It was he who started the now
established international - then “inter-colonial" - competitions
Nigeria and the Gold Coast which were later adopted between Sierra
Leone and the Gambia. In the course of that process he provided every
single bit of equipment, including flannel trousers and cricket boots,
for upwards of fifty active players.
His residence, the great Tutu House at Tudu, Accra, was
for more than a
generation the meeting place of many sportsmen in West Africa; and the
annual Tudu Tennis Tournament, played on his fine courts as the first
of its kind, was famous. Frans Dove and his brothers Silas, Arthur1,
Horace at some time or other represented the Gold Coast at cricket
and/or tennis against Nigeria, he himself playing a vigorous game of
tennis almost until his death at the age of eighty.
Although all the brothers were excellent at both tennis
Arthur (Dr. A. F. Renner Dove) was the star player without a doubt and
captained Gold Coast teams in both games, being a powerful, fast bowler
and one of the most attractive stroke-makers in tennis ever seen in
action in West Africa, to say nothing of his tremendous cannon-ball
service. Arthur did his bit, too, for Gold Coast sports’ promotion by
organizing tennis clubs wherever he was posted in his Government
medical career. He also was generous and contributed in other ways to
the total advancement of the country.2
In addition to the above record, Frans Dove gave to modern
first woman journalist of note, as well as first woman central
legislator, Miss Mabel Dove, formerly the wife of Dr. J. B. Danquah.
Half Sierra Leonean and half Ga (the mother comes from Christiansborg,
Accra), Mabel was first sent by her father to school in Freetown and
then to England to finish. She came back in the early 1920s a beautiful
and accomplished girl who could sing and play the piano. After some
years in Freetown she returned to the Gold Coast, developed into a
newspaper columnist and short-story writer, later married Dr. J. B.
Danquah and had one son by him, and finally entered into politics as a
C.P.P. Party member. She was elected into the Assembly in 1954.
1The Red Book of West Africa,
section on the Gold Coast.
2 The author of this article, for instance, gratefully
own personal debt to Arthur Dove for his secondary education at the
Grammar School and his nine-year stay in Sierra Leone—in short, for his
whole start in life.
For some time Miss Dove was the mystery writer of a column in Dr.
Danquah’s daily paper The West
African Times, later The
Times of West
Africa. She had caught her fire partly from her editor and
the general tone and temper of the stormy 1930s, giving, in her
Mensah” column, the piquant sauce to the solid meat of Danquah and of a
man called Kenneth MacNeill Stewart. But most of the time she was busy
making a running commentary on men, women, matters, and manners, with a
wicked gleam in the eye of her pen:-
“Romance! Isn’t there magic in the very sound. We women adore romance,
we love it. A delightful young man the other day accused
me of being romantic. I wonder if a hardworking woman like myself could
in any way be called romantic. I doubt it. Of course, if my young
meant that I do not care for the prosy side of life, he is right in his
surmise. The commonplace always leaves one a little cold; the daily
trivial task has a sweet charm all its own [but] with what a throb of
hail the unexpected. There is a divine ecstasy in romance. . . . That
when we find men so interesting. . . . How gorgeous a man appears in
those first glamorous weeks of friendship! We find him the most gentle
and chivalrous of knights. There is an enchantment in his very eyes and
we abandon ourselves to sheer happiness. To us poor, deluded women he
is romance incarnate, romance descending from the heights, and we revel
in the intoxicating glamour of the moment. We walk arm-in-arm under the
silver stars and watch the Southern Cross with all the fervour of the
astronomer. The Milky Way appears to our imagination dazzling lights
of riotous colour....Then to be together is to forget time and space. .
. . And yet what a
prosy being a man becomes when he enters into possession. His tender
words become curt, raucous raps which leave us a little bored; . . .
and we yawn our way into Prosy Street and forget romance. Men kill
romance; they chase phantoms and pursue shadows, whilst romance sits
unseen besides their very selves. . ."
Later there was a hilarious court action between MacNeil
The Times, involving, among other disputes, the question of the
copyright in the name “Marjorie Mensah". Stewart, who conducted his
own case, was quoting and citing certain legal dicta with puzzling
facility and ostensibly confusing everybody. Finally, challenged by the
Court, he produced his great authority, in the
form of Everybody’s Pocket
Lawyer—which promptly dissolved that
august chamber into helpless mirth. . . Miss Dove’s literary talent was
also expressed in imaginative writing: short stories and dream phantasy
narratives, among other things, appeared now and again in her Ladies’
Column or Woman’s Corner.
Sierra Leone’s gift to the Gold Coast Press can be
by one more outstanding example, in the person of George J.
Peregrino-Peters, or Kobina Peters as he was popularly known. Peters
was the eldest child of a Christiansborg mother and Chief Dispenser
Peters, one of our involuntary “Creole” expatriate settlers already
mentioned above. “Pa” Peters sent his boy to school in Freetown; so did
many other parents “down the coast” in those days (especially the
Sierra Leoneans themselves), as will be shown presently.
George attended the C.M.S. Grammar School and then went on
at Fourah Bay. And when brilliant young George Peters returned to Accra
in the early 1920s sporting his Durham B.A. he was one of just a few, a
happy few, a band of brothers who, though they could not have been at
Agincourt on St. Crispin’s Day, had come back home with something to
glory about just the same, leaving the gentlemen then abed on gold-dust
with nothing to raise their glasses to. To make the picture of exotic
glamour complete, Peters always turned himself out immaculately creased
and polished from head to foot, which he could do in the unbelievable
time of four or five minutes—how, very few people ever found out.
After trying his hand at teaching and a few other things,
turned journalist and spent most of the rest of his working life as a
senior editor of the second Gold
Coast Independent. He was a ponderous but trenchant writer of
editorials and special columns, after
the fashion of the times. But he often fell victim, like so many in
West Africa, to that kind of polemical exercise so characteristic of a
young and inexperienced Press still going through the inevitable period
of personal journalism. The intermittent, mud-slinging Press- wars of
this period in (British) West Africa was also a painful sign of the
times and a call to the reflective to reflect upon the nature and
problem of social waste.
Apart from these regrettable tendencies, of which he held no monopoly
by any means, Peters was sharp as mustard, an able analyst of
political and social trends, and a fierce lance-tilter against
oppressive or foolish Colonial policy. The following passage shows
his style at its almost vehement best. It appeared at the end of his
review of the Opobo Riots incident in Eastern Nigeria in December,
1929, when the military were ordered to open fire on the rioting women,
of whom a large number were shot down dead :—
“We confess that the
whole situation is unconscionable and we cannot be restrained from
branding the Nigerian Government with
ignominy, for which the Administration must make adequate amends. It is
a case which will bring about loss of public confidence on the part of
the governed in the Head of the Adininistration, who ought to advise
himself as to the desirability of his continuing in office, in looking
over [sic] the destinies and
interests of a people whose faith and
confidence have been alienated. These enormities cry aloud for redress
and we look forward to the British Public to vindicate the dignity and
prestige of Great Britain from the sully which has attached itself to
its. . . reputation as the outcome of the reckless, tyrannical, and
most diabolical acts of the Nigerian Government.”1
The last name to be mentioned here as that of a Sierra Leonean with a
place in the recent Press history of Ghana is I. T. A. Wallace Johnson,
of Wilberforce, Freetown, for some years now a member of the Sierra
Leone Legislative Council but at the time a sojourner in Ghana. Wallace
Johnson, a former labour leader, organizer, pamphleteer, and “sworn
enemy of imperialism and colonialism in any and all their forms", was
in those days in the Gold Coast very much a part of the political
ferment. He was then leading a Youth Conference, lecturing, and writing
searing free-lance articles against colonial governments everywhere.
