Who/What did we say goodbye to in Africa in 2020?

President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (Source: thecable.ng)

Well, 2020 has been quite a year… when 2020 started, nobody could have told me that there would be a “global pandemic” and I would have believed it, that there will be a confinement and I would have believed, that people will be having “virtual parties” and I would have believed, or that people would have been walking around faceless i.e. masked and I would have believed. What a year! For sure, 2020 is going out, and there will be no other 2020. So let us remember 2020 in Africa, and remember the people, situations, and more that we said goodbye to.

Pierre Nkurunziza during a community event (Source: PressHerald.com)
  1. President J.J. Rawlings, former President of Ghana joined his ancestors this past November. The Ghanaian president J.J. Rawlings has a strong place in history as an influential, courageous, tough-talking, bold, impactful leader and charismatic Statesman who left deep impressions on the political landscapes of his country and, indeed, Africa. Just like the Ghana of today owes a lot to Kwame Nkrumah the father of its independence, the Ghana of today owes a lot to J.J. Rawlings, the father of its economic stability and face-lift. There were a lot of tributes, and I found so much similarities between the words of Rawlings and some that I have echoed here on his blog, J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More.
  2. President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi left us this past June: Pierre Nkurunziza: So Long to the President who said ‘NO’ to the ICC, UN, WHO, BBC, and VOA. This president, Pierre Nkurunziza, was not a “traditional” president in his white marble castle, but was seen rather as a simple man, a man of the people, a man like the people he served, very religious and patriotic. Pierre Nkurunziza: Some of His Achievements for Burundi.
  3. Amadou Toumani Toure – ATT (Souce: Blackfacts.com
    The soldier of democracy, the former president of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure (ATT), also changed plane this year: GoodBye to Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT) -Former President of Mali. As I said earlier, this was a man of integrity! Some may call him a realist. When then president Traoré asked the army to keep firing at the Malian people, he stood up and said ‘NO’. He took power, and steered the country towards its first democratic elections. Then he stepped down. Later, he won the presidential election with a coalition, and served 2 terms. When in 2012 there was a coup against him, he resigned, and left the office. Others in Africa should copy a page from ATT’s book.
  4. We said goodbye to the world-renowned Cameroonian/French saxophonist Manu Dibango. So Long Manu Dibango: Your Saxophone will Enlighten our Lives. His saxophone, big voice, and laughter brought joy, and influenced world-renowned musicians such as  Michael Jackson, Kool and the Gang, and more. As for me, I remember “Bienvenu, Welcome to Cameroon” and his collaboration with Fela Kuti as my favorites.
  5. This year we said goodbye to Mory Kante : the Electrifying Griot from Guinea. Often known as the “electronic griot” because he modernized local traditional instruments such as his kora which he electrified, and fused African music with styles and instruments from Western pop. His 1987 hit “Ye Ke Ye Ke” is a hit I still dance to. If you ever come across a kora, or listen to Ye Ke Ye Ke remember the electrifying griot Mory Kante and the great musical century-long traditions dating back to the Ghana Empire, Ancient Kingdom of Africa.
  6. Zindzi Mandela (Source: Timeslive.co.za)
    In July, Zindzi Mandela: the daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela passed away. As well, as being remembered by her family and loved ones, the world remembers her as the young woman who read Nelson Mandela‘s letter of rejection in 1985. Reading that letter required a lot of courage, determination and strength to defy the apartheid regime and stand in front of a full stadium thirsty for words of encouragement, and hope from their leaders to keep facing the injustices of an inhumane regime.
  7. This past November as well, Mamadou Tandja, the former President of Niger changed his plane of existence. Did you know that France’s nuclear power is funded by the uranium of Niger? and that Niger gets nothing for it? Tandja was the president who asked that the French nuclear company Areva start to pay something to Niger. During his terms, the relationship with Areva, which had enjoyed a de facto four decade monopoly in the country, worsened as he sought to curb the power of French influence by striking a deal with Sino-U in 2007 to develop a uranium mine, resulting in competition for Areva. As you can guess, he was deposed in a coup. Remember The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in Africa which gives France monopole over riches, mines, in a country? So long brother!
  8. Flag of Mali
    Flag of Mali
    In August, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (IBK), president of Mali, was booted out of office: Bye Bye IBK: Mali Coup. This was a coup d’etat in Mali, and the Malian people rejoiced… but then as always France and its croonies ADO forced the Malian military leaders to promise to reinstate a civilian government and hold elections within a relatively short time frame. As always, France is there to bring back Africans into slavery… no wonder they can stay confined when they get 500 billions for free from African countries [The 11 Components of the French Colonial Tax in AfricaFCFA: France’s Colonial Tax on Africa, Africa is funding Europe!]. Is France Trying to (re) Colonize Africa?
  9. Flag of Zimbabwe
    Flag of Zimbabwe
    In September, common sense left the government of Zimbabwe, when it decided to compensate white farmers the hefty sum of 3.5 billion dollars… within 12 months, when the country is currently on life support and there is no money in its coffers [Is Zimbabwe the New Haiti?]! This is outrageous! When the economy is in shambles, how can the government agree to this? Did these white farmers ever compensate the Africans after independence in 1980 for using their lands for a century, for abusing them off their lands? And for all the years of economic embargo forced on the country? Then in September, Zimbabwe agreed to return seized land to foreigners. What is funny is that the government has been doing this in hopes of having the embargo removed, but the country is still under serious economic embargoes. Don’t they learn from history? Zimbabwe is indeed the new Haiti!
  10. Flag of Mozambique
    Peace in northern Mozambique seems to have become evasive, ever since that 15 billion dollars contract with the French firm Total for the oil in Cabo Delgado, and the discovery of one of the largest oil, diamonds, rubies in the world there. Tell me it is not connected? Now they want us to believe that there is islamist insurgency in Mozambique of all places!… And now Pope Francis has money to help the people and children of Mozambique who have been displaced by conflict! … Why did the Vatican not help the government of Samora Machel back then? why the people of Mozambique? Those diamonds and riches are really Africa’s downfall! Just a look at the banks financing the project reminds you of the Berlin conference of 1884 [Selection from the 1885 Berlin Conference Final Act]: 19 commercial bank facilities among which UK Export Finance (UKEF), the Export Import Bank of the United States, Italy’s SACE, the Netherlands’ Atradius, the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance, and the Export-Import Bank of Thailand [Reuters].

