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Opinions of Saturday, 30 May 2015

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

Nkrumah Did Not Force His Views On African Leaders 6

There is a strong likelihood that Soyinka’s selective application of the comparative methodology approach to general issues of African politics, culture, history, and spirituality does not make for a consistent apologia for the holistic claims of cultural relativism. This may compromise the collaborative efforts which the marriage of comparative methodology and cultural relativism brings to bear on the sociology of knowledge regarding the complex universe of the African world and its cosmogonic interpretation in the rhetorical idiom of contemporary African actualities. Of course, he vigorously attempts the comparative methodology in his book “Of Africa” but it appears not all the critics, including this author, are completely taken by his general approach to the arcane language of cultural criticism (see also Adam Hochschild’s “Of Africa,” The New York Times, Nov. 2, 2012).

In this book “Of Africa,” Soyinka’s comparative methodology reveals a clear mismatch between cautious circumvention of cultural relativism as it relates to comparative religion and selective elevation of African religion and spirituality over the hegemonic claims of Islam and Christianity. Soyinka tries to make the argument that the characteristic accommodative and non-proselyting potentiality of African Religion, perhaps, makes its candidature in the larger matrix of African cosmogony, representationally a more effective riposte to the challenging dilemma of religious intolerance in Africa than, say, the latter two, Islam and Christianity. It seems the rational choice of science and technology is being gradually eroded and perhaps more troublingly, usurped by the non-fictive hegemony of religious intolerance and religiosity.

Nkrumah kept religious dogma from his scientific thinking and pretensions to technocratic accommodation for good reasons, among which we can readily cite critical, analytic thinking. That is beside the point, however. Even more controversial and paradoxical of Soyinka’s obscure narrative cosmogony, is his readiness to invoke Yoruba mythology, history and culture and, generally, African religion and spirituality as well as African concepts of cooperation, consensus, and compromise as practical responses to the raving madness confronting a world of religious terrorism, intolerance, irredentism, racism and ethnocentrism, civil and political wars, sexism, political corruption, and so on. His Nobel nomination citation, for instance, emphasized his masterful rhetorical deployment of Yoruba (and African) mythology and cultural symbols and their linkages to Mediterranean cultures, and finally, their aggregate relevance to improving the human condition and promoting the unifying character of cultural syncretism.

Soyinka’s critique of the philosophic substance of Leopold Senghor’s Negritude while still praising his highly-animated idiom of auctorial flourish is a mark of Soyinka’s categorical practicality. The primary concern for Soyinka’s was the question of extravagant intellectual investment in romanticizing and glorifying the African past at the expense of modernization. But policy pretenses to modernization should not connote outright negation of the past. We are in no way implying this has ever been Soyinka’s position. The important highlight for us is the ability to muster up the courage to challenge or resist the interventionist hegemony of the instruments of postmodernist criticism. In the end Soyinka’s “Of Africa” merely offers a critique of selective generation on the question of the postcolonial African nation-state, missing out on the subtle complexity and axiological depths of the political landscape of post-colonial African politics.

In other words, the methodological limitations of the book parallel the deficits of post-colonial African politics generally and of the serpentine intrigues of Western ideological hegemony in the political life of the post-colonial African nation-state. There are certain salient instances on slave historiography, history, and oral narratives for instance, where the fusion of Soyinka’s methodological orthodoxy and postmodernist revelationism is seriously undermined by the piercing methodological historicism of the late Jacob Ajayi, one of the prominent members of the now-defunct Ibadan School (the University of Ibadan) and a colleague of Soyinka.

It therefore means that one cannot claim to read Soyinka closely, especially of “Of Africa” and allied bibliography, without so much as closely reading Ajayi in tandem as a critique of Soyinka’s historicist pontifications. This procedural indictment of Soyinka is made all the more interesting and poignant because he has read Ajayi and is no doubt familiar with the philosophical landscape of Ajayi’s methodological historicism! So much for Soyinka and his lapse of analytic historicism (Soyinka is set to win the competition for the Oxford Poetry Chair)!

We have provided the foregoing backgrounds to substantialize the claim that the past, like today and the future, has humanity. The past has humanity because time and its cognate, chronology, are human inventions and as well, subject to the oversight claims of human sentient manipulation. Time is also intrinsic to the cosmogony of human reckoning. Above all, time has the transience of humanity in that the personalized individuation of humanity makes it possible for man to be born and to die simultaneously with time. In other words time functionally shares a space of mutual accommodation with the limiting existential span of a human being, thus giving it another character of conceptual relativity. Time according to this conceptual frame is pregnant with an inventory of the lived experiences of that expired human being. Time is the alpha and omega, the means and the end of the personalized individuation of humanity.

Time is therefore a measure of the lived experiences of personalized human individuation in the cosmogonic critique of conscious reckoning. There is no doubt in our minds that time exhibits the characterological phenomenology of cultural matrimony in a people’s collective consciousness!

