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Opinions of Saturday, 27 December 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Re: Nkrumaist Forum Backs Mills

In the General News of Monday, 22 December 2008, titled “Nkrumaist Forum Backs Mills” a press release titled “PRESS RELEASE FROM THE NKRUMAIST FORUM, ON THIS DAY, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2008” was released signed by a number of people including Ama Adumea Ohene, Michael Gyamerah and George Kweifio-Okai. The same story appeared under another heading “Nkrumaist Forum Support Mills” on the same date.

Readers will recall that it is this same George Kweifio-Okai that released a treacherous anti-Ndoum and anti-CPP article a few days before election to enable NDC win the election. It was so treacherous that some commentators did not want to believe that such an unprincipled character could even exist. But clearly he does. We are still investigating if he is related to the anti-CPP Tokyo Joes who were throwing bombs in Ghana supplied by Obetsebi Lamptey. According to the Press Release, their unsurprising aim was as follows: “We urge all voters who voted for the Nkrumaist parties, independent voters and undecided voters who voted for the NPP and those who failed to vote on 7th December, to use this opportunity to turn up in large numbers to vote for change. Our people deserve better and they are better served by a change in government.” Clearly they are under the false impression that anything substantial in Ghana will change under NDC.

The Press Release however made very serious false claims which we will like to correct without prejudice to their preferred choice of supporting the NDC to which some of them are either secret members or open supporters, perhaps till now. We first of all state the false claims. We then state the correct ideological ideal and tenets.

The False Claims:

“We of the Nkrumaist Forum hold dear to the social democratic foundations and tenets enshrined by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the now vindicated state-cantered approach to development and job creation.”

“When it comes to making a choice between the scion of a foremost leader of the UP/PP tradition, now the presidential candidate of the NPP, and the product of the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, who is a campus socialist, a leading member of the International Socialist Forum, and a conscientious crusader in the practice of social democracy, there can be no ambiguity in the one all progressives MUST SUPPORT - PROF. JOHN ATTA MILLS.”

“The NPP has gone against every tenet of the principles of social democracy that have been our core raison d’être.”

“That this endorsement comes purely on the basis of the shared ideological and political goals of the Nkrumaist parties which are represented on the Nkrumaist forum.” “We look forward to seeing them play an independent role in the forthcoming Parliament. They must never again subject us to the humiliating spectacle of sycophancy that the previous "Nkrumaist" candidates in Parliament had subjected us to.”

“With the NDC in power, we of the Nkrumaist Forum shall join forces with others to maintain a keen interest and vigilance on the activities of the NDC government under the much respected and astute leadership of Professor John Atta Mills and his cabinet.”

“A Mills presidency will be a far better option than an NPP under Akufo-Addo. Let's give Mills all our support.”

The 7 stated claims culled from their Press Release are all untrue. For example, it cannot be true that either NPP or NDC Presidency will be better for Ghanaians except for a privileged few in the NPP or a small minority in the NDC since both will pursue the same free market policies they believe in. To date since the global credit crunch both parties are fighting over who should occupy the Presidency but said nothing worthwhile on the issue of free market misgovernance since PNDC December 1981 from which both parties arose. But it is the idea that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah enshrined some social democratic foundations and tenets and by extension the idea that the NDC represents that social democratic ideal that Nkrumah enshrined that is the subject of this rebuttal. For lack of time and space we shall be addressing this false claim of an Osagyefo-enshrined social democracy:

Social democracy, to keep it simple, has been defined on the web as follows: the belief in a gradual transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means Social democracy is a political ideology that emerged in the late 19th century out of the socialist movement. Modern social democracy advocates the formation of a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices. ...

A moderate political philosophy that aims to achieve socialistic goals within capitalist society such as by means of a strong welfare state and ... The political ideology of socialism, including values of a Representative government, and private property. Anyone who cares to read the philosophy document of the NDC can confirm whether the NDC even goes this far part from the repeated assertions that it believes in the free market as if we failed to read it the first time. This is what Kwame Nkrumah had to say about social democracy that we are told he enshrined in foundation and tenets:

“It is interesting to recall that before the split in the Second International, Marxism was almost indistinguishable from social democracy. Indeed, the German Social Democratic Party was more or less the guardian of the doctrine of Marxism, and both Marx and Engels supported that Party. Lenin, too, became a member of the Social Democratic Party. After the break-up of the Second International, however, the meaning of the term “social democracy” altered, and it became possible to draw a real distinction between socialism and social democracy. A similar situation has arisen in Africa.” Nkrumah observed that social democracy stood to scientific socialism in the same way that "African Socialism" stood to scientific socialism.  By that he meant at one time all of the European movement toward socialism - communism initially called themselves social democrats - but the capitalists took over social democracy via the opportunists in their movement so the Leninists and others dropped the use of the name as it had become in reality the tool of the capitalist to blunt and defeat socialism.

