By Dundas Whigham, Ghanaian Investigative Journalist
Few years ago, dozens of Kenyan women went on demonstration claiming that “they were abandoned by [UK] soldiers who fathered children with them” (Daily Mail, UK). Some of such stories are not common on our continent.
Some European soldiers who were sent to Ghana (previously called Gold Coast) were perpetrators of rape, sexual abuse etc and no actions were taken against such people and were not compelled to take care of the children they have fathered. They did not come on their own, but were sent to work for their respective countries. I am a product of such circumstances and I appeal to the UK government to recognize my family. This will be a sign of respect and honour to my family.
A middle aged man who sat beside me on a bus from Kumasi (Ghana’s second largest city)to Accra revealed to me during one of our conversations that [Former president] “Rawlings has a Scottish roots just like you. He tried looking for his father, but the man rejected him”.
To add more to this claim, a portion of an article on GhanaWeb published 1 March 2010 titled “How Rawlings Came up By The Name Jerry Rawlings” states that:“he [Rawlings] came to Britain trying to trace his father, but the man opened the door and slammed it back on him. He didn’t want to see him. That was what he (Rawlings himself)told me [Boakye Gyan, a friend to the former president] when he returned to Accra. He was bitter”.
Indeed, this was a very bitter experience. At that time, it was not money he wanted from the father nor personal belongings butyearning to see the person who fathered him. On the other hand, Mr. Rawlings should be a bit happy that once in his life, he saw his father. I say this because, my grandfather Robert Dandas (Dundas) Whigham, a former foreman of Ghana Railway and Harbours never saw his father -General Sir Robert Dundas Whigham (GCB, KCMG, DSO 1865-1950), – a British Army General who worked on behalf of the UK government in the Gold Coast, from 1907 to 1911 .
He was first stationed in Kumasi in the Ashanti Region and later transferred to the coastal city of Cape Coast (Castle) in 1907. Gen. Whigham was the Lt. of the Infantry, West African Frontier Force (W.A.F.F.). His name was captured in the Government Gazette on Saturday, December 14, 1907, Accra, Gold Coast, West Africa.
The telegram prior to his leaving the colony reads as “TELEGRAM from O.C.G.C.R., Coomassie, to Col. Sec., Accra dated 13th December, 1911:-
670/11 Decr. 13th Captain Whigham left here yesterday for Seccondee enroute to England on leave”.
After fathering a child (my grandfather) born on 14th October, 1911, Captain Whigham left the colony for his mandatory leave on 22 December 1911 whiles his son was just two months old. He never returned.
Evidence I gathered from his (my grandfather) family home in Cape Coast suggests that Captain Whigham did not leave any money for the child’s upkeep. The child’s mother’s uncle who worked with the Captain at the Cape Coast Castle gave the name to the child after he was born. Sources say he was directed by Captain Whigham to name the child after him.
However, because Captain Whigham many at times wrote his name as R.D. Whigham, the uncle misspelt the middle name Dundasas Dandas. That wrong name was given to my father (also called Robert Dandas Whigham, former artisan of Ghana Railway and Ports) and subsequently given to me as well. In 2009, after painstaking investigations have been done, I swore affidavit and changed Dandas to Dundas.
This totally shows a mark of irresponsibility on the part of some foreign soldiers who came to the West African colonies, fathered children and refused to take care of them just because they had wives back home in Europe.
The painful thing and extreme bitterness in my heart, just like Mr. Rawlings is that upon reading most of the documents I have intercepted, the UK Army has failedto capture his official working here in the Gold Coast and have maintained Egypt, Sudan, and South Africa. Why has the UK government done this?
A senior colleague told me that because Gen. Sir Robert Dundas Whigham was knighted, possibly it would be unfair to state that he had a son outside his marital home. Still painful! He left in 1911 and died 1950. What prevented him from coming to the Gold Coast to see the son he had fathered?I got a terrible experience when I wanted to register for the 2012 General Elections as one EC staff challenged me to provide additional evidence because he thought I was not a Ghanaian.
Perhaps what got me highly upset was when I found a picture on the internet (from a certified source) which shows the name “Whigham, Robert George Murray: He was the only son of General Sir Robert Dundas Whigham”. Upon seeing this, I wrote to the office of the British Prime Minister Theresa May and a BBC WhatsApp line (+447555173285) stating that George (a former UK Army officer died at 44) was not his only son. I have since not heard from them.The response I got from the Prime Minister’s Office states that “we do everything we can to respond to every email sent to us”. That was the end.
It is on record that James Ramsey John, A Scotsman was his father. The person who sat beside me added “till today, many Scottish refer to Mr. Rawlings as the only Scottish President.I do not know very much about Mr. Rawlings’ father in terms of work, however, since my great grand-father did not travel to the Gold Coast on his own, but came on behalf of the UK government, I have every right to appeal to the UK government to recognize my family.themanualgh.blogspot.com