In that case time is a normative ally to the cosmogonic framology of personalized human individuation. Thus, the central idea of the livability of time cannot be divorced from the cosmogonic marriage between history and the actual lived experiences of the present and the future. The point of difficulty may be the ease with which to distil humanity from that aspect of time with reference to the past and made part of the integral calculations of the present and the future. We are here referring to the progressive humanity of the African past. What is more, like Nkrumah, we are not advocating recourse to the temptation of romanticizing the African past without critical acknowledgment of the deficits of that past. Certainly, recourse to that deficit past is not an option as we take a general audit of the progressive lived experiences of that past.

That past, with or without deficits, cannot be magically wished away at the mere snap of the fingers, for the present and the future of those cryptic “human fingers” are themselves part and parcel of the anatomical mystery of conscious time, one of the expressive chronological frames of the past. This explains why humanists, social theorists, political scientists, and philosophers cannot completely do away with the grafting of that humanistic past of the pre-colonial African state on to the immediate postcolonial calculations of the African nation-state. Perhaps, this is what is missing in the critical calculus of Soyinkan valuation of the postcolonial African nation-state, a sort of selective myopia. It is our contention that the conscious and unconscious pull of that progressive past is simply irresistible to leave to the activated machinations of selective, historical, or social amnesia.

We may have to make the final claim that time is also cultural in that its presumed discursive pregnancy of inventoried lived experiences is passed on from one chronological consciousness to another across generations. Further, improved personal and public health, advances in medical science, human procreation, the invention of writing (biographies, memoirs, autobiographies, etc), media (internet, television, radio, etc.), oral history or oral literature, “strong” genes or genetic predispositions, healthy diet and exercise, good health, and genetic genealogy imbue time with a sense of longevity as well as of circular and linear continuity. The cultural idiom of African cosmogony assigns time an ontological function of circular continuity.

There seems to be a scientific explanation for the continuous circularity model of time. A man and a woman pass on the imprint of their humanity and personality traits via the bequest of their combined genes to their direct offspring. And then the process continues from their direct offspring to the next generation of offspring, and so forth, with interpositional contributions from the environment. The bequest takes on the temperamental actuation of mathematical progression, a seemingly infinite or unending process. Explained differently, the existence of posterity presupposes the primordial existences of genetic recombinations of direct parenthood, grandparenthood, great-grandparenthood, interlocking concentric circles of other family members ad infinitum. The paradoxical reality is that Soyinka himself endorses the continuous circularity of time and its allied corollaries in critiquing the corpus of universalist pretensions of Eurocentric hegemony.

Nkrumah incorporated the continuous circularity of time into his conceptualization of the unitary framology of a polity as a formal critique of the self-conflicted personality of the postcolonial African nation-state, which was far removed from the African-centered marriage of the African Personality, patriotism, collective responsibility, egalitarianism, and the aromatic claims of scientific and technological innovation. And there is the cycle of birth, death, ancestor, and back to birth again in African cosmogony! But some of the critics of Nkrumah seem to overlook how much they share with him in terms of his cultural and emotional intelligence. This constitutes one of the memorable instances where the cultural and intellectual conjuncture of Soyinka and Nkrumah finds common ground in the factual accommodation of mutual critique.

Yet history or the past is not that far from the immediate claims of the present and the future. In fact the past, the present, and the future can be mirror images of each other. We are directly referring to a shared simultaneity of existences in which the divergent claims of multiplicity and singularity assumes a unitary character of mutual inclusiveness. Alas, there is a prohibitive conditionality of social and political cost attached to that internecine accommodativeness. We witnessed this in the centrifugal miscalculus that arose between the seeming cohesiveness of the Nigerian federation and the geopolitical actuality of Biafra secession.

More important, though, the sudden geopolitical herniation of Biafra secession from the Nigerian federation and the ensuing carnage and destructive wantonness encompassed the starvation deaths of women, children, and the elderly, with an estimated one million dying in the Civil War.

Here again the historical contradictions in the European nation-state, symbolized by the ancient animosity between France and England, manifested themselves as they were foisted on the seeming fragility of the Nigerian federation, with England supporting the Nigerian federation and France Biafra. The Civil War taught Soyinka, a mediator in the crisis, some hard lessons and what nation-building and statecraft were actually about and further, what, if any, the conceptual praxis of unitary statehood meant to the overall strategic survival of the Nigerian federation. As the Civil War proceeded Soyinka argued against Biafra secession. On the contrary, Chinua Achebe argued in favor of it.

What could possibly have motivated Soyinka to make a moral beeline for the integral retention of the Nigerian federation? What could have persuaded these two thinkers to take opposing stance on the same question? After all, Biafra was living a separate cultural and political existence before the convenient advent of the Nigerian federation, an abstraction coined in the imperialist idiom of political advantage. We shall contend that the public rhetoric of Soyinka in recent times betrays a deep-seated air of normative clarity in his evolving appreciation of the complexity of statecraft and nation-building.

