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Opinions of Monday, 4 May 2015

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Nkrumah’s, Not Danquah’s, Vision Decolonized South Africa!

Kofi Hadjor: "IT IS NKRUMAH THE THEORETICIAN AND PRACTITIONER OF PAN-AFRICANISM WHO CONTINUES TO PROVIDE INTEREST AND RESPECT."

The question is not who was the first or last, but the one who made the greatest impact by rallying the masses to do the real job of decolonizing Africa in general and South Africa in particular! The more important question, perhaps, is that primordiality does not necessarily translate into positive historical impact or personality importance. Those who make grandiose claims about other human beings, be they heroes or demigods, do sometimes miss out on this distinction. It is our submission than since the success of the pursuit of any human undertaking is determined not only by the means but also by the quality and durability of its ends and since Nkrumah’s legacy satisfies both conditions, the credit for South Africa’s decolonization goes to him (and others) because the positive entries on the balance sheet of Africa’s political history go in his favor.

No Ghanaian deserved that honor than Nkrumah and the people of Ghana!

On the other hand, if we should go by chronology then Casely-Hayford's National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA), the Union of Students of African Descent, the West African and West Indian Christian Union, the Nigerian Progress Union, the African Progress Union, and the Society of Peoples of African Origin had been playing various Pan-Africanist roles before the West African Students' Union’s formation. In fact, some of these organizations had existed in various capacities prior to Danquah’s arrival in England. Regarding the latter's relationship with Casely-Hayford's tutelage or mentorship, we shall recall Nana Ofori Atta Ayim who has this to say:

"DR. DANQUAH WAS A PROTEGE OF THE CELEBRATED AD ICONIC GOD-FATHER OF WEST AFRICAN NATIONALISM AND THE PIONEER PAN-AFRICANIST, JOSEPH EPHRAIM CASELY-HAYFORD. IN HIS [DANQUAH'S] OWN WORDS, IT WAS AT THE FEET OF THE EMINENT NATIONALIST, 'EKRA AGYEMAN, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS JOSPEH EPHRAIM CASELY-HAYFORD, THAT I WAS BROUGHT UP, LIKE ST. PAUL UNDER GAMALIEL, AND IT WAS FROM EKRA AGYEMAN THAT I LEARNED SELFLESS POLITICS AS THE SACRIFICING OF ONE'S SELF TOTALITY FOR ONE'S OWN COUNTRY. I SAT UNDER HIS FEET FROM 1915 TO HIS OWN DEATH IN 1930.'"

We should point out that it was not the West African National Secretariat (WANS) that decolonized Africa or South Africa. The decolonization of South Africa was the work and vision of great men like Nkrumah, Mandela, Fidel Castro, and others (see Mandela's and Castro's books "How Far We Have Come: South Africa and Cuba in Today's World" and "Cuba and Angola: Fighting For Africa's Freedom and Our Own"). In fact Nkrumah, Du Bois and others had worked together to bring the United Nations' attention to Africa's colonial status and her decolonization before he [Nkrumah] left America to England where he joined WANS.

For instance, Nkrumah helped Du Bois organized an International Colonial Conference in 1945 (and later the 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress). Both Nkrumah and Du Bois had authored resolutions for the United Nation on the colonial question! What is more, Pan-Africanism predates Danquah. Putting everything aside, the historical record is unambiguously clear that the West African National Secretariat (WANS) on a more activist rigor with Nkrumah's leadership (Vice President) presence as opposed to Danquah's association with it.

In fact, many members of the West African Students' Union left it to join Nkrumah's West African National Secretariat (WANS). Clearly, we see why the West African Students' Union (WASU) has a prestigious award named Nkrumah's, not Danquah's, honor and it is called "KWAME NKRUMAH LEADERSHIP AWARD." Where is WASU's "J.B. DANQUAH LEADERSHIP AWARD"? Of course readers are free to let us know if such an award exists for Danquah in WASU (we stand to be corrected if we are wrong on this one). Isa Abdulmahab writes (see "WASU Honors CBN Employee with Kwame Nkrumah Leadership Award," New Telegraph, May 3, 2014):