One such article, “Has the African a God?” was published in May, 1936,
in the African Morning Post;
it made that year’s cause célèbre
the court action brought against Azikiwe, as editor, and Wallace
Johnson, as writer, under the new Criminal Code (Amendment) Ordinance,
1934. Both men were convicted after several days’ trial, but on appeal
Frans Dove2 had Azikiwe acquitted in ten or fifteen minutes.
Johnson stayed on a little longer, then returned home to Sierra Leone,
to which he carried a much-needed breath of political fresh air at the
time. And here, in the words of Mr. Siaka Stevens,
1 The Gold Coast Independent 25th
January, 1930, pp. 112—13.
2 See above.
Wallace Johiison had the people of Sierra Leone “in the palm of his
hand” and could have done anything with them.1
This fragment of history must include, in brief detail,
the last but
not least significant kind of benefit that Ghana has derived from
Sierra Leone, especially in the long years between 1845 and 1927. These
two particular dates are chosen because they each mark an important
turning point in the educational history of West Africa. For in 1845
the Church Missionary Society of England built the Grammar School in
Freetown, the first of its kind; and in 19272 the Gold
Coast’s own Sir
Gordon Guggisberg brought his great dream for education in that country
into reality with the opening of Achimota School, also the first of its
kind in West, indeed in all, Africa.
The fact of their pride of place is not, however, the
significance but merely the point of departure in this story. In short,
the C.M.S. Grammar School (and thirty years later the Wesleyan Boys’
High School) opened the door of secondary education to succeeding
generations of Gold Coast boys while, eighty-three long years later,
Achimota, so to speak, closed it. This it did by pro viding a splendid
local alternative. But in truth the pilgrimage of “coasters” to
Freetown for education never really stopped; Achimota merely and
suddenly reduced its size by decisive degree.3
By 1940 the pilgrimage was just a lone walk or two and
difference. But before 1930 it was the means of grace and the hope of
glory for the Gambia, the Gold Coast, Liberia, and, though to a much
lesser extent, Nigeria. In the fifty-odd years before Achimota almost
everybody who was anybody in the first three countries above was a
product of the rivalry for excellence between the C.M.S, Grammar
School and the Wesleyan Boys’ High School, or simply “Grammar School
and High School", as they came almost inseparably to be mentioned.
From this opportunity came many of Ghana’s rich crop of modern leaders,
names which were glitter-points even twenty years ago. Some went to
school, some to college,
1During a debate on a
motion by Johnson in the February, 1957, meeting
of Legco. This debate, at which the writer was present, was not the
most elevating ever heard in a national legislature.
2 See Aggrey of Africa,
by Edwin W. Smith, London, S.C.M., 1929, p. 288.
3 Coincidentally enough a new phase is now current in which
Fourah Bay College is once
more educating many “ coasters” who cannot find room in their own
some to both: Attoh Ahuma, Caseley Hayford, Hutton-Mills, C. E.
K. A. Korsah, Hesse, Dowuona, Cochrane, Sampson, Efoulkes Crabbe,
Halm-Addo, Konuah, Alema, Awuletey....1
The debt of Ghana to Sierra Leone cannot possibly be
repaid. Nor that
of Nigeria; nor that of little Gambia, with her Forsters, Oldfields,
N’jais, Mahoneys, Joneses, and the rest; nor that of Liberia in this
century, for whom the Grammar School alone turned out many of her
present leading young citizens: the Howards, the Robertses, Coopers,
Johnsons, Shearmans, and many more.
1 Thomas Hutton-Mills was the patriarch of the large
family of Ghana, blood relations of the Bannermans and Bruces. . . . K.
A. Korsah is Sir Arku Korsah, who has risen to the highest positions of
any West African, ending with Chief Justice of the new Ghana and first
African acting Governor-General.... Dr. C. E. Reindorf is the son of
the late, great Reverend C. C. Reindorf, pioneer historian of Ghana.
Dr. Reindorf is a distinguished Elder of the Ga State and, at this
writing, West Africa’s oldest practising doctor.