Yours sincerely remains averse to the simplistic personality view of history which holds that a country’s historical development is explainable on account of leadership types, styles and methods. Yet the historic reality of Ghana and indeed Africa, shows that the singular energy, visions, ideas and methods of the founding President Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Nkrumah were central to the liberation of Ghana (formerly Gold Coast) and indeed the continent from colonial rule.
Today is Founder’s Day in Ghana. So named after Osagyefo (which means “redeemer” in the Twi language) who was born on the 21st September 1909 and died on 27th April 1972 in Bucharest, Romania from cancer. After leading decades long mass resistance against British colonial rule following brutal arrests and imprisonments, it was Nkrumah who at 12 noon on 6 March 1957 declared Ghana the first independent African nation. In February 1966, while Nkrumah was on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, his government was overthrown in a military coup led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and his so called National Liberation Council. The spectre of Nkrumah haunts Ghana and indeed Africa, 47 years after Nkrumah was overthrown.Controversy continues over his role in history, albeit ideologically motivated and certainly needless given his singular enormous sacrifices and contribution for pan Africanism. Not even Nelson Mandela with his larger-than-memory status obliterates the unique role of Nkrumah in the liberation of the continent. On the contrary, Mandela himself noted that the events of 1957 in Accra which led to the pulling
down of the Union Jack of imperial Britain and its replacement by Red, Gold and Green flag of a new Ghana were sources of inspiration for the battle against apartheid, the last draconian face of colonialism. Africans proudly quote Luther King’s speech; I have a Dream. We however must not forget that the inspiration for this historic speech came from Ghana when the pastor attended Ghana’s independence in 1957 and saw Nkrumah presiding over an African state. Essential Nkruman is pan Africanism. He decared in 1957; “Ghana, your beloved country is free forever”. But he quickly added; “Our independence is meaningless unless it is
linked up to the total liberation the African continent.” The former President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma was right when he described Nkrumah as a “prophet” of a kind. After Nkrumah made this declaration he tireless worked for independence of other countries that included Nigeria and the Congo. The concept of European Union was borrowed from Nkrumah’s vision of United States of Africa. Sadly Europe has since integrated while African countries are disintegrating as African politicians get more insular and parochial leaving their peoples with poverty, hunger and wars. The balkanization of Sudan to the North and South did violence to Nkrumah’s pan Africanism. He was married to an Egyptian Arab African at a time it was unpopular to do so.
Paradoxically, Nkrumah was a political student of our own Zik of Africa. It was Zik that inspired Nkrumah to nationalism and even encouraged him in search of knowledge for further studies at Lincoln University United States of America, .He graduated nine years after Zik at the same university, “the first university in the Americas to produce the first presidents of two Commonwealth countries”.
Ghana was the first African country that fought and won independence from British imperialism in 1957. Former Tanzanian President, Late Julius Nyerere also underscored the significance of Ghana’s independence on the 6th March 1957. In 1997 Nyerere succinctly observed that; “Ghana was the beginning, our first liberated zone. Thirty-seven years later – in 1994 – we celebrated our final triumph when apartheid was crushed and Nelson Mandela was installed as the president of South Africa. Africa’s long struggle for freedom was over”. Thus there can be no better tribute to Nkrumah than making his birthday a Founder Day.
As noted, Nigeria and score of other African countries, that include Cameroun, Congo, Zambia, followed Ghana’s historic footstep, won liberty in quick successions. Many thanks to the audacity of Nkrumah in daring to break the colonial chain. We can debate how each of the independent countries had fared years after liberation, but the virtues of independence cannot be overstated.
Colonialism fostered underdevelopment and backwardness. Essential Nkrumah is accelerated development and Industrialization unprecedented in the continent. He strongly worked for industrialised Africa that must add value to it’s God-given natural resources.
He embarked on an unprecedented aggressive industrialisation by building; “factories such as Asutuare and Komenda Sugar Factories, Bonsa Rubber Factory, among others. He established the Black Star Line, State Transport Corporation, State Construction Corporation, Ghana Airways, Bolgatanga, Beef Factory, Kumasi Jute and Shoe factories, Aboso Glass Factory, Kade Match Factory, Pokuase and Pomadzi Poultry Farms, Esiama Oil Mills, Tema Oil Refinery, Nsawam Cannery, GNTC, SIC, among others”. Today’s wholesale dumping of imported goods in Africa and wholesale importation of goods and even human labour undermines Nkrumah’s vision of an independent self reliant industrialised Africa. Africans must revisit Nkrumah’s economic policy which was to make Ghana productive and increase the country’s manufacturing capacity so as to create jobs. Lastly Essential Nkrumah is
intellectualism. No African leader has possibly written as much as him on governance and development.His works include the following:-Negro History: European Government in Africa, Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah 1957,Africa Must Unite,African Personality 1963,Neo-Colonialism: the last stage of imperialism, Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah and African Socialism and Voice from Conakry among others.
My post humous birthday greetings to the philosopher -King of Africa; Dr Dr. Kwame Nkrumah .
Issa Aremu mni