More so, the basis for the preceding contention derives from the hard lessons he has drawn from the Nigerian Civil War and the Rwandan Genocide, to mention but two, which taught him about the vulnerability of artificial geopolitical demarcations, a vulnerability that cannot suffer the geopolitical hardiness of the unitary state and steeled political leadership. Thus, the Nigerian Civil War for the most part provided the necessary imposition of the game-changing perception of contrast effect on Soyinka’s conceited cosmos of moral dogmatism as well as on his elitist conceptualization of the meme of political pluralization within the strategic framology of the unitary state. Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s steeled leadership identification with the unitarized authority of the Nigerian federation, for instance, neutralized the centrifugal conceit of the political leadership of Biafra. In this sense, the critique of the historical and cultural foundations of the one-party ideology may best be viewed as a convenient exercise in rhetorical allegory.

That speaks to those Africans who for various reasons had in the past supported or intend to support the divisive politics of one European nation-state or the other behind the selective dissolution of certain African polities, without so much as giving practical consideration to the cultural benefits of cooperation, compromise, and consensus. The central role which the methodology of traditional assessment played in linking the tenets of socialism to the fundaments of African communitarianism and beyond that, the strategic circumvention of the bipolar world of the Cold War by the new crop of postcolonial African leaders, are avoided in the philosophic discourse on the originative causation of the one-party ideology. Hence, Nkrumah’s positive neutrality foreign policy prescriptions.

Those were the bedrocks of the pre-colonial African state. It is, however, painful to concede that the divisive politics we are talking about has come from some African nation-states themselves. Houphouet-Boigny’s Ivory Coast backed Biafra and Katanga secessions. That said, what makes Soyinka think the West which has never respected African culture will make a sudden volte-face and buy into his sophisticated submissions, particularly those of his questionable claims on the supposed comparative advantage which the humanism of African Religion wields over Islam and Christianity, in addressing the scourge of religious intolerance and religious terrorism on the African continent?

The examples of trokosi, witch camps, cultural skepticism, and ritual murder alone indict the thorny philosophic subtexts of his methodological apologetics. There are also instances where his methodological apologetics lapses into moral particularism, cultural apologism, and cultural chauvinism, a dangerous analytic tendency for one who claims to abhor internal colonialism in the particularistic indictment of African politico-cultural ethnocentrism! Obviously there are deontological and unitarian limitations to his methodological assertions. But that is not our central worry. Our worry is about his selective deployment of certain aspects of the progressive African past to support his theory on the mutual accommodativeness of contemporary political actualities while denying that exegetical privilege to the seamless conflation of the humanism of the pre-colonial African state and the self-conflicted personality of the postcolonial African nation-state.

The above disputations notwithstanding, the verifiable historicity of a number of political organizations or parties having been in material existence prior to the formation of Nkrumah's Convention People’s Party (CPP) compels us to look for an alternative hypothesis to account for a discursive system of possibilities, in which the competing originative causation theories of the one-party ideology has a convincing explanatory relevance to the discourse. The claim by some commentators that Ghana’s primordial attainment of political independence in Africa South of the Sahara meant that she was solely responsible for the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its proliferation across that same region of Africa complicates matters further. And that leaves out the practice of the one-party ideology in the political geography of Arabized North Africa. It is a well-known fact that Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Libya all gained their political independence before the Gold Coast.

Egypt gained her political independence in 1922. In 1953 President Gamal Nasser of Egypt, for instance, declared his country a one-party state. Those facts become all the more interesting when we factor in the close and admirable friendship between Nkrumah and Nasser. Nasser would later be personally involved in Nkrumah’s marriage to Fathia. The question is: Could Nasser have influenced Nkrumah to establish the one-party state in 1964? The question has yet to be answered!

But the quest for an alternative theory or hypothesis that sufficiently addresses itself to the unresolved question of the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its spread across Africa south of the Sahara is not as simplistic as it seems. And here is why: There is a thick blanket of controversy hanging over the already-existing complication of the discourse. This is understood to be another sophisticated proposition championed by Kwame Anthony Appiah and others. This sophisticated proposition puts the political chronology of Sudan's independence before Ghana's. Appiah and his friends put the date of Sudan’s independence at January 1, 1956. Of course, the Gold Coast would have gained independence in 1956 had it been the interventionist terrorism of the National Liberation Movement and the subversive activities of Busia and his friends.

On the other hand if the January 1, 1956 date for Sudan’s independence is anything to go by, then Sudan unseats Ghana as the first country to gain independence in Africa South of the Sahara! Again if the afore-cited date is correct, where exactly does that leave the theory that Ghana’s position as the “first” country in Africa South of the Sahara to gain independence and therefore on the account of that political primordiality she should be historically held accountable for the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its spread across Africa? Ideally, we have avoided the label “Sub-Saharan Africa” because of its racist connotations, however we grudgingly acknowledge both Ghana and Sudan as members of that racist construct of geopolitical sub-regionalism, considering that entrenched racism in such academic fields as Egyptology has contributed enormously to that negative perception of Africa as a detotalized or disaggregated geopolitical entity.

