Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumah awakened Black America.
The work of the early pioneers of Pan-Africanism such as H. Sylvester Williams, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, and George Padmore, none of whom were born in Africa, has become a treasured part of Africa's history. It is significant that two of them, Dr. Du Bois and George Padmore, came to live in Ghana at my invitation. Dr. Du Bois died, as he wished, on African soil, while working on the Encyclopaedia Africana. George Padmore became my Adviser on African Affairs, and spent the last years of his life in Ghana, helping in the revolutionary struggle for African unity and socialism.--Kwame Nkrumah, Introduction to pamphlet, "The Spectre of Black Power," 1968
THIS ESSAY is about how conditions and politics in Black America influenced African politics and how conditions and politics in Africa influenced Black American politics and culture. A great number of these influences were transmitted through, and symbolized by, Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), Prime Minister of Ghana from 1957 to 1966. The above quotation illustrates and sums up Nkrumah's indebtedness to Black America and how he sought to reciprocate. Consideration of the anniversary of Robert L. Allen's important book--Black Awakening in Capitalist America--provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the dynamics of black life in America (much more details of which are provided in the book); it enables us to highlight many links between Africa and Black America, including the mutual exchanges of Pan-Africanism, and the central role of cultural and political symbols in the struggle for black liberation. It also remphasizes the need to locate the struggle for black liberation in a broad national and international context--the relationship between racial subordination and capitalism in the US; and between national subordination and independence in the post-colonial state. In this respect, we can review common aspects of the struggle for black liberation in both nations. I highlight these issues by providing detailed insights into the political struggles of Nkrumah to gain and maintain political power in Ghana.
NKRUMAH had left Ghana in his mid-twenties to study in the US at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in the 1930s, where he acquired degrees in Education, Sociology, Philosophy, Political Science, and Theology. Aside from this he had been president of the African Students' Organization of America and Canada, vice-president of the West African Students Union in Britain and co-secretary of the Fifth Pan-African Conference held in Manchester, England in 1945. On the invitation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), he returned to Ghana in December 1947, after twelve years absence. Nkrumah became the general-secretary of the UGCC and transformed it into a mass nationalist movement. Three months later Nkrumah found himself in jail, together with five other members of the leadership of the UGCC; they became known as the Big Six in Ghana. Their arrest by the colonial authorities was precipitated by riots and looting in the big cities of European, Syrian and Lebanese shops. In turn, the looting was triggered by the shooting of an ex-service man, Sergeant Adjetey, and the wounding of several others by a British police officer on 28 February, 1948 in a protest march to the Governor's residence by ex-servicemen.
LET US RECALL that Nkrumah's arrival coincided with the decline of the UK as an imperial power and the continuing ascendancy of the US as a hegemonic power. Nkrumah was a pioneer in introducing the US to Africa.
The first section of this essay deals with the rise of modern nationalism in Ghana. This is followed by symbols, concepts and strategies Nkrumah used to awaken Africa in Section Two. Some of the symbols, concepts and strategies were borrowed from the US in general and Black America in particular. As will be discussed below Nkrumah used the Red Rooster or Cock to symbolize the African awakening and the Black Star as the arising and the forward movement of Africa. A third symbol of Nkrumah's African awakening was the Kente cloth; he elevated the Kente cloth to the level of national cultural symbol. He also wore Kente for his official portrait as President of Ghana. Note that in the quotation above, Nkrumah used the concept of African-American before the term became common usage in Black America. Other concepts that Nkrumah used frequently in the anti-colonial struggle between 1949 and 1957 were the concepts of positive action and freedom. Though Nkrumah did not seem to be conscious of how he had been shaped by America, he had become Americanized when he arrived back in Ghana. For those Ghanaians who were formed by local "tribal" culture and schooled in the British education system and legal tradition, Nkrumah was a strange figure. I argue below that Nkrumah was aware of these cultural differences but underestimated the resilience of British colonial culture and sub-nationalism.
The concept most associated with Nkrumah is "neo-colonialism." This is the issue we deal with in the Third Section. How did he arrive at the concept of neocolonialism? Nkrumah's notion of neo-colonialism had three components. The first is neocolonialism as a consequence of the status of an underdeveloped country within the world trade system or in the periphery of the world system. The second is neocolonialism as military force; the capacity of countries with imperial ambitions to re-subjugate or overthrow less powerful governments. The third component is neocolonialism as a form of bribery of local populations such as "politicians"; especially soldiers and public servants who act as agents or stooges of imperial powers.
In conclusion I pose and answer the question of what went wrong at three levels. What went wrong with Nkrumah? What went with wrong with Ghana? What went wrong with the Pan-African project? The first question deals with the overthrow of Nkrumah in a military coup in 1966 and how his overthrow has been explained. Nkrumah himself felt that his overthrow was the result of an imperialist plot and neo-colonialists in the country. Others have argued that he was overthrown because he ran a one-party state. Others argue that he was not a true socialist. I found these explanations too simplistic, so two decades ago I introduced the concepts of holistic nationalism and sub-nationalism to explain the forces that worked against Nkrumah's project. I then turn to the implications of Nkrumah's overthrow to Ghana and the Pan-African project.