J.J. Rawlings in His Own Words: African Identity, Betrayal, and More

President Jerry Rawlings of Ghana (Source: thecable.ng)

In the video below, you will hear J.J. Rawlings talk about the issues I always talk about on this blog: the loss of the African soul to westernization, the danger of traitors within our ranks, and more importantly the dangers of globalization. I think people should really pay attention to all he has to say about betrayal, African identity, and also about the manipulations of the people by the triumvirate that is the multinationals, the media, and the intelligence.

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana

On betrayal, Jerry Rawlings said, “Something that is worse than an enemy is a traitor.” This is very reminiscent of the speech Amilcar Cabral gave at the funeral of Ghana’s first president Kwame Nkrumah on May 13, 1972, which I translated to English here on Afrolegends, “The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral. J.J. adds, “As bad as an enemy can be, … something worse than an enemy is a traitor.”

On African identity, Rawlings affirmed, “In the process of trying to modernize, we [Africans] have ended up being westernized. … When I wanted to even name my children African names, heroic names, … the catholic church said no… they will have to be catholic names … [which] are European names.“… “I have a right to my identity, don’t take away my identity!

Christianize me if you may, but don’t westernize me!” He talks about the issues of African identity, which is powerfully shown in the poem ‘My Name’ by Magoleng wa Selepe.

On globalization, “The world is manipulated by the multinational corporations, the media, and the intelligence apparatus, … they work as a triumvirate and they are neatly sandwiched… in between the governed people and the governors… the sooner we begin to return, restore, some sense of morality in business ethics, in politics, in the media, intelligence apparatus, …” apply the same morality to all, especially when talking about globalization, applying the same moral standards to all.

Mugabe and Nkrumah: the Tale of Two Red Cockrells

A cockerel

Below are excerpts from an article posted on Pambazuka by Akyaaba Addai-Sebo, where the author compares the obstables faced by the regimes of presidents Kwame Nkrumah and Robert Mugabe almost 40 years later. As you read on, you can see that the British used the same tactics to destroy both economies, when they could not destabilize both men. Such similitudes! Enjoy! For the full article, go to Pambazuka.

Robert Mugabe (History.com)

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Despite some shortcomings in his policies, Mugabe could not be pushed to betray the people of Zimbabwe and Africa in general.  

