Feature Article of Monday, 26 February 2007
Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter
Fifty years after setting the independence trail across sub-Saharan African, Dr Kwame Nkrumah is still relevant today as he was when he help organised the Pan-African congress in Manchester, England over 60 years ago. Like Kennedy, Martin Luther King Junior, Churchill, Harry Truman, Lenin, Chairman Mao and others who have left their mark in this world, Kwame Nkrumah is equal among equals. Kwame played his part and his name shall ever live.
For most people, organisations and countries, fiftieth anniversary is a time to reflect on past achievements and to resolutely seek to improve upon mistakes made in the past and seek to redress this in terms of new initiatives.
From the moment that he arrived in his homeland, after almost 12 years absence, Nkrumah saw the similarities of suppression that his compatriots were subjected to and the blatant racism against African Americans and resolve to fight these blatant injustices across board. His Pan-African enthusiasm that he exhibited at the Manchester congress in front of his peers was translated to the continent when he returned home. His formation of Committee of Youth Organisation in 1949 in Ghana was designed to bring the youth actively into the politics. His mission the day after his Manchester speech was to unite Africa and give blacks everywhere the opportunity to return “Home”.
Nkrumah, who was greatly influenced by Marcus Garvey, had a dream. And that dream was to unite Africa under one government. It was grand at the period in question, but that was the genius and intellectual superiority of the man among his peers. Like Garvey, Nkrumah believed in black emancipation. Nkrumah inspired a whole generation of black leaders including Michael Manley, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, Oliver Tambo, Martin Luther King, Eduardo Mondlane and countless others. Nkrumah was the “anointed one” among these pre independence leaders.
From 1957 to 1966, Dr Nkrumah in his quest to expand his pan-African vision, instituted policies that were meant to look beyond his homeland of Ghana. Nkrumah’s ideological dogma centred on his quest to unite the countries of the entire sub continent based on the United States of America’s federal system of government.
Although he started this developmental agenda in his homeland, his continent wide strategy was seem by the imperial powers as a direct treat to their plundering of a continent seen at the time as still a virgin and backward. As was later acknowledge by these same Western powers and by continental Africans (majority were not even born at the time in question), that Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s master plan for black Africa would have save the continent from the state that it is in now. Nkrumah was one off. It might take black Africa many years to have such a leader again. He is the only leader who saw state property as such. Nkrumah never ever stole from the state. As midnight struck on 6th March 1957, at the Old Polo grounds in Accra, Nkrumah declared: “We are going to see that we create our own African personality and identity. We again rededicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa; for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent”
The passion behind Nkrumah’s speech was phenomenal. At a stroke Nkrumah has thrown the gauntlet to the colonialists to take him on. His vision was born out of his time in America and the injustices that he encountered. It was never acknowledge that Kwame Nkrumah’s freedom speech in Accra was the inspiration behind Dr Martin Luther King Junior’s “Dream speech” in the heady days of the black struggle for equal rights in America.
After his overthrown in 1966, many things were done to discredit him, to paint him as perhaps the most despised African ruler, yet at the turn of the century he was voted by continental Africans as “African of the Millennium” ahead of such greats as Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Namdi Azikiwe and others.
The one reform that set him apart from the rest is his educational policies. At the centre of the educational policies was to unite all Africans, away from the sort of policies that the Developed countries wanted to subject Africans to. Thus he began massive expansion of education in Ghana and gave scholarships to many Ghanaians other Africans either to study in Ghana or abroad.
Nkrumah’s vision for continental Africa was explicitly stated in his 1961 book, “I speak of freedom”. Dr Nkrumah wrote:
“Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind”.
Having studied in United States and Britain, Nkrumah decided to maintain the British educational structures geared towards British degrees and values. Some have argued that his time at London School of Economies had a great impact on his value for English education. His introduction of free education primary level nationwide and fee free at all levels in the Northern Ghana was perhaps his greatest achievement in Ghana. Nkrumah’s expansion of education was done by building more schools (primary and secondary) to increase enrolments. He also expanded university education by improving the structures at University of Ghana, Legon and building 2 new Universities at Cape Coast and Kumasi and 2 teaching hospitals, Korle Bu in Accra and Okomfo Anokye in Kumasi.
This enabled many Ghanaians and other Africans to become the first of their families to go to school. The current crop of Ghanaian leaders owes their educational advancement to Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s educational legacy.
50 years after he made that famous speech in Accra, the fears that he had expressed is staring Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa in the face. The senseless killing of Africans through civil wars would have been avoided had Nkrumah been able to unite the continent.
Today black Africans are being butchered in Darfur and the world has turned a blind eye to this genocide!
The poor in Africa are now deemed the poorest of the poor. Today, blacks of African heritage (including those that were sold to slavery) are seen as second class citizens wherever they happens to be and are blatantly discriminated against………yet some 60 years ago, in Manchester, England, a young African stood before his peers and predicted that if countries on the sub continent do not unite they would be destined to economic graveyard! His mission was to fulfil the emancipation project started by Honourable Marcus Garvey. That is to raise high the flag of sub-Saharan Africa (Red, Gold and Green with the Black Star in the middle).
