Meet the 1st Minister of Finance & Minister of Health of Ghana who led in the building of Akosombo Dam


It is an indisputable fact that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and other members of the ‘Big Six’ were very instrumental in attaining the country’s independence, however, there were other equally significant individuals whose contributions in that great course need some commendations and recognition.

For me, it was ‘that powerful teamwork’ that led to their success in that regard.

Amidst certain traitors who were hiding behind the scene to drive the country backward, there were many faithful men and women who joined the journey of freedom and justice without hesitation.

Overall, how stable and vibrant the economy of a nation particularly determines the height of livelihoods of her citizens.

Ghana has since independence had a number of individuals who have dedicated themselves to ensuring that the economic outlook of the country is on the winning side.

Frankly, leading such a course is very Herculean, and those who find themselves in that position never take it easy. They make a lot of sacrifices just to make sure that there’s much money in the country, and as well roll out key programs to ensure that the economy is more stable, vibrant, and is able to compete favorably on the International market.

Since they deal directly with money, their credibility and integrity are mostly doubted by people outside their operational scope of practice.

From the outside, we think it’s easy, but in reality, they do face a series of challenges and psychological stress.

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No matter how far we go as a country, there’s no way we can forget the great and influential leader at the heart of this discussion.

Born on June 17, 1913, to Ewe’s parents in Warri, Nigeria, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah well-known as Afro Gbede, served as the first Ghanaian Minister of Finance from 1954 to 1961 as well as the country’s first Health Minister during Nkrumah’s regime.

Afro Gbede was the brain behind the construction of the Akosombo Dam. Even when the United States government was highly reluctant to support the project, Gbedemah used his advocacy and lobbying skills to influence them to get it done without hesitation.

He was known to be the man behind the organization of Dr. Nkrumah’s electoral campaign while in prison.

And through his rigorous efforts, Nkrumah won the Accra Central Municipal Seat which led to release in 1951.

Komla was sighted in some reports as the first person to welcome Nkrumah after he was released from the Fort James Prison.

With this, it’s an indisputable fact that he instrumentally did great work so far as the political career of Nkrumah was concerned.

While serving in the Finance Ministry in 1957, Gbedemah had the chance to travel to the United States.

After he was refused service in Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in Dover, Delaware, United States, Gbedemah boldly and confidently said: “The 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, but this is not the last you have heard this.”

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This statement touched the heart of the then-president of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and further invited him for a breakfast at the White House. Not only that, the president additionally apologized to Gbedemah for the unfair treatment he was given at the restaurant.

It got to a time that the relationship between Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the Finance started dwindling particularly due to an alleged statement he made against Nkrumah.

He said: “I would be sorry to have to do it but the country has had enough of Nkrumah’s arrogance, whims, and madness.”

This forced Nkrumah to resign his Finance Minister and good friend from office and later sent him into exile in 1961.

However, Gbedemah never stopped working for his motherland even when in exile; he continued to convince and influence the US government to complete the Akosombo Dam Project due to his past cordial relationship with the country’s president.

His ‘untimely’ resignation from office dwindled his relationship with Dr. Nkrumah and forced him to lead and form his own political party in 1969 known as the National Alliance of Liberals, with the slogan, “Say it loud, I am black and proud”, which had its origin from James Brown’s Tune.

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However, when he won a seat in parliament after the election on the ticket of his party, the Supreme Court of Ghana ruled against him on the premise of engaging in financial crimes and prevented him from holding any public office for ten years.

This decision by the court finally retired Gbedemah from actively engaging in Ghanaian politics.

Among other leadership roles, he assumed include: Vice-Chairman of the People’s Convention Party in 1949, Manager and Editor of Accra Evening News in 1949, Member of the Legislative Assembly in 1951, and as well led the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice.

Originally, Komla Gbedemah was a member of the United Gold Coast Convention.

Komla Gbedemah initially had his secondary education at the Mfanstsipim School from 1925 to 1929, and further joined Achimota College to continue his studies.

When he worked in the teaching sector for a while after his graduation in 1933, Komla left his teaching job and became a full-time timber trader in 1943.

His role as a Science Master at Accra Academy was particularly one of his high-ranking teaching positions.

Komla Agbeli Gbedemah died on July 11, 1998.

He was an indigene of Anyako in Ghana’s Volta Region.

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