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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Columnist: Asante Fordjour

A Death of Nkrumahism?

…WHY CPP Is A Broken Home (I)

A Comparative Study of Ghana Without Nkrumah

Asante Fordjour

ABSTRACT

Ghana; according to National Reconciliation Commission Final Report (Oct. 2004, Vol. 1 Chp. 3), is an artificial political entity comprising four distinct components woven together around the time of Independence. It comprises the following: (1) the Gold Coast Colony consisting of the coastal states, Akyem Abuakwa and Akwamu, which were under British colonial rule as a result of the Bond of 1844; (2) the Kingdom of Asante, that was annexed by the British at the end of the Yaa Asantewaa War in 1901; (3) the Northern Territories, which comprised kingdoms that came under British influence by reason of treaties of friendship executed between the British Government and the traditional rulers via the Northern Territories Ordinance of 1901; and (4) the Trans-Volta Togoland – a British Trust Territory originally, a part of the German colony that was lost to the Allies after the WW I and that was split up between Britain and France ((here, 1894 until 1914? )) and administered under a mandate of the League of Nations. These were the known forces to the Osagyefo, so what went wrong?

INTRODUCTION

Perhaps the kindest verdict on Nkrumah ((overthrow)) in the Western press, per Irving Markovitz (Ghana Without Nkrumah, Africa Report, April 1966), was that he tried too hard and was in too much of a hurry. “He was called a “clown” in the London Observer, and “Stalin-like” in the New York Herald Tribune', The New York Times made his 1961 proclamation of compulsory education appear to have been a totalitarian act.” Yet, we agree with Markovitz that to interpret Nkrumah as a ruthless totalitarian leader- a kind of sub-Saharan Hitler is yes, to misunderstand both the sources and the loss of his power.

BACKGROUND

To have the broader picture, we need the insight- we must look beyond the “news”. The events leading to the Gold Coast becoming the Independent State of Ghana on 6th March, 1957, according to the GNRC, have had a great impact on the course of our country’s history- human rights, political and ideological tensions, as well as economic and social problems, that had either been ignored or poorly addressed in the Gold Coast, continued to impinge on and define, the character of the independent state of Ghana.

At independence, Nkrumah said something like this: “Once upon a time, Marcus Garvey looked around the world if he could see a government of ‘Black People’. He did not find one. So he said he was going to create one but he did not succeed….Today, the words of Garvey, the words of Aggrey, and the words of Caesly Hayford… have come to a reality…” The Osagyefo, who proclaimed that there is “A New African” in the world ready to fight his own battles so as to demonstrate the capabilities of the “Blackman”, also told the cheering Gold Coaster that at long last, the battle has ended and your beloved Country is free forever. He reminded the Ghanaian that she is no longer a “slave” and that her country’s freedom would be hollow, unless it is linked up to total liberation of African.

For the benefit of thousands of those Gold Coasters who could not understand him in English Language, Nkrumah asked permission to abridge his independence declaration speech into Fante Language, rather than Nzema, where he thanked the Nanamom, the distinguished guests, an indeed all segments in the New Ghanaian society, appealing to every conscience- for change of attitude and hard work. In the opinion of the “New African”, this could be the only way for a prosperous Ghana which will in turn revered our spirit ancestors that their quest, toils and struggles to be freed, had not been in vain.

The political roots of Kwame Nkrumah and the support he had from various ethnic groups in forming his own Convention Peoples Party on 12th June 1949, and his overthrow in 1966, are well documented by historians and biographers, so we labour not our readers. But if the NRC final report were to be seen as accurate on its facts, then it could be said that at independence, there was indeed one strong party– the CPP – and several others of varying strengths, all of whom were in a relationship of antagonism against CPP rule.

So, the period thereafter heralded what the report reveals as the nurturing of bad blood between the leaders of the two parties. Attacks in the Evening News on the leaders of the UGCC, especially on Dr. Danquah, as well as a whispering campaign of bribe-taking and allegations of other dubious activities made against the leadership of the UGCC, did a lot to embitter their relationships. But with energetic and good organizers such as Komla Agbeli Gbedemah and Kojo Botsio, who Nkrumah converted for the formation of the new political party, CPP grew from strength to strength. Praises go to these cadres for their individual abilities and high organizational skills- CPP under Nkrumah was said to be virtually a youth movement at its inception. Thus with its slogan “Self-Government Now”, rooted in the youth, it had the energy and strategy to match the UGCC, foot-for-foot.

