Feature Article of Saturday, 14 January 2012

Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.

Are Nkrumah’s children in politics failing him?

(Part I)

By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The political career of Samia Yaaba Nkrumah and Dr. Sekou Nkrumah is in crisis. And that is even an understatement. Indeed, their political career is a flop. Their fate provides useful lessons in political miscalculation.
While Samia’s experiences portray her as a victim of unfortunate circumstances, that of Sekou certainly establishes him as a political neophyte who wants to soar without knowing that he hasn’t yet developed his political wings! Or even if he has those wings, he doesn’t seem to know how to fly. He is flapping those wings unnecessarily and losing his feathers. He has virtually become an ostrich in Ghanaian politics.
Are these two children of the Great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah—the most renowned African leader, freedom fighter, and political thinker—failing him? Or are they caught up in a political whirlwind they didn‘t prepare for?
We note that other children of the Great Osagyefo are doing well outside partisan politics. Dr. Francis Nkrumah, the eldest (not from Samia) realized his station in life and has stuck to it, although some pressure had been mounted on him in the past by the leadership of the pro-Nkrumahist political family to participate in partisan politics on the ticket of his father’s party.
He turned down all entreaties and remained a lecturer at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research until his retirement.
He hardly wades into any matter that has a partisan political bent and concentrates on only what he expended energy and resources establishing himself for in his profession. That is a wise choice to make; but he doesn’t shirk his civic responsibilities.
He contributes to national development efforts in the best possible area, knowing very well that it is not everybody who is well-cut-out for what his father did and for which he will continue to be fondly remembered by the diverse peoples of the world who truly and genuinely appreciate the benefits of the Great Osagyefo’s monumental work for humanity. His avowed detractors in Ghana and elsewhere can go to blazes!
Dr. Francis Nkrumah has the benefit of his long stay in the country to guide him. It seems that having spent much of his life residing in Ghana, he has become very much familiar with the ebb-and-flow of national and local politics to know how and where to tread so as not to ruffle feathers needlessly.
I am yet to come across anything derogatory about him as a result of anything untoward that he has ever done or said to or about anybody or issue. He is astute and level-headed enough to know how to use his talents to improve the lot of humanity. That’s why he will continue to command respect wherever he goes. Now in retirement, he works as a consultant paediatrician.
Another product of the Nkrumah-Fathia union is Gorkeh Gamal Nkrumah, who has chosen to maintain a low profile and is off our radar.
Now, to the two children who chose to slot themselves into Ghanaian politics and appear not to be having it smooth sailing. I’ll provide a brief background of each before discussing their political hiccups.
SAMIA YAABA NKRUMAH
Samia is the second child of the Nkrumah-Fathia relationship, born in 1960 at Aburi in the Eastern Region, and attended the Achimota School. To her credit, she has a Bachelor (1991) and a Masters (1993) degree in Arabic Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London.
She worked as a bank clerk with the London branch of the Bank of India in 1984 and the Al-Ahram newspaper as a journalist in various capacities starting from 1989. She is also a freelance journalist. She is married to Michele Melega, an Italian-Danish man, and they have one son, Kwame.
Samia is one of the founders of “Africa Must Unite” which aims to promote Kwame Nkrumah’s vision and political culture. As part of this philosophy, she decided to go into active politics in Ghana, winning the Jomoro Parliamentary seat from the NDC in the 2008 elections. Her political career seemed to have improved drastically when she became the first female to chair the CPP, a major political party in the country.
SEKOU NKRUMAH
Sekou is the youngest son of Nkrumah. Born in Accra in 1963, he was named after his father’s close friend (Sekou Toure), the former President of Guinea. He was only two years old when his father was overthrown and he was raised in Egypt.
In 1975, Sekou returned to Ghana to complete his secondary education, and in 1981, he left for Bucharest, Romania to complete his university education. Back in Ghana, he has been actively involved in journalism and politics. He is married with two children.
ILL-FATED POLITICAL CAREERS: WHOSE FAULT?
Samia and Sekou spent much of their time outside Ghana, having left Ghana at the overthrow of their father in 1966, resettled in Egypt by the Egyptian government, only to return in 1975 at the invitation of General Acheampong's National Redemption Council government. By the early 1980’s, they were back in Egypt.
Whether they spent all that time in Egypt, where their mother (Fathia) had repaired to until her death, or elsewhere to define for themselves what role they wanted to play in life, they eventually relocated in the country and didn’t take long to settle on national politics as their means for contributing their quota to national development. But are they really contributing anything worthwhile?
Their decision seems to have taken them on different roller-coaster rides whose twists and turns they seem not to be conditioned to cope with without being unhurt in one way or the other.
In choosing which political culture to identify with, both Samia and Sekou went where one would expect them to be: the CPP, their father’s political legacy. Even then, we could all tell that they had different attitudes to matters concerning how the politics in that political family should be run.
We could also tell from Sekou’s open criticism of his sister’s bid to contest the Jomoro Parliamentary seat in the 2008 elections that these two children of the Great Osagyefo were poles apart in terms of personal ambitions and political considerations.
Then, he went ahead to condemn her for deciding to contest the chairmanship of the CPP, which she proved wrong by winning the contest. Yet, Sekou won’t halt his personal attacks as he continued to assail his sister at will.
Before the explosion that recently rocked the CPP and forced Paa Kwesi Nduom out, Sekou had described Samia as “politically immature” and accused some stalwarts in the CPP of taking advantage of that inadequacy to manipulate her to serve their peculiar purposes.
On this score, no one has demonstrated political waywardness as much as Sekou has done. Will we so soon forget how he deserted the CPP for the NDC? He defied all suasion from his admirers and dined and wined with the NDC until his “madness” caught up with him to do what will erode any political gains he might have made by that shift in political allegiance.
Let’s now plot the self-destructive trajectory of Sekou’s political miscalculation. Sekou first came to notice when he bit the finger feeding him. He publicly lambasted President Mills as weak and incompetent, topping it up with other wild allegations bordering on his ill-health and its negative impact on his leadership.
No one is against any open criticism of President Mills, but Sekou’s was misplaced and irresponsible, apparently because he chose to vent his spleen of depression on the wrong target.
That brazen display of notoriety cost him his job at the national youth council, which seems to have sent him spiraling beyond control—and provided the ammunition he needs to launch scathing verbal attacks on President Mills.
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