James Mercer, The Unknown Quantity Of The Then Gold Coast

Dr Ekwow Spio Garbrah


A former Minister of Education, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah, has churned a vital part of Ghana’s political evolution.

This, The Ghana Report finds interesting to share in the month called Ghana Month.

He named one James Mercer, who was his mother’s father, as the spokesman of key delegations sent by the Gold Coast to engage the home government of the colonial authorities in London, United Kingdom.

James Mercer was famously nominated by the chiefs of the western and central regions on major ‘national’ delegations to the UK, but he died (or was killed) in a car accident in London.

He was the outspoken spokesman for the delegation sent by the Okyehene on behalf of the Gold Coast to protest against some colonial policies.

In the photo, you may see such potentates in Ghana’s pré-colonial history as J. B. Danquah, and H.K.Agyeman, Asantehene’s Secretary,  believed to be the grandfather of Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings.

With James Mercer’s death, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS) delegation returned to Ghana (Gold Coast at the time), and the initial pre-independence struggles waned.

Incidentally, James Mercer lived next door to Paa Grant in Sekondi, so when Kwame Nkrumah came on the political scene in 1949 and began visiting Paa Grant for fundraising, he heard about the Mercer family tragedy and befriended the Mercers.

Kwame Nkrumah appointed James Mercer’s eldest son Circa 1952 Chairman of the Cocoa Marketing Board, Chair of Cocoa Marketing Company, Chair of the Produce Buying Agency, University College of Science and Tech Planning Committee, and Akosombo (VRA) Planning Committee.

To gain independence faster from the United Kingdom, Kwame Nkrumah asked Thomas Mercer to relinquish all his appointments in Ghana and to assume a novel appointment in the UK as the First Diplomat from the pre-independent Gold Coast. He thus became known in Ghana’s Foreign Service as Ghana’s First Gold Coast Commissioner.

While Ghanaians heard from Kwame Nkrumah about Independence, diplomats like Thomas Mercer had to work hard behind the scenes before the Queen could grant Independence to Ghana.

The message for Ghana’s independence would have been telegraphed from London to the Governor-General in Accra.

On the occasion of his birthday in September, Dr. Ekwow Spio said he should find opportunities to rehabilitate awareness of the contributions of some family members, such as his grandfather, James Mercer, and his uncle Thomas Mercer.

One of James Mercer’s grandchildren is MP for Sekondi, Andrew Egyapa Mercer.


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