Feature Article of Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Columnist: Mensah, Nana Akyea
The CIA, Kwame Nkrumah, and the Destruction of
*Posted in: *Black
Kwame Nkrumah (21 September 1909 – 27 April 1972) was the first President
of the first free nation in Africa, and a founding father of the
His dream was to turn Ghana into a modern industrial utopia – a society
shaped by the power of science that would serve as a model for the rest of
the African continent. At the heart of his plan was the Volta Dam, a
hydroelectric power plant that would provide Ghana with all the cheap power
that it would need to initiate an industrial revolution.
Rise to Power [image: Nkrumah 227x300 The CIA, Kwame Nkrumah, and the
In 1935 Kwame Nkruma left Ghana for the United States as a
student, receiving a BA from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania in 1939.
During that time, he was elected president of the African Students
Organization of America and Canada. He was also exposed to the philosophy
and teachings of Marcus Garvey, and the Communist teachings of a US based
Trotskyist intellectual cohort. Nkrumah later credited these ideas with
teaching him ‘how an underground movement worked’.
In 1947, Nkrumah returned to Ghana. Using the political mechanisms he saw
there, he returned to Ghana and within two years created the country’s
first political party. Within two years after that, he was swept into power
as the first Black Prime Minister in Africa under the British colonial
With the threat of uprisings abroad and financial crisis at home, Britain
reluctantly set Ghana free on March 6, 1957. Nkrumah easily won election as
the country’s first President, and chose a flag with the Black star
–inspired by Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line – at its center to represent
the new nation.
Nkrumah also launched a series of popular social projects on behalf of his
people (who loved him), including The Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The OAU was established on 25 May 1963. One year later, Malcolm X
established the Organization for African American Unity (OAAU) modeled
after Kwame’s idea.
The Volta Dam
If Ghana was to become a modern industrial nation, it needed both industry
and the power to fuel that industry and provide the continent with its
first industrial revolution. The Volta dam was originally the brain child
of Britain, but the colonial power was shrinking from the world stage and
in doing so, began to withdraw its financial and project support from its
former colonies. During his campaign, Nkrumah’s platform was founded on the
idea of modernization, but without funding for the Volta river project,
there was no way that dream could become a reality.
Nkrumah set back out for America to sell the project to then President
Eisenhower who took an immediate interest. Ghana at the time was literate,
wealthy (as a result of its already profitable cocoa exports, and made a
great business prospect for America. And the benefits to America as a young
world superpower were two-fold:
- First, the manufacturing process for a new metal called aluminum had
been discovered, and aluminum ore was abundant in Ghana.
- Second, the worlds energy prices were raising, and having access to a
cheap source of electricity with which to process aluminum would have
greatly increased the profit margins and reduced processing costs for the
manufacture of the metal.
President Eisenhower contacted California based Kaiser Aluminum, the
world’s largest aluminum manufacturer, to exploit the opportunity and fund
the project. The assumption that America would mine Ghana’s bauxite and
use the Volta dam’s electricity meant two new large income streams and
industries that would assure Nkrumah’s dream of an industrial revolution.
However, Kaiser Aluminum had different plans. They would only use Ghana’s
cheap electricity – importing aluminum ore from other places in the world,
and then exporting the aluminum back to America. The thought was that if
the operation became too profitable, Nkrumah could nationalize the dam
project and cut America out completely.
Nkrumah was crushed. The aluminum industry would have done for Ghana what
the steel industry had done for the United States. Nkrumah ultimately had
to agree to America’s terms if he wanted the dam to be built, but as an
additional stipulation, he had to raise $30 million on his own.
He sought help from the World Bank, an operation initially set up to fund
the recovery effort in post WWII Europe, but which later became a source of
funding for the rest of the world. Nkrumah’s young new country was now
indebted to the World Bank, and the dam became a leash by which the United
States could control Nkrumah and exploit the country.
The exploitation of Ghana went into full swing; it became a haven for
American and European industrialists who were interested in taking
advantage of the country’s desire to modernize. White corporations would
repeatedly dupe officials into purchasing whatever could be sold, no matter
how inappropriate (a Belgian company sold the country snow plows¬. Yea,
snow plows. In Africa).
The Volta Dam was completed on January 22, 1966. One month later, Nkrumah
was overthrown by a CIA backed coup.
CIA Involvement [image: Nkrumah independence rally 194x300 The CIA, Kwame
Nkrumah, and the Destruction of
On March 11, 1965, almost a year before the coup, William P. Mahoney, the
U.S. ambassador to Ghana, participated in a candid discussion in
Washington, D.C., with CIA Director John A. McCone and the deputy chief of
the CIA’s Africa division, whose name has been withheld. Significantly, the
Africa division was part of the CIA’s directorate of plans (AKA Department
of Dirty Tricks) through which the government pursued its covert policies.
