There are so many unsung heroes and heroines of our land who have contributed silently yet immensely to Ghana’s political story and Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey is one of those.
While the limelight has been placed on the likes of Dr Kwame Nkrumah for his role in Ghana’s fight for political independence, there were hundreds of exuberant and passionate Ghanaians who were working in the background to make everything possible.
Women, then, were very powerful and commanded a lot of authority. Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey’s influence, role and personality can not be underestimated and that is why she has been honoured and placed prestigiously on Ghana’s 50 pesewas coin.
Now, who is Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey? How did she qualify to have her face placed on Ghana’s 50 pesewas currency coin? Was the “Auntie Dedei” bus named after her?
Quick Fact About Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey
- Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey was born in the then Gold Coast (now, Ghana) in 1923
- She was a Ghanaian businesswoman, political activist and feminist.
- Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey was a very wealthy woman and was known popularly for her flour business.
- Because of her wealth, she moved into politics. She campaigned and supported Kwame Nkrumah.
- In fact, Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey was the Chief Financier of Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples Party (CPP) which was formed in 1949 after he broke away from the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) founded by George Paa Grant in 1947.
- She was a Ga and as a result was expected to support her fellow Kinsman, Odartey Lamptey but she didn’t. An independent choice that generated much hatred for her from the Ga community. They felt she had to support one of her own and not Nkrumah.
- Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey was very influential and through that was able to mobilize all the market women and traders in Accra to vote massively for Nkrumah.
- She died at Ho in the Volta Region from food poisoning in 1961 after she had accompanied Nkrumah to the region on a campaign trail.
- Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey died without bearing a child of her own. She died childless although she was wealthy and enjoyed much luxury.
- She was a huge investor in the CPP and ensured that the party’s financial needs were timely met.
- Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey suggested and financed the idea of introducing urban buses that were double-decked into the capital city with the help of an American friend.
- In her honour, the buses were called “Auntie Dedei” bus to honour her memory and to appreciate the effort she made in bringing those vehicles into the country to augment Ghana’s transport system at the time.
- Ultimately, when the new Ghana currency was rolled out by former President Kufuor under the auspices of the Bank of Ghana on July 7 2007, Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey’s face was embedded on the 50 pesewas coin honourably.
- Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey remains a very revered icon amongst the Gas and was an inspiration to several local women who later ventured into mainstream politics due to her infleunce.
- She believed that women, irrespective of their education and social status, can still rub shoulders with men at all levels. She was an avid feminist who did not fight the men but empowered the market women especially, to aspire for great things and to get involved in the national conversation.
While we focus our lenses on Rebecca Naa Dedei Aryeetey and the commendable work she did in her capacity to support the CPP and Nkrumah, we can not end this article without acknowledging the following women too:
- Ama Ata Aidoo
- Susanna Al-Hassan
- Mabel Dove Danquah
- Farida Bedwei
- Esther Afua Ocloo
- Theodosia Salomey Okoh
- Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings
- Gloria Amon Nikoi
- Hannah Kudjoe
- Agnes Oforiwa Tagoe-Quarcoopome