Yes, we are not here to trace Nkrumah’s political roots but to dispel the lurking temptation of academic dishonesty or bias, it worth noting also that UGCC- the first known political party in Ghana- formed at Saltpond in August 1947 under the chairmanship and financial sponsorship of Paa George Grant and had as its slogan “Self-Government within the shortest possible time”, per the NRC report, also attracted a huge following among the chiefs, farmers, educated persons such as the Man Kwame Nkrumah as well as WWII veterans- who had fought in other lands for freedom on behalf of their masters but had, as NRC put it, neither been given training in civil life with appropriate income-earning skills nor any financial package to ease their transition into civil life.

These, coupled with the rapid urbanisation and expansion of social amenities and infrastructure in the urban areas, it is submitted, produced a class of politically-conscious young men and women who began to appreciate the anti-colonial posture of the intelligentsia. Nkrumah’s organizational abilities linked up with his political youth groups that he bred- the Committee on Youth Organisation (CYO) and the established Evening News paper became his trump cards and indeed the beginning and perhaps, the end of his political dream as conflict over strategy soon developed between him and other leaders of the UGCC on the question of promoting himself and his personal agenda at the expense of the party that employed him, for the final onslaught on colonial(ism) rule?

In January 1950, the CPP had organized an action of civil disobedience, termed “Positive Action”, consisting of boycotts, strikes and sit-downs, in order to compel the colonial government to grant immediate self-government. Although planned as a non-violent action, NRC reports that CPP eventually turned violent and so its leadership was arrested and imprisoned. Nkrumah for example, was in prison when CPP woo the decisive majority of seats in the 1951 elections held under the 1951 Constitution (Coussey Constitution). And being the leader of the party that had won majority seats in the elections, he was released from prison to head the government as the “Leader of Government Business”. At this point, we might have been fairer in tracing the true political roots of Nkrumahism. WHO THEN IS AN NKRUMAHIST?

For some, Nkrumahism is a crusade to eliminate or purge all forms of imperialism and neo-colonialism. To others, it is the concept by which those who felt politically maligned by the so-called “ASANTE AND THE AKYEM MATEMEHO” and all its alleged economic hegemony and ramifications set themselves free. Then is a front against critics of the CPP-led Government which strove to eliminate chieftaincy which had endured for decades and continue to thwart the emergence of classless society that the Osagyefo promised some decades ago? We hear the murmur as the debate unfolds but what seems clear and perhaps ascertainable, is that the Pan-African Campaigner never promised any of those.

So in our minds there are two products in Nkrumahism- the Nkrumahists who enjoy the fruits of capitalism and all its associated socio-economic and political innovation but disdain its related ideological hardships and economic biases- unfairness and imbalances in the distribution of global wealth and justice- we may call them the “anti-imperialists, internationalists or say, devout Pan-Africanists. Then are those who attempt to profess that all that Nkrumahism means or stood for- are that “Independence Now” and the “arms-twisting matemeho of Independence in shortest possible time” of yesteryears. Indeed there could be a “third force” that enjoys the trappings of both- they’re all fallible.

As Markovitz writes, unlike in many other African countries, including those which experienced military takeovers because they were unstable or important elements in their respective nations were neither represented in them nor decisively suppressed, and where politics, as he put it, was the monopoly of an elite coalition of middle-class intellectuals and a traditional hierarchy that excluded the peasants, skilled labourers and businessmen, in Nkrumah’s Ghana, every major social group, in the words of Markovitz, had at the time the mutiny, reached an understanding with the CPP and for that matter have passed successfully through its squabbles over coup in our in Our Homeland Ghana.

The keywords here are that every major social group, reached an understanding with the CPP regime, have passed successfully through its squabbles over coup. Today, the Convention Peoples Party, we are tempted to argue, has lost its triumphal direction ever since it was kicked out in February 1966 and for the second time in December 1981, where Peoples National Party (PNP), under the leadership of Dr Hilla Limann, was booted out in a coup. Since we are yet to witness a country with three dominant political parties rotating power, there is little doubt whether National Democracy Congress, as it appears might have usurped its political place- in terms of electoral strategy and ideology, if any.