Nkrumah points out that initially in Africa many leaders, including himself used African Socialism as a way of attempting to explain how scientific socialism would be applied in the African context; but of course, just as with the experience with social democracy in Europe, the reactionaries took over the concept and transformed it into various strands elaborated by Nyerere, Senghor and so forth. Thus, just as happened with the first International, the Pan-African leadership, led by Nkrumah, came to the understanding that only scientific socialism could properly identify what they were/are trying to construct.

Let me quote from Nkrumah's African Socialism Revisited: (can be found at

“Some years ago, African political leaders and writers used the term “African socialism” in order to label the concrete forms that socialism might assume in Africa. But the realities of the diverse and irreconcilable social, political, and economic policies being pursued by African states today have made the term “African socialism” meaningless and irrelevant. It appears to be much more closely associated with anthropology than with political economy. “African socialism” has now come to acquire some of its greatest publicists in Europe and North America precisely because of its predominant anthropological charm. Its foreign publicists include not only the surviving social democrats of Europe and North America, but other intellectuals and liberals who themselves are steeped in the ideology of social democracy.”

"It was no accident, let me add, that the 1962 Dakar Colloquium made such capital of “African socialism"’ but the uncertainties concerning the meaning and specific policies of “African socialism” have led some of us to abandon the term because it fails to express its original meaning and because it tends to obscure our fundamental socialist commitment. Today, the phrase “African socialism” seems to espouse the view that the traditional African society was a classless society imbued with the spirit of humanism and to express a nostalgia for that spirit. Such a conception of socialism makes a fetish of the communal African society. But an idyllic, African classless society (in which there were no rich and no poor) enjoying a drugged serenity is certainly a facile simplification; there is no historical or even anthropological evidence for any such society. I am afraid the realities of African society were somewhat more sordid.”

This is why Nkrumah used scientific socialism throughout in his books and wrote a piece against African Socialism. Today the NDC espouses social democracy in an attempt to take over the inheritance of the CPP and claim that it inherits the socialist ethos in Ghana thus representing itself to the outside world as a socialist party when it is not. To achieve this, the PNDC, from which both NDC and NPP originated from, killed other Ghanaians and traumatised others.

Kwame Nkrumah went on to state categorically that:

“We know that the “traditional African society” was founded on principles of egalitarianism. In its actual workings, however, it had various shortcomings. Its humanist impulse, nevertheless, is something that continues to urge us towards our all-African socialist reconstruction. We postulate each man to be an end in himself, not merely a means; and we accept the necessity of guaranteeing each man equal opportunities for his development. The implications of this for socio-political practice have to be worked out scientifically, and the necessary social and economic policies pursued with resolution. Any meaningful humanism must begin from egalitarianism and must lead to objectively chosen policies for safeguarding and sustaining egalitarianism. Hence, socialism. Hence, also, scientific socialism.” Kwame Nkrumah has also made it clear that capitalism can never develop into socialism:

“...society does not change its ethics by merely changing its rules. To alter its ethics, its principles must be different. Thus, if a capitalist society can become a socialist society, then a capitalist society will have changed its ethics. Any change of ethics constitutes a revolutionary change.”

What is required is therefore socialism and not social democracy as Kwame Nkrumah made very clear:

“The socialism of a liberated territory is subject to a number of principles if independence is not to be alienated from the people. When socialism is true to its purpose, it seeks a connection with the egalitarian and humanist past of the people before their social evolution was ravaged by colonialism; it seeks from the results of colonialism those elements (like new methods of industrial production and economic organization) which can be adapted to serve the interest of the people; it seeks to contain and prevent the spread of those anomalies and domineering interests created by the capitalist habit of colonialism; it reclaims the psychology of people, erasing the 'colonial mentality' from it; and it resolutely defends the independence and security of the people. In short, socialism recognizes dialectic, the possibility of creation from forces which are opposed to one another; it recognizes creativity of struggle, and, indeed, the necessity of the operation of forces to any change. It also embraces materialism and translates this into social terms of equality.”