This paper is only part of a story; the story of how Nkrumah was awakened by Black America and how he in turn awakened Black America. Let us unfold the story.
Nkrumah and African Awakening: The Dual Struggle
THOSE WHO SEEK to end violent and oppressive systems and regimes have to contemplate survival, suicide, or genocide. Apparently Nkrumah had contemplated these scenarios when he noted in 1949 that:
There are two ways to achieve Self-government: either by armed revolution and violent overthrow of the existing regime, or by constitutional and legitimate non-violent methods. In other words, either by armed might or by moral pressure. For instance, Britain prevented the two German attempts to enslave her by armed might, while India liquidated British Imperialism there by moral pressure. We believe that we can achieve Self-government even now by constitutional means without resort to any violence. (Nkrumah 1973: 6)
NKRUMAH'S African awakening was a project with a dual struggle. On the one hand he had to deal with the internal Ghanaian/African political and cultural configurations to get his message across; but he needed to succeed in Ghana before he could succeed in Africa. On the other hand, in the absence of armed insurrection, he had to convey a message that could de-legitimize British and colonial rule. The dual struggle had to be dealt with simultaneously in the context of Ghanaian/African nationalism.
With regard to Ghanaian political and cultural configuration it should be noted that modern Ghanaian nationalism emerged after the collapse of primary resistance in the face of colonial onslaught. The collapse of primary resistance gave rise to the formal colonization of the coastal region of Ghana at the end of the nineteenth century. The first modern nationalist "movement," the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS), was formed in 1896 by a group of Ghanaian intelligentsia in coalition with native rulers in the coastal area of the country. The immediate objective of the ARPS was to counter attempts by the British to expropriate Fante lands, through the introduction of a Lands Bill (1897), designed to transmute what the British colonial authorities considered as "tribal or family holdings into individual ownership" (Nimako 1991: 18).
AFTER successfully preventing the British from expropriating Fante lands, and flowing from that, Ghanaian lands, the ARPS became conservative. By the 1930s the ARPS had become dormant and was superseded by the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947. Like the formation of the ARPS, the force behind the formation of the UGCC was primarily economic, but its instruments were political. According to the initiator of the UGCC, George Grant, a Ghanaian timber merchant, the formation of the UGCC was a consequence of the colonial politics of exclusion and discrimination. As Grant put it:
We were not being treated right; we were not getting the licenses for import of goods.... At one time we had the Aborigines Rights Protection Society who were taking care of the country. Later on, they were pushed out and there was the Provincial Council of Chiefs ... The chiefs go to the Council and approve loans without submitting them to the merchants and tradesmen in the country. Thereby we keep on losing. (Watson Commission, Ibid.)
To this effect, Grant gathered forty Ghanaians, mostly British-trained lawyers, who converged on the coastal town of Saltpond in April 1947 to discuss how Britain could transfer self-government to them or other Ghanaians. This led to the formation of the UGCC in August 1947.
The United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) pledged itself:
To ensure that by all legitimate and constitutional means the direction and control of government should pass into the hands of the people and their chiefs in the shortest possible time. (Watson Commission 1948)
For the record, this UGCC statement was a repudiation of the notion of 'indirect rule'; the essence of indirect rule was that the British colonial authorities ruled their colonies through local and traditional rulers, be they Raj, Sultans, Kings or Chiefs. The problem was how to translate those wishes into political outcome. The forty Ghanaians, however, realized that they did not possess adequate skills and strategies. Subsequently, the UGCC executive committee, on the recommendation of Ako Adjei, a UGCC member who had studied with Nkrumah in the USA, decided to invite Nkrumah, who had made a name for himself as an anti-colonialist/imperialist agitator in the US and Britain, to return to Ghana to help shape the social and political forces in the country that were beyond the control of Ghanaian intelligentsia at that point in history.
RECALL that Marx has made us understand that people make history but they do not do so simply as they please or under conditions of their own creation. People make history under conditions they encounter. The conditions Nkrumah encountered in December 1947 were general discontent in society occasioned by high inflation and post-World War II economic stress and shortages of commodities. However, whereas Grant, a businessman, viewed the social and economic conditions in the country in the context of racial discrimination, Nii Bonne, a sub-chief in Accra (the capital city of Ghana), viewed the same in the context of economic exploitation.
