Did a scientist in Germany write the Ghana National Anthem?

Did A Scientist in Germany write the Ghana National Anthem?

In today’s story of why you should always keep receipts, we’re looking at Ghana’s National Anthem and the man who claims to have written the current lyrics.

The story starts in 1957. Ghana has just become independent and removed the colonisers and their National Anthem: “God Save the Queen,”. So, we needed a new anthem, and there was a competition for Ghanaian citizens to submit songs.

A bunch of people sent in their submissions, there was a shortlist of four songs, and people voted for their favourite after listening to the songs on the only radio station in the country at the time- Radio ZOY.

Eventually, the people chose a song by 53-year-old Philip Gbeho, a music teacher and a composer, who also happened to be the Chairperson of the Interim-Committee for the Arts Council of the Gold Coast 👀 

But not with the lyrics we sing today.

According to one Reverend Amable, the government’s literary committee, for unexplained reasons, “discarded Philip Gbeho’s original lyrics and replaced them with new ones authored by an educationist and musician, Mr Emmanuel Pappoe-Thompson and Mr Tettey Lartey.

Philip Gbeho’s composition, with the new lyrics, was officially accepted and outdoored on Independence Day, 6th March 1957. 

After Ghana became a Republic in 1960, another open call for new lyrics was opened. And there’s so much conflicting info online after 1960, so we don’t know what happened, but basically, new lyrics were introduced in the 70’s.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any official documentation of this, and the literary committee didn’t live to see a proper handover of their works since Kwame Nkrumah and his government were overthrown. Over the years, people have just said Philip Gbeho wrote Ghana’s National Anthem because that’s all they knew!

Dr. Michael Kwame Gbordzoe

Fast forward to 2007, during the 50th Anniversary of Ghana’s Independence, a Ghanaian-born German scientist claimed authorship over the 1970 lyrics of the National Anthem and Pledge. His name was Dr. Michael Kwame Gbordzoe.

According to Mr Gbordzoe, he entered a competition for new lyrics, left the country to further his education in Germany, and didn’t come back to Ghana because of the country’s troubles during that time. He claims he only realised in the late 1970s that his lyrics, beginning with “God Bless our Homeland Ghana”, had been adopted and had replaced the original lyrics written by Mr Emmanuel Pappoe-Thompson and Mr Tettey Lartey, which started with “Lift High the Flag of Ghana.

He told journalists that he had documented evidence supporting his claim and had presented petitions to the government for formal recognition. An article published at the time said he was awaiting a response.

Dr Gbordzoe said a journalist, Mr Greg Mingle, of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, investigated the matter and confirmed his claim. Mr Mingle had allegedly found the lyrics of the National Pledge at the National Archives but found no name attached to it.

No matter the case, Dr Michael Kwame Gbordzoe is named Ghana’s National Anthem songwriter on Wikipedia. So, did a Ghanaian scientist living in Germany write the current lyrics?

Who knows? Not us. After hours of research, we’re even more confused than when we started looking and can’t be held accountable for anything incorrect in this post. Because when it comes to Ghana and archiving our history, we score 3/10.

Happy Independence Day 🫠

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