Nii Kwabena Bonney: The famous Ga chief who masterminded the boycott of European goods in 1948

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Nii Kwabena Bonnie III, is a famous Osu Alata Mantse who orchestrated the 1948 boycott of European goods by Gold Coasters, hugely contributing to the fight for Ghana’s independence.

Born in 1890, he was a traditional leader of Osu Alata Mantse and Oyokohene of Techiman of the then Gold Coast.

Nii Kwabena Bonnie III, a renowned businessman at the time, formed an anti-inflation Committee in Accra in 1947 to protest against inflated goods and rallied other traditional leaders across the then Gold Coast to boycott their territories.

Before the boycott, Nii Bonnie issued a letter, giving an ultimatum to the European firms to reduce their prices by January 24, 1948.

In a letter to the United Africa Company (UAC), a subsidiary of the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever, Nii Bonnie notified that failure for them to reduce the prices will led to a strike.

However, the Europeans failed to adhere to the directive and ignored the ultimatum, the local people then began on January 26, 1948.

Some of the products s boycotted by the local people were cotton prints, tinned meat, and flour biscuits among others.

Due to the impact of the boycott, the colonial leaders and representatives of the merchants meet with Nii Bonnie and other traditional leaders to agree on a price reduction. They reduced their prices form a 75 per cent margin to 50 percent.

The campaign to boycott European goods led to the 1948 riots and set the tone for the 1949-1951 campaign for independence.

According to reports, on the last day of the boycott (28th February 1948), some colonial ex-servicemen began a march to then-British Colonial Governor and Commander-in-Chief Sir Gerald Hallen Creasy, at the Christiansburg Castle, Osu, to present him with a petition, but the police opened fire on them, which led to series of riots and loot by the people in response to the police brutality.

The boycott and its subsequent riots served as ‘the bridge’ for Dr Kwame Nkrumah to cross to reach his ‘Independence goal’ for Ghana.

Aside from his successful anti-inflation campaign which sparked mass action for self-governance, Nii Kwabena Bonnie III became the first Gold Coaster to earn the British Royal Couple’s invitation to tour Buckingham Palace in February 1925 and in 1946.

After Gold Coast had its 1950 Constitution based on which the very first general election was held in 1951, Nii Bonnie was appointed a member of the Legislative Assembly elected in 1951.

A street (Nii Kwabena Bonnie Crescent) in Dzorwulu, Accra was named after him.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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