Thus, unlike Grant, who gathered Ghanaian intelligentsia to discuss transfer of power, Bonne articulated his grievances through protests in the streets and a boycott campaign. Since colonial rule was also a racialized project, racially discriminatory practices, political and economic protest also became a form of "racialized protest." This became apparent when Bonne was said to have told a crowd in one of his boycott campaigns on 26 January 1948:
"... This cloth [wax block print] sold by the white man at eighty-four shillings per piece and sold at the black market for six pounds per piece cost the white man about forty shillings landed here in these days. If the white man sells it at fifty shillings he would gain ten shillings he collects a profit more than the print cost him. Is the white man not cunning taking away your money for nothing?
"The people will reply, 'yes, the white man is stealing our money by tricks.' Nii Bonne will then say, 'Don't buy anything from the white man's stores and don't allow your fellow countrymen to buy. If they do, swear the oath of the Omanhene [i.e., the paramount chief] on them.....'" (Watson Commission, in Nimako 1991: 44)
Recall that Bonne's boycott campaign took place one month after the arrival of Nkrumah in Ghana. Though the disorder, disturbances and lootings that followed the boycott campaign were not the making of the UGCC leadership, they were blamed for it and arrested by the colonial authorities. The arrest of the UGCC leadership, who became known by Ghanaians as the Big Six while in jail for two weeks, tested their resolve.
Their arrest by the colonial authorities was precipitated by riots and looting in the big cities of European, Syrian and Lebanese shops. In turn, the looting was triggered by the shooting of an ex-service man, Sergeant Adjetey, and the wounding of several others by a British police officer on 28 February, 1948 in a protest march to the Governor's residence by ex-servicemen.
THE WATSON COMMISSION, which was called into being to investigate the causes of the disturbances and recommend reforms in the colonial administration, also took the opportunity to assess the leadership of the UGCC, especially J.B. Danquah, the chairman, and Nkrumah, the secretary-general, of UGCC. With regard to the former, the commission reported that:
Dr. Danquah might be described as the doyen of Gold Coast [Ghana] politicians. He has founded or has been connected with most political movements since his adolescence. He is a member of the Legislative Council and but for the accident of birth might have been a most notable chief. He is a man of great intelligence but suffers from a disease not unknown to politicians throughout the ages and recognized by the generic name of expediency." (Watson Commission, Ibid.)
With regard to latter, the Watson Commission reported that Nkrumah:
Appears while in Britain to have had Communist affiliations and to have become imbued with a Communist ideology which only political expediency has blurred. In London he was identified particularly with the West African National Secretariat, a body which still exists. It appears to be the precursor of a Union of West African Soviet Socialist Republics. (Watson Commission, Ibid.)
In plain language this implied that Danquah should not be taken seriously but the colonial authorities ought to keep a watchful eye on Nkrumah. And they did.
In the final analysis, the majority of the UGCC leadership kept distance from the agitation and actions of the masses, whereas Nkrumah supported it. Not only did the prison experience drive a wedge in the UGCC leadership, but also, after their release from jail, Nkrumah transformed the UGCC into a mass movement and radicalized it. On this score, it is important to note that the first trade union organization, the Gold Coast Railway Union (GCRU), was registered in 1943 and became active in 1947--the same year that the UGCC was formed. The radicalization of the UGCC went hand in hand with the radicalization of the trade union.
THESE RADICAL developments contributed to a split in the leadership of the UGCC; subsequently Nkrumah resigned from the UGCC and formed a new movement or party, the Convention People's Party (CPP). The formation of the CPP brought Nkrumah's dual struggle into sharp focus. On the one hand Nkrumah's resignation from the UGCC to form his own political party, the CPP, laid the foundations for party politics in Ghana. Viewed in this context, Nkrumah was the first person to form a political party in Ghana, as opposed to a nationalist movement, and thus introduced democratic politics in the country, and perhaps in Africa. However by siding with the masses, Nkrumah committed what Amilcar Cabral later referred to as class suicide. Class suicide constitutes the betrayal of one's class and the embracing of less comfort and sacrifice in the name of anti-colonial struggle. Of the six members of the UGCC executive committee, only one, Ako Adjei, joined Nkrumah's party, the CPP.
On the other hand, the formation of the CPP also meant that political and social discontent in society could be channelled through the CPP. In other words, the masses sought leadership and found it in Nkrumah. From there on, the rest of the UGCC executive members became Nkrumah's political opponents throughout his life; this in turn has clouded Ghanaian political culture ever since. However, viewed in the context of modern Ghanaian nationalism, the ARPS was overtaken by the UGCC. When the UGCC became radicalized and was overtaken two years later by Kwame Nkrumah's CPP in 1949, the labor movement also became radicalized (Nimako 2002).
IT SHOULD BE mentioned that the remaining UGCC leadership viewed Nkrumah's move as reckless, a betrayal, and opportunistic. Reckless because of the fear and awareness that the British colonial authorities had the capacity to unleash violence, or even genocide on Ghanaians in the context of colonial adage; when persuasion fails, force must apply. Thus the UGCC leadership felt vindicated when Nkrumah was arrested, for the second time, in 1950 and jailed for nine months for engineering a general strike.
