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Opinions of Sunday, 9 October 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Nkrumah only ruled well with British supervision

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

Until the so-called Founder’s Day celebration is constructively streamlined to include the remarkable contributions of all our yeomen and women who diligently and assiduously worked to facilitate and expedite our collective achievement of sovereignty, from British colonial rule, I do not intend to either recognize or celebrate the same.

As a country with citizens who crave respect and dignity, globally, we cannot continue to live with half-truths and complete lies about the narrative of our Independence.

I am not calling our breakaway from British colonial imperialism one of liberation because even as Prof. Stephen Adei, the retired Rector of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), so poignantly and dispassionately put it the other day, the quality of Nkrumah’s leadership was only progressive, dynamic and democratic only for as long as the British colonialists were in the country to supervise him or literally look over his shoulders (See “Nkrumah Treated Ghanaians As ‘Slaves’ – Prof. Adei” / 9/22/16).

And that period of progressive and democratic leadership spanned that decade between 1951 and 1961. Prof. Adei did not cast matters in exactly the same terms depicted here; nevertheless, in essence, the former United Nations Development Program (UNDP) expert said the same things that I am saying here. Ironically, the period under discussion was also the most turbulent in our nation’s history.

Actually, the period during which Nkrumah was designated Leader of Government Business, after having won a landslide Legislative Assembly election while incarcerated for leading political disturbances, was short-lived.

By 1954, the putative African Show Boy would be re-designated Prime Minister; during this period, however, such vital cabinet portfolios as Defense and Foreign Affairs, as well as Finance, were still firmly in the hands of the British colonial officials. It was a Transitional Period and properly speaking, a procedural Half-Way House.

And in retrospect, it was all well and good; except, of course, for that portion that regarded how the British managed and invested the wealth of our mineral- and cash-crop rich economy; and forestry resources as well, I might add. All well and good because once Nkrumah assumed the full-reins of governance, in his own long-predicted way, he began copying all the bad political habits of the British expatriates.

Like the British, Nkrumah started wastefully expending the material and capital resources of the erstwhile Gold Coast, newly renamed Ghana. Much of the credit behind the renaming of The Gold Coast as Ghana belongs to Dr. J. B. Danquah, deservedly knighted as the Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics by the 1948 Watson Commission that investigated widespread political disturbances in the country.

And the preceding, of course, is also partly why I am of the firm belief and opinion that Founder’s Day, as it is presently celebrated in Ghana, does not give due credit to the Makers of Modern Ghanaian Civilization and History. Others more erudite and qualified have written reams about this aspect of our national history, and so I will not waste any time belaboring the point.

Yes, Nkrumah would waste our newly independent country’s resources to further his vaulting ambition of immediate continental African unification, an ambition and/or “vision” whose provenance far preceded his birth and emergence as a major politician and leader on the African continent.

Needless to say, both the idea of massive African independence achievement and eventual unification of the continent were already on the horizon, in the Gold Coast, and staunchly championed by men like Dr. Danquah and Messrs. George Alfred “Paa” Grant and Barrister Kobina Sekyi – of The Blinkards dramaturgical fame and a role model and mentor of Dr. Danquah – when a practically stranded young Mr. Kwame Nkrumah arrived at the Port of Takoradi towards the tail-end of 1947 from London.

And so those ardent and fanatical Nkrumaists hell-bent on making their political hero a standout, would be better off acknowledging this ineradicable factual reality rather than ignobly and unrealistically pretending as if the future President Nkrumah was some figurative and literal Sisyphus who heroically snatched a beacon of fire from the gods for the nonesuch seminal benefit of humankind.

In all reality, as he was to soon tragicomically prove himself to be, shortly after the British colonialists withdrew from the largely placid shores of the erstwhile Gold Coast, Nkrumah was a veritable “Afropean” who had been so thoroughly assimilated into Western culture and ways of thinking that even as the African-American scholar John Henrik Clarke once personally confided to this writer at a New York City lecture forum, Nkrumah’s greatest weakness was his failure to have taken the time to acquire some of the “Homegrown philosophy and culture” of the very people whom he was so hell-bent on leading into his famous Political Paradise, but for whom he so tragically lack the requisite patience that the proverbial “Shining Black Star” ended up depositing them into the metaphorical “Belly of the Beast,” the last place they intended to go, much less live.

You see, as early as 1949, Dr. Danquah had been warning Nkrumah against his radical idealistic tendencies towards the Communist economic model of the kind then practiced in Russia (See Okoampa-Ahoofe’s Dr. J.B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana. Lincoln, NE:, 2005).

Danquah had just officially toured the then-Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and studied their plantation system and accurately predicted that the sort of political culture practiced in that European mega-state was decidedly incompatible with the Ghanaian majority culture and was thus highly unlikely to work in the small West African nation.

But even more constructively, the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian Politics had cited the ready and classical example of cocoa farming and agriculture, in general, in the then-Gold Coast and meticulously concluded that if when it was commercially introduced into the country in the late 1880s and 90s, cocoa cultivation had been managed by the British colonial government, in the form of a state-owned and/or operated plantation system, the industry would not have been nearly half as successful as it had become by 1910 or thereabouts.

The Ghanaian people, Dr. Danquah insisted, had a strong sense of private ownership that could only be reoriented at the irreparable cost of massive industrial paralysis. Well, the experience of the Rawlings-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government’s thoroughgoing and effective dismantling of the state-owned Ghana Industrial Holdings Corporation (GIHOC), bears indelible witness to the incomparable genius of Dr. Danquah.

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