Scores of Ghanaians from all walks of life have paid glowing tributes to three heroes for their exceptional contributions towards the development of the broad progressive movement in Ghana.
They are Comrade Kwame Wiafe, a founding member of the Popular Party for Democracy and Development (PPDD) and the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Comrade Kofi Duku, Secretary to Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Lt. Owusu Gyimah (rtd), National Vice Chairman of the Kwame Revolutionary Guards (KNRG) and a founding member of the Movement for Freedom and Justice.
The three distinguished personalities are the first recipients of the Black Star Excellence Award instituted by the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG).
Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr of the Socialist Forum described Kwame Wiafe as an old student of the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute and as one of the people who were being prepared toassist in the transformation of the Convention Peoples Party as a nationalist party into a socialist party.
Mr Pratt revealed that Mr Kofi Duku was a young gentleman who worked in the ranks of the Convention Peoples Party and played very active roles in mobilizing the people for independence and eventually became thepersonal secretary of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
Mr Kofi Duku was also involved in the formation of the Peoples National Party which won general elections in 1979 and was closely associated with the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards.
Mr Pratt said Lt Owusu Gyimah along with Professor Adu Boahen, Dan Lartey, Kwame Wiafe, Akoto Ampaw, John Ndebugre and others founded the broad coalition of democratic forces which became the umbrella organization leading the campaign for the restoration of the constitutional order, the Movement for Freedom and Justice (MFJ).
A citation read by Mr John Yaw Opoku and presented by Ambassador Ibrahim Omar, former Palestinian Ambassador to Ghana, acknowledged Comrade Kwame Wiafe as an exceptional student of the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute who supported the decolonization process throughout Africa and organized protests against the apartheid regime in South Africa.
It also said that Comrade Kwame Wiafe has over many years “exhibited exceptional courage and participated in efforts of the people of Ghana to break free from the shackles of poverty, ignorance, disease and all manifestations of under development.”
According to Mr Opoku, Comrade Wiafe has given hope to the masses by pointing to the possibility of building a new world in which oppression and exploitation would be banished for good under the banner of Socialism.
The citation also recognized Comrade Wiafe as a loyal member of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) who continued to hold aloft the banner of Nkrumaism even after the CIA sponsored coup of February 24, 1966 in the German Democratic Republic, the United Kingdom and Ghana.
In a brief remark, 82 year old Kwame Wiafe recounted that Ghana would have been a better place if one of the numerous political organizations he and others founded had succeeded.
“In our old age and in our dying days, we look at the past with a great deal of dissatisfaction because we could have done much better. We may have underestimated the power of the imperialist forces and that is one of the factors which have led us to our present situation.
“ I look back and feel very dissatisfied that today’s Ghana is not exactly what was intended. There is so much failure. What was meant to be a strong nation has today degenerated into factions and ethnic cabals full of vociferous tendencies. But all is not lost if comrades and friends I have worked with believe that in spite of all these failures we have achieved something, then I think we have and I like to thank them all for even conceiving the idea of honouring us for what we regard as a failure of our lives” he said.
The citation read by Ex. Sergeant Alolga Akatapore and conferred on Lt Owusu Gyimah on the behalf of the Socialist Forum of Ghana expressed full appreciation for his courageous and dedicated service for the development of the broad progressive movement in Ghana.
According to the citation, as a young military officer, Lt Gyimah was closely associated with organs of the Convention Peoples Party and keenly expressed solidarity with the national liberation movements in Africa and fully dedicated himself to the building of the newly independent state of Ghana under the broad banner of socialism.
It said that in 1967 Lt. Owusu Gyimah took it upon himself to reverse the February 24, 1966 reactionary coup sponsored by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States of America and as a consequence of this attempt he was arrested, tried and sentenced to death and spent five long years in the condemned cells of the Medium Security Prison at Nsawam.
Lt Owusu Gyimah also became the 3rd National Vice Chairman of the Kwame Nkrumah Revolutionary Guards (KNRG) which focused its attention on the revival of the Nkrumaist Movement in Ghana and worked vigorously for the alliance of the KNRG with the African Youth command, the New Democratic Movement and the United Revolutionary Front as a vehicle for the campaign for the restoration of constitutional rule.
According to the citation by 1992, the MFJ had become the pivot around which other organizations such as the Ex.Servicemen’s Association, the Kwame Nkrumah Welfare Society, the Asante Youth Association and others congregated into the Co-ordinating Committee of Democratic Forces (CCDF).
Lt. Owusu Gyimah was arrested and detained for participating in a poster campaign calling for an end to what he saw as military rule. He has since been an active member of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) a serving member of the National Council of Elders and a close associate of the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG).
Justice Kofi Henaku, Secretary of the Socialist Forum of Ghana in a citation presented to Madam Bernice Duku daughter of Comrade Kofi Duku, hailed him for his gallant role in the formation of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) as a young activist and participation in the struggles of the peoples of the then Gold Coast for national independence under the leadership of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a Pan Africanist and one of the foremost inspirers of the national liberation movement.
Mr Henaku noted that, by dint of hard work, Kofi Duku rose to become the personal secretary of Kwame Nkrumah and worked closely with him in the days of the reconstruction of Ghana when the CPP was being transformed from a nationalist movement into a socialist vanguard party.
According to the citation, it was in this period that more than 400 factories were built to produce to meet the needs of the Ghanaian people and enrollment in primary schools increased from 102,138 to 1,137,495 by 1996.
Enrollment in assisted secondary schools also increased from 2,776 to 267,434 by 1996. Medical services were extended throughout the country with the building of regional hospitals. The entire system of communication was improved through the construction of telephone and telegraphic lines. A new port was built in Tema and Tarkoradi harbor was extended.
Comrade Kofi Duku and many others including Comrade Johny F.S Hansen, Dr Lutherodt and Alhaji Imoro Aryana refused to give up after the coup of February 1966 and continued to courageously work for the revival of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) and founded the Peoples National Party which won the 1979 elections.
Kofi Duku was also instrumental in the formation of the Kwame Nkrumah Welfare Society (KNWS), the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation (KNF) and became secretary to both organizations with the veteran Comrade Kojo Botsio as chairperson.
The citation was presented by Alhaji Huudu Yahaya, a member of the Socialist Forum of Ghana and received by Madam Bernice Duku, daughter of Comrade Kofi Duku.
The Black Star Excellence Awards was graced by the National Chairman of the Convention Peoples Party, Professor Edmund Delle, President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Paa Kwesi Adu and Madam Irene Tagoe, daughter-in-law of Professor Albert Adu Boahen.
Others were the acting Ambassador of Cuba, The Ambassador of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Ambassador of the State of Palestine and Acting Algerian Ambassador.
Rocky Dawuni, a Ghanaian singer and songwriter who performs in the reggae genre and lives in Los Angeles and former ambassador of the state of Palestine, His Excellency Mr Ibrahim Omar were also present.