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Opinions of Thursday, 24 September 2009

Columnist: Awuni, Manasseh Azure

Traitors’ Jubilee was in 2007: Now is the Founder’s Day!

The Monday March 7, 1966, edition of the Daily Graphic carried a story titled, The Fall of Satan. The story was about a congratulatory message sent to the National Liberation Council by the then Gbese Mantse, Nii Okai Pesemaku III, in which he stated that the fall of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was more spectacular than that of Satan.

This was just one of the demonic ill-wills Ghana’s first president suffered after he was overthrown by the military with their Western collaborators in February 1966. The demonization of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as Africa’s worst dictator had long started many years back following his stubborn refusal to kowtow to the dictates of the West. As a result, his political battle was not against flesh and blood as in his political adversaries at home but also against strong external forces who thought Nkrumah was bent on making Africa too difficult to manipulate.

The demonization continued long after Dr. Nkrumah’s death but posterity once again triumphed as the truest judge. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was named Africa’s Man of the twentieth century ahead of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela and other great sons and daughters of the continent. But the question has always been whether as a nation, we have been able to celebrate the ideals of this great leader whose tireless effort laid the foundation for Ghana to become a beacon of hope on the continent. Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebration two years ago was supposed to be a period to immortalize the architect of the country’s independence. But Nkrumah was relegated to the background since no Golden Jubilee monuments were erected in his honour. The Kwame Nkrumah Circle in the nation’s capital was not renovated while the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum was at the climax of its deterioration. There were many political pundits who attributed this to the fact that the descendants of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s political enemies were in power. They were not a millimeter away from the gospel truth. The Danquah-Busia sons and daughters are those who are shouting loudest for the inclusion of the other big six and that the name should be Founders’ Day instead of the Founder’s Day we are marking. Why did they not do that during the Golden Jubilee of our independence two years ago?

Two years on, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is about to receive the greatest honour after his death following the government’s declaration of his birthday as a Founder’s Day and a statutory public holiday in Ghana.

Some have argued that before Dr. Kwame Nkrumah returned to the country to take up the position of the first General Secretary of the UGCC before breaking away to form his own CPP, the independence struggle had long begun. It will therefore be wrong to single out Nkrumah as the nation’s founder and honour him as such. Others also argue that a lot has been done for Dr. Kwame Nkrumah already and so he does not merit another public holiday. In as much as some of the arguments raise genuine concerns, it will be very unfortunate on our part as a nation to neglect the singular contribution of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to our national image.

Apostle Paul asks us in 1st Corinthians 9:24: “Do you no know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” All the rest ran, but Nkrumah stood tall. Activities leading to his overthrow makes these men some say we should include look like traitors. It is this attitude of theirs that led to Nkrumah’s break away from the UGCC but they didn’t learn much sense. They pursued their PHD and finally pulled him down. These traitors were celebrated with monuments two years ago and it’s now the turn of the demonized hero – Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the selfless Founder.

Apart from celebrating his achievements, there a lot must be done during this period This is the time to set the records straight. As human as he was, Nkrumah had his own shortcomings but these were blown out of proportion by the foreign media and his political opponents. Today many Ghanaians only know that Nkrumah the dictator forced Ghana to become a one-party state but they do not know that there was a national referendum to that effect in 1964. A good number of our history books have been written by anti-Nkrumah campaigners with distorted facts and views that need to be corrected during this centenary celebration. If people like the late Professor Adu Boahen and his cohorts were those who chronicled the country’s history for schools and colleges, then one can be sure of what to expect. Today we have the Danquah Institute but Nkrumah’s ideological institute is no more.

Many of Nkrumah’s ideals are still very relevant today and must be brought to the fore during the celebration. The youth of Ghana must be thought that it is possible to serve one’s nation selflessly and honestly as Nkrumah did.

He did not die a millionaire. He was one of the few exceptional leaders of his time who did not use their positions to amass wealth. Though demonized, posterity still remains the truest judge and so Ghanaians have the cause to celebrate him. Indeed, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah never dies and so must celebrating his achievements and ideals never die. The Founder’s Day is neither for the NDC nor the NPP. Neither is it for the CPP. It is for all those who believe in the ideals of Nkrumah. His monumental achievements are there for us all to see and celebrate.

Credit: Manasseh Azure Awuni [azureachebe2@yahoo.com] The writer is the SRC President of the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra.