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Opinions of Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Nkrumah Was No Different From Eyadema, Bokassa And Mobutu

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

If we were to assess the worth and significance of any African leader based on what transpired in the aftermath of their removal from totalitarian wielding of power, then one could safely conclude that Ghana's President Kwame Nkrumah was no different from the likes of Presidents Gnassingbe Eyadema, of Togo; Siad Barre, of Somalia; Mobutu Sese Seko, of Congo-Zaire-Congo; and Emperor Bedel Bokassa, of the Central African Republic.

I am here, of course, alluding to Rev.-Dr. Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong's widely reported assertion that since the overthrow of Mr. Nkrumah, Ghana has not had any leader of visionary prowess and remarkable leadership competence (See "Lack of Vision After Nkrumah 'Appalling' - Christian Council" / 3/7/14). That Dr. Opuni-Frimpong is the General-Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), does not necessarily mean, or even imply, that whatever public statements he makes or issues squarely reflects the totality of the thinking of the country's Christian majority populace.

He may well have spoken for himself. And it would be quite interesting to hear what Dr. Opuni-Frimpong has to say about the regrettably shortlived governments of Prime Minister Kofi Abrefa Busia (1913-1978) and President Hilla (Babinin) Limann (1934-1998), vis-a-vis their clearly articulated vision and policy agenda, as well as the enviable democratic leadership capacity of these two most liberal and erudite Ghanaian statesmen.

Indeed, even as Dr. J. B. Danquah aptly observed in the wake of the tactically mischievous and opportunistic breakaway of the Nkrumah-led Convention People's Party (CPP), in June 1949, the effective polarization of modern Ghanaian political culture began with the megalomaniacal African Show Boy. Nkrumah's neocolonialist arrogation to himself the peremptory powers of kingmaker "extraordinary and plenipotentiary" of our traditional rulers, an extra-constitutional role not even so egregiously assumed by the erstwhile British colonial administrators, had a far-reaching deleterious impact on our culture of respect and reverence for our elders and leaders the full extent of which has yet to be seriously assayed.

Of course, astute, erudite and prolific British scholars like Richard Rathbone have done a yeomanly job on this aspect of our national life and cultural identity. And contrary to what the General-Secretary of the CCG would have his fellow citizens believe, Ghana was morbidly and near irreparably polarized by the eve of Nkrumah's auspicious overthrow in February 1966. Dr. Opuni-Frimpong only needs to research and read up on what such cardinal Nkrumah-lieutenants as Messrs. Quayson-Sackey and Krobo Edusei had to say about the man.

Why, for instance, would Dr. Quayson-Sackey, Nkrumah's pointman at the United Nations (UN) and a member of the latter's Hanoi delegation, flatly refuse to fly to Addis Ababa, during a summit meeting of the erstwhile Organization of African Unity (OAU), now the AU, to issue a harshly worded condemnatory statement denouncing the Kotoka-led National Liberation Council (NLC), and instead flew straight to Ghana and voluntarily surrendered himself to the prison custody of the NLC, after resoundingly declaring his unreserved support for the junta?

In short, if prominent Ghanaian clergymen like Dr. Opuni-Frimpong want to be respected and taken seriously as God-fearing preachers of truth and justice, they had better live up to the creed to which they have been professionally sworn. Make no mistake, the days of blind reverence for our proverbial men (and women) of the cloth are well behind us.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
March 7, 2014