Still, proximity and the commonness of geopolitical space shared by discrete nation-states need not become an exclusive instrument of originative causation, in which case the quest for a meaningful existential model of any instance of human experience is the primary focus of a rational methodology. We mean the quest for a methodology of rational determination in respect of that unique instance of human experience. Where do we start on the question of the relational dynamics of proximity and of the commonness of geopolitical space as a parallel explanatory context for the competing originative causation theories of the one-party ideology? Perhaps the French Revolution impacted the Haitian Revolution in more significant ways than the American Revolution ever did, though Haiti and America share a common geopolitical space, whilst granting that the American Revolution pre-existed its French counterpart.

It is also a fact that the Haitian Revolution in turn may have impacted some of America’s slave rebellions, particularly the 1881 German Coast Uprising, reportedly the largest slave revolt in US history, than the French Revolution and the American Revolution (see Daniel Rasmussen’s book “American Uprising: The Untold Story of Largest Slave Revolt”). The paradox of the American Revolution influencing the French Revolution, in spite of the relative distance in geopolitical space, should not come as a surprise. Yet we cannot say because the American Revolution influenced the French Revolution, then it also influenced the Haitian Revolution. Perhaps there is not sufficient evidence to make a strong case for a direct material conditional between the Haitian Revolution and the American Revolution. This is borne out by the hard facts of mathematical testability. The testability criterion may be compromised by the failure of history to establish a direct causal relationship between the Haitian Revolution and the French Revolution.

That may not however mean the American Revolution did not influence the Haitian Revolution via the French Revolution. Thus, France may be the best candidate to influence the Haitian Revolution because Haiti was France’s former colony and because French presence and culture were strongest in that colony, perhaps the wealthiest European colony at one point in time, than in any of her colonies in the Western Hemisphere. There is a two-year space between when the French Revolution and the Haitian Revolution started, a fourteen-year space between the French Revolution and the American Revolution, and a sixteen-year space between the Haitian Revolution and the American Revolution. There is a greater chance that the intrinsic capacity of human beings to be free from any forms of anthropogenic constraints may have catalyzed or initiated the Haitian Revolution, with the French Revolution merely playing the role of a peripheral facilitator. And finally, the influence of an African Religion on the Haitian Revolution: Voodoo!

It is also an interesting point of history that, perhaps, the root causes of the French Revolution may go back further in the crucible of time than those that may have given rise to the American Revolution. Those additional facts may add up to our theory on the nature of attribution as it relates to the convoluted aggregation of chronology, the social psychology of influence, political geography, cultural and economic imperialism, chattel slavery, political racism, colonialism, and human innate capacity for brutality and freedom.

What do all these mean in terms of the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its diffusion across Africa South of the Sahara, our reference point? They mean there is no easy out of the confused labyrinth of the competing originative causation theories! The task of resolving the knotty originative causation dilemma of the one-party ideology is as complex as unraveling the interlocking causative links among the Haitian Revolution, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution. On the other hand, there is an argument to be made that Nkrumah may possibly have come to terms with the unitary statehood ideology through his intellectual engagement with Africa's cultural history. Some of his major writings confirm this theory. He may as well have adopted it as a restraining injunction on the centrifugal forces that threatened to undo the political unity of the would-be nation-state, Ghana. Where is this leading?

Perhaps the best political definition, a definition devoid of the emotional trappings of logical abstraction, of the unitary state was given by Nkrumah himself. He wrote: “IN THE HIGHEST REACHES OF NATIONAL LIFE, THERE SHOULD BE NO REFERENCE TO FANTES, ASANTES, EWES, GAS, DAGOMBAS, ‘STRANGERS’ AND SO FORTH…WE SHOULD CALL OURSELVES GHANAIANS, THE BROTHERS AND SISTERS, THE STATE OF GHANA.” This characterization represents a profound leveler of the sinusoidal bent of political ethnocentrism. While we are not totally discounting the instrumentalism of party politics democracy in the political economy of civilizational modernism, there is the tendency for some politicians to conflate party politics with ethnocracy, political ethnocentrism, ethnic politics, or ethnocentric federalism rather than with the claims of democratic de-centralism, as it were under the all-accommodating umbrella of unitarized ethno-cultural pluralism.

It is far from questionable that party politics democracy, indeed, gives a people an opportunity to use the will of popular sovereignty or the elective franchise to express their choices and preferences in the form of political representation. Yet party politics democracy is merely a form of political commerce, subject to the simulative dictates of demand and supply, where politicians can buy the political conscience and the elective franchise of the electorate. In Ghana since the passage of Nkrumah the elective franchise has replaced one incompetent leadership after another. The one-party ideology, on the contrary, has the potential to entrench either political incompetence or political competence. We have seen exemplary indications of the latter in the political leaderships of Nkrumah, Lee Kuan Yew, and the Communist Party of China. But even so the question of the social plateau of existential actualities, which we deem identifiable with Nkrumah’s leveling posture, is hardly an audacious rhetoric of the politics of social equity, of participatory economics.

Still, the foregoing accounts do not place us in any better position to unravel the complex paradoxes we find ourselves in, including our interlocking, competing theories. We shall offer the following scenario as a critique of Mazrui’s contentious hypothesis, in which he made Nkrumah the primordial symbol on the matter of the originative causation of the one-party ideology, until enough contrary evidence is adduced. We should point out that Mazrui did not adduce any set of convincing data to test the validity of his hypothesis. Dr. Ama Biney disposes of Mazrui’s hypothesis for lack of a convincing array of comparative evidentiation.

