I stumbled across this poem which praises the African beauty, that of: our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and our wives. It is true that the African standard of beauty has now become the world standard of beauty. Women around the world want to have lips like Angelina Jolie, when we, Africans were blessed with real luscious lips. Western media emphasize J-Lo‘s big butt, when the African woman was naturally born bootylicious. Men love women with nice curves like Halle Berry … well, I guess God was truly showing off when He created the Black woman. Enjoy ‘African Woman’ by Swabi Mnisi.
You, with big butt and small waist Those goodies wrapped in unequalled curves Fat lips that produce a mouth watering kiss With that black face and woolly hair You are my African queen
The she-hero, Saartjie Bartman stood her ground In the mist of derogation, she remained proud Her bums defied western notions Big became beautiful and Africa a fishing pond Thanks to the African queen
Africa is blessed to have you, don’t disappoint You are the only species with big booty The only one with resilient black skin So please do not bleach, you are a queen
Avez-vous été si pressé un matin que vous avez pris un petit-déjeuner rapide? Un croissant, du café rapide, ou des oeufs dans une boulangerie locale? Eh bien, le petit déjeuner ambulant ne se retrouve pas seulement en Occident, mais aussi en Afrique, ou les gens s’arrêtent chez des vendeurs ambulants pour attraper un petit quelque chose avant de commencer la saga de la journée de travail. Ceci fait partie de la routine matinale. Au Cameroun, on peut decider d’avoir des beignets-haricots ou beignets-bouillie le matin, ou bien d’avoir un petit-déjeuner un peu plus moderne tel du pain tartiné au chocolat, au beurre, au pâté, ou tout simplement du pain à l’omelette. Dans la vidéo qui suit, découvrez le vendeur de petit-déjeuner au Cameroun. C’est un vendeur ambulant dont le stand est mobile, lui permettant ainsi de se déplacer pendant la journée. Il sert ses clients sur place, et toute l’omelette est faite sur place. Le matin, il achète du pain (des baguettes) en gros chez des boulangers locaux, et tout son nécessaire (oeufs, oignons, piment, etc) au marché, et assure ainsi le déjeuner de ses clients.
Ever been so busy that you have to grab a quick breakfast on the go? Well… breakfast on the go is not only prevalent in the West, but also in Africa, where people also grab breakfast as they rush to go to work. This is part of their morning routine. In Cameroon, one could have puff puff – Jazz or puff puff with corn meal porridge, or a more modern breakfast of bread with a spread with butter or chocolate, or pate, or bread with an omelette. In the following video, you will see a breakfast seller in Cameroon, on his mobile stand, making breakfast for customers. His stand is very mobile, and allows him to move around the city. In the morning, he buys French baguettes in bulk from the local baker, and all his necessary (eggs, onions, pepper, etc) at the market, to satisfy his clients.
Je n’ai pu m’empêcher de partager avec vous ce pur joyau d’un autre temps: une interview du President Thomas Sankara par Mongo Beti. Cette interview n’avait jamais été publiée auparavant, jusqu’à ce que l’épouse de Mongo Beti, Odile Tobner, la mette sur le site de la Société des Amis de Mongo Beti (SAMBE). En 1985, Mongo Beti eut une entrevue privée avec notre ‘Che’ africain, Thomas Sankara, à la fin de laquelle, il lui envoya d’autres questions auxquelles Thomas répondit. Ci-dessous, vous trouverez quelques extraits de cet entretien, où j’ai mis les questions de Mongo Beti sous formes de thèmes, et les réponses de Sankara suivent juste après (en bleu). Pour l’intégrale, prière de visiter SAMBE.
Sur les attaques ennemies: “Il y a partout aujourd’hui, aux quatre coins du continent, des N’Krumah, des Lumumba, des Mondlane, etc. Que Sankara soit éliminé aujourd’hui physiquement, il y aura des milliers de Sankara qui relèveront le défi face à l’impérialisme. …Toutefois, pour mille et une raison, notre peuple et la jeunesse révolutionnaire africaine restent attachées à Sankara et ne souhaitent jamais que le moindre malheur lui arrive.”