The remaining UGCC leadership alleged betrayal because Nkrumah decided to commit class suicide and thus disturbed the cohesion of the intelligentsia, which assumed the British colonial authorities would hand over power to them because they had asked for it. Nkrumah was also accused of opportunism because their understanding had been that he was invited to help them to gain political power but not to take political power himself, as later happened.
This was compounded by the fact that though the leadership of the UGCC remained coherent, its capacity to appeal to voters remained marginal. This was all the more so since Nkrumah won a landslide election victory in 1951 against the UGCC when he was in jail. To be precise, of the thirty-eight seats made available by the colonial authorities for political contest, the CPP won thirty-four seats; the UGCC won two seats and Togoland Congress (TC) two seats. Nkrumah was subsequently released from jail in to form a "self-government," that is, to share the administration of the country with the British colonial authorities to prepare the grounds for formal political independence.
AFTER THE DEFEAT of the UGCC in the 1951 election, the UGCC disintegrated, and re-emerged as the Ghana Congress Party (GCP) under new leadership. Kofi Busia, who had just earned a doctorate degree in sociology, became the leader of the GCP. Like the old members of the UGCC, Busia assumed that the GCP was morally and intellectually superior to the CPP. Thus, in announcing the formation of the GCP, Busia stated:
"Congress [GCP] will show the country the right way. It will meet the CPP squarely and defeat it ... We cannot sit down and allow our country to be so run and ruined by men who think of themselves only and who compromise principles without the least compunction ... Of course the Congress means business. We cannot allow this fooling and thieving to go on any longer or else we are all doomed. The great array of intellectual giants behind the party, the response of the chiefs and farmers and the joy and support of the thinking man at the birth of Congress give evidence to the strength of the new party. This Ghana must be saved from a one, arty evil, the evil of dictatorship." (Emphasis added, quoted from Austin 1964: in Nimako 2002: 54-55)
Not only did Busia imply that there was only one political party (CPP) in Ghana at that point in time but also in response to the success of the CPP, other political groupings emerged. On this score the CPP had a demonstration effect on how political parties should be formed in Ghana; by the mid-1950s there were five variants of Ghanaian nationalism. The remaining members of the UGCC became members of the political groupings that emerged to oppose the CPP.
FOR THE RECORD, the process of British colonization shaped and conditioned the pattern of nationalism(s). In a span of fifty years four areas (i.e., coastal, central, northern, and eastern) were colonized successively; these regions became administratively known as the Colony (coastal) Ashanti (central) Northern Territories (northern) and Trans-Volta Togoland (eastern). This historical process gave rise to regional social formations, which in turn became new political and cultural configurations. Thus, in response to colonization, five nationalisms emerged. We have classified Nkrumah's version of nationalism as "holistic," because it was the only truly national party and the other four regionally-based groupings we classify as "sub-nationalism" (Nimako 1991). What was the ideological divide between holistic nationalism and sub-nationalism? For the sake of conserving space, let us present the ideological divide between holistic nationalism and sub-nationalism in a typology as follows:
Major Structural Features of Holistic Nationalists and Sub-nationalists HOLISTIC NATIONALISTS SUB-NATIONALISTS 1. British colonial rule as 1. Holistic nationalist rule as the object of opposition the object of opposition 2. Strong belief in equal 2. Strong belief in social opportunity and social stratification and social transformation and reform social transformation 3. Strong belief in Pan- 3. Non-belief in Pan-Africanism Africanism and solidarity and solidarity between between colonized and colonized and oppressed oppressed peoples peoples 4. Mass politicization and 4. Primordial relations as education as the basis the basis of political of political mobilization mobilization
Sub-nationalism became the internal component of Nkrumah's dual struggle, whereas colonial rule and domination became the external component. Nkrumah was viewed by both UGCC and the colonial authorities as someone who was disturbing the tranquillity of colonial society, to which he replied: "we prefer freedom in danger to servitude in tranquillity."
At the broader level of political culture, sub-nationalism followed the pattern of British colonization, and holistic nationalism followed the construction and development of the colonial state. The colonial state, which was the outcome of complex world trade and political relations as well as (British) military occupation of the country, became the thread that held the (geographical) regions together. In a similar vein, holistic nationalism became the thread that held Ghanaians together by uniting them in their resistance and opposition to British rule, irrespective of class and ethnic background. Unlike holistic nationalists (whose focus of opposition was British colonial rule), the primary target for the opposition of the subnationalists was actually the holistic nationalists. Just as the emergence of holistic nationalism presupposed the existence of British domination, so did the existence of subnationalism presuppose British domination and the spectre or even the very existence of holistic nationalism.