What do we do? Here it goes: One cannot simply look at a set of identical-looking “children” and hastily draw a connection between their aggregate biological existences and their “biological” mother or father on the basis of physical resemblance and mannerisms. That conclusion could as well have been based on perception, a misreading of physiognomies and stature, prosopagnosia, fantasy, or any combinations of the above.

As a matter of fact, the set of identical-looking “children” could have also been the biological “children” of their mother’s identical-twin sibling or, in fact, adoptees of their “biological” mother. These children may not even be related to their “biological” mother or father at all, or that a subset of the “biological” children may actually be related to their “biological” mother or father. They could as well be the paedomorphic siblings of their “biological” mother or father. In this convoluted scenario, if the question is about the mathematical certainly of filiality, then the ultimate solution is parental testing! That, perhaps, constitutes the only practical mediation choice that can bring closure to this torturous range of hypothetical possibilities.

The above notwithstanding, evidence points to the fact that the Idi Amins, the Yahya Jammehs, and the Omar Bashirs in the African past and the African present are beholden to the tenets of political Islam, whereas the Joseph Konys of the Lord's Resistance Army are driven by Judeo-Christian ideological pretensions, given that the Islamic world has all sorts of one-party theocratic regimes spread across its political geography! Beyond that, we know why Amin sought political asylum in Saudi Arabia, where his body still remains buried today, and not, say, in Nkrumah's Ghana, and why Mobutu's body also remains buried in a Christian cemetery in Morocco! Yet we do take great pride in the fact that Du Bois and Padmore, two of the world's influential political strategists, social theorists and intellectuals of the 20th century, are buried in Nkrumah's Ghana. We may recall how close America's Republican Rev. Pat Robertson was to Mobutu.

Rev. Robertson, a conservative Christian, lobbied for Mobutu in the US Congress. About the latter, Ronald Reagan said: "a friend of democracy and freedom." George H. W. Bush also said of Mobutu: "one of our most valued friends on the entire continent of Africa." Bush and Reagan, both Christians, saw communism and socialism as “evil” and as a result, with Mobuto’s assistance America established a base for CIA operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to monitor Soviet activities across Central-East Africa. Christian America in turn protected Mobuto’s one-party government, since the American leadership could trust him to deliver on his promise to collaborate with the CIA. That Cold War arrangement led to Patrice Lumumba’s assassination!

Regrettably we are not told the role American played in setting up communism (see Anthony C. Sutton’s three-volume set “Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development” and “Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution”).

What is morally right with America’s unapologetic support for Mobuto’s one-party state and France’s paternalistic support for Houphouet-Boigny’s one-party state? What no student of African politics will deny was Nkrumah's influence on Mandela, Joachim Chissano, Patrice Lumumba, Martin Luther King, Jr., Festus Mogae, Malcolm X, Hifikepunye Pohamba, Kofi Annan, Pedro Pires, etc., a fine crop of African leaders some of whom have gone on to win the Nobel Peace Prize and the prestigious Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership! What does this say about the legacy of Nkrumah? What has the one-party ideology got to do with those leaders? What does Nkrumah’s influence on those leaders have to do with the theoretical complexity of our position on the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its geopolitical distribution across Africa?

Those questions need urgent redressing. In fact, those are the kind of questions Mazrui and others like him avoided in his valuation of postcolonial African politics.

It is therefore our submission that Mazrui may have simply confused the interlocking similarities of ideas and their political outcomes, as well as the principle of originative causation. It is also our conviction that his profound scholarship and grandiose rhetoric failed to convincingly establish direct links between them. We are of the view that the proliferating effection of ideas by a group of individuals in similar geopolitical contexts, and facing similar challenges during the first generation of postcolonial African political life, and similarities in ideational political content are not always necessarily the same, even necessarily identical, or have a common origin of causation. In this context, the element of conceptual simultaneity has the tendency to confuse a matrix of seemingly identical situational paradigms, thus paving the way for their instrumentalism and expressed praxis of mutual exclusiveness.

It is against this background that one of Dr. Biney observations catches on with our essays’ fundamental arguments, theories, and assumptions.

She notes: “THE CRITICISM THAT NKRUMAH INSTITUTED A ONE-PARTY STATE IN THE FACE OF THE CHALLENEGE OF BUILDING A NATION-STATE IS A VALID ONE. YET NKRUMAH REACHED THE SAME CONCLUSION AS HIS CONTEMPORARIES SEKOU TOURE, HOUPHOUET-BOIGNY, LEOPOLD SENGHOR, MODIBO KEITA, JULIUS NYERERE, AND JOMO KENYATTA…IN SHORT, THESE WERE VARIOUS AFRICAN STATES ALL GRAPPLING WITH THE SAME ISSUES AS NKRUMAH: HOW DOES A NATION-STATE PREVENT DESCENT INTO A RELIGIOUS AND ETHNIC FRAGMENTATION OF SOCIETY?”

