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Opinions of Monday, 2 December 2013

Columnist: Enninful, Kingsley

Ghana: The Path called possibility


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[Authors Note: The text is fictional, not based on historical facts pertaining to the life of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah]

I’ve heard men in desperate moments often cry “O God, if only you would fling us a handful of stars! And often the Height evidently accepts the challenge of the Depth. Heaven hungers for the love of Earth, and so the stars are thrown. We would see them only if we looked closely. For most of them shed their luster over the stern realities of life: a few glitter in the firmament of fiction. It matters little. A great romance is merely a portrait of humanity, painted by a master-hand.

Kwame was 'a broth of a boy,’ we are told. Born in the coastal town of Nkroful in the Western Region of Ghana, he lived chiefly on shoes and boxes. Shoes and boxes you wonder? Eager to know what lay beyond the plains of his village, he wore out more shoes than his poor mother found it easy to provide. Taunted by the constant vision of the restless waters, he put out to sea in broken boxes and leaky barrels his dreams and goals that he might follow in the wake of the great achievers. Write down the vision we are often admonished. Therein lies the mark of a born winner.

Almost as soon as he first opened his eyes and looked around him, he felt that the world was very wide and vowed that he would find its utmost edges. From his explorations of the hills and valleys around his village home, he often returned too exhausted either to eat or sleep. His father had many wives and children but he was his mother’s only child. Elizabeth Nyaniba, was not just a mother but a tower of strength.

“I never cared for any woman as much as I cared for her. We are both alike in one thing. We seem to draw strength from each adversity” said Kwame in his later years.

At age three his mother brought him to Half-Assin, where his father worked as a goldsmith. He soon began schooling at the local Catholic School where he was baptized and named Francis. Before this he and a bunch of friends had planned to destruct a service being held at the school. 'It was raining hard,' he says, in some of his notes, 'it was raining hard, but I headed for the church; and on arriving at the bottom of the stairs I listened whilst they sang "All people that on earth do dwell" and I thought I had never heard such singing before--so solemn, yet so joyful. I ascended the steps and entered. There was a large congregation. The younger of the evangelists was the first to speak. He announced as his text the words: "ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE…." He spoke directly to me. I felt it much; but at the close I hurried away back home. I was too upset to speak to my mum about what had happened deep within me.'

On the following Sunday night, he was, he says, 'pierced through and through, and felt lost beyond all hope of salvation as the words haunted me.' All things are possible…

On the Monday, the local minister, the Rev. A. G. Fraser, who had exercised a deep influence over his early childhood, came to see him and assured him that to believe is only to begin. 'Then,' he said, 'I believed unto salvation.' Therein lies the difference between a man and a great man – Kwame was every inch a great man. For he had taken the first great step of success – believe that he could change his nation.

All things are possible…

And thus a great text began, in a great soul, the manufacture of a great history.

When he was twenty four years of age, he took a private course to prepare for the University of London. He failed the Latin and Mathematics papers of that examination. Devastated, he knew he had to try again. How could he canalize the discontent of his people if he didn’t have the best education to help him lead a national protest? Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts. Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.

17 years later, with a degree in Education and an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania he returned to set in motion the walk towards freedom. A thrill of horror electrified the nation when the news flashed from Axim to Tumu that Kwame, the most picturesque figure in the political life of his time had been arrested and put in prison with others. It was the evening of the first day of the year. It had for years been the dream of his life to show that his people were capable of managing their own affairs. And now he was actually doing it. It was a desperate venture, but for him, impossible meant nothing. He was dogged, but he was a hero. Revolutions are brought about by men, by men who think as men of action and act as men of thought.

Finally, in 1957 the battle was over. Victory had been achieved. Independence was won. "Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge - a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve - to achieve the highest excellencies and the fullest greatness of man. Dare we ask for more in life? “We face neither East nor West: we face forward. Forward ever…backward never” The young boy from Nkroful, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was now the Prime Minister of the new state of Ghana.

Underlying this brave story is a great principle; and it is the principle that, if we look, we shall find embedded in the very heart of Kwame Nkrumah’s text - that our aspirations are our possibilities. We must refuse to shrink a vision of tomorrow to the boundaries of yesterday. What I have freely received, I must freely give. The blessings that have descended to us from our forefathers we must pass on with interest to a remote posterity. The national pledge that our parents breathed on us must be conferred by us upon our children – through action. I promise on my honour to be faithful and loyal to Ghana my motherland.

Years on, thanks to Kwame Nkrumah’s influence we live in a free Ghana…a land of opportunities and possibilities. We too, having listened, must proclaim; having received, must give; having heard, must say; having believed with the heart, we must therefore confess with the mouth. This is not only a law of life; it is the law of success. It is only by loyalty to this golden rule, on the part of all who hear the spirit of building a better Nation, that our Ghana can become great and strong if we as young people are willing to contribute our bit after our National Service. It is the secret of success; and, besides it, there is no other.

All things are possible if we only believe.

REFERENCES F. W. Boreham , A Handful Of Stars, Texts That Have Moved Great Minds, December 13, 2008 [EBook #27514] ISO-8859-1

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, “Address to the National Assembly. 12 June 1965

http://www.kokorokoo.com/KwmeNkrumah.aspx

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/326567-prophets-are-those-who-take-life-as-it-is-and

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