J. E. Casely Hayford

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Photograph of J. E. Casely Hayford

Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, MBE, or Ekra-Agiman (29 September 1866–11 August 1930) was a Ghanaian journalist, editor, author, lawyer, educator, and politician who supported pan-African nationalism.

Biography[edit]

Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford was born on 29 September 1866 in Cape Coast, in the British Gold Coast colony, now Ghana.

His family, part of the Fante Anona clan, was fairly wealthy. His father Joseph de Graft Hayford (1840-1919), was educated and ordained as a minister in the Methodist church; he was a prominent figure in Ghanaian politics. His mother was from the Brew dynasty, descended from the European trader Richard Brew, who arrived in Africa in 1745, and his African concubine.[1]

Casely was one of his middle names; he adopted Casely Hayford as a non-hyphenated double surname. His brothers were Ernest Hayford, a doctor, and the Reverend Mark Hayford.

Early life[edit]

Casely Hayford attended Wesley Boys' High School in Cape Coast, and Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone. While in Freetown, Casely Hayford became a follower of Edward Wilmot Blyden, the foremost pan-African figure at the time, who edited Negro, the first explicitly pan-African journal in West Africa.

Upon returning to Ghana, Casely Hayford became a high school teacher, and eventually principal at Accra Wesleyan Boys' High School. He was dismissed from his position at the school for his political activism.[2]

In 1885 he began working as a journalist for the Western Echo, which was owned by his uncle James Hutton Brew.[2] By 1888 Casely Hayford was the editor, and he renamed the paper as the Gold Coast Echo.[1] From 1890 to 1896 he was co-proprietor of the Gold Coast Chronicle.[2] He also wrote articles for the Wesleyan Methodist Times.[2]

Inner Temple and the bar[edit]

In 1893, Casely Hayford traveled to London in order to study as a barrister at the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, and at Peterhouse, Cambridge.[3] He was called to the Bar on 17 November 1896. That year, he returned with his second wife Adelaide to Ghana to private law practice in Cape Coast, Axim, Sekondi and Accra. He also continued his work as a journalist, editing the Gold Coast Leader. In 1904, he helped found the Mfantsipim School. In 1910 he succeeded John Mensah Sarbah as president of the Aborigines' Rights Protection Society, the first anti-colonial organization founded in the Gold Coast.[1]

Political activism[edit]

Casely Hayford went on to write several books, primarily as commentary and opposition to British land management acts, such as the Crown Lands Bill of 1897, and the Forest Ordinance of 1911. His view was that African identity and African social stability were inextricably linked to conservation of existing conventions concerning land rights. While visiting London to protest the Forest Ordinance of 1911 he was part of a group that gave financial assistance to Dusé Mohamed Ali to get his African Times and Orient Review off the ground. Others were Francis T. Dove and C. W. Betts from Sierra Leone and Dr. Oguntola Sapara from Lagos.[4]

Casely Hayford was also heavily involved in the political movement for African emancipation. He participated in Booker T. Washington's International Conference on the Negro in 1912, and his correspondence with Washington fostered the pan-African movement in both Africa and the United States.[5]

Casely Hayford’s career in public office began with his nomination to the Legislative Council in 1916. As a legislator he served on various public commissions, and received an MBE in 1919. In the same year he formed West Africa’s first nationalist movement, the National Congress of British West Africa, one of the earliest formal organizations working toward African emancipation.[6] He represented the Congress in London in 1920, to demand constitutional reforms from the colonial secretary, and address the League of Nations Union, but was criticized for accepting inadequate concessions from the British. He became the first patron of the West African Students' Union in 1925, and was elected as municipal member for Sekondi in September 1927. The National Congress was dissolved shortly after Casely Hayford's death in 1930.

Casely Hayford's novel Ethiopia Unbound is one of the first novels in English by an African. It has been cited as the earliest pan-African fiction.[7] The novel is set in both Africa and England. It relies on philosophical debates between an African and his English friend, as well as references to contemporary African events and ancient African history, to provide a context for its exploration of African identity and the struggle for emancipation.

Marriage and family[edit]

Casely Hayford first married Beatrice Madeline Pinnock. Their son Archie Casely-Hayford became a barrister, district magistrate and the first Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the First Republic of Ghana.[8]

While in London studying at the Inner Temple and lodging at a hostel for African bachelors in 1893, Hayford met Adelaide Smith. They later married, and she returned with him to Ghana in 1896 after he was received by the bar. She became a prominent writer.

Bibliography[edit]

  • The Truth About The West African Land Question (1898. Reprinted, 1913. Reprinted London: Cass, 1971)
  • Gold Coast Native Institutions: With Thoughts Upon A Healthy Imperial Policy for the Gold Coast and Ashanti (1903. Reprinted London: Cass, 1970, ISBN 0-7146-1754-7)
  • Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation (1911. Reprinted London: Cass, 1969, ISBN 0-7146-1753-9)
  • Gold Coast Land Tenure and the Forest Bill (1911)
  • William Waddy Harris, the West African reformer (1915)
  • United West Africa (1919)
  • West African Leadership: Public speeches delivered by the Honourable J. E. Casely Hayford; edited by Magnus J. Sampson (1951)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Alistair Boddy-Evans, "JE Casely Hayford - Leading West African Pan-Africanist", African History, About.com.
  2. ^ a b c d "Casely-Hayford, J. E.", Makers of Modern Africa: Profiles in History, London: Africa Journal Ltd for Africa Books Ltd, 1981, pp. 125-6.
  3. ^ According to Venn, he was a non-collegiate student at Cambridge. "Hayford, Joseph Ephraim Casely (HFRT893JE)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ Imanuel Geiss (1974). The Pan-African Movement: A History of Pan-Africanism in America, Europe, and Africa. Taylor & Francis. p. 223. ISBN 0-8419-0161-9. 
  5. ^ Eluwa, G. I. C., "Background to the Emergence of the National Congress of British West Africa", African Studies Review, Vol. 14, No. 2 (1971; pp. 205-218), p. 213.
  6. ^ Eluwa, p. 216.
  7. ^ Osei-Nyame, Kwadwo, "Pan-Africanist Ideology and the African Historical Novel of Self-Discovery: The Examples of Kobina Sekyi and J. E. Casely Hayford", Journal of African Cultural Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2 (1999; pp. 137-153), p. 139 n1.
  8. ^ National Commission On Culture: "The men who flanked Nkrumah on Independence eve". Accessed 14 December 2010.

External links[edit]