Africa is the only continent in the world where a child dies every minute of malnutrition, opportunistic diseases that are easily cured or managed else where.
In Ghana and in many countries across sub-Saharan Africa, many children go to bed without food. Many do not have decent drinking water and many children, some as young as 10 years old have become the bread winners of their families. This is fact.
In Ghana and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, income inequality and poverty has become entrenched. Those who plundered and exploited Africa have now turned their countries a fortress to stop black Africans!
As Ghana, the first of sub-Saharan African country to gain her political independence, celebrate her 50th anniversary those Africans who voted Dr Kwame Nkrumah Africa’s “Man of the Millennium” are asking what the countries on the continent have been able to achieve. Many still live in abject poverty. Many lack basic infrastructures. Almost 40 years after the Alma Ata Declaration, many Ghanaians and else where in Africa do not have access to clean drinking water, basic health care and education.
The sad truth is until and unless Ghana and the rest on the sub continent (black Africa that is) unite their economies there is no way they can progress as independent states.
The countries on the continent are interlink and interdependent, culturally, economically and socially that no one country can go it alone! This is fact.
In the 1960s Ghana was a haven for most African freedom fighters. Many were sent abroad by Dr Nkrumah to be educated and return home to continue with their struggle for independence.
In the 1970s Nigeria attracted many Africans to her shores during her oil boom. Lagos became a sit of academic excellence. In the 1980s it was the turn of Zimbabwe when she gained her political independence. Harare became a home to many from West and central Africa. The migration has shifted to South Africa and Ghana due to their brilliant economic policies. On streets of Johannesburg today one can hear languages from many African countries. This interdependency is something that the West has been trying to suppress over many years and is still trying through structural policies and HIPC. At the forefront of this destabilisations are the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organisation. Their supreme aim is to keep Africa under economic bondage. Nkrumah broke their political stranglehold but sadly he could not fight them economically because his philosophy and ideas was much advance for his compatriots to fight together with him. Nkrumah never gave up until his death in Bucharest, Romania. The African Union was born to continue with the legacy of Dr Nkrumah, to link the economies of the sub-Saharan African countries……. This union is still a talking shop. The economic unity is not even on their agenda. It is still an Illusion.
The crises in Ivory Coast (where the country has been divided into 2 and run by thugs); Zimbabwe, whose independence was greeted with euphoria across black Africa, is now a basket case; Congo Kinshasa, a country that is so rich in resources has never known peace since Patrice Lumumba was assassinated and is still fighting a bloody civil war, Liberia, country founded by free slaves and once the most stable country in the west coast of Africa went through a bloody civil war and is yet to recover. Sierra Leone, Chad, and Darfur (excluding the Arab north) are just a few to show the elite/corrupt African leaders how folly their policies are hurting black Africans.
At the turn of the 21st century, young Africans who voted for Nkrumah as their “African of the century”, a man who died years before most were even born, are calling for the same economic unity that Dr Nkrumah presented to his peers in Manchester, England some 60 years ago. Dr Nkrumah was far ahead of his time. Africans now realised that their very survival lies in the total unity of the entire continent (sub-Saharan Africa), as propagated by Dr Kwame Nkrumah, a true African patriot. Nkrumah’s successes and failures have been well documented, but the principle that underpins his crusade is what makes him the “Greatest African” that ever lived.
In Ghana, a group has emerged that wants to take Dr Nkrumah’s agenda further. They are the “Patriots”. The group is made of up of people from all across the political spectrum and other occupations, including students and the unemployed. They want to take Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanism forward, which is to unite the economies of sub-Saharan African countries. They want their generation to be safeguarded. They are crying for another KWAME NKRUMAH! THE SHOW BOY LIVES ON! NKRUMAH NEVER DIES! HIS VISION LIVES ON!
The words of the South African national anthem must and would be translated to every language in sub-Saharan Africa to inspire the youth to take the fight of economic unity to the corrupt elites just as Nkrumah took the fight to the imperialists some half a century ago. The children who are hungry and are dieing daily in sub-Saharan Africa everyday have been failed by our corrupt leaders. They want another Kwame Nkrumah.
The youth, who voted Dr Kwame Nkrumah their Man of the 20th century, are saying loud and clear that they want the sub continent to unite in order to safe guard their future. The future of our continent belongs to them. Nkrumah saw this economic sabotage coming and he said so! But we castigated him. We called him a thief. We branded him a dangerous communist. We swear at him. We are now the losers. Kwame Nkrumah was right all along. His detractors are now saying he was right after all. They have admitted this in London, in Washington DC, in Paris, in Tokyo and in Berlin that he was “perhaps the greatest African statesman that ever lived”. The stood shamelessly as Nkrumah was posthumously honoured by the United Nations! They are now singing his praises! Yet our continent is still being plundered.
Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrica; Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo Iwaya, Yizwa imithondazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.
(Lord, bless Africa,
May her Spirit rise high up
Hear thou our prayers
Lord bless us).
Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy, to unite black Africa, still lives on! Dr Kwame Nkrumah Never Dies! His work and ideology can never be wiped off.