CHIEF S.D. DOMBO -A TRUE NATIONAL ICON
The political history of Ghana cannot be written without mentioning the contribution of Chief Simon Diedong Dombo. He was Duori Naa from April 17, 1949, to March 19, 1998. Before venturing into mainstream party politics, he was elected to the 1951 Legislative Assembly.
Chief Dombo was a prominent and highly respected traditional ruler. He was reputed to be one of the few educated chiefs in the Northern Territories. He was politically active and played a pivotal role in the formation of the Northern People’s Party. The Northern People’s Party (NPP) was formed in 1954 and inaugurated on the 15thof April the same year in Tamale. The national executive of the party was drawn for the protectorate. This included S.D.Dombo, Duori Naa; Yakubu Tali Tolon Naa, an important Dagomba chief; J.A. Braimah, an influential Gonja royal; Mumuni Bawumia, State secretary and advisor to Nayiri ( Paramount chief of the Mamprusi); B.K Adama and Jatoe Kaleo from the Wa Kingdom; Adam Amandi from the north-east Kusasi area. The party’s first officers were:
· Chairman, Duori Naa Simon Diedong Dombo;
· Vice Chairman, Mumuni Bawumia;
· General Secretary, F Darimanu;
· Propaganda Secretary, Imoru Salifu.
The NPP was formed to ensure:
i. (a) that there is respect for the culture of the people of Northern Territories
(b) their political and social development
(c) their just treatment
ii . A progressively increasing share in the administrative and other services of the
iii. to take all steps to see that only people who have the interest of the protectorate at heart represent them in the Legislative Assembly. It must be noted that until 1901 when the Northern Territories became a protectorate, the colonial government did not include or consider the area to be part of the colony. People of the northern territories were at best “hewers of wood and drawers of water”.
The Northern People’s Party was the brainchild of the chiefs and the educated young men from the Northern Territories. As a result of this, the leaders were able to make use of local divisions and ambitions and then took advantages derived from an intimate knowledge of the balance of forces in the various chiefdoms in the protectorate. The leaders adopted all the elements that make up a mass party: a flag and a slogan “United We Stand”, the use of party vans, sale of membership cards and holding of massive rallies. The party had a clenched right fist in black on a white background as its symbol. At the time of the formation of the NPP, the Northern Territories was divided into the north (Dagombas, Gonjas, Nanumbas), the north-east (Mamprusis, Frafras, Kassenas and Builsas) and the north-west (Waala, Dagaaba, Lobi and Sissala). Of these three political areas, the north-west had the most active NPP leadership which included Simon Diedong Dombo, Kpegla Adama, Jatoe Kaleo, Abayefaa Karbo, Mumuni Dimbie, Alhassan Bin Salih and many others. The CPP was very weak in this area. The only strong CPP member from the north-west was Imoro Egala, but he was soon thrown out by NPP elements in Tumu.
The 1954 election revealed that the CPP was indeed a national party. The other parties at best could be described as regional, tribal or religious-based parties.
As a result, the Northern People’s Party (NPP), the National Liberation Movement (NLM), the Muslim Association Party (MAP), the Togoland Congress (TC), the Anlo Youth Organisation (AYO), and the Ga Shifimo Kpee merged as the United Party under the leadership of J. B. Danquah, S.D.Dombo, K. A. Busia and other opposition figures. The UP was inaugurated on the 3rd of November 1957 at Bukuom Square, Accra. With 15 seats from the Northern People’s Party (NPP), against 12 from the National Liberation Movement (NLM) after the 1956 Legislative Assembly election, Chief S.D. Dombo could have been the leader of the UP tradition in 1969, but he selflessly passed it on to Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia. Chief Dombo, was the Chief of Duori in the Jirapa Municipal of the Upper West Region of Ghana.
In 1969 the United Party transmogrified into the Dr Busia led the Progress Party (PP). The party recorded a resounding victory in the 1969 election with Dr Busia becoming the Prime Minister and Mr Edward Akuffo-Addo as the ceremonial President. It was during Dr Busia’s tenure that S.D.Dombo, Jatoe Kaleo and B.K.Adama all became Ministers of State.
Based on the contribution of Chief Dombo, it came as a great source of relief to some members of UP tradition when the party decided to add the name of Chief Dombo to those of Danquah and Busia. Hence it was on the occasion of the celebration of the 17th anniversary of the formation of the NPP in 2009 that the party’s tradition was renamed Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition. This correction was long overdue considering the role Chief S.D. Dombo played in the formation and sustenance of this political tradition. In that regard, we need to commend the Peter Mac Manu led administration for heeding to the calls for the inclusion of the name of Chief Dombo. The following individuals played a crucial role in the request for the correction to be made: the late Alhaji Alhassan Bin Salih, C.K. Tedam , Haruna Esseku and many others. I first caught the attention of the then National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party Mr Mac Manu when I spoke in support of the addition of the name of Chief Dombo to those of Danquah and Busia. I recall vividly that at one of such meetings at the NPP headquarters, the atmosphere was so tensed and charged that President Kuffour had to call on Mr Haruna Esseku to narrate the history of the UP tradition to attendees, this was because some people were also clamouring for the inclusion of the names of other stalwarts.
It is refreshing to note that the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party John Buadu has stated that the party shall use today’s launching of the S. D. Dombo foundation for development and leadership to immortalise Chief S. Dombo. I hope that other activities shall be organised in the Upper West Region to inform today’s generation about the values on which Chief S.D.Dombo stood for and cherished.
It would be recalled that at the commissioning of the Upper West Regional secretariat of the NPP on May 20, 2015, by the then Presidential Running mate Dr Bawumia, the building was christened the Dombo centre by the late Alhaji Bin Salih in memory of the contribution of Chief S.D.Dombo. My father Chief S.D.Dombo was a nationalist and a patriot, his legacy shall live forever. We shall continue to celebrate the life of Chief S. D. Dombo because we are proud of his accomplishments. Chief S.D. Dombo has a pride of place in the history of Ghana.
It is my prayer that our forebears would be given their rightful place in the history of the Danquah-Dombo-Busia tradition.
Dr Hafiz Bin Salih
Member, National Council
New Patriotic Party