Sur la corruption: “Sans être un sociologue averti, ni un historien des sociétés précapitalistes africaines, je ne pourrai pas affirmer que la corruption est propre aux sociétés africaines. C’est un phénomène lié avant tout au système capitaliste, système socio-économique qui ne peut véritablement évoluer sans développer la corruption. Elle est donc incontestablement un héritage maudit de la colonisation. Ainsi, logiquement, pour combattre valablement la colonisation, le colonialisme et même le néocolonialisme, il faut aussi s’attaquer à la corruption.”
Sur les traditions africaines et la place de la femme (polygamie, excision): “On ne fait pas de révolution pour régresser dans le temps. C’est pour aller toujours de l’avant. La Révolution ne peut qu’étouffer tous les aspects négatifs de nos traditions. C’est cela notre combat contre toutes les forces rétrogrades, toutes les formes d’obscurantisme, combat légitime et indispensable pour libérer la société de toutes les emprises décadentes et de tous les préjugés, dont celui qui consiste à marginaliser la femme ou à la chosifier. … Nous luttons pour l’égalité de l’homme et de la femme, pas d’une égalité mécanique, mathématique, mais en rendant la femme l’égale de l’homme devant la loi et surtout devant le travail salarié. L’émancipation de la femme passe par son instruction et l’obtention d’un pouvoir économique. Ainsi le travail au même titre que l’homme, à tous les niveaux, la même responsabilisation et les mêmes droits et devoirs sont des armes contre l’excision et la polygamie, armes que la femme n’hésitera pas à utiliser pour se libérer elle-même et non par quelqu’un d’autre.”
Sur la cooperation, et la conference au sommet des chefs d’Etats francophones: “Lutter pour son indépendance face au colonialisme ne veut pas dire que l’on se prépare, une fois celle-ci obtenue, à quitter la terre pour aller s’isoler quelque part dans le cosmos. Quant aux conférences au sommet des chefs d’État francophones, ils servent, chaque fois que nous avons l’occasion d’y prendre part, de tribune, de tremplin pour notre révolution, pour la faire connaître, de dire ouvertement ce qu’elle pense de ces conférences ou instances politiques. Y participer pour dénoncer ce qui ne va pas dans l’intérêt des peuples africains est une stratégie beaucoup plus payante que les sarcasmes envoyés de l’extérieur.”
Sur le franc CFA: “le franc CFA, lié au système monétaire français est une arme de la domination française. L’économie française et, partant, la bourgeoisie capitaliste marchande française bâtit sa fortune sur le dos de nos peuples par le biais de cette liaison, de ce monopole monétaire.”
Sur le panafricanisme et Nkrumah: “Tout le monde constate aujourd’hui avec amertume, face aux méfaits et autres exactions de l’impérialisme en Afrique, que N’krumah avait très bien raison d’aller de tous ses voeux à l’unité du continent. Néanmoins l’idée demeure et il nous appartient, il appartient aux patriotes africains, de lutter partout et toujours pour sa concrétisation. Il appartient à tous les peuples panafricanistes de reprendre le flambeau de N’Krumah pour donner espoir à l’Afrique.”
Sur le parti unique: “Ce qui est discrédité c’est le parti unique bourgeois, parce que obéissant à une idéologie d’injustice, donnant le premier rôle à une minorité au détriment de la majorité. Un parti unique démocratique, c’est-à-dire un parti du peuple, ne peut en aucun cas être discrédité, parce qu’au service d’un peuple, des intérêts de la majorité. C’est sur une telle base qu’il faut voir la question du parti unique, qui est aussi une vision des masses.”
Sur la privatisation de certains secteurs: “La révolution burkinabé considère l’initiative privée comme une dynamique qu’elle prend en compte dans l’étape actuelle de la lutte du peuple burkinabé. … L’État ne peut pas s’engager dans une étatisation tous azimuts, même si le contrôle d’un certain nombre de secteurs vitaux de notre économie s’avère indispensable.”
Au camarade Mongo Beti, 3/11/85 La patrie ou la mort, nous vaincrons !
Today I will be talking about a writer of the caliber of Chinua Achebe and Ngugi wa Thiong’o, a writer often forgotten, a writer who fought with his writings for independence, a Cameroonian writer who wrote about Cameroon’s first freedom fighter Ruben Um Nyobé, and whose writings were banned… you have probably guessed it, I am talking about the great Mongo Beti.