THE EXISTENCE of various nationalisms also gave rise to a relative diffusion of political power in society. Thus, around 1950, the probability that any of the three organized political forces in question (i.e., the colonial authorities, holistic nationalists and subnationalists) could carry out its own wishes in isolation was relatively low. The ability of any one of the political actors to dominate the political arena depended on a conscious and/or unconscious alliance of two of the forces, in opposition to a third party. The power of the colonial authorities depended on their control of the colonial state machinery, namely, the civil service, the police service, the judiciary, and the armed forces. The power of the holistic nationalists was based on their ability to galvanize the masses (including organized labor) into action, thereby making the country ungovernable by the colonial authorities.
The power of the holistic nationalists was not only constrained by the colonial state, but also by sub-nationalism. The power of the sub-nationalists rested on an alliance between a large section of the intelligentsia and the native rulers, and their subsequent non-cooperation with holistic nationalists, which in turn undermined the legitimacy of the holistic nationalists' rule. A case in point is the refusal to accept election results, as the statement of Busia above demonstrates.
But in concrete terms, how did Nkrumah awaken, galvanize and mobilized Ghanaians to end British colonial rule? Let us answer this question in the following section.
Symbols and Concepts of Nkrumah's African Awakening
POLITICS requires symbols. All political parties use symbols to distinguish themselves from other political parties. Nkrumah was a man of symbolism and concepts and chose his symbols and concepts consciously and carefully. Three symbols and three concepts defined Nkrumah's African awakening in the early period of his political life, especially from the formation of his political party, the CPP in 1949, and the attainment of Ghana's independence in 1957. The three symbols were the Red Rooster or Cock, the Black Star, and the Kente cloth. The three concepts were Positive Action, Freedom, and Self-determination.
It is necessary to place the symbolisms in their proper political context because the first symbol, a red rooster or cock, which became the symbol of his political party, was meant to signify a wake-up call. Though Ghanaians knew of red rooster or cock symbolism, Nkrumah gave a new meaning to it. The red of the cock had a double meaning; one meaning for Ghanaians, another meaning for international politics and solidarity. For the average Ghanaian red symbolizes seriousness, a danger, a fire, or hotness. For international solidarity red symbolized leftwing politics and international socialism and communism.
Nkrumah's message varied, depending on the circumstances, but the element of a wake-up call remained. A case in point is a speech he gave at a rally in the north of the country on 5 March 1949 in which he stated:
"This country is ours. This land is ours. It belongs to our chiefs and people. It does not belong to foreigners, but we don't say that all foreigners should pack up and go. They can stay as traders, and work with us not us masters and rulers.....
"The age of politics of words is gone. This is the age of politics of action. We don't have guns. We don't have ammunition to fight anybody. We have a great spirit, a great national soul which is manifest in our unity.
"If we get s.g. [self-government] we'll transform the Gold Coast [Ghana] into a paradise in ten years. Why should some people in the NTs [Northern Territories] go naked? I can find no reason for it. We can improve our native looms up here in the NTs in five years under a government of the people, by the people and for the people....
"Wherefore my advice is 'Seek ye first the political kingdom, and all things will be added unto you' ..." (Ashanti Pioneer, March, 1949, quoted here from Fitch and Oppenheimer: 25)
This speech has three elements of the holistic nationalist typology presented above, namely, British colonial rule as object of opposition, strong belief in equal opportunity and social transformation, and mass education as the basis of political mobilization.
EQUALLY IMPORTANT to note is that Nkrumah informed his followers that "[T]he age of politics of words is gone. This is the age of politics of action." To this effect Nkrumah introduced the concept of Positive Action. By Positive Action Nkrumah meant "the adoption of all legitimate and constitutional means by which we can cripple the forces of imperialism in this country."
He went on to lay out the strategies of Positive Action in the following terms:
The Weapons of Positive Action are:
1). Legitimate political agitation
2). Newspaper and educational campaigns; and
3). As a last resort, the constitutional application of strikes, boycotts, and non-co-operation based on the principle of absolute non-violence. (Emphasis added; Nkrumah 1973: 7)
Recall that those who seek to end a violent and oppressive system and regime have to contemplate survival, suicide or genocide. We have emphasized absolute non-violence to press this matter home; Nkrumah was aware of the capacity of the colonial authorities to unleash violence to quell an uprising and use such an incident to prolong colonial rule.
It is also important to mention that the power of the holistic nationalists was not only constrained by the colonial state, but also by sub-nationalists. The power of the sub-nationalists rested on an alliance between a large section of the intelligentsia and native rulers, and their subsequent non-cooperation with holistic nationalists; this in turn undermined the legitimacy of the holistic nationalists' rule. Whereas the CPP or holistic nationalists challenged the legitimacy of colonial rule, some of the former UGCC members, now organized around regional groupings as sub-nationalists and challenged the legitimacy of Nkrumah and CPP-led government. As independence came close, sub-nationalists became more militant and violent and sought to delay the process. This brings us to the second symbol, the Black Star.