Given Dr. Biney’s statement, the claim of causative and ideational progression of the one-party ideology from Nkrumah to other African leaders becomes problematic for lack of convincing if substantial evidentiation. Thus, the test for the historicity of originative causation of the one-party ideology and its plausible linear correlations to the context of distributive attribution is missing here, a serious instance of theoretical absence whose stead is instead taken up by another theory imbued with a simplistic plausibility of methodological convenience: The approach of simultaneous, or overlapping, originative causation attribution. This theoretical proposition is somewhat identical to the “initial-value problem” in mathematics (differential equations) or the “steady-state problem” in science (physics).

The beneficial interactions of the sociology of knowledge, social constructionism, and the principle of originative causation are given short shrift in the standard texts on postcolonial political historiography. In the end, the best way to circumvent the layered complications posed by the confused question of the overlap between originative causation and simultaneous distributive attribution is, perhaps, the manner in which mathematicians approach the conceptual distinctions between “singularity” and “neighborhood.” Yet “neighborhood” may co-exist with “singularity” in the sense of Cartesian proximity. Thus assigning a parallel or linear functional correspondence between singularity and originative causation inevitably leads to a destination of methodological indeterminism, where tracking down the predictive certainty of the one-party ideology to a unique originating source assumes a grand problematicity of topological conundra, a point already acknowledged.

The analogy assumes another perceptual dimension in the primary example of one’s location of interpretation vis-à-vis the existential paradox of mirage and shadow in the reckoning of rational calculations. One can pursue a mirage only to arrive at a confused destination of optical illusion. The case is however different with one’s shadow. Even with one’s shadow, it is conceptually impossible to physically capture it as one otherwise would with the perceptual dimension of anatomic physicality. Of course this is merely a question that has a serious dimension of relative immanence. However, between the two axial extremes of illusionary paradoxes lies the Cartesian ahistoricity of the competing, interlocking claims of the originative causation of the one-party ideology. No doubt there is a space-time dimension to the methodological convolution, a point we have repeatedly implicitly and explicitly articulated.

Perhaps what is missing in the narrative regards the precise location of the parametric dimension of the presential anonymity of time in the train of competing, interlocking claims. Those who have wrongly made the originative causation of the one-party ideology across Africa synonymous with Nkrumah apparently seem to have lost the focus of time. Those critics cannot seem to look past the limiting curvature of space-time imposition on their ideological world, though the moral curvature of space-time is as malleable in the Cartesian coordinates of political morality as the political quanta of Nkrumah’s ideas are adaptable to the actualities of Africa’s contemporary challenges. It may be that they cannot simply push themselves out of the historical encirclement of Nkrumah’s continuous circularity of time. Ironically they have no other choice but to settle within that historical circularity of continues time.

Though they might seek a way out of Nkrumah’s epigram “Forward Ever, Backward Never” on the basis of its connotation of linearity, they are prevented from doing so because of the counterfactual sense of circularity we find intrinsic to the conceptual frame of Nkrumah’s epigrammatic linearity. But the mark of epigrammatic linearity may not be all there is to Nkrumah’s forward-looking thinking. One can simply tie both ends of a Cartesian straight line and obviously one of the range of topological outcomes is a circle. In other words there exists a homeomorphic correlation between a line and a circle. Between the line and the circle is an “infinite” range or sandwich of topological actualities. In the topological sandwich, for instance, there exists an ordinary case of functional actuality where rectangularity and rotundity are spitting mirror-images. The easy homeomorphic convertibility between the seeming Cartesian extremes of those two topological realities bespeaks the functional elasticity of Nkrumah’s progressive ideas.

By elasticity we mean the operational or functional timelessness of his ideas. It also means the corpus of Nkrumah’s ideas enjoys a proven sense of concreteness and practicality beyond its reified and abstract affectations. The continuous circularity of time came across again when the ancestral fighting spirit became incorporate in Nkrumah’s progressive vision for Africa.

Overall, the continuous circularity of time may seem to have given the greatest cosmogonic ammunition to the claims of the unitary conceptualization of nation-building and statecraft. The ever-present dictatorship of time and the irony of time are probably the two most important elements frustrating serious methodological insights into researchers’ ability to secure or bring a resolute closure to the conceptual frames of competing, interlocking claims. Yet we believe it is possible to appropriate the underlying assumptions of the mathematical notions of singularity and neighborhood and adapt them to the problematic question of methodological uncertainty, in regard to the still-unresolved controversy surrounding the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its geopolitical distribution across Africa South of the Sahara.

We make the additional case that restricting the quest for historical truth to the political geography of Africa alone, and to say the political geography of Africa South of the Sahara in particular, defeats the purposeful approach of methodological and intellectual versatility, as well as the range of possibilities which might exist for the logical quantum of historical truths. Unfortunately, the high probabilistic commonality of origination sources supposedly obtained as piecewise solutions to the political covariate of methodological de-centeredness is lost in the fog of speculative pontification and irrational intellectual posturing. Apparently there is no practical coherence in the Cartesian dots of disagreeable solutions linking the latter to their corresponding functional methodologies.