Kwame Nkrumah makes it clear that a social democratic project rooted in capitalism cannot lead to the happiness of Ghanaians:

“If happiness is defined in the context of society, then happiness becomes that feeling which an individual derives, from a given economic, political and cultural context, that he is in a position to make good his aspirations. Since capitalist development is unfortunately a process in which a rapacious oligarchy is pitted against an exploited mass, happiness, according to this definition, is denied to many. The achievements of the capitalist oligarchy define new limits of what is attainable by the individual, and thereby push outward the frontiers of legitimate aspirations. But capitalism is a system in which these limiting aspirations are by definition denied to the people, and only reserved for a few.”

Clearly then Kwame Nkrumah makes it clear that capitalism which social democracy promotes is evil:

“The evil of capitalism consists in its alienation of the fruit of labour from those who with the toil of their body and the sweat of their brow produce this fruit. This aspect of capitalism makes it irreconcilable with those basic principles which animate the traditional African society. Capitalism is unjust; in our newly independent countries it is not only too complicated to be workable, it is also alien.”

Those who call themselves Nkrumaists must therefore understand that practice and thought of socialism are required as Kwame Nkrumah again makes clear: “Practice without thought is blind; thought without practice is empty. The three segments of African society which I specified in the last chapter, the traditional, the Western, and the Islamic, co-exist uneasily; the principles animating them are often in conflict with one another. I have in illustration tried to show how the principles which inform capitalism are in conflict with the socialist egalitarianism of the traditional African society.” Kwame Nkrumah went on to explain:

“Our attitude to the Western and the Islamic experience must be purposeful. It must also be guided by thought. For practice without thought is blind. What is called for as a first step is a body of connected thought which will determine the general nature of our action in unifying the society which we have inherited, this unification to take account, at all times, of the elevated ideals underlying the traditional African society. Social revolution must therefore have, standing firmly behind it, an intellectual revolution, a revolution in which our thinking and philosophy are directed towards the redemption of our society. Our philosophy must find its weapon in the environment and living conditions of African people. It is from those conditions that the intellectual content of our ideology must be created. The emancipation of the African continent is the emancipation of man. This requires two aims: first, the recognition of the egalitarianism of human society, and second, the logistic mobilization of all our resources toward the attainment of that restitution.”

Kwame Nkrumah therefore concluded that the philosophy required is philosophical consciencism and NOT NDC’s SOCIAL DEMOCRACY:

“The philosophy that must stand behind this social revolution is that which I have once referred to as philosophical consciencism; consciencism is the map in intellectual terms of the disposition of forces which will enable African society to digest the Western and the Islamic and the Euro-Christian elements in Africa, and develop them in such a way that they fit into the African personality. The African personality is itself defined by the cluster of humanist principles which underlie the traditional African society.

Philosophical consciencism is that philosophical standpoint which, taking its start from the present content of the African conscience, indicates the way in which progress is forged out of the conflict in that conscience.”

Kwame Nkrumah furthermore states in unequivocal terms that:

“Under socialism however, the study and mastery of nature has a humanist impulse, and is directed not towards a profiteering accomplishment, but the affording of ever-increasing satisfaction for the material and spiritual needs of the greatest number. Ideas of transformation and development, in so far as they relate to the purposes of society as a whole and not to an oligarch purpose, are properly speaking appropriate to socialism.”

Clearly Nkrumaism is not social democracy and the NDC has never said it was an Nkrumaist party. Social democrats in Ghana are not progressives and that is why the NDC said it was in a progressive alliance: not that it was progressive. The NPP went against no principle of social democracy in its essentials of free market policy implementation that the NDC does not believe in. The CPP does not share any social democratic ideal and tenets represented on the Anti-Kwame Nkrumah Nkrumaistforum; the CPP’s ideology and philosophy remains Nkrumaism as its constitution makes clear. Nkrumaists cannot be independent of NDC if they share the same social democratic ideal and tenets. It is therefore false for the Executive and Coordinating Committee of The Nkrumaist Forum and others namely, Ama Adumea Ohene, Explo Nani-Kofi, Andy Kwawukume, Michael Gyamerah, Selassie Mawuenyega, Alex J. Asare, John Jara Nutakor, Wendy Addae, Clement Ameho, George Kweifio-Okai, W. Kwadwo Boateng and Evans Afenya, Forum Moderator and Owner to make the false claim that Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah enshrined any social democratic foundations and tenets. Kwame Nkrumah did no such thing.

We call on them to join the only social democratic party in Ghana today which is the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which they have called on others to join and put an end to the false claims of Nkrumaism as some social democratic philosophy and ideology.

Not even Sekou Nkrumah who is openly in the NDC makes such a false claim. He calls on Nkrumaists to join NDC not because of some social democracy enshrined by his father but because of the need for Nkrumaists to have a political Platform which the NDC can offer. He is not alone in thinking that. But Nkrumaists are not, and could never be, social democrats.