If the Red Rooster or Cock symbolized a wake-up call, the Black Star symbolized rise-up or African arising and the forward movement of black people and economic development. It is an acknowledged fact that the concept of the Black Star and the symbolism around it originates from Marcus Garvey. Garvey gave a radical twist to a Black American tradition of his time. In Allen's formulation:
Garvey took [Booker T.] Washington's economic program, clothed it in militant nationalist rhetoric, and built an organisation which in its heyday enjoyed the active support of millions of black people. Garvey, a Jamaican by birth, 'identified the problem of American Negroes with the problem of colonialism in Africa. He believed that until Africa was liberated, there was no hope for black people anywhere.' He founded his Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1914 in Jamaica with the motto: "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!" But it was not until Garvey established his group in New York's Harlem in 1917 that it began to assume notable proportions. (Allen 1970: 100)
LIKE BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, "Garvey believed that economic power through ownership of business could lay a solid foundation for eventual black salvation" (Allen, Ibid. 101). To this effect, among other things, he established the Negro Factory Corporation and the Black Star Steamship Corporation.
Nkrumah used the Black Star in four ways. First he used it in the national flag. The Ghanaian national flag of red, gold, green strips and a black star in the gold became the official symbol of Ghana as an independent state and a member of the United Nations. Second, Nkrumah used the Black Star as part of Ghana's Coat of Arms. There are three black stars, two eagles and an inscription, "Freedom and Justice" in the coat of arms. Not only was the Black Star borrowed from Black America but the eagle was also borrowed from America. Thirdly, Nkrumah named the Ghanaian national shipping line, the Black Star Line; and he used it as the name of the national football club, the Black Star Football Club/Association. Not only did the Black Star become prevalent as a symbol for Africa but also many African countries adopted the symbol of black star in their national flags. The Black Star thus became one of the major symbols of how Black America awakened Nkrumah.
The Black Star, as a symbol of African arising, also became a symbol of progress, social mobility, and economic development. Through self-government, the CPP government was not only able to improve the physical and social infrastructure of the country but also social mobility was enhanced. Between 1951 and 1961, primary schools enrolment grew by 212 percent; middle schools by 142 percent; secondary schools by 438 percent; teacher training by 138 percent and university enrolment by 479 percent. Similar developments had taken place in the areas of health care, clean water, sanitation, and employment. However, these developments were dependent on the prices of primary commodities on the world market; these were in turn dependent on demand from Europe and North America.
By creating the space to administer the country with the colonial authorities, the CPP formed a de facto alliance with the colonial authorities against the sub-nationalists. This was not only viewed by sub-nationalists as compromise of "principles without the least compunction," it also obliged the subnationalists to swallow contempt for the masses and appeal directly to them. Thus, in one of its appeals, the anti-CPP Newspaper, the Ashanti Pioneer (of 8 January 1954) reported that:
[T]he masses should be reminded that the CPP entered the Legislative Assembly [in 1951] as tramps in [Northern Territories] smocks. Today, within barely three years, they are riding not in buses, not even in taxis, but in luxurious American saloon cars. A good number of them have built mansions and go about in tails and toppers. (Quoted in Austin 1964:212 in Nimako 2002: 60)
The political irony should not be overlooked; the "men of substance," who viewed members of the CPP as "the flotsam and jetsam and the popinjays of the country" started to appeal directly to the masses. More importantly, they were also reminding the masses that Nkrumah had not only introduced American style politics in Ghana but also he had introduced American consumption patterns, including luxurious American saloon cars into the country. Viewed in this context, the issue of legitimacy became the basis of political instability. Colonial rule was considered illegitimate by both the colonizer and the colonized, hence the need to transfer power to a legitimate nationalist government. Sub-nationalists considered the CPP government illegitimate because they viewed members of the CPP as "the flotsam and jetsam and the popinjays of the country." In those days this implied that they were not educated in British universities.
THIS BRINGS US to the concept of freedom. During the campaigns for independence, Nkrumah tended to open and end his speech by shouting the word, Freedom! to which the crowd responded, Freedom! The concept of freedom was also taken from Black America. For nowhere is the concept of freedom used more than Black American intellectual and cultural tradition.