There are many issues raised by Markovitz’s but two things stand tall- the technocrats of CPP-led regime from the nucleus of civil servants that it inherited from pre-independence days. First their numbers: “the Government acquired thousands of employees as it Africanized the administrative structure, extended its services from the large cities to millions of people in the bush, and undertook sweeping programs of welfare and economic development, instead of confining itself (as did the colonial administration) to the household tasks of maintaining peace, order, and a system of justice…”

The most frequently asked question is: So what went wrong for the stiff opposition that he encountered in a country which according to Markovitz, was neither a terrorized nor a poverty-stricken? It is suggested that he wielded enormous power which, he exercised in excess and as a consequence, gambled with his personal comfort and safety. Yet it was not only the threats of Matemeho but also the seriousness of the cult of Nkrumahism at the Ideological Institute at Winneba. Thus he surrounded himself with people who paid lip-services for their pleasures and hardly cautioned him on some fragile political moves.

Perhaps the two failed assassination bids on Nkrumah’s life that called for robust personal and national security realignment, arguably, disfigured and maimed Nkrumah’s natural self-orientation and humour as natives of his Nzema ethnic group such Boye Moseses and a Fordjors took control of the State Security Service, continue to haunt many. The alleged reliance on foreign security details for the Man Nkrumah who held so much for the “black race” and continent, and not long ago, had been brought out from jail by popular homemade opinion through boycotts and civil disobedience, worth noting.

So in our generation today, the self-pious Nkrumahists, it appears, are those who could dive into the hearts and minds of those who bear names such as Kotoka, Afrifa, Harley, Deku, Adamafios, Dankwa, Akufo, Obestesbi, Ako-Adjei, Addo and the Busias and label them as probable agents of CIA or Matemeho agitators, as there is no way that they could champion the causes of Nkrumahism? Recently they argued and indeed made a case that their own Paa Kwesi Nduom and Opeisika Agudey, could not be true Nkrumahists because they own their own business or indeed meddle in the private sector. The effects of their unsubstantiated suspicions and frustrations, are perhaps, so glaring that one needs not to consider the numerous fronts, layers, contours, sects, peripheries and yes, segments that confront the struggling Nkrumahists family of today.

At the time of going to press, the CPP which had maintained its leadership in the politics of the country, winning majority votes in both the 1954 and 1956 political struggle which according to Markowitz, pushed its opponents into disarray, to use the historical term, has a lone seat in our 230-member Legislative Assembly. Perhaps the barest minimum ever to be achieved since 1960 and 1979 if the late Dr Limann were also to be recognized as faithful servant of Nkrumahism One could hear the whispers that he was not, but rather an UP interloper. So while they seek collective condemnation of the 1966 coup, they sail with a single-engine ship of 31 December 1981, justifying it as noble?

Having said all that, one may be puzzling whether the “Nkrumahist families” of today, suffer not the characteristics of a “broken home”- characterized by divorce /and or death. Thus, their inability to overcome this emotional syndrome of the 1966 coup and the natural Death of Nkrumah that bring little or no vote to CPP, it could be argued, might have given different interpretations. No one disputes Nkrumah’s inter-continental leadership greatness and foresight: co-founder of Pan-Africanism, architect of the Organization of African Unity now the African Union (AU), and locally, the outstanding human and infrastructural developments across Ghana, are perhaps, his trademarks and foot-prints. Yet it is mystifying whether Osagyefo did not die intestate or without a Will.

Politically argued, Nkrumah had many faces and appears difficult if not complex to be understood by simplistic minds of ours who subscribe to his unrivalled ideas and vision.

On global political economy and international relations- he was “A Non-Aligned”, prepared to trade with both the Chinese and the Americans. At home, Nkrumah declared himself as “A New Black Pan-African”, ready to fight his own battles- “a black messiah” who never got married to a “black woma?n”, one may submit. Yet we concede with Markovitz that once upon a time the Man Nkrumah stood almost alone in arguing in what has now become a global aspiration that "the progress of Ghana and perhaps, the African continent, could only be measured by the number of children in school, the quality of their education, the availability of water and electricity and true, the control of sickness."

CONCLUSION

In conclusion therefore and, as it shall be shown in our next edition: CPP At Crossroads, it worth saying that Nkrumahism- complex an ideology as it appears, still holds some relevance and ought not to be mistaken with “ethnic contest” or like“ a child of a broken home”, struggling for crumbs and acceptance in her new abode. The ability of New CPP, to cart a vicious political path of 21st century, will go a long way of tracing and yes, overreach the true treasures of the Man, who held so much for Ghana and the World.

Asante Fordjour

Credit JusticeGhana.com