According to the record of their meeting (Document 251), topic one was the
“Coup d’état Plot, Ghana.” While Mahoney was satisfied that popular opinion
was running strongly against Nkrumah and the economy of the country was in
a precarious state, he was not convinced that the coup d’état, now being
planned by Acting Police Commissioner Harlley and Generals Otu and Ankrah,
would necessarily take place. However, he predicted that one way or another
Nkrumah would be out within a year. Revealing the depth of embassy
knowledge of the plot, Mahoney referred to a recent report which mentioned
that the top coup conspirators were scheduled to meet on 10 March at which
time they would determine the timing of the coup.
After the coup, Komer wrote a congratulatory assessment to President
Eisenhower on March 12, 1966 (Document 260). “The coup in Ghana is another
example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our
interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly
pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically
John Stockwell, a CIA officer in Africa at the time made the following
*“Howard Bane, who was the CIA station chief in Accra, engineered the
overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah. Inside the CIA it was quite clear. Howard Bane
got a double promotion, and was awarded the Intelligence Star for the
overthrow of Kwame. The magic of it was that Howard Bane had enough
imagination and drive to run this operation without ever documenting what
he was doing and there wasn’t one shred of paper that was generated that
would name the CIA hierarchy as being responsible.“*
But in this age of information and Wikileaks, we now know the CIA ties to
the destruction of Kwame Nkrumah ran deep: See: Documents Expose U.S. Role
in Nkrumah Overthrow
John Stockwell elaborated on the coup in his memoir, In Search of Enemies:
A CIA Story:
“The Accra station was encouraged by CIA headquarters to maintain contact
with dissidents of the Ghanaian army for the purpose of gathering
intelligence on their activities. It was given a generous budget, and
maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched. So
close was the station’s involvement that it was able to coordinate the
recovery of some classified Soviet military equipment by the United States
as the coup took place.”
According to Stockwell, Banes’ sense of initiative knew no bounds. The
station even proposed to headquarters through back channels that a squad be
on hand at the moment of the coup to storm the [Communist] Chinese embassy,
kill everyone inside, steal their secret records, and blow up the building
to cover the facts.
The Destruction of Ghana
After the coup, the once wealthy nation of Ghana was milked dry. Kwame fled
in exile to Conakry, Guinea – never to return to his home country. After 19
years of prosperity under Nkrumah, Ghana slid back into the dark ages.
After the coup, the Kaiser Dam project flourished, continuing to make
payments to the World Bank and continuing to yield dividends to its parent
corporation. The people of Ghana saw almost none of the benefit. Instead,
the people got one military coup after another (7 total). In the 1950s, the
world celebrated Nkrumah and Ghana. After the coup, the American propaganda
machine painted the country and its leader as corrupt, savage, and
unstable. Kwame was called “the Communist Messiah” and Africa was said to
be “unable to handle the pressures of modern industrialization. Kwame
Nkruma’s organization was hijacked by the United Nations, and is now a tool
used to expand the program of African exploitation.
But even in exile, Nkrumah continued to write and inspire Pan-Africanists.
In Challenge of the Congo he wrote that the political economic situation in
the world is one in which a tiny minority of the people grower “richer and
richer, while the rest grow poorer and poorer” and elaborated by saying
that the situation required world socialism as it was the only remedy, for
“as long as capitalism and imperialism go unchecked there will always be
exploitation, and an ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots,
and all the evils of imperialism and neo-colonialism which breed and
Death and Rememberance
[image: kwame nkrumah mausoleum01 300x200 The CIA, Kwame Nkrumah, and the
The Kwame Nkrumah Tomb
Kwame Nkrumah died of skin cancer in April 1972. He was 62 years old. He
was survived by Gokeh, Samia Yarba (who recieved the 2006 European
Parliament Award for Journalism), and Sekou Ritz Nkrumah.
Nkrumah was buried in a tomb in the village of his birth, Nkroful, Ghana.
While the tomb remains in Nkroful, his remains were transferred to a large
national memorial tomb and park in Accra.
Over his lifetime, Nkrumah was awarded honorary doctorates by Lincoln
University, Moscow State University; Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt;
Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland; Humboldt University in the
former East Berlin; and many other universities.
In 2000, he was voted Africa’s man of the millennium.
So who was Kwame Nkrumah? He was Africa’s Malcolm X. He was a true and
benevolent leader and martyr. He was a visionary upon whom the hopes and
dreams of a continent and a Black world rested. And he was a victim of the
United States of America, capitalism, and the same program devoted to the
destruction of the Black race that is still in existence today.