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The Riots of 28th February 1948

Hector Pieterson

The innocent boy's life was cut short

The Riot of the 28th February 1948

The Riot of the 28th February 1948 is a significant event in Ghana's history, marking a crucial step in the country's journey towards independence from British colonial rule. The roots of this riot lay in the widespread social and economic discontent that had been brewing in the Gold Coast, particularly among World War II veterans who felt neglected and underappreciated after their service.


In the years following the war, these veterans returned to a country plagued by unemployment, inflation, and inadequate social services. They had risked their lives fighting for the British Empire and expected fair compensation and recognition upon their return. However, the colonial administration largely ignored their demands, leading to growing frustration and anger.


On February 28, 1948, a group of these disillusioned veterans decided to take action. Led by Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, and Private Odartey Lamptey, they organized a peaceful march towards Christiansborg Castle in Accra, the seat of the colonial government. Their intention was to present a petition to the British governor, Sir Gerald Creasy, demanding better post-war benefits and equal treatment.


As the veterans neared the castle, tensions escalated. The colonial police, nervous about the potential for unrest, intercepted the marchers. In the confusion that followed, shots were fired, and Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, and Private Odartey Lamptey were killed. News of the killings spread rapidly, igniting widespread outrage and leading to riots across Accra and other parts of the Gold Coast.


The violence that ensued saw clashes between the local population and the colonial authorities. Shops were looted, buildings were burned, and many people were injured or killed. The colonial government responded with a heavy hand, imposing curfews and deploying troops to restore order. However, the seeds of dissent had already been sown.


The Riot of the 28th February 1948 had far-reaching effects. It galvanized the nationalist movement in the Gold Coast, with leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) gaining prominence. The riots highlighted the urgent need for change and intensified demands for self-governance. In the aftermath, the British government established the Coussey Committee to investigate the causes of the unrest and recommend constitutional reforms.


This incident is often seen as a catalyst for the broader independence movement that eventually led to Ghana becoming the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence on March 6, 1957. Today, the events of February 28, 1948, are remembered as a turning point in Ghana's struggle for freedom and justice.


Recent discussions and commemorations of the riot reflect its lasting impact on Ghanaian society. The sacrifices of Sergeant Adjetey, Corporal Attipoe, and Private Odartey Lamptey are honored annually, and their legacy continues to inspire contemporary movements for social justice and equality in Ghana and beyond. The site of the march near Christiansborg Castle has become a symbol of resilience and the enduring spirit of those who fought for Ghana's independence.


References

1. Ghana's struggle for independence

https://www.britannica.com/place/Ghana/The-struggle-for-independence

2. The 28th February Crossroads shooting incident

https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/The-28th-February-Crossroads-shooting-incident-726244

3. World War II veterans in Ghana

https://www.theghanareport.com/the-history-of-wwii-veterans-in-ghana

4. Ghana's independence and the legacy of the 1948 riots

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/ghana-70-years-commemorating-1948-riots-180228110854181.html

5.The Coussey Committee Report

https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/the-coussey-committee-report-1949/

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