Mongo Beti was born Alexandre Biyidi Awala, on 30 June 1932 in Akométan, near Mbalmayo, south of Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. From a young age, Mongo Beti was already exposed to the currents of independence and freedom that were shaking Cameroon, and was exposed to Um Nyobé. He would eventually get expelled from the local missionary school at 14, for being outspoken. As he himself said “At the time, I was very shocked by the idea of confessing my sins to someone else.” He would eventually attend the Lycee Leclerc in Yaoundé, and then move to the Sorbonne in Paris, France, for further studies.
Mongo Beti claimed that he entered writing through writing political tracts. His first piece was a short story published by Alioune Diop in 1953 in Présence Africaine, “Sans haine et sans amour” (Without hatred or love). He first started writing under the pen name Eza Boto, by fear of retaliation from the French colonial regime. His first book “Ville Cruelle” or “Cruel City” published in 1954, was actually on the school program in all high schools of Cameroon for many years in the 80s to late 90s. His second novel “Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba” (“The Poor Christ of Bomba“) was published under the pseudonym Mongo Beti, to distance himself from his previous piece. The name Mongo Beti means in Ewondo, ‘Son of the Beti people’. This new novel created a scandal because of its satirical and biting description of the missionary and colonial world. Under pressure from the religious hierarchy, the colonial administrator in Cameroon banned the novel in the colony. This novel was followed by “Mission Terminée” in 1957 (winner of the Prix Sainte Beuve 1958), andLe Roi Miraculé, 1958. All three books were translated into English and many other languages, which gave Beti a lasting international reputation. During this time, he also worked for the review Preuves, for which he reported from Africa, as well as a substitute teacher at the lycée of Rambouillet. He later on taught at the Lycee Pierre Corneille of Rouen until his retirement in 1994.
‘Wanted’ in the colony because of his sharp writings, and his connections to the UPC of Ruben Um Nyobé, Mongo Beti stayed in France. Ruben Um Nyobe’s murder by the colonial administration in 1958, truly shook Beti to his core; he fell silent and did not publish any book for the following decade. In 1971, he finally wrote “Main Basse sur le Cameroun, autopsie d’une décolonisation” (Cruel hand on Cameroon, autopsy of a decolonization) which was censored upon its publication by the French Ministry of the Interior Raymond Marcellin on the request, brought forward by Jacques Foccart, of the Cameroon government, represented in Paris by the ambassador Ferdinand Oyono. This essay perhaps sprang from frustration and rage at the collapse of the UPC rebellion and the public execution of its last leader, Ernest Ouandié, in 1970. It was a devastating critique of the authoritarian regime of Cameroon, and asserted that Cameroon and other colonies remained under French control in all but name, and that the post-independence political elites had actively fostered this continued dependence. The 1970s also saw two of his most passionately political novels, “Remember Ruben“ and “Perpetue et l’Habitude du Malheur,” both published in 1974.
Mongo Beti returned to Cameroon in 1991 after 32 years of exile. In 1993 he published La France contre l’Afrique, Retour au Cameroun, a book chronicling his visits to his homeland. After retiring from teaching in 1994, he returned to Cameroon permanently. He opened the Librairie des Peuples noirs (Bookstore of the Black Peoples) in Yaoundé and organized agricultural activities in his village of Akométam. However, his return did not leave the government silent: he was subjected to police aggression in January 1996 in the streets of Yaoundé, and was subsequently challenged at a demonstration in October 1997. In response he published several novels: L’histoire du fou in 1994 then the two initial volumes Trop de Soleil tue l’Amour (1999) et Branle-bas en noir et blanc (2000), of a trilogy which would remain unfinished. He was hospitalized in Yaoundé on October 1, 2001 for acute hepatic and kidney failure which remained untreated for lack of dialysis. Transported to the hospital in Douala on October 6, he died there on October 8, 2001. Some critics noted the similarity of his death to that of his heroine Perpetua, who also died while awaiting treatment in one of the country’s overburdened hospitals.
