Feature Article of Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

The Incomparable Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

Here are a few of the international accolades bestowed on Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah:

J.B. DANQUAH: “If the UGCC fails you, Kwame Nkrumah will not fail you!”

SAMUEL ADJEI SARFO: “It is in the context of all this knowledge that Ghana’s first president, soon after independence, deemed it fit and proper to concentrate on the formal school system to boost the African personality and to merge the tribes under one great banner of nationhood. One indisputable achievement of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is the elevation of the confidence of the African and the unity of the nation and her people. This vision extended beyond Ghana’s borders to include the whole of Africa. In this narrow context, what Nkrumah conceived of nationhood made philosophical sense because without unity, no country can claim to be a nation.

“If ignorance makes people show greater allegiances to tribes at the expense of the nation, then the survival of the nation is under serious threat. For a country to be a nation, her people will have to subsume ethnicity under the aegis of the national interest. The present conflicts amongst the tribes, though so far verbal, are a testimony that our country comprises states within the nation. In effect, we of this generation have repudiated the concept of nationhood with our ethnic animosity and undermined the very tenets under which the nation was founded.”

KWAME OKOAMPA-AHOOFE: “And here, it is significantly instructive to observe that none of the myriad putsches and coup d’états have been staged by any other than bona fide members of the Ghanaian military. Granted, some rascal civilians are known to have staunchly backed regressively Darwinian means of political access…Interestingly, in July 1956, when President Nkrumah's Convention People's Party (CPP) won a landslide victory, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia rode herd on a delegation to the British office in London, to petition the British Crown, and Ghana's extant colonial overlord, to desist from granting the already-scheduled return of Ghana to self-governance.

“Fortunately, Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia and his right-wing bourgeois reactionaries did not succeed. He would, however, succeed ten years later in backing the military junta that unseated the Nkrumah administration and facilitated the precipitous devolution of Ghanaian national destiny…This state of affairs, coupled with a largely under-educated and under-informed electorate, has made it almost impossible to rectify the prevailing socioeconomic chaos ravaging the country ” (Courtesy of Atakora-Mensah, Ghanaweb, April 15, 2015. See also Okoampa-Ahoofe’s book “Sounds of Sirens: Essays in African Culture and Politics (2004)”).

PAUL LEE: “In the 20th century, probably no one except Marcus Garvey did more to bring freedom and dignity to black people worldwide that Kwame Nkrumah, the liberator and first president of the West African state of Ghana…His memory is cherished by a dwindling number of veterans of the movements of black liberation in the United States and national independence in Africa and the Caribbean…IN 1935, NKRUMAH ARRIVED IN AMERICA. WITH LITTLE FORMAL EDUCATION TO COMMEND HIM AND ALMOST NO MONEY TO SUSTAIN HIM, NKRUMAH NEVERTHELESS SHOWED PROMISE, WINNING THE CONFIDENCE OF HORACE MANN BOND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE HISTORICALLY BLACK LINCOLN UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA…

“IN 1945, HE HELPED THE VENERABLE DU BOIS ORGANIZE AN INTERNATIONAL COLONIAL CONFERENCE AT THE OLD SCHUMBURG LIBRARY IN HARLEM. THIS LITTLE-KNOWN CONCLAVE WAS SOMETHING OF A DRESS REHEARSAL FOR THE HISTORIC FIFTH PAN-AFRICAN CONGRESS, WHICH BOTH MEN HELPED TO MOUNT IN MANCHESTER, ENGLAND, IN OCTOBER OF THAT YEAR. ”

KIRSTEN HOLST PETERSEN: “Kwame Nkrumah was the single most important theoretician and spokesperson of this decade…Hutchinson, a South African nationalist, captured Ghana’s centrality to the era when he called his book, itself an account of his life and his escape from South Africa, simply, ‘Road to Africa.’ All the continent’s nationalist roads of the fifties led to Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana. Everywhere on the continent, the former colonial slave was breaking his chains, and singing songs of hope for a more egalitarian society in its economic, political and cultural life and Nkrumah’s Ghana seemed to hold the torch to that Life!”

GARTH SUNDEM: “It is the jubilant Gold Coast and its hero [Kwame Nkrumah], that some of Africa’s awakening millions see the early light of freedom dawning over the continent.”

MOKWUGO OKOYE: “Perhaps the truth is that Nkrumah came too early and Africa was too small a stage and too mentally backward for him: Otherwise, at least he would have been allowed to spend his last days in dignified retirement on a pension, with a ranch or mansion to boot, and his love letters and other souvenirs would be sought after by hunters, literally and other, for his great services to his country and humanity.”

CHEIKH TIDIANE GADIO: “Indeed, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania commented late in his life that had the presidents of other nations on the continent had the vision that Nkrumah possessed the continent would have arrived at the point of national unity much earlier.”

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: “I can remember when Mrs. King and I first journeyed to Africa to attend the independence celebration of the new nation of Ghana. We were very happy about the fact there were now eight independent countries in Africa. But since that night in March 1957, some 27 new independent nations have come into being in Africa. This reveals to us that the old order of colonialism is passing away, and the new order of freedom and human dignity is coming into being.”

BOSAH CHUKWUEMEK: “He [Chinua Achebe] recalled that he was writing ‘Things Fall Apart’ as Ghana became independent from British rule in 1957. The Pan-Africanism of Ghana’s first leader Kwame Nkrumah was especially influential on Chinua: ‘They were ahead of us [in Nigeria] so we were looking to Ghana to see the path to independence. It was an inspiring moment.’”

KOFI HADJOR: “It is Nkrumah the theoretician and practitioner of Pan-Africanism who continues to provide interest and respect.”

