Accra, June 5, 1960
I am happy to be here this afternoon to inaugurate the Convention People’s Party Students’ Union in this University College. This occasion is almost historic, because, it debunks the accusation that the Convention People’s Party is anti-intellectual and contemptuous of knowledge.
It is the view of the Convention People’s Party that knowledge is rated by the use to which it is put. The Convention People’s Party is not impressed by the mere acquisition of knowledge. It is only impressed when the knowledge acquired is applied to achieve positive and practical results for the upliftment of the people.
You who have come together to form this Union subscribe to the programme of the Convention People’s Party. You, and those that will join you, are a body of Ghanaian youth seeking knowledge in order to find truth. Your studentship of this college and your membership of our Party are not incompatible. On the contrary, they are complementary to the extent that the knowledge acquired by studentship is made relative to real issues of our country by membership of the Convention People’s Party.
To speak plainly, I must mention here that the University College of Ghana has hitherto been associated with anti-Convention People’s Party attitudes, which is the equivalent of saying that the University College is anti-government of the day. This has been rather unfortunate since that Party is not only composed of the greatest majority of our countrymen, but is also supported by a large number of Africans and people of African descent all over the world.
What we are witnessing here in this College today can be described as a double ceremony. Not only is this University College in an indirect way, bidding goodbye to its past intellectual isolationism, but it is also saying welcome to a new warm life which is being injected into its veins by the presence in its halls of the Convention People’s Party.
Talking of intellectual isolationism forces me to mention here, the unpleasant fact that some intellectuals are in danger of becoming stragglers in the national stream. They live in an ivory tower in a world of their own, escaping from reality and cutting themselves off from the practical life of the people. By so doing, they miss the glorious opportunity of identifying themselves with the political and economic aspirations of the people and so deprive themselves of the ability to link their lives with the life of Ghana.
I have always stressed the fact that our young men and women must exemplify the excellence of knowledge by the intellectual humility which academic eminence breathes. I have described as “intellectual pomposity” that arrogance which is the hall-mark of half-baked intellectualism. We are determined to take steps to ensure that, that shall no longer be the lapel-flower of the youth turned out from our national institutions of learning.
In future, I will make arrangements so that during the long vacation, students may work in the offices, shops, the fields, the farms and in other work places to enable them to gain the necessary experience of living like the ordinary people so that they may constantly identify themselves with the true life and spirit of the nation.
By observing and looking to their present leaders, both in Government and in; other walks of life, the youth of our nation can gain much to help them fashion the ideals which should guide and sustain them when their own time for leadership arrives.
It is a great opportunity for our young men and women to be able to undertake higher studies in this University College, but at the same time, it is a great responsibility for them. The ordinary people — the man and woman in the street, in the villages and in the towns expect a great deal from them by way of service to their country, and any Platonian approach which they may display to the ordinary problem of life will provoke only contempt and laughter for them and for all the knowledge they have gained.
The people of Ghana expect you, the students at this University College, to apply the knowledge you acquire here to solving such problems as may face us as a nation and to render practical service to the ordinary people — the people, in fact, who have made possible, the existence of this college and the award of the bursaries which maintain you.
This University College has a great future provided, it can shed the Don Quixote armour of unreality which has ruined so many modern institutions which have tried to live a life of self-deceit with both their head and feet in the clouds. My message to the students of this College is: “come down to earth.” There are great changes with many values taking place in our country today. The problems that these changes, bring are all clamouring loudly for solutions. It is up to this University College and our other institutions of learning to produce the right type of men and women who will stand shoulder to shoulder with their countrymen in finding the solutions to these problems.
I am confident that this University College will accept the challenge of our time and pour forth men and women whom I would call the practical intellectuals, that is to say, those who are capable of combining theory and practice, and who will use their energies in the right direction to support the national effort in accomplishing the great task before us.
The formation of our Party’s Students’ Union on this college campus is a significant sign of hope for a new orientation, and it is my belief that the same spirit and driving force which has been responsible for the success of our Party, will find dominant place in the structure of the Convention People’s Party
Students’ Union here at Legon, and will imbued the members with the same nationalistic and patriotic fervour which drove us on to achieve political independence and which is the mainstay of our determination to succeed not only in the economic and social reconstruction of our country, but also in our pursuit of a political union of African States.
Within the next six days, we shall enter into a new life and become a new people. May the Convention People’s Party Students’ Union in this University College be a beacon light for other students and so lead the way to membership of our Party, which is the greatest hope for steady progress in this country and a source of real comfort and inspiration to millions of Africans elsewhere. I congratulate all those who are connected with this Union and wish them every success, and l hope that this Students’ Union will co-operate with the Principal and Staff in building up a University worthy of this name of Ghana.
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