Rebecca Naa Dedei Ayitey: The Lady On Ghana’s 50pesewas And An Independence Shero

Rebecca Naa Dedei Ayitey was a Ghanaian independence ‘shero’ and just like many other women who helped the Gold Coast attained nation status, they’ve been forgotten in history.

Rebecca Naa Dedei Ayitey (a.k.a. Dedei ASHIKISHAN) is the lady on Ghana’s 50 pesewas coin and the story of how she contributed to Ghana’s independence struggle has sprung up on social media.

According to historians and official records ascertained by a Facebook user, Abraham Nii Noi, Naa Dedei Ayitey was a Pioneer, Political Activist, Feminist and a Chief Financier of the Convention People’s Party led by Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

Dedei was born Rebecca Dedei Ayitey in 1923 as the first daughter to Ataa Ayite who was from Ga (Asere) and Osu. The father’s mother from Osu was called Ama Richter.  Her mother’s name is unknown but came from Ga.

Dedei grew up in Ga (British Accra) prior to Independence. After her basic education, she went straight into flour business. 

Her name Dedei is a generic Ga name for a 1st born girl. Ashikishan is flour in Ga.   Dedei Ashikishan (DA) was known for her entrepreneurial pursuit as the Queen of the flour business in Accra and by extension the whole country.

By 30, DA was the flour queen in the whole of Accra – wealthy with her huge house in Kokomlemle. It was not shocking that she soon became the Market Mammie of Accra’s Makola market.

Aside from her flour business, She was a staunch politician who campaigned relentlessly and funded Nkrumah to win in the Ashiedu Keteke, the nerve centre of the Ga-Dangme Confederacy.  The win was pivotal because if Nkrumah had lost that seat, he would never have become the Prime Minister of Ghana.

By the time Nkrumah was released from jail in 1951, Gbedemah had mobilized the market women as the backbone of CPP in Accra. The leader of the pack was Dedei. The Nkrumaphoria really caught Dedei and she poured MONEY into CPP. As her financial contribution increased so was her influence in the party. 

Her closeness to Nkrumah and the usual rumours made her a target by other political parties and the colonial government.

Naa Dedei, however, had a short life after she died from an alleged poisoning at age 38, however, a post mortem was not conducted to ascertain the real cause of death.

She accompanied Kwame Nkrumah to a CPP party function in Ho. She was served some tea, after five minutes she started complaining of stomach pains ‘’kaaa fee, ma fee’’ and died. It is said that at her public burial, Ghana’s Prime Minister, Dr Nkrumah was seen crying like a baby in the cemetery. She was single and had no children at the time of her death

A true Nationalist, she campaigned and funded Nkrumah against her own kinsman Odarkwei Obetsebi-Lamptey.  When Harry Sawyerr brought double decker to Accra, they were named Auntie Dedei apparently after her. 

Ghana’s postal system also immortalised her with a postal stamp with her image.

Source: Nii Amu Darko/ Madam Oyoo Quartey

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