"GHANA'S BEST KNOWN LEADER AND ADVOCATE OF PAN-AFRICANISM, LATE DR. KWAME NKRUMAH DIED IN 1972, BUT HIS PHILOSOPHIES, IMMENSE LEADERSHIP QUALITY AND VANGUARD FOR PAN-AFRICANISM, WHICH HE CHAMPIONED WHILE ALIVE, LIVES ON. TO IMMORTALIZE THIS ICONIC LEADER, THE DR. KWAME NKRUMAH AWARD WAS INSTITUTED BY THE WEST AFRICAN STUDENTS UNION (WASU), IN 1997, PARTICULARLY TO SERVE AS INSPIRATION FOR AFRICAN LEADERS IN EXEMPLARY LEADERSHIP. TILL DATE, AWARDEES HAVE HIT 23, INCLUDING FORMER UNITED NATIONS (UN), SECRETARY-GENERAL, MR. KOFI ANNAN...'TO SAY HE HAS BEEN APPRECIATED BY A RECOGNIZED BODY IN FARAWAY GHANA IS THE BEST TREASURE HE HAS IN LIFE (HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS ADO IBRAHIM),' HE SAID, DESCRIBING THE LATE DR. NKRUMAH AS A REVERED AFRICAN WHOSE VISION FOR AFRICA REMAINS UNMATCHED BY ANY OTHER LEADER, DEAD OR LIVING."

Here are some additional hard facts!

OBED ASAMOAH: “Ghana was instrumental at the United Nations and other international fora in spearheading the adoption of a number of measures against the colonial and racist presence in Africa; most notably, General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV) of 1960 on the granting of independence to colonial territories and Resolution 1716 at the 17th Session of the General Assembly in 1962 requesting Member States separately or collectively to apply diplomatic and economic sanctions including an arms embargo against South Africa as well as the establishment of the UN Special Committee on Apartheid which was assigned responsibility for reviewing UN policies on South Africa and assessing the extent of their effectiveness. INDEED, TO AN EXTENT THAT NONE CAN GAINSAY AND TO WHICH THE UNPRECEDENTED ACCESSION OF 17 AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO INDEPENDENCE IN 1960 ALONE BEARS TESTIMONY, IT IS LARGELY TO THE CREDIT OF THE LIBERATION POLICY PURSUED BY GHANA UNDER NKRUMAH THAT THE ACCELERATION OF THE PROCESS OF DECOLONIZATION IN SOUTHERN AND EASTERN AFRICA OWED ITS SUCCESS…”

KIRSTEN HOLST PETERSEN: "Kwame Nkrumah was the single most important theoretician and spokesman of this decade...Hutchinson, a South African nationalist, captured Ghana's centrality to the era when he called his book, itself an account of his life and his escape from South Africa, simply, 'Road to Ghana.' All the continent's nationalist roads of the fifties led to Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana. EVERYWHERE ON THE CONTINENT, THE FORMER COLONIAL SLAVE WAS BREAKING HIS CHAINS, AND SINGING SONGS OF HOPE FOR A MORE EGALITARIAN SOCIETY IN ITS ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND CULTURAL LIFE AND NKRUMAH'S GHANA SEEMED TO HOLD THE TORCH TO THAT LIFE!" (see the book "Criticism and Ideology").

SAM NUJOMA: “Ghana's fight for freedom inspired and influenced us all, and the greatest contribution to our political awareness at that time came from the achievements of Ghana after independence. It was from Ghana that we got the idea that we must do more than just petition the UN [United Nations] to bring about independence.”

KENNETH KAUNDA: “Nkrumah inspired many people of Africa towards independence and was a great supporter of the liberation of southern Africa from apartheid and racism.” OBED ASAMOAH: “The All-African Peoples' Conference which followed in December 1958, came as the formal and concrete expression of Ghana's dedication to the freedom struggle in Africa and made it possible for representatives of freedom-fighters throughout the continent to assemble in a free, independent African state for the purpose of planning a coordinated assault on colonial and racist rule in Africa.”