As I write about him today, I feel very sad that we, in Cameroon, don’t honor our heroes. No one can even fathom the depth of Mongo Beti’s work. It is immense, and his service to Cameroon’s history is beyond our imagination. At a time when everybody was scared of the regime (and rightly so, after the ‘maquis‘ years), he dared to write. From afar, yes, one might say from the safety of France and not Cameroon, he continued his mission of informing, and enlightening us. How many contributed like Mongo Beti to our knowledge of Ruben Um Nyobé? I am sure Mongo Beti’s book “Main basse …” is one of the rare written accounts of Ernest Ouandié. The African writer, Boubacar Boris Diop wrote: “Sans jamais se courber devant personne, il [Mongo Beti] a réussi à faire d’un simple pseudonyme un cri de ralliement. Sa vie durant, il a haï l’hypocrisie, le vain folklore et les faux-fuyants. Il est resté fidèle, jusqu’au martyre, à sa passion de la liberté.” (Without ever bending to nobody, he [Mongo Beti] succeeded in turning a pseudonym into a rallying cry. Throughout his life, he hated hypocrisy, vain folklore, and subterfuge. He remained faithful, up to martyrdom, to his passion for freedom.) Your work, O Mongo, is a true treasure in the archives of Cameroon. Peace be with you Mongo, you are not just a son of the Beti, but rather a son of Cameroon… Peace to you Mongo Cameroon.
Azougui was an important transit place for the trans-Saharan trade route from Morocco and Ghana. The birth/ apparition of the oasis is strongly linked to the creation of Azougui. Today, this palm grove is the site for over 20,000 palm trees. The archeological site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list on June 14, 2001.
Azougui, as the first capital of the Almoravids, was a stone fortress with a wall and several concessions. This fortress was enlarged with time, which explains the urbanization inside the enclosure on an area expanding over several kilometers. The site was reported in 1068 by Al Bakri, and mentioned by several Arabic chroniclers such as Ibn Said, El Kalakshandy, and Ibn Khaldun. The Almoravid movement was a political formation at its origin, which was born in the midst of Sanhaja tribe of Lamtuna (or Lemtouna), and Gudala (Guedala) in Adrar, under the authority of a spiritual leader of extraordinary religious rigor, Abdallah ibn Yasin. This movement was able to unify west Africa, the Maghreb, and the Iberian peninsula for several centuries, after investing the Empire of Ghana, the Idrissides, and the kingdom of Barghawata (or Berghouata). The site’s excavation started in 1979, and continues until today. Its excavation has shed light on the importance of Azougui in the trans-Saharan trade.
Today, I will be talking about Bangui, the capital of Centrafrique or the Central African Republic (CAR). Bangui is commonly known to locals as “Bangui, la coquette“, or “Bangui, the coquette“. Before its independence on August 13 1960, Centrafrique was known as “Oubangui-Chari” (in English: Ubangi-Chari) because its border in the south is formed by the rivers Oubangui (which is the border with the democratic republic of Congo) and Mbomou, while at its northern border is the Chari river which also runs into Chad. When the French first colonized the area in the 19th century, they adopted the name Oubangui-Chari, since the country is located in the Oubangui-Chari basin. Thus the city Bangui is located on the right bank of the Oubangui river. The city was started (I will not use the more common word ‘founded’ as I disagree with its use here) on 26 June 1889 during French colonization, to serve as a base for French expansion in Central Africa.
At its creation, it was part of the then French colony of Haut-Oubangui (Upper-Ubangi). The city grew thanks to its proximity to a French military post (which still exists there today), and became the center of the French colonial administration in the area. At first, from 1889 to 1912, the population was mostly centered near the river Oubangui; later on, it grew on the northern side. It is also good to mention that the city-center is dominated by the Gbazabangui hills, inside which there is a special forest reserve.
During Kwame Nkrumah‘s state funerals in Conakry on 13 – 14May 1972, Amilcar Cabral gave this great speech titled: “Le Cancer de la Trahison,” (The Cancer of Betrayal) on May 13, 1972, which I posted earlier in French. I have now translated his speech to English, and would like all to enjoy. I will later add the captions to the video on youtube as well.
In his last public speech in Conakry, at the funeral of the former Ghanaian president Nkrumah, Amilcar Cabral had denounced the cancer of betrayal that eats up African movements. His comments today take a strange resonance in Guinea as in Angola, and Mozambique, where many movements are demanding power which the Portuguese have not yet abandoned.
