplayed.
It must not be lost to anyone that the creation of districts or regions is a political act and, therefore, the role of politicians and not chiefs should have been highlighted. Highlighting the role of Chiefs sounded a
discordant note among the people.
Mr Kwame Boahen Yeboah-Afari from Berekum, the First Regional Minister (Regional Commissioner), was not given due recognition during the celebration even though he played a pivotal role in the struggle for the creation of the Brong Ahafo Region.
Mr Yeboah-Afari, whose political career spanned between 1950 -1962, laid the foundations for the infrastructural, olitical/administration,
economic and social development of the nascent Region. He cut the umbilical cord of the Region.
Even though a host of other illustrious sons and daughters of the Brong Ahafo Region in both public and civil service and in the private sector through diverse ways did contribute or have been contributing invaluably to the holistic development of the Region, the silence over the pivotal role of Mr Yeboah-Afari is too loud.
Mr Yeboah-Afari, who was born on November 13, 1920 and passed away on May 22, 1996, was a "very central figure and a bridge" between the chiefs and Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Founder of the Nation, between 1950 and April 4, 1959 when the Region was created, Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, his eldest child, told GNA.
He was an innovator, a committed and selfless politician, a tutor; principal; an administrator and an industrialist among other qualities, she said, adding that he translated his ideals, vision and passion of ensuring
the welfare of the populace and the progress of the society into reality for the benefit of Brong Ahafo in particular and Ghana in general.
According to Mr Kwabena Kyere, an Educationist and a Deputy Minister of
Education in the National Democratic Congress NDC) Government in the 1990s, Mr Yeboah-Afari was "the architect in the creation of the Region" because when the Brong Kyempem Federation (BKF), which later metamorphosed into Brong Kyempem Council (BKC) was formed, he was one of the educated elites from Brong Ahafo, who contributed immensely to that cause.
Mr Kyere explained that after his installation as the Omanhene of Dormaa in 1950, Nana Agyeman Badu I left for further studies at the Oxford University in England.
Mr Kyere said the then Techimanhene, Nana Akumfi Ameyaw III was the Initiator and Leader of the BKF/BKC but it was Nana Agyeman Badu, who
provided the intellectual input and support into the case for the regional autonomy, and so when he left Mr Yeboah-Afari filled that vacuum.
Mr Yeboah-Afari contested and won the Sunyani West Parliamentary Seat on the ticket of the Conventions People's Party (CPP) in the 1951 general election.
Mr Kyere said the new status of Mr Yeboah-Afari as the first CPP Member of the Legislative Assembly (LA) for Sunyani West officially did not only bring him closer to Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah but cemented their ties in view of the common ideas and vision they shared in the interest of the people.
This was because Mr Yeboah-Afari, who completed Abuakwa State College(ABUSCO) in 1947, had first heard the name of Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah
through a fiery article he had written in the "Ashanti Pioneer" (at present "The Pioneer") calling for a revolt against the Colonial Government.
After his sixth form at ABUSCO Mr Yeboah-Afari had the intention to sit for the Cambridge Matriculation Examination but that did not materialize.
But as fate would have it, he was persuaded to abandon that personal ambition into resurrecting the collapsed Dormaa State College (now Dormaa Senior High School) by the two Founders of the School, Teacher Oppong and
Teacher Yeboah, both from Dormaa.
The Dormaa State College was one of the premier secondary schools in Western Ashanti, the present day Brong Ahafo Region. The Founders made him the Principal of the College when the First Principal vacated his post following a threat the British Colonial Government District Commissioner
(DC) issued to him.
The DC had warned that the establishment of the College was not part of the Government's development plan. Mr Yeboah-Afari thus on January 8, 1948, started the College again with three students as "one-man-thousand". He managed it as the Principal; Teacher; Bursar and Messenger.
He laid such a strong foundation for the School that now the Dormaa Senior High School is one of the best and among the oldest schools in the country.
In view of his nationalistic outlook and his background as the son of a royal of the Dormaa Stool, Nana Yeboah-Afari II; Mr Yeboah-Afari threw his all into the survival and progress of the Dormaa State College.
As the country's struggle for independence gathered momentum, he formed a branch of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) at Dormaa Ahenkro, and was the Secretary.
Interestingly, however, that was not for political reasons but rather his determination to ensure the success of the School that led him into closer contact with Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah.
At that time Osagyefo had founded Ghana National College in Cape Coast in defiance of the Colonial Government. So when Mr Yeboah-Afari heard that Osagyefo was in Kumasi he went to meet him and told him about the College's
problems with the Colonial Government and asked him to take responsibility for it just like he had taken for Ghana National College to prevent the DC from closing it down and which Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah readily agreed to do.
Ironically, today it appears that his founding role and all the sacrifices he made have been forgotten. There is no record of him in the
School because there is no monument or landmark named after him in appreciation of his crucial contribution.
