Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Man Kwame Nkrumah: My Perspective

“Freedom is not something that one people [person] can bestow on another as a gift. They claim it as their own and none can keep it from them.”

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was not just the first President of Ghana but a very extraordinary man whose life and works contributed significantly to changing the world. He grew from a little village boy in Nkroful in the Western Region of Ghana to a world leader fully devoted to the struggle to free all black people from all forms of racism/struggle. He was also against everything which kept people irrespective of their color in conditions of slavery. He opposed oppression and exploitation in all its forms.

Many historians including Basil Davidson and F. K. Buah credit Nkrumah with the leadership of the struggle which led to granting independence to many African countries under various forms of colonialism. Indeed Nkrumah is placed in the same category as Albert Einstein, Karl Marx, Vladimir I. Lenin, Toussaint O’Liverture and Mahatma Gandhi whose ideas and actions helped to make the world a better place.

Amongst the many things which make Nkrumah stand out as an extraordinary personality was his realization that Africans everywhere ought to unite in common effort to assert their dignity and use their resources for meeting their needs and realizing their aspirations. His ideas for the unity of all Africans has come to be known as Pan-Africanism and they have their roots in his experiences as a colonial subject, his sojourn in the United States of America and the racist experience he suffered there and his association with Pan-Africanism thinkers of the time including W. E. B. Dubious, Marcus Garvey and George Padmore.

After completing his elementary school education, Nkrumah went to Achimota School from where he graduated as a teacher. He was still burning with ambition to excel academically and in 1935; he left for the United States of America where he enrolled at the Lincoln University, first obtaining a Bachelor of Arts degree and later doing a master’s course at the Philadelphia University.

Given the fact that Nkrumah came from a poor background, he had to work to pay for his education. He worked as a waiter and sometimes as a dish washer. He did anything which would put a few dollars in his pocket and help him fend for himself in a land which was obviously strange to a village boy from Nkroful.

Nkrumah experienced racism at first hand. He saw that Africans were all victims of racism no matter where they came from. In searching for to questions about racism Nkrumah joined black students’ organizations and became acquainted with the ideas of such activists as Marcus Garvey. He read widely and was transformed into an activist.

When Nkrumah moved to London in 1945, he joined other Africans and persons of African decent in implementing the ideas he had formed. They worked in the West African students Union and the West African National Secretarial for the sole purpose of accelerating the independence process in West Africa as part of the general struggle of emancipating the African wherever he may be.

It is significant that on the eve of Ghana’s independence on 6th march 1957, he declared loudly that “the independence of Ghana is meaningless until it is linked to the total liberation of the African continent” The organization of the All African People’s Conference in Accra only one year after the declaration of independence attest to the Pan-African Agenda of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. This conference brought together the newly independent states in Africa and the national liberation movement to strategize on how to speed up the decolonization process. It was also the beginnings of what became known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

For Nkrumah the situation in which Africa remains the richest continent on the globe whiles its people are counted amongst the poorest is untenable. He saw Pan-Africanism defined loosely as the ideology and activism of Africans everywhere united in the battle against their under development as a redeeming force. Pan Africanism was not just an intellectual exercise, for Nkrumah it was the ideology for the liberation of the African from the clutches of oppression and exploitation.

Credit: Kwesi Pratt

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For me... reading and learning about this guy, he had good intentions and well just wanted the best and so showed a bit of tough love. No one likes tough love... but boy, you and I know we sure as F need it ;)
Many might have their reservations about him... but I sure wish we always had prez who thought like him