The opponents did not use the word freedom. Recall that colonial rule was justified by the colonizers as a "civilizing mission." Thus in 1954, in arguing his case for Independence in his motion for constitutional reform in the parliament, Nkrumah argued:
The right of a people to decide their own destiny, to make their way in freedom, is not to be measured by the yardstick of color or degree of social development. It is an inalienable right of peoples, which they are powerless to exercise when forces, stronger than they themselves, by whatever means, for whatever reasons, take this right away from them. If there is to be a criterion of a people's preparedness for Self-Government, then I say it is their readiness to assume the responsibilities of ruling themselves..... never in the history of the world has an alien ruler granted self-rule to a people on a silver platter. (Emphasis added, quoted from Timothy 1981: 122-123, in Nimako, 1991: 62)
Constitutional reform that followed this motion gave rise to an election based on Universal Suffrage in 1954 and an expansion of electoral seats to 104, of which the CPP won seventy-two; the sub-nationalists won only nineteen seats distributed as follows: Northern Peoples Party (NPP) fifteen, Togoland Congress (TC) three and Ghana Congress Party (GCP) one; the rest of thirteen seats went to independent candidates (eleven) and one each to two religious parties (Nimako, Ibid: 65). It should be mentioned that Busia, the leader of the GCP won the one seat for his party. Just as the 1951 election led to the disintegration of the UGCC, so did the election of 1954 lead to the disintegration of the GCP. Busia joined a new regional formation, the National Liberation Movement (NLM), based in the Ashanti region, and became its leader.
DEMANDS from the sub-nationalists groupings, led by Busia, for a federal constitution, as opposed to the existing unitary constitution, to minimize the power of the CPP, backed by violence, led the colonial authorities to organize another election in 1956. However, it did not change the results; the CPP won seventy-two seats out of 104; three sub-nationalists groupings won in total thirty seats and distributed as follows: Northern Peoples Party (NPP) fifteen, National Liberation Movement (NLM) twelve, Togoland Congress (TC) three and one seat each for two religious parties. Thus two years after the above Nkrumah motion, and nine years after his return to Ghana, Britain decided to end her colonial rule in Ghana and handed over the affairs of the country to the CPP government. It was this state of affairs that led the then British Governor, Sir Arden-Clarke, to conclude at a given historical juncture:
Nkrumah and his party had the mass of the people behind them and there was no other party with appreciable public support to which one could turn. Without Nkrumah, the Constitution would be stillborn and if nothing came of all the hopes, aspirations and concrete proposals for a greater measure of self-government, there would no longer be any faith in the good intentions of the British Government and the Gold Coast [i.e., Ghana] would be plunged into disorders, violence and bloodshed. (quoted from Austin 1964, 150, in Nimako, 1991: 79)
What the governor's statement implied was that Ghana was a de facto "one-party state" in 1956. The CPP had won successive elections in 1951, 1954 and 1956 to prepare the grounds for the country's independence on 6 March 1957.
In response to the observations of the British Governor, at a ceremonial banquet on the eve of the departure of Sir Arden-Clarke, Nkrumah stated that:
"Much credit has quite properly been accorded to [the Governor] in the press and elsewhere for the attainment of our independence. I am happy that this is so for without him our struggle would have been a far more bitter one, a more violent one, and one calling for even greater sacrifices on the parts of us all. But I know that Sir Charles as an honest man himself will agree wholeheartedly with me when I say that when honors are handed out, those who should rank first and foremost are the members of the Convention People's Party, the pioneers and the footsloggers of the National Independence Movement. And I say with all emphasis that without the Convention People's Party there could not have been any independence for this country. For let it never be imagined for a moment that our independence was given to us for the mere asking. Every hour, every precious minute of this our glorious freedom was fought for relentlessly and untiringly by them. We have won independence and founded a modern state. The end we have reached has been attained at the price of suffering self-denial and patient work." (Emphasis added, quoted from James 1977: 153, in Nimako, 1991: 80)
LET US give practical meaning to the polemics between Nkrumah and Arden-Clarke. What are the practical meanings of the following statement by Arden-Clarke? "Nkrumah and his party had the mass of the people behind them and there was no other party with appreciable public support to which one could turn." Ghana was a de facto one-party state at the time of independence in 1957. Recall that both the UGCC and the GCP disintegrated after the 1951 and 1954 elections respectively. In a similar vein the three sub-nationalists groupings, NPP, NLM and TC merged to form the United Party (UP), with Busia as its leader, after the 1956 election in opposition to the CPP. But like its predecessors, the UP also suffered from defections. Thus by 1960, seventeen of the thirty-two opposition members of the parliament had "crossed carpet" to join the ruling party, the CPP; this brought the majority of the CPP to eighty-nine and the opposition to fifteen parliamentary seats. It was against this background that in 1958 Busia, now the leader of the newly formed United Party (UP), abandoned his party and parliamentary seat and went into serf-imposed exile to seek support to overthrow the Nkrumah government. As we shall see below, since one-party states were then associated with the Soviet bloc, Nkrumah's regime became a pawn in the Cold War politics.
Nkrumah, Self-determination and Neo-colonialism
NKRUMAH'S dual struggle was part of a broader Pan-African movement; thus it did not end with the achievement of Ghana's political independence on 6 March 1957. What it implied, however, was that he needed to succeed in Ghana before he could succeed in Africa and its Diaspora. It was against this background that in his inaugural address on Ghana's independence, he proclaimed in his now famous statement that "the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it links with the total liberation of Africa."