“… What to say? but we must speak otherwise at this point, if we don’t talk, our hearts may burst. Our tears should not infiltrate the truth.We, freedom fighters, we do not mourn the death of a man, even a man who was a comrade and an exemplary revolutionary, because as President Ahmed Sekou Toure often says ‘what is man in front of the infinite being and transgressing of the people and of humanity?’ We do not mourn the people of Ghana scoffed in its most beautiful realisations, in its most legitimate aspirations.We are not crying for Africa, betrayed. We are mourning, yes, of hatred towards those who were able to betray NKRUMAH to serve the ignoble imperialism… Mr President, Africa by requiring through the voice of the people of the Republic of Guinea, as always fairly represented by President Ahmed Sekou Toure, whom NKRUMAH had put in his right place on the Kilimandjaro’s highest summits of the African revolution, Africa rehabilitates itself and through history. President NKRUMAH, which we honor is primarily the great strategist of the struggle against classic colonialism, he is the one who created what we call African positivism, what he called “positive action”, affirmative action. We pay tribute to the declared enemy of neocolonialism in Africa and elsewhere, the strategist of economic development in his country. Mr President,we praise the freedom fighter of the African people who always gave his full support to national liberation movements, and we want to tell you here that we, in Guinea and Cape Verde islands, even though it is true that the most important factor for the development of our struggle outside our country was the independence of the Republic of Guinea,the heroic ‘no’ of the people of Guinea on 28 September 1958. It is also true thatif we went through the struggle regenerated, it was essentially due to the concrete support of Ghana and particularly of President Nkrumah …
Mr. President, we should however in this moment remember that all coins in life have two faces, all realities have positive and negative sides… to all positive action, is opposed a negative action. To what extent is betrayal’s success in Ghana linked to problems of class struggle, from contributions to social structures, from the role of party or other instructions, including armed forces as part of a new independent state. To what level, we shall ask ourselves, is betrayal’s success in Ghana linked to a correct definition of this historical entity and craftsman of history that is the people and their daily work, in defending its own independence conquests? Or to what extent is betrayal’s success not linked to the major problem of the choice of men in the revolution? My idea on this question will allow us to better understand the greatness of Nkrumah’s work, to understandthe complexity of problems he had to face so many times alone… problems that will allow us to conclude that, as imperialism exists, an independent state in Africa should be a liberation movement to power or it would not exist. Let no one tell us that Nkrumah died of a cancer to the throat or some other disease; no, Nkrumah has been killed by the cancer of betrayal that we should uproot… by the cancer of betrayal, that we should root out of Africa if we really want to definitely crush the imperialist domination on this continent. But, we, Africans, firmly believe that the dead continue living by our sides, we are a society of dead and living.Nkrumah will resuscitate each dawn in the hearts and in the determinations of freedom fighters, in the action of all true African patriots. Our liberation movement will not forgive those who betrayed Nkrumah, the people of Ghana will not forgive, Africa will not forgive, progressive mankind will not forgive!”
Translated from French by Dr. Y., afrolegends.com (12 October 2012)
Autrefois, il y a bien longtemps, les tortues avaient une belle carapace toute lisse. Ce conte va vous dire comment cette carapace est devenue rugueuse et pleine de bosses.
C’était une époque de famine. Dans tout le pays, les habitants cherchaient vainement un peu de nourriture pour apaiser leur faim. Or, un jour, lézard, affamé, est en train d’errer dans un champ quand il voit arriver le propriétaire de celui-ci, un chat bien gras. Lézard est étonné de cet embonpoint dans une période de disette. Il se cache pour observer. Chat se dirige vers une lourde roche et s’écrie : Rocher, soulève-toi. Et le rocher se soulève, découvrant une caverne pleine d’ignames. Puis chat entre dans la caverne pleine d’ignames. Puis chat entre dans la caverne et mange. Quand il a fini, il ressort et dit : Rocher, ferme-toi. Et le rocher se referme.
Lézard a tout vu et tout entendu ; il s’en retourne chez lui en réfléchissant. Au point du jour, le lendemain, il va dans le champ et fait comme le chat. Le rocher se soulève, lézard entre dans la caverne, prend quelques ignames et mange copieusement. A partir de ce moment, tous les matins, il renouvelle son sol.