One hopes this would be a reminder to the present authorities of the School and the Dormaa Traditional Council (DTC) to make a move for a
befitting posthumous memorial for him in the institution, since this omission was a source of great pain to him.
In the interest of the people, Mr Yeboah-Afari, therefore, found himself involved in two illegal activities at the same time: Operating an
illegal institution and being a secretary of the local UGCC. No doubt he was counted among the bitter enemies of the Colonial Government
The Chief of Nsapor (a town three kilometres on the Berekum-Dormaa road), Nana Yeboah Dartey II described Mr Yeboah-Afari as "a channel and
pivot in the creation of the Brong Ahafo Region".
Nana Dartey, also Benkumhene of Berekum Traditional Area, recounted that the creation of the Region was a campaign promise and slogan of the CPP during the 1956 general election.
Mr C.S. Takyi, Member of Parliament for Wenchi East in those days, told GNA: "In the Hanzard of the Brong Ahafo Region Bill the slogan was 'vote CPP, vote independence; vote CPP, vote Brong Ahafo". This was because the CPP also found that this particular Region was backward and decided that opportunities of advancement should be given to the people there.
Nana Dartey narrated that Mr Yeboah-Afari's membership of the Legislative Assembly and his close association with Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah
provided the impetus for the Prime Minister to put his acts together by honouring that campaign promise.
Mr Yeboah-Afari was appointed the first Ghanaian (or African) Minister of Agriculture in July 1956 (he was the youngest of Nkrumah's Ministers) and later became Minister of Communications and Works in September 1956. He
helped to establish the defunct Ghana Airways Corporation and the State Transport Corporation (STC) among other institutions.
In June 1958 the CPP Government assigned him a responsibility as the Ministerial Secretary for Western Ashanti and ultimately when the Brong
Ahafo Region Act was enacted for its creation, undoubtedly one of his proudest and most cherished achievements, he was confirmed as the First Regional Commissioner (RC), 1958-1959.
A younger brother of Mr Yeboah-Afari, Dr Augustine Kwasi Addae, a Civil Engineer and Managing Director of HAG Consult, an Accra-based civil engineering consulting firm, told GNA: "The man's contribution to the development of the Region had many facets."
Dr Addae recalled that the Brong Ahafo Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) building and the Residency are all his initiatives but were completed later.
This was because he was called back to Accra to be the Chairman of Food and Nutrition Board and his successor, the late Stephen William Yeboah, RC for 1959-1963, supervised the completion of those two projects undertaken by
African Concrete Products.
Hitherto the RCC office was located in a small colonial structure at present inhabited by the regional office of the Public Records and Archives Administration (PRAAD), opposite the Sunyani Prisons Canteen.
Dr Addae said as MP, Mr Yeboah-Afari worked toward the establishment of the Sunyani Secondary School and had it inaugurated while he was the
Regional Commissioner. His administration also decided on the location of the Sunyani Airport and the Military Barracks.
He said economically, Mr Yeboah-Afari contributed greatly to the industrialization of the Region as his initiative and to some extent
financial support led to the establishment of some local industries in Sunyani.
Mr Kofi Tabri Gyansah, aged 73 who was the Mr Yeboah-Afari's official driver, told GNA that some the establishments in Sunyani included a brick and tile factory; Penkwase Bakery; Kente weaving and gold smiting by one Mr Kwame Boateng of Sunyani. Mr Boateng later became one of the best and most recognized gold smiths in the country. He supplied his jewels to the defunct
Kingsway Stores in Accra and Kumasi for sale.
Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) and a Cousin of Mr Yeboah-Afari, told GNA: "The man was in the thick of the struggle for a separate region for Brong Ahafo. That issue burnt in his soul and he was very passionate about it."
Dr Afari-Gyan described Mr Yeboah-Afari as "very industrious and enterprising, whose contribution in that sense did not help only in Brong Ahafo's economic and social development but Ghana as a whole".
For his wish to ensure economic empowerment of the people, the Volta River Estates Project in the Akosombo for the production of banana for
export among other ventures was initiated by him jointly with the late Akwamuhene, Nana Kwafo Akoto and a Dutch Agriculturist, Mr Van der Laan, to create job opportunities for the youth in the area, the EC Chairman cited.
Indeed Mr Yeboah-Afari lived and realized his vision and mission of achieving the best to advance the cause of the masses. He has left behind footprints in the annals of Brong Ahafo, which unleashed and accelerated the Region's rapid progress and development.
"Although he died without earning the title of a 'millionaire', many of his plans succeeded, notable among them was his dream of pioneering the cultivation and export of bananas in Ghana.
He distinguished himself as a man much more committed to his schemes, a particular quality that is worthy of emulation by today's generation.
Mr Yeboah-Afari by all intents and purposes deserved a platinum award and not a silver award at the Brong-Ahafo 50th anniversary celebrations.
By Nana Osei Kyeretwie