NNAMDI AZIKIWE: “It is a very special pleasure to us, because Dr. Nkrumah is not merely the Prime Minister of Ghana, but is an outstanding pioneer in the fight for the freedom of a sister nation in West Africa. We who are battle-scarred and are on the verge of attaining our statehood and who eagerly await the great day, 1st October 1960, when, God willing, our dreams shall be realized, have been especially emboldened by the tenacity of purpose of Dr. Nkrumah and his immortal comrades to make Ghana free. INDEED, GHANA’S INDEPENDENCE IS THE SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPISHMENT OF THEIR LIVES’ MISSION…

“It is all history now, it is true, but I still see the gleam of hope and the dream of greatness which flashed in in the eyes of a young “MERCHANT OF LIGHT” who left us in Accra to study in the United States and later COVERED HIMSLEF WITH ACADEMIC AND POLITICAL HONORS TO THE GLORY OF HIS COUNTRY AND OUR RACE…ON BEHALF OF MY GOVERNMENT AND THE EIGHT MILLION PEOPLE WHO INHABIT EASTERN NIGERIA, I SALUTE HIM AS ONE WHO HAS PROVED HIMSELF A VICTOR AFTER MANY BITTER POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS, AND I CONGRATULATE HIM AS THE FIRST PRIME MINISTER OF THE FIRST SOVEREIGN AND INDEPENDENT STATE IN WEST AFRICA TO EMANCIPATE ITSELF FROM COLONIAL TUTELAGE.”

KOFI BENTUM QUTSON: “Nkrumah, the unmatchable and big one.”

JOMO KENYATTA: “Ghana’s independence marked the end of colonialism in Africa.”

JULIUS NYERERE: “Ghana’s independence from colonial in 1957 was recognized for what it was: The beginning of the end of colonialism for the whole of Africa…So 40 years ago, we recognized [Ghana’s] independence as the first triumph in Africa’s freedom and dignity. It was the first success of our demand to be accorded the international respect which is accorded free peoples. But Ghana was more than the beginning, our first liberated zone. Ghana inspired and deliberately spearheaded the independence struggle for the rest of Africa…

“KWAME NKRUMAH WAS [Ghana’s] LEADER, BUT HE WAS OUR LEADER, FOR HE WAS AN AFRICAN LEADER. He had a great dream for Africa and its people. He had the wellbeing of our people at heart. He was no looter. He died poor…So my remaining remarks have a confession and a plea. The confession that we of the first generation leaders of independent Africa have not pursued the objective of African unity with vigor, commitment and sincerity that it deserved…”

JULIUS NYERERE: “Time has shown that Nkrumah’s dream of African unity was not an ideally romantic idea. Since then Europe via the EU has adopted his [Nkrumah’s] entire proposal apart from the one on a union of government. The current AU structure was modeled on his proposal.”

ANTONIO DE FIGUEIRDO: “Nkrumah’s influence filtered to exiles-cum-intermediaries like myself mainly through the support extended by that great statesman to the leaders of the Portuguese African Liberation Movements who converged in Accra, Ghana’s capital. Even after Nkrumah became the victim of Western-inspired coup, and went in to exile in Conakry (Guinea), his Guinea-Bissau fellow exile, Amilcar Cabral, the most influential of Portuguese freedom fighters, often visited him and learned from him.”

SAM NUJOMA: “Ghana’s fight for freedom inspired and influenced us all, and the greatest contribution to our political awareness at that time came from the achievements of Ghana after independence. It was from Ghana that we got the idea that we must do more than just petition the UN [United Nations] to bring about independence.”

KENNETH KAUNDA: “Nkrumah inspired many people of Africa towards independence and was a great supporter of the liberation of southern Africa from apartheid and racism.”

MOLEFI KETE ASANTE: “This is why I am ardent celebrator of Nkrumah’s life and voice because in celebrating him we celebrate the best in us.”

NNAMDI AZIKIWE: “Much as we all may not have agreed with his ideas, he did his best to raise the stature of black men all over the world.”

OBED ASAMOAH: “The All-African Peoples’ Conference which followed in December 1958, came as the formal and concrete expression of Ghana’s dedication to the freedom struggle in Africa and made it possible for representatives of freedom-fighters throughout the continent to assemble in a free, independent African state for the purpose of planning a coordinated assault on colonial and racist rule in Africa.”

GODFREY MWAKIKAGILE: “Acheampong was also symbolically and substantively sympathetic to Nkrumah, but only because of the outpouring or popular, pro-Nkrumahist sentiments in Ghana and elsewhere. His ‘party,’ the NRC (National Redemption Council), included the word ‘Redemption,’ the English verbiage of the Twi-language root word that was given as a title to Nkrumah, Osagyefo, (meaning Redeemer).

MOLEFI KETE ASANTE: “[KWAME NKRUMAH] THE ESSENCE OF AFRICAN INTELLIGENCE.”

DR. KWAME AMUAH (Nelson Mandela’s son-in-law, married to Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah; Dr. Amuah is also a nuclear scientist): “No doubt he [Nelson Mandela] saw Nkrumah as his hero.”

K.B. ASANTE: “He [Nkrumah] came more and more to believe that action must be guided by a philosophy; but he was no slave to ideology. He was a man of ideas. He had the talent for grasping new ideas and the weakness of giving them form and calling them his own. He was conversant with the mainstream of the development theories and models in vogue and found natural sympathy with the prevalent highly interventionist school…His ideology was tempered with pragmatism. It was a means to an end, and what he wanted above all was to turn Ghana into a ‘relatively short period’ into a ‘modern industrial nation providing opportunities for all and standard of living comparable to any in the world’…

“He was an avid reader and enjoyed the company of intellectuals and men of ideas, especially those whose views were similar to his own. Nkrumah was therefore aware of the trends of development economics…”

We shall return…