Fortunately, no less a cautious intellectual, historian, and researcher than Dr. Ama Biney delinks the confused state of solutional unrelatedness. In fact, Dr. Biney addresses other aspects of this question, too, by quoting R.A. Zolberg in another context. She writes:

"THE FIRST COUNTRY TO MAKE VISIBLE ITS IDEOLOGICAL LEANINGS WAS GUINEA…‘THE ONE-PARTY IDEOLOGY WAS EVIDENT IN SEVERAL WEST AFRICAN STATES, INCLUDING GHANA IN THE LATE 1950’S AND EARLY 1960’S. HOWEVER, THERE WERE DISTINCT NUANCES IN POLITICAL PRACTICE AMONG THE VARIOUS WESTERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES. …THE MAJOR THEMES OF THE ONE-PARTY IDEOLOGY OF GUINEA WERE RAPIDLY ECHOED ESLEWHERE WITH LOCAL VARIATIONS. IT IS DIFFICULT TO DETERMINE WHETHER THERE WERE GENUINE INTER-COUNTRY INFLUENCES AT WORK OR WHETHER THE CONCEPTS WERE REINVENTED AUTONOMOUSLY IN EACH CASE BECAUSE THEY CORRESPOND TO A COMMON SITUATION.”

We should also emphasize that Sekou Toure's Parti Democratique de Guinea (PDG) was formed in 1947, a breakaway party from the African Democratic Rally (ADR), as opposed to the formation of the CPP in 1949, a breakaway party from the UGCC. Toure declared a one-party state in Guinea in 1960 while the Ghanaian parliament declared one in Ghana in 1964, a difference of four years!

Finally, the following words and phrases by Dr. Biney are important to the discourse: “REINVENTED,” “AUTONOMOUSLY,” “A COMMON SITUATION,” “DISTINCT NUANCES,” “RAPIDLY ECHOED ELSEWHERE,” “LOCAL VARIATIONS,” “INTER-COUNTRY INFLUENCES”! In any event, the stochastic tone of Dr. Biney’s statements is worthy of consideration in reviewing the competing, interlocking claims of the originative causation theories of the one-party ideology. As things stand, Dr. Biney seems to be suggesting in her stochastic tone that trying to narrow down a unitary explanation for the originative causation of the one-party ideology and its probabilistic distribution across the political geography of Africa to one unique source is problematic!

That was exactly what Mazrui did and others after him have done and continue to doing! Of course, there is no inference of statistical validity that can be attached to the conundrum of methodological irrationality. But the verifiable facts of postcolonial African political history seem to suggest otherwise. Evidently it is not difficult for researchers to realize this if they can separate mirages from shadows. After all, no individual can grow taller than the hair on his or her head! Plus, the architecture of the continuous circularity of time is such an important concept for assessing the political durée of Nkrumah’s premiership and presidency. The statement “Nkrumah Never Dies,” the continuous existence of the body politic of Ghana, and the 7-Year Development Plan, to mention but a few, offer profound insights into the predictive axiology of the continuous circularity of time. The 7-Year Development Plan sets the tone for the political arithmetic of serious economic planning and development.

As a matter of fact, succeeding generations of Americans chose to build on the legacy their Founding Fathers left behind, a legacy including the US Constitution, though some of the Founding Fathers had recommended a re-writing of the Constitution to suit the social and political character and needs of every generation. On the contrary, it has been the tendency of the post-Nkrumah leadership of Ghana to give less attention to Nkrumah’s legacy than to build on it, hence Ghana’s cyclical developmental directionlessness! Thus, the political imperative of the continuous circularity of time is given short thrift in the policy calculus of post-Nkrumah Ghanaian leadership.

In the end if the central point of the continuous circularity of time is employing the best of the progressive past as instructional models for dealing with the myriad challenges of the contemporary actualities, what has the present crop of African leaders learnt from the peerless achievements of Nkrumah who prudently used his office to advance Ghana and Africa, given the technocratic malleability of his ideas? An inevitable fact is that we can twist the facts of history to suit a certain contorted ideological perspective, but the undeniable truth is that Nkrumah has no peer in the entire practical experience of Africa’s political history.

Nkrumah’s legacy needs no defending, for the proven scientific axiology and aesthetic potential for his legacy to make Africa great again is self-evident.

The other fact is that, no amount of twisted ideological posturing by Nkrumah’s Confederate bashers can earn them the required escape-velocity of total political detachment from the ontological cornucopia of the continuous circularity of time, insofar as the legacy of Nkrumah goes. Though the hands of a clock move clockwise according to the dictates of human purview, the practical compunction of the inner experiences of man’s existential possibilities gravitates toward stochastic actuation of the hands of the same clock moving in the other direction. It gladdens the human heart when the world is in the know that the economy of rhetorical historicity guarantees the enduring appeal of Nkrumah and his vision.

