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Opinions of Friday, 1 January 2010

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter

Can Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah step into the shoes of ...

her more famous father, late Dr Kwame Nkrumah?

As late President Kwame Nkrumah, founder and father of Ghana and Africa’s greatest patriot birthday was being observed across sub-Saharan Africa, her only daughter, Ms Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah is emerging as a political player in her own right.

Almost fours decades after his death, the “Greatest African of the 20th Century”, Osagefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah is enjoying an unprecedented revival with the centenary year of his birth being celebrated across the continent leading to Africa Liberation day, 25 May 2010.

Yaba Christina Nkrumah, who was only 6 years old when her father’s administration was overthrown by a group of armed criminals in uniform, has become a forceful defender of her father’s administration and policies that helped millions of Ghanaians and other Africans across the continent to be educated and freed themselves from colonialism. Yaba Nkrumah brings to politics her father’s steely focus and resemblance and her mother’s softer touch and beauty.

With her election as the only member of her father’s party in the Ghanaian parliament, many of her compatriots want her to continue in her role and plan for the 2016 presidential elections. She has emerged as one of the strongest defenders of the poor, not only in her homeland Ghana, but across sub-Saharan Africa, with some describing her as a “chip off the block”.

Already, many progressives in all the parties in Ghana (National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party, Convention Peoples Party and Peoples National Congress) want her to set up a think thank and build a base of support and knowledge that would put her in position to take a major position in her country. In a recent interview, Yaba Nkrumah indicated that her immediate interests are helping to create employment for the jobless youth and graduates of Ghana, facilitate services for the mentally challenged, old folks and children – a cause that her famous father would be proud of. Ms Nkrumah said “I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the needs of our people around the country. It has given me a real understanding of how important it is to participate and help bring change to my country”.

Nkrumah’s bold political moves last year to stand for elections represent a significant departure from journalism and media consultancy. Today Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah sits in parliament as the face of the future for her millions of Ghanaians who are marginalised. Many in the social democratic movement, including this writer sees Nkrumah’s raised profile as significant. According to a leading academic, Yaba has credibility because she stood for elections and captured a very difficult seat in her own right. He states that, “Samia Yaba is one of the smartest, most engaging parliamentarians who thinks about country before self, just like the late first president. He added that Yaba realises that she bears some responsibility to keep her father’s legacy going.

Yaba Christina Nkrumah is no ordinary politician. As the daughter of a legendary president, Samia can be bring change to her homeland. Already she has set her eyes on helping the disadvantage in Ghana and Africa by supporting many NGOs to raise funds for good causes. Samia’s endorsement of President Mills’s founder’s day is significant. While Samia has always shared her mother’s desire to avoid prying eyes, she has also grown into a keen appreciation of her political birthright. According one academic at her former college, School of Oriental and African Studies at University of London, said, “The more Samia read about the works of her father, the she it made her miss him. She has maintained her interest in her father’s legacy”. She said Samia Nkrumah came to the fore when she gave a speech at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, few years ago. From that moment, the audience knew that Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah is different. Unlike the rest of Nkrumah boys, Samia was born to continue with the legacy.

In an interview she gave, Samia recounted the rehabilitation of her father’s legacy by Presidents Rawlings, Kuffuor and Mills. She said Rawlings oversaw the construction of the Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra, Kuffuor presided over her mother’s funeral and Mills has declared 21 September Founder’s Day. She said hers is to bring fresh ideas to realise the objectives of Nkrumaism. In the said interview, Nkrumah agreed that no one has emerged as the continent’s true leader since the death of her father; however she explained that the greatest tragedy we could inflict on ourselves as Africans is to succumb to Afro-pessimism. Just like her father, Samia is a deep thinker and stated that Africans does not have a problem that Africans cannot solve, just like her late father said some half a century ago.

Like her late father, Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah’s vision is to see the economic integration of sub-Saharan Africa and said she will carry on the torch that her father lit. That vision is shared by many youth of Africa, that the only Africa can overcome her economic woes is to integrate the economies of the 54 counties on the continent. Across the continent and in Diaspora, she is being seen as the real successor of the Nkrumah legacy and one of the hopefuls’ to rekindle the African unification dream.

