Roland James Moxon as Nana Kofi Onyaase in 1963
Although he was a District Commissioner who served under the British colonial masters in Ghana during the colonial era, Roland James Moxon proved that not all colonial masters are evil.
Ghana is known for its rich history and relationship with foreigners. Still, the story of Roland James Moxon is second to none, and he is today remembered as the first-ever British to receive a full traditional chieftaincy title in Gold Coast (now modern-day Ghana).
Born in Shrewsbury on January 7, 1920, Jimmy Moxon was educated at Donestone School, Macclesfield (where his father was the headmaster) and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he read history.
Roland James Moxon (popularly known as Jimmy Moxon) moved to Gold Coast (Ghana) during World War II as a British civil servant.
He served as a District Commissioner (DC) and served in various Gold Coast stations including Dodowa, Aburi, Kpando and Accra.
During his time in the country, he made community service is a priority. He is on record to be the one who encouraged farmers to switch from cocoa to food crops production, a decision that saved many lives in Ghana. His advice came in handy at a time when Ghana’s farmers were producing cash crops for foreign countries to process, while they lavished in hunger and poverty.
After Ghana’s independence from Britain in 1957, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President insisted that Jimmy stayed in Ghana.
He became a valued adviser and confidant to Nkrumah. He was appointed as the Orwellian sounding Minister for Information.
According to a report by Ghana Web, Moxon’s friendly diplomacy contributed significantly to the successful completion of the Akosombo dam and associated aluminium smelting complex at the new Ghanaian port of Tema.
After he retired in 1963, Jimmy was enstooled a Ghanaian chief with the official title Nana Kofi Onyaase, one of the few white men ever to have been officially honoured as such.
He was often referred to as the great white chief and had many visitors from all over the world.
Over the years he featured in Figaro as “Gentleman Jimmy, Chef Tribal en Afrique” and in numerous other articles and BBC documentaries.
He died from cancer in a Ghanaian hospital in Accra on August 24, 1999, at aged 79. At the time of his death, he was writing his autobiography, centred on his chieftaincy, for a French publisher.
A shrine was created in the silk cotton tree that gave him his tribal name; Nana Kofi Onyaase.
He will forever be remembered, and his legacy lives on.