That vision is Africa’s moral conscience or moral compass! That vision also becomes a medium for the audacious incorporation of critical, analytic thought in the praxis of development sociology, and the adaptation of the methods of science and technology to the existential paradoxes frustrating attempts at improving the human condition. The trappings of traditional negativity then assume a state of existential de-emphasis or marginalization before the imperial majesty of scientific and technological innovation. This was fundamentally what Nkrumah and Nkrumahism were about, erecting the future of society on the basis of scientific and technological advancement on a strong foundation of Africa’s best ideas, cultural practices, and traditions! Unitary conscientization of Africa’s detotalized psychology was an important feature of his profound body of thoughts. Soyinka reminds us as well:

“SIMILARLY, THE BRITISH, FRENCH, ETC., HAD TO BE EXCLUSIVE TOTALITY OF CIVILIZATION THAT IS TRANSMITTED TO THE CAPTIVE AUDIENCE OF THE SOCIETY ON WHICH THEY HAVE IMPOSED THEIR PRESENCE. THUS WAS LAID THE FOUNDATION OF SURROGATE RIVALRIES AMONG THE COLONIZED...FRANCOPHONE VERSUS ANGLOPHONE, LUSOPHONE AGAINST ITALOPHONE, EACH AND EVERY ONE VERSUS THE REST IN ATTITUDES OF CONDESCENSION, MUTUAL EXCLUSION, AND EVEN OUTRIGHT BELLIGERENCES, INCLUDING SURROGATE WARS THAT WERE DILIGENTLY FUELED BY PAST MASTERS OF ‘DIVIDE AND RULE.’”

Call it the creative intellectual convergences of Soyinka and Nkrumah! Once again we a perfect example of the continuous circularity of time in Soyinka’s rhetorical candor! Soyinka made those observations in 2012, while Nkrumah attempted serious philosophic resolution of those internal tensions in Africa’s colonial and postcolonial collective psychology in the 1964 and the 1970 versions of “Colonialism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization.” Regardless, what is Soyinka’s rhetorical assertiveness actually speaking to? Our submission is that the conflicting dichotomies of cultural externalities are inflicted upon the political landscape of cultural internalities where, for instance, the Yoruba, the Hausa, and Igbo are pitted against each other; the Akyem and the Asante against each other and both against the rest; the Kikuyu and the Luo against each other and both against the rest… Yet the seemingly antagonizing polarities, a politicalized sequent of ethnic balkanization, even manage to find common ground in relational dynamics in political federations such as the United States, Canada…What accounts for this anomaly?

Soyinka further quotes a former Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations on the problematic of Nigeria’s entanglement in political ethnocentrism. We quote him again for illustration purposes: “‘GOD IN HIS INFINITE WISDOM HAS PROVIDED DIFFERENT PEOPLES WITH DIFFERENT TALENTS. THE IGBO HAVE BEEN PROVIDED THE GIFT OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP. THE YORUBA MAKE FIRST-CLASS ADMINISTRATORS AND EDUCATIONISTS. THE NORTH IS HOWEVER SINGULARLY ENDOWED WITH THE GIFT OF LEADERSHIP.” The “north” refers to the autochthonous home of the Hausa and the Fulani, also the locational notation of the ambassador’s ethnic identity. What sort of divine arrangement is this? This is the kind of hegemonic ethnic theology that has been infecting postcolonial African politics!

This was the same “north” that, according to Soyinka, the British Colonial Government tried rigging Nigeria’s first presidential elections for, thus setting a bad precedent for the advent of Nigerian party politics democracy!

Clearly Soyinka is highly critical of inter-ethnic balkanization, a concession capable of the accommodation or acknowledgment of arrogating power aggregation to a unitary state or political federation. As should be expected the continuous circularity of time indicates covert and overt infiltration of electoral malpractices in Nigeria’s postcolonial elections since, with the critique of African-centered continuous circularity of time calling for Africa’s total disengagement with such negative legacies. Evidently, the Nigerian ambassador is the kind of humanized irredentist strain that prefers the “singularity” of inter-ethnic balkanization to the “neighborhood” of the accommodating potential of inter-ethnic inclusiveness. The solution is to move the event horizon of “singularity,” namely the centripetal emphasis of inter-ethnic balkanization, away from all centers of social negativity to the “neighborhood” potential of inter-ethnic inclusive accommodation. Therein lies a sophisticated formulaic potentiation of practical resoluteness capable of neutralizing the disaggregation of a unitary state or political federation.

In fact, all we have done in this essay was to coordinate the tyranny of time and the momentum of political contemporariness in the radical torque of political realism, as well as to demonstrate how that particularist Cartesian coordination of political realism shows up now and then in the liberating or restraining potential of political progression. We are hereby referring to the question of material relevance, as it specifically pertains to the scientific axiology of the past, to the character formation of the political future. To wit, we are making the case that there may possibly exist coordinated seriations of ethereal directness and indirectness between the past and the future beyond the finitude of mortal consciousness. The tyranny of time, then, assumes a status location of the kind of rhetorical seriousness of critiquing only conceivable within the unfolding drama of the moral correctness or wrongness of political regression.

What more is there to say?

We shall return…