In speech after speech, Samia keep emphasising on the African unity agenda and the need to bridge the gender equality gap, poverty eradication and protection of the rights of children and youth. She is listened to by governments and policy makers alike, not because of who she is, but what she stands for. Nkrumah has emerged at a time that the continent need someone of the calibre of her famous father, and what a time to come to the fore!

The question many are asking is, will we see the emergence of Nkrumah in our life time to help lead sub-Saharan Africa to the promise land – socio-economic unification? After almost 40 years since his death are we seeing the re-emergence of Kwame Nkrumah in his daughter? In 2000 Africans voted Nkrumah as Africa’s foremost patriot, the best African leader that ever lived. In the 1950s (just over 10 years after helping to organised the last of Pan African Congress in Manchester in 1945) he became an international symbol of freedom as leader of the first black African country to shake off the chains of colonialism when he declared,

“We are going to see that we create our own African personality and identity. We again rededicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa; for our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent”

In 2007, at the African Union summit in Accra, Ghana which coincided with Ghana’s golden independence jubilee, his name dominated the summit, for he is remembered by many Africans for his consistent obsession with the principle of African unity, well before the colonial masters ever thought of unity – European Union!

During the OAU conference in MAY, 1963, NKrumah warned that without unity, Africa will become the beggar of the world, where children will die of hunger, girls will be uneducated and mothers will die at child birth, when he stated, “unless we achieve Africa unity now, we sit here today will become victims and martyrs of neo-colonialism” – today that prophesy is stirring Africa in the face – Rwanda, Darfur, Liberia, Sierra Leone and countless civil strive across the continent. The colonialist stood by as millions of BLACK AFRICANS WERE BUTCHERED!!! In 2000 Africans spoke when they declared Nkrumah as the unopposed first patriot of Africa.

Nkrumah said, “As far as concerned, I am in the knowledge that death can never extinguish the torch which I have lit in Ghana and Africa. Long after I am dead and gone, the light will continue to burn and be borne aloft, giving light and guidance to all people”. Today her daughter has become the light of that symbol. At Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia, soon after her speech, many in the audience who remember Nkrumah began to shed tears – her passion and delivery of speech was Kwame Nkrumah at best.

Already many non governmental organisations are beating a path to her door, for they see an African whose ideas, ideals and philosophy, like her famous father, can help Africa overcome many of the deficiencies the continent faces – child-girl poverty (sub-Saharan Africa is the only continent that many children die before age five), access to health and education (many Africans lack many health needs; many cannot read and write) access to clean drinking water (almost 32 years after Alma Ata declaration Africa is still gabling with persistent poverty) and women access to finance and social justice, all themes Samia has taken on.

The question many on the continent and Diaspora are asking is, “with many Africans calling for socio-economic unity, is Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah the one to complete Nkrumah’s agenda of United States of Africa?” Already Africans, from across the continent are calling for Afro centric structures like a single African currency and free movement of goods and people. Can Samia help bridge the gap that emerged at the Accra summit between Gaddafi’s vision – INSTANTISTS, and Mbeki’s theory – THE GRADUALISTS, as one policy maker from Kenya gasped when he stated, “remembering Kwame Nkrumah without implementing the ideals for which he lived and died as meaningless!! Africa missed another opportunity, ironically in Accra in 2007; exactly 50 years after Nkrumah set the flame ablaze in Accra!

Now that the mantle has been handed over to her daughter, Samia Yaba Christina Nkrumah, can she take Africa to the promise land – Union of African States that was put in place in Accra in 1961? Already Samia is thinking of taking her case to the various regional blocks in Africa – SADC, ECOWAS, Maghred, CEMAC and EAC.

It has become imperative that Africa has no other choice (No Plan B) but to implement Kwame Nkrumah’s dream – African unity and Samia has emerged as the “other Nkrumah” to help push this philosophy forward, a dream started by Nkrumah and to be completed by Nkrumah.

In his book Africa Must Unite, Nkrumah asserts “African unity must necessarily take the form of a continent-wide political unification. There will have to be continental government charged with the management of all essential functions, notably the economy, defence and foreign affairs”. European Union has implemented ideas Nkrumah advocated for Africa some 50 years ago – shows us why Nkrumah was far ahead of his time.

In 2000 many Africans asked, “Can we have a leader in Africa to fight like Dr Kwame Nkrumah?”

Peter N. Jeffrey, Houston, Texas.