Bientôt, il grossit et retrouve bonne mine. Or, un soir, il rencontre tortue qui s’étonne de lui voir si belle apparence.
Où trouves-tu de la nourriture, pendant cette famine ? Lui demande-t-elle
– je ne peux pas te le dire, répond lézard.
Si on le savait, met à le supplier :
Par pitié, mon compère, emmène-moi avec toi quand tu iras te nourrir. Je jure que je n’en parlerai à personne.
– bon ! dit le lézard, viens m’éveiller au premier chant du cop. Je te montrerai mon secret. Pendant toute la nuit, la tortue ne peut fermer l’œil tant il lui tarde d’être au lendemain. Dans son impatience, elle se rend chez lézard avant le chant du cop. Pour éveiller celui-ci, elle se met à pousser un grand cri : cocorico !cocorico ! Et elle appelle lézard : Compère, Compère le coq a chanté, lève-toi vite.
Mais lézard voit que le ciel est encore tout noir et lui crie : Laisse-moi dormir ma commère. Ce n’est pas l’heure ! Le coq n’a pas encore chanté. Déçue, la tortue revient chez elle et se recouche. Le coq chante enfin. Tortue et lézard se mettent aussitôt en route. Une fois parvenus au champ, ils vont auprès du gros rocher. Lézard ordonne : Rocher, soulève-toi . Le rocher se soulève. Lézard entre dans la caverne, prend des ignames et ressort.
Maintenant, il faut partir !dit-il.
– pas encore, répond tortue, je veux entrer moi aussi pour prendre des ignames. Fais le guet pendant ce temps !
– D’accord ! fait lézard. Mais dès qu’elle a tourné le dos, il s’en va. Tortue est très vorace. Elle veut emporter une grosse quantité d’ignames et en suspend à sa tête, à ses bras, à ses bras, à ses pieds, en accroche même à ses cheveux.
Quand à lézard, à peine revenu chez lui, il allume un grand feu, puis s’étend sur le sol, le ventre en faisant le mort.
Tortue ressort enfin de la caverne, couverte de provisions. Mais elle ne connaissait pas le moyen d’abaisser le rocher. Elle pousse, tire, crie. En vain ! Et tout à coup, chat le propriétaire, survient. Il se jette sur la tortue en le traitant de voleuse. Il la frappe violemment et l’attache avec une corde. Tortue, terrorisée, crie : Ce n’est pas moi, c’est lézard ! Grace ! Grâce ! Ce n’est pas moi, c’est lézard le voleur !
– C’est ce que nous allons voir! grommelle le chat. Et il l’entraîne jusqu’à la maison de lézard. Ils trouvent lézard, sur le sol, le ventre en l’air, comme s’il était mort.
Cette tortue affirme que c’est toi qui l’a emmenée dans mon champ voler mes ignames déclare chat.
Comment cela serait-il possible, seigneur chat ? Fait lézard d’une voix plaintive. Je suis ici couché, presque mort depuis trois mois. Il y a bien longtemps que je ne suis allé dans le champ de qui que ce soit.
Alors le chat déchire tortue avec ses griffes pointues pour lui donner une leçon. Puis il part, la laissant en bien mauvais état. Elle gémissait et regardait autour d’elle pour voir si quelqu’un viendrait à son secours. Enfin elle aperçoit un cancrelat et une fourmi.
Cancrelat, et fourni viennent auprès d’elle et la raccommodent. Mais ils ne pouvaient pas bien faire ce travail, avec tous les morceaux d’ignames qui étaient collés partout.
Et c’est ainsi que la carapace de tortue est devenue toute bosselée, toute écailleuse et rugueuse maintenant.
Conte tiré de “Contes des Lagunes et Savanes,” Collection ‘Fleuve et Flamme,’ édition Edicef, 1975
Please enjoy this pure jewel of history… President Kwame Nkrumah‘s speech proclaiming the independence of Ghana at 12:00AM on 6 March 1957. So much to praise, the joy and hope that this new state’s birth brought. Find below the written part of the speech, and watch to hear Kwame Nkrumah deliver this great speech.
At long last, the battle has ended! And thus, Ghana, your beloved country is free forever!
And yet again, I want to take the opportunity to thank the people of this country; the youth, the farmers, the women who have so nobly fought and won the battle.
