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Opinions of Thursday, 25 February 2016

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur

February, 1966!

A half-century ago, today, Nkrumah was overthrown while on a trip to Hanoi.

Reaction to that event has been, predictably, h24theated and emotional.

Did he deserve to be removed?
Who were behind Kotoka, Afrifa, Ankrah and others?
Was the CIA involved?

Since it is generally accepted that Ghanaians do not want a one-party state or preventive detention, it would seem that he needed to be removed. It is obvious that he could not be removed peacefully. As John Kennedy once said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable." Those who are against one-party state and PDA but condemn his overthrow have an obligation to show us how he could have been changed peacefully. Of course, those who overthrew him showed their frailties by continuing the very PDA which was one of the reasons for the coup.

As to who was behind his overthrow, fingers have been pointed at the Danquah-Busia-Dombo elements and the CIA since his overthrow. The evidence here is at best, circumstancial. While the UP wanted him removed, some in the CPP wanted him out as well. Adamafio and others in the CPP had been charged with subversion and Gbedemah was known to be working for his overthrow. Furthermore, the CPP showed, in their support for Limann's overthrow in 1981, that they were and are capable of overthrowing their own.

While the C.I.A may have wanted him out, there is no incontrovertible evidence of their involvement as convincing as the Allende coup in Chile. Besides, Nkrumah had been educated in the US and the Americans had helped finance the Akosombo dam.
How did it affect our subsequent history?

It is obvious that it was a powerful example, for better or worse, not just for Ghana but for Africa.

Finally, to support the 1966 coup is not synonymous with support for all coups.
It is clear that Nkrumah was a great man--our greatest President--with great faults. We can celebrate his greatness even as we bemoan his faults and learn from his life.
We need to learn how to avoid a repeat of the mistakes that made 24th February, 1966, neccesary. We need a full, balanced biography that will show us his greatness, his faults and the enduring lessons of his rule.

Long live Nkrumah!
Long live Ghana!

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