Home » How the Racial Abuse of Ghana’s 1st Finance Minister Led to U Agreeing to Finance Building of Akosombo Dam
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How the Racial Abuse of Ghana’s 1st Finance Minister Led to U Agreeing to Finance Building of Akosombo Dam

The Akosombo Dam, which produces about 85 percent of Ghana’s electricity, is arguably the most priced asset of Ghana, and one of the legacies of Ghana’s first president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

However, little is known about the story that led to Ghana getting the needed funds from the United States (US) government for the construction of the dam.

The racial abuse that was suffered by Ghana’s first Minister of Finance, Komla Gbedemah, was what led to the meeting where the US agreed to finance the construction of the Akosombo Dam.

According to a news report by face2faceafrica.com, Komla Gbedemah and his secretary went to Howard Johnson restaurant in Dover, Delaware, USA, to buy orange juice.

That was when they got the shock of their lives after the waitress told them that they could not sit inside the restaurant because “coloured people are not allowed to eat in here.”

The waitress refused to allow them to sit in the restaurant even after he showed her his identity card, introducing himself as the finance minister of Ghana. The incident led to the intervention of the manager of the restaurant, who reiterated that Gbedemah and his secretary could not sit in the restaurant because they were coloured people.

This infuriated Ghana’s first finance minister, leading him to say, “The [white] people here are of a lower social status than I am, but they can drink here, and we can’t. You can keep the orange juice and the change [from a dollar bill], but this is not the last you have heard of this”.

He went on to tell the manager that he received Richard Nixon to his home in Ghana when he, being the vice president of the USA at the time, visited the country, again wondering why he would not be allowed to eat in the restaurant with ordinary White people.

“If the vice president of the U.S. can have a meal in my house when he is in Ghana then I cannot understand why I must receive this treatment at a roadside restaurant in America,” he is reported to have said.

The US media got wind of the racial abuse suffered by Gbedemah and it became an issue of national discussion, leading to the the State Department immediately issuing an official apology and the US Ambassador to Ghana, Wilson Flake, describing it as “an exceptional and isolated incident.”

This was followed by the then US President, Dwight Eisenhower, inviting Gbedemah for a breakfast meeting at the White House where he (Eisenhower) apologised to the finance minister.

It was at this meeting that the US agreed to finance Ghana’s plan to build the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River.

Another important outcome of the meeting, the report indicated, was the Howard Johnson restaurant “changed its policy to serve whoever walked in the door.”

Source : Ghana Web