Also, I want to thank the valiant ex-service men who have so cooperated with me in this mighty task of freeing our country from foreign rule and imperialism.
And, as I pointed out… from now on, today, we must change our attitudes and our minds. We must realize that from now on we are no longer a colonial but free and independent people.
But also, as I pointed out, that also entails hard work. That new Africa is ready to fight its own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.
We are going to demonstrate to the world, to the other nations, that we are prepared to lay our foundation – our own African personality.
As I said to the Assembly a few minutes ago, I made a point that we are going to create our own African personality and identity. It is the only way we can show the world that we are ready for our own battles.
But today, may I call upon you all, that on this great day let us all remember that nothing can be done unless it has the purport and support of God.
We have won the battle and again rededicate ourselves … OUR INDEPENDENCE IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS IT IS LINKED UP WITH THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF AFRICA.
Let us now, fellow Ghanaians, let us now ask for God’s blessing for only two seconds, and in your thousands and millions.
I want to ask you to pause for only one minute and give thanks to Almighty God for having led us through our difficulties, imprisonments, hardships and sufferings, to have brought us to our end of troubles today. One minute silence.
Ghana is free forever! And here I will ask the band to play the Ghana National Anthem.
Reshaping Ghana’s destiny, I am depending on the millions of the country, and the chiefs and the people, to help me to reshape the destiny of this country. We are prepared to pick it up and make it a nation that will be respected by every nation in the world.
We know we are going to have difficult beginnings, but again, I am relying on your support…. I am relying upon your hard work.
Seeing you in this… It doesn’t matter how far my eyes go, I can see that you are here in your millions. And my last warning to you is that you are to stand firm behind us so that we can prove to the world that when the African is given a chance, he can show the world that he is somebody!
We have awakened. We will not sleep anymore. Today, from now on, there is a new African in the world!
Few men on the continent have had the aura of President Kwame Nkrumah, one of the greatest pan-africanist of the continent and the first president of Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah was born on 21 September1909 in Nkroful, Gold Coast (the pre-independence name of Ghana) the world’s largest cocoa producer. Hailing from a modest traditional family, He trained to be a teacher at the Achimota School in Accra from 1927 to 1930. For the following five years, he then taught in elementary schools across the Gold Coast. He later on attended Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a BA in theology in 1942. He went on to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Master of Science in education, and a master of arts in philosophy in 1943. During his time in the US, he preached at black Presbyterian churches in Philadephia, and New York city. Moving to London after World War II, Nkrumah helped organize Pan-African congresses, linking the emergent educated groups of the African colonies with activists, writers, artists, and well-wishers from the industrial countries. It was a time of great intellectual ferment, excitement, and optimism. Gandhi and India‘s achievement of independence in 1947 stirred dreams of freedom for the other colonies. “If we get self-government,” Nkrumah proclaimed, “we’ll transform the Gold Coast into a paradise in 10 years.”
In 1947, Nkrumah was invited to serve as the general secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), exploring paths to independence of the Gold Coast from British rule. After the riots of February 1948, and arrests of UGCC leaders by British rule, Nkrumah emerged as the party leader upon release. He proclaimed that the Gold Coast needed “self-government now,” and built a large power base including cocoa farmers, women (at a time when women were not invited in the political process) and trade unions. On 12 June 1949, he organized a new political party based on these groups: the Convention People’s Party (CPP). Within two years the CPP had won limited self-rule elections, and Nkrumah became “Leader of Government Business” in 1951 after a landslide CPP win in the first general election– a de facto prime minister, responsible for internal government and policy. He set his sights firmly on independence. No amount of autonomy or self-rule, he argued, could match the energy, commitment, and focus of a government and people in a truly independent country. It was a precondition for growth. He summarized his philosophy in a slogan that became famous and influential across Africa: “Seek ye first the political kingdom, and all else shall be added unto you….”
As a leader of this government, Nkrumah faced many challenges: first, to learn to govern; second, to unify the four territories of the Gold Coast; third, to win his nation’s complete independence from the United Kingdom. Nkrumah was successful at all three goals. Within six years of his release from prison, he was the leader of an independent nation. At 12 a.m. on 6 March 1957, Nkrumah declared Ghana independent. The country became independent as a Commonwealth realm. He was hailed as the Osagyefo – which means “redeemer” in the Twi language.