Tony Blair’s New Labour purposefully undermined and sabotaged the political economy of Zimbabwe from late 1997. The double-face and double-crossing British politicians therefore crippled the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) Red Cockrell in the same manner as Harold Wilson undermined and sabotaged the Nkrumah regime and the Convention People’s Party (CPP) Red Cockrell from 1964.

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

Harold Wilson was the Labour Party prime minister then. Rhodesia was then at the heart of the conflict between Ghana and Britain. Harold Wilson fought President Kwame Nkrumah to maintain and sustain white supremacist stranglehold as Tony Blair fought Mugabe to maintain and sustain white supremacist stranglehold on Zimbabwean land and finance capital, itself created by the land and the labour of the people.

It must be stated clearly that there can be no capital without land and labour. Capital has no existence of its own. Apartheid and settler colonialism are a politico-military act of land appropriation and enslavement of labour for the crafted purpose of capital accumulation.

Tony Blair’s New Labour party funded and created the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai, a trade union leader. Harold Wilson’s Labour Party aided Kofi Busia, Komla Gbedemah and JWK Harlley to overthrow Nkrumah.

Red cockerel, “Forward Ever, Backward Never”: Convention People’s Party logo and slogan

Whereas Tony Blair and subsequent British prime ministers could not overthrow Mugabe, they destroyed the Zimbabwean economy and created a quicksand underneath the ZANU-PF regime…as did the Wilson government to the CPP regime.

….

Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe, a Short Biography

Flag of Zimbabwe
Flag of Zimbabwe

Here is a documentary about Robert Mugabe and his history, his life, and his leadership. This video talks about him, the fight for independence, the loss of his first son while imprisoned by the British in Rhodesia, and the renaming of the country from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, after the Great Zimbabwe  Empire. I only recently found out that Mugabe had been influenced by Kwame Nkrumah: African Visionary and Ghana’s First President. He had lived and trained at the Takoradi Teacher Training College in Ghana, where he met his first wife Sally Hayfron Mugabe. It is sort of a short biography.

“Ethiopia Shall Rise” by Kwame Nkrumah

Nkrumah's sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra
Nkrumah’s sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra

President Kwame Nkrumah, the great, and first president of Ghana once wrote a poem on Ethiopia. Kwame Nkrumah was the mind behind the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (Organisation de l’Union Africaine) which has become the African Union (Union Africaine). He believed in the unity of Africa, not just economic, but in the cooperation within the different states, and their independence. So here is his poem entitled ‘Ethiopia shall rise‘. Remember that Ethiopia is the only African country which was never colonized by Europeans, and as such is the siege of the African Union. Here is his entire speech followed by his poem. In reality, in his eyes, Ethiopia symbolizes the whole of Africa, and his wish is for Africa to rise again! Enjoy!

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Addis Ababa, May 25, 1963
YOUR; IMPERIAL MAJESTY, MR. CHAIRMAN, YOUR EXCELLENCIES BROTHERS AND FRIENDS,

Ethiopia_flag
Flag of Ethiopia

We have come to the end of a historic and momentous Conference. The decisions we have taken here have made African Unity a reality and we can see clearly a Union Government of Africa in the horizon.

This is the goal which we set ourselves when we struggled in our separate States for Independence. It is also the compelling force which brought us together in Addis Ababa.

As I have said over and over again, the independence of our separate State is meaningless, unless the whole of Africa becomes free and united.

chains
broken chains

The resolutions we have made here are a symbol of our determination to become united and to remain united in an African Community with common aspirations and common objectives. Freedom Fighters in all parts of our Continent can now be assured that they are not alone in their struggle. The whole weight and power of a united Africa is behind them.

After centuries of colonial exploitation and domination, Africa has been re- born. We have discovered our common identity, a force with which we can re-assert our African personality.

Menelik_II_ethiopia
Emperor Menelik II, of Ethiopia

We shall from now on think, plan and work together for the progress and development of our great Continent. In this way, we shall eliminate completely the handicaps, set-backs and humiliation we have suffered under colonialism and imperialism.

We should be happy that at long last, by the adoption of this Charter, we have seen the end of the various groupings and regional blocs. It only remains for me, Your Majesty, on behalf of my colleagues to convey to the Government and people of Ethiopia especially to His Imperial Majesty, my sincere expression of gratitude for a happy and memorable stay in Addis Ababa.