DR. KWAME AMUAH (Nelson Mandela's son-in-law, married to Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah; Dr. Amuah is also a nuclear scientist): “Mr Mandela visited Ghana around 1960 or thereabout, for over 10 days but unfortunately he could not meet Nkrumah personally for good reasons. No doubt he saw Nkrumah as a hero. He did travel to Ghana to meet him. The intermediary was Kofi Batsa, the then co-editor of the CPP-owned newspaper, The Spark. Mr Batsa, whom my wife and I met on two occasions in the US, on authority provided the known reason why Mr Mandela did not meet Nkrumah on his first visit to Ghana. At the time Nkrumah was recovering from a major assassination attempt on his life and therefore access to him was restricted. Mandela, though, met all the relevant cabinet and party officials and the ANC was accorded fulsome support. This bit of history is important here as there are some who attribute Mandela's failure to meet Nkrumah as a snub. They claim the reason was that the ANC was open to all races and was losing its Pan-African identity, and that Nkrumah was leaning towards the Pan-African Congress. The idea that Nkrumah refused to meet Mandela because the ANC was opened to all South African races is far from the truth, and in fact it is not even a historical fact in the least. Nkrumah, while Pan-Africanist to boot, was equally non-racial.”

JULIUS NYERERE: “Ghana's independence from colonial in 1957 was recognized for what it was: The beginning of the end of colonialism for the whole of Africa…So 40 years ago, we recognized [Ghana's] independence as the first triumph in Africa's freedom and dignity. It was the first success of our demand to be accorded the international respect which is accorded free peoples. But Ghana was more than the beginning, our first liberated zone. Ghana inspired and deliberately spearheaded the independence struggle for the rest of Africa…KWAME NKRUMAH WAS [Ghana's] LEADER, BUT HE WAS OUR LEADER, FOR HE WAS AN AFRICAN LEADER. He had a great dream for Africa and its people. He had the wellbeing of our people at heart. He was no looter. He died poor…So my remaining remarks have a confession and a plea. The confession that we of the first generation leaders of independent Africa have not pursued the objective of African unity with vigor, commitment and sincerity that it deserved…”

PAUL LEE: “In the 20th century, probably no one except Marcus Garvey did more to bring freedom and dignity to black people worldwide that Kwame Nkrumah, the liberator and first president of the West African state of Ghana…His memory is cherished by a dwindling number of veterans of the movements of black liberation in the United States and national independence in Africa and the Caribbean..."

PAUL T. ZELEZA: "Mandela bookends Nkrumah in Africa's independence struggles. Nkrumah fired the Pan-African imagination, Mandela gave it its most memorable consummation. The former was a key architect of Pan-Africanism, a cosmopolitan intellectual activist whose Diaspora associates included W.B.E. Du Bois, George Padmore and C.L.R. James..."

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has posthumously been awarded the following awards in recognition of his contributions to decolonizing South Africa (among others)::


THE SATMA AWARDS (South African Government, Ingwe Mabalabala Holdings, and the National Heritage Council of South Africa).

Comment 1: This award, also called “the founders award,” is given to “persons or personalities who have contributed immensely to the elevation and improvement of the living conditions of their society.”


Comment 2: Mr. Alexander Asum-Ahensen, the then Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture who received the award on behalf of the Ghanaian Government, had this to say: “The role of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the independence of most African countries could not be under-estimated.


Comment 3: Mr. Enoch Ampofo, who represented event organizers, learned this fact in South Africa and had this to say: “Gaining perspectives into how Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has affected the lives of people in South Africa, I found out that back in the days of Apartheid, the oppressed people went to school and were taught about the principles of Kwame Nkrumah or Nkrumahism.”


GOLD MEDAL AWARD (United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid, 1978) Comment: For his contributions to the decolonization of Southern Africa (Apartheid South Africa).


MILLENNIUM EXCELLENCE AWARD RECIPIENT: PERSONALITY OF THE CENTURY (Excellent Award Foundation, Ghana, 2000)


Comment: “The Millennium Excellent Awards is the most prestigious international Awards event that celebrates Achievement and Excellence by Ghanaians, Africans, and Citizens of the World who have sacrificed their lives, toiled tirelessly and served the Continent relentlessly thereby contributing to the socio-economic development of Africa and our Dear Nation, Ghana since 1900 AD.”


