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How disagreements between Nkrumah, Ashanti chiefs led to the establishment of CMB scholarships

Yaw Anokye Frimpong, a lawyer and historian, has narrated the circumstances that led to the establishment of the popular Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) Scholarships by Ghana’s first President, the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Speaking in an interview with journalist Kafui Dey, Anokye Frimpong indicated that a disagreement between Ashanti chiefs and the late Dr Nkrumah led to the establishment of the scholarship scheme.

According to him, the chiefs, led by the then Asantehene, were not happy with Nkrumah using almost all of the proceeds for the country’s sale of cocoa beans for development projects across the country while giving cocoa farmers, who are mostly from the Ashanti Region, meagre monies.

He said that Ghana’s first president then came up with the Cocoa Marketing Board Scholarships to appease the Asantehene and the Ashanti chiefs who were hounding him for a fair share of the cocoa proceeds.

“He (Nkrumah) made it very clear to the farmers that ‘this is the nation we are building, and so we have to help the children come up with unbridled education. And then we have to create so many industries, and as soon as they come out of school, they will have work to do. And that means that the cocoa farmers will have to sacrifice more.”

“Upon hearing this… the Ashanti Region, which was made up of today’s Ahafo Region, Bono Region and then metropolitan Ashanti… the leading producer region of cocoa, led by the Asantehene himself, sent his own linguist, Baffour Akoto and other people like RR Amponsah to the Flagstaff House to talk to Kwame Nkrumah,” he narrated.

He added, “What they wanted was that they were the producers of cocoa and farmers (hired labourers) were being paid. Even though they came from the north and other parts of the country, like the Volta Region, they were being paid all right. Nobody was cheating them… and the little that the cocoa farmer (producers) would get at the end of the day, Kwame Nkrumah, ‘you are telling us that you are using it to develop the country, including scholarships for the northern people, who have already been paid and putting up schools everywhere. So, we believe that you have to rather split it’.”

The historian indicated that during the 3rd visit of the Asantehene’s delegation, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah threatened to lock up the chiefs and other members of the delegation.

He said that Kwame Nkrumah said he was not going to give them more money because they were going to use it to marry more women, and he rather decided to set up the scholarship scheme so that children of the cocoa farmers could get some education.

“On the third occasion, Nkrumah told them that ‘if you dare come again, I will send all of you to Nsawam prison because I’ve given my reasons already’.

“And one of the reasons he gave them was that ‘in place of putting money into the hands of the farmer, I have decided to create a Cocoa Marketing Board Scholarship for every parent whose ward will be able to produce evidence that his father is a cocoa farmer.

“The moment you show it to the headmaster, you will be given a CMB scholarship. And the reason why I’m doing this is that I know the farmers because my parents were farmers. And I see what farmers do the moment they get plenty of money, they marry more women, and they don’t think about the education of their children. I want you to think about the education of your children.

“So, I am retaining the money that should have gone to you in order to educate your children for you so that when they grow up, you have people like me, you have lawyers, doctors, teachers, nurses, engineers, accountants, everything’,” he detailed.

Anokye Frimpong said that the Ashanti chiefs were not happy about Nkrumah’s remarks and went back to report that he had insulted them.

Watch the interview below:

About Elvis Anokye

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