The ancient Greeks identified Ethiopia with the Black Race. I would therefore like to leave with you a little poem on this:

 

Ethiopia shall rise

Ethiopia, Africa’s bright gem
Set high among the verdant hills
That gave birth to the unfailing
Waters of the Nile
Ethiopia shall rise
Ethiopia, land of the wise;
Ethiopia, bold cradle of Africa’s ancient rule
And fertile school
Of our African culture;
Ethiopia, the wise
Shall rise
And remould with us the full figure
Of Africa’s hopes
And destiny.

Kwame Nkrumah

Hugo Chavez: ‘Love is the Combustible of Revolution’

Hugo Chavez
Hugo Chavez

Words cannot express my extreme sadness at the loss of yet another one of our revolutionaries.  ‘El Comandante‘, Hugo Chavez, has left us yesterday to join the land of his ancestors.  I am extremely saddened at his passing, but I am also grateful to have lived in a time when I could see Hugo Chavez at work for his country, at a time when I could see what it meant for a leader of a poor country to have love and vision for his country.  Few leaders in the world have fought against western imperialism as Hugo Chavez did.  He led the bolivarian revolution against the US influence in Venezuela, and Latin America.  He gave back hope to his people, emancipated millions of Venezuelans, regained control of the economy of Venezuela, and worked for world peace by openly opposing the US and its colonial wars.  Millions of Venezuelans regained sight, were taught how to read, or just visited the doctor for the first time, because of Chavez’ laws.  Those will remember him forever.  Hugo Chavez was a bright star who gave hope to millions across the globe.  He gave us the strength to believe that we, the oppressed of the world, could one day be free.  He was often depicted in the Western media as a dictator (but then again, which progressist or revolutionary has ever been depicted otherwise in the western press?) because of his frankness and clear fight for the interest of the Venezuelan people. Chavez was a true sincere politician and loyal to his people.

El Comandante de la Revolucion, Hugo Chavez
El Comandante de la Revolucion, Hugo Chavez

El Comandante used to say: “Let the dogs of the empire bark, that’s their job. Our job is to fight to achieve the true liberation of our people.” You (Chavez) gone, who will fight again for us? who will voice our opinions? who will lead us? We have to keep true to your ideals, and keep our head up.  Thank you Commandante, for showing us the way, for showing us beauty and hope in this world.

Hugo Chavez also said: “Love is the combustible of a revolution.” El Comandante gave us just that: love, hope, dignity, and peace. So long, brother. Like Franklin Boukaka said “your work is that of humanity“… you have now joined the greats of this world: Che Guevara, Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Kwame Nkrumah, Mouammar Kadhafi, Amilcar Cabral, … Long live to your ideals!

Please enjoy this video “The revolution will not be televised” which shows the coup fomented by the US against Hugo Chavez in 2002 where Chavez was removed from power by American military; and for the first time in world history, a president was brought back to power by his people who refused to give into American threats. The people defeated the machine! This documentary was made possible because of the presence of some European journalists from Arte who were in the country at the moment of the coup.

“The Cancer of Betrayal” by Amilcar Cabral

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

During Kwame Nkrumah‘s state funerals in Conakry on 13 – 14 May 1972Amilcar 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.

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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.

Amilcar Cabral
Amilcar Cabral

… 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 that if 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 understand the 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)

French version here Amilcar Cabral – Le Cancer de la Trahison

Kwame Nkrumah’s Independence Speech on 6 March 1957

Map and Flag of Ghana
Map and Flag of Ghana

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.

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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.

 

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

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!

Kwame Nkrumah: African Visionary and Ghana’s First President

Kwame Nkrumah
Kwame Nkrumah

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 September 1909 in NkrofulGold 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.

Flag of the Gold Coast
Flag of the Gold Coast

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….

Map and Flag of Ghana
Map and Flag of Ghana

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.

Kwame Nkrumah on Cedi notes
Kwame Nkrumah on Cedi notes

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.

Billboard in Lusaka, Zambia, with Kwame Nkrumah's famous quote for non-alignment
Billboard in Lusaka, Zambia, with Kwame Nkrumah’s famous quote for non-alignment

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.

Celebrating the birth of the OAU
Celebrating the birth of the OAU

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).

Nkrumah's sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra
Nkrumah’s sculpture at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra

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 February 1966 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.

Centenary of Kwame Nkrumah
Centenary of Kwame Nkrumah

Nkrumah died in 27 April 1972 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.