WORLD PEACE PRIZE (World Veterans Federation, 1954)


Finally, Nkrumah achieved the following according to Prof. Zizwe Poe, one of America's leading Nkrumah scholars. These achievements are unparalleled in Ghana's or Africa's entire political history:

1) Nkrumah linked the traditions of West Africa nationalism and Pan-African nationalist

2) Nkrumah initiated and developed the first Pan-African liberated state in modern history

3) Nkrumah developed the notion of socialist African union as the optimal zone for the African personality, genius

4) Nkrumah offered a formal philosophy to defend the ideology of the African revolution

5) Nkrumah initiated the first African state-sponsored effort for African research

6) Nkrumah elevated Pan-Africanism movement to the level of nation-state
Where are the accolades, awards, and acknowledgements for Danquah as regards his role, if any, in the decolonization of Africa, Southern Africa, and South Africa particularly? Is it not a shameful irony that all the intellectual attention, all the major scholarly books and essays on Pan-Africanism dedicate mountain of pages upon pages to Nkrumah, his Pan-Africanist vision and unique place in Africa's decolonization, where Danquah even in his finest tangential moments in African history dare not tread?

To wit, Danquah could never fill Nkrumah's Pan-Africanist shoes no matter how that unrecognized history is exaggerated, multiplied, and embellished! Nkrumah was and still is synonymous with Pan-Africanism, Africa's decolonization, and the continent Africa itself! Still, primordiality only matters as far as chronological age goes in many a situation. It is however meaningless and useless when it does not impact humanity in any meaningful way. Thus on the question of Pan-Africanism and South Africa's and Africa's decolonization, Nkrumah wins hands down. Danquah is an appendage to that larger focus and authority of global history. Danquah's failure to win a single election in his own backyard, Akyem Abuakwa Central, speaks to the emotional paucity of his Pan-Africanist credentials.

His consistent failures to unite his own people behind him represent a serious critique or indictment of an individual who claimed, or so claimed by his Confederate apologists, to have dabbled in Pan-Africanism. Charity, they say, begins at home. Regrettably, and often, it is an insignificant minority, an unrecognized fringe if you will, that tries to trumpet Danquah's vague Pan-Africanist attributes in the presence of the nonpareil profile of Nkrumah's high-profile Pan-Africanist credentials. In fact, there is none in the entire political history of Africa that compares to Nkrumah on the Pan-Africanism question.

Finally, the fact of Danquah crying in prison and accusing Ako Adjei for introducing Nkrumah to the leadership of the UGCC adds to his supposed identification with Pan-Africanism. In South Africa and across Africa it is Nkrumah who stands tall and is recognized as Africa's foremost Pan-Africanist. South African leaders including Oliver Tambo, Mandela, and the general leadership of the ANC recognize(d) Nkrumah as such. Certainly, a self-styled "Pan-Africanist" like Danquah should not have declared on October 2, 1961 that Apartheid South Africa was "THE FIRST FREE COLONIAL COUNTRY IN AFRICA" (see Danquah's "Historic Speeches And Writings On Ghana," compiled by H.K. Akyeampong, courtesy of Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko). Thus Danquah (and his latter-day Confederate apologists) should have known better than to make a conscious mockery of Black South Africans.


Some authoritative source materials on Pan-Africanism (WE SHALL PROVIDE MORE AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE MATERIALS ON THIS QUESTION LATER ELSEWHERE):

1) Olisanwuche Esebede's "Pan-Africanism: The Idea and Movement, 1976-1991;


2) Ronald Waters' "Pan-Africanism in the Diaspora: An Analysis of Modern Afrocentric Political Movements;


3) Hakim Adi's/Marika Sherwood's "Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora Since 1789;


4) Tony Martin's "The Pan-African Connection: From Slavery to Garvey and Beyond;


5) E.U. Essien-Udom's "Black Nationalism: The Search for An Identity;


6) Zizwe Poe's "Kwame Nkrumah's Contributions to Pan-Africanism: An Afrocentric Analysis";


7) Marika Sherwood's "Kwame Nkrumah: The Years Abroad, 1935-1947";


8) Carlos Nelson's "Kwame Nkrumah: A Study of His Intellectual Development in the United States 1935-45";


9) Amy Jacques Garvey's "The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey" (no doubt Garvey was probably one of the greatest influences on Nkrumah):


We shall return...