On 6 March 1960, Nkrumah announced plans for a new constitution, which would make Ghana a republic. On 19, 23, and 27 April 1960 a presidential election and plebiscite on the constitution were held. The constitution was ratified and Nkrumah was elected president over J. B. Danquah, the UP candidate, 1,016,076 to 124,623. In 1961, Nkrumah laid the first stones in the foundation of the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute created to train Ghanaian civil servants as well as promote Pan-Africanism. In 1964, all students entering college in Ghana were required to attend a two-week “ideological orientation” at the Institute. In 1963, Nkrumah was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union. Ghana became a charter member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
The Gold Coast had been among the wealthiest and most socially advanced areas in Africa, with schools, railways, hospitals, social security and an advanced economy. Under Nkrumah’s leadership, Ghana adopted some socialist policies and practices. Nkrumah created a welfare system, started various community programs, and established schools. Nkrumah’s time in office was successful and ambitious (could you blame him? With a newly independent country, there was so much to build), with forestry, fishing, and cattle-breeding expanded, production of cocoa (Ghana’s main export) doubled, and modest deposits of bauxite and gold exploited more effectively. The construction of a dam on the Volta River (launched in 1961) provided water for irrigation and hydro-electric power, which produced enough electricity for the towns as well as for a new aluminum plant. Government funds were also provided for village projects in which local people built schools and roads, while free health care and education were introduced. Ghana adopted the Ghana Cedi (GHC) as a currency in 1965; the word “cedi” being the Akan word for cowry shells, which were used as currency in the old days.
He generally took a non-aligned Marxist perspective on economics, and believed capitalism had malignant effects that were going to stay with Africa for a long time (and rightly so, we can all see the effects of IMF, and World Bank policies in Africa today: poverty to the grave). Nkrumah argued that socialism was the system that would best accommodate the changes that capitalism had brought, while still respecting African values. At a time when there were East & West blocks from the cold war, and where Africa was stuck in the middle, with no way out but to bend to some of the East-West politics (which could not work for us), Nkrumah believed in non-alignment. He made a famous quote on non-alignment which said: “We face neither East nor West; We face forward.” To show that we, as Africans, could not be forced to adhere to politics or economics which had no respect for us as human beings and for our cultures.
In Africa Must Unite(1963) Nkrumah called for the immediate formation of a pan-African government. Later he sat on a unification movement that emanates from the base, while anti-imperialist governments and between the Western-backed “puppet regime” could be no common ground. He was a true visionary to have seen that Africa needed to unite in order to survive, because as it stood divided in 50-something states it was an easy prey to Western imperialists. Nkrumah’s biggest success in this area was his significant influence in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
Truth be told, Nkrumah was too big for his own good. He wanted Ghana and Africa to be truly independent: politically, and economically. He was a strong advocate for pan-Africanism, and the true instigator and founder of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) whose goals were to raise Africa, and promote unity and strength across the continent. He also helped several independent movements in Africa, such as those from Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). He was ousted in February1966 by a military coup, while on state visit to Vietnam.
After the coup, Nkrumah lived in exile in Conakry, Guinea, as the guest of President Ahmed Sekou Toure who made him honorary co-president. He read, wrote, corresponded, gardened, entertained guests, and continued to push for his vision of African unity. 50 years later, Kadhafi who was trying to revive, and reinvigorate the African Union, and almost succeeded, was also brought down by Western Imperialism; and his country, the beautiful Libya (one of the few countries in the world without debt) bombed and brought down in flames.
Nkrumah died in 27 April1972 of skin cancer in Romania. One can tell the greatness of the man by the number of universities who carry his name during his lifetime. If you are ever in Accra, visit the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum which is a true piece of art, as well as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi. Check out Nkrumah.net to learn more about this great African leader, and read some of his speeches. Check out this great video which talks about Kwame Nkrumah’s fight for Ghana’s independence, as well as his struggle to maintain his vision for an independent Ghana (check out all parts 1-4). Don’t forget to read some of his books: Africa Must Unite (1963), Neo-colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism (1965), African Socialism Revisited (1967), Dark Days in Ghana (1968), Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968), I Speak of Freedom (1973), and many more.