We noted in his formulation above that:
[U]ntil the fifth and last Pan-African Conference held in Manchester in 1945, African-Americans provided the main driving power of the [Pan-African] movement. Pan-Africanism then moved to Africa, its true home, with the holding of the First Conference of Independent African States in Accra in April 1958, and the All-African Peoples' Conference in December the same year. (Nkrumah 1973)
The purpose of these two conferences was to galvanize African states to support nationalist movements and peoples to achieve political independence. To this effect, the concept of self-determination, stated in the United Nations Charter, became the equivalent of Positive Action.
The notion of self-determination places emphasis on collective freedom, namely, freedom from foreign control. Until Ghana's independence, most African countries had been defined and represented as property of certain European countries. The new dual struggle thus implied the creation of new cultural and political configurations in Africa and ensuring that Africans represent themselves outside Africa. Thus the process of national liberation and solidarity also required the re-definition of Africa. To this effect Nkrumah noted that:
With true independence regained ... a new harmony needs to be forged, a harmony that will allow the combined presences of traditional Africa, Islamic Africa and Euro-Christian Africa, so that this presence is in tune with the original humanist principles underlying African society. Our society is not the old society, but a new society enlarged by Islamic and Euro-Christian influences. A new emergent ideology is therefore required, an ideology which can solidify in a philosophical statement, but at the same time an ideology which will not abandon the original humanist principle of Africa ... Such a philosophical statement I propose to name philosophical consciencism. (Nkrumah: 1964)
BY RE-DEFINING Africa and demanding African representation of Africa, it made it possible to extend solidarity and speak on behalf of those still living under colonial control. A case in point was Nkrumah's statement on the anti-colonial struggles in Algeria:
The flower of French youth is being wasted in an attempt to maintain an impossible fiction that Algeria is part of France, while at the same time the youth of Algeria are forced to give up their lives in a conflict which could be settled tomorrow by the application of the principles of the United Nations.... France cannot win a military victory in Algeria. If she hopes to do so, then her hopes are false and unrelated to the realities of the situation.... From whatever angle yon view this problem you cannot escape from the fact that Algeria is African and will always remain so, in the same manner that France is French. No accident of history, such as has occurred in Algeria can ever succeed in turning an inch of African soil into an extension of any other continent. Colonialism and imperialism cannot change this basic geographical fact..... Let France and the other colonial powers face this fact and be guided accordingly. (Nkrumah, quoted from Mazrui 1977: 52)
It was certainly true that the Algerian conflict "could be settled tomorrow by the application of the principles of the United Nations." However, the colonial and imperial powers did not always adhere to the principles of the United Nations which they constructed themselves. Thus the galvanization of Africans was matched by solidarity between European states and the US.
Underneath the notions of freedom and self-determination was economic and social development. On this score one of the major obstacles to the Pan-African project was, and still is, neo-colonialism. According to Nkrumah:
[T]he essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and its political policy is directed from outside. (Nkrumah 1967: 90)
NKRUMAH'S notion of neo-colonialism had three components. The first is neocolonialism as a consequence of the status of an underdeveloped country within the world trade system or in the periphery of the world system. The second is neocolonialism as military force; the capacity of countries with imperial ambitions to re-subjugate or overthrow less powerful governments directly. The third component is neocolonialism as a form of bribery of local populations such as "politicians"; especially soldiers and public servants, who act as agents or stooges of imperial powers.
The implications of the first, that is peripheral status in the world system, is that it restrained or placed limitations on the capacity of a country like Ghana to generate enough resources for its physical and social infrastructure development; it also restrained the capacity for a country like Ghana to help other countries in need. The reverse is true for imperial powers. Powerful countries can place trade sanctions on weak countries; they can also use "development aid" to blackmail weak countries.
Though major developments in the social sectors had been made, the economy of Ghana remained fragile. Thus having attempted to attract foreign investment from the West for almost a decade without success and stimulated local groups to become capitalist without tangible results, a Ghana Government Minister lamented in 1960 that the CPP government has help "Ghanaian businessmen over the last few years with loans for their capitalist development. Very large sums too. And nearly all of it has been wasted" (Nimako 1991: 89). After these experiences the CPP government embarked on a state-led capital accumulation and industrialization project. In formulating this project a Government document entitled "Work and Happiness" pronounced:
Imperialism-colonialism left Ghana without the accumulation of capital in private hands which assisted the Western World to make its industrial revolution. Only Government can therefore find the means to promote those basic services [i.e. education, health, water and sanitation] and industries [i.e. employment] which are essential prerequisites to intensive, diversified agriculture, speedy industrialization and increased economic productivity. (Nimako, 1991: 97)
Coming, as it were, against the background of the Cold War and intensified armed struggle in Africa, the confrontation between Nkrumah's politics and the interest of the Western world became stark. The above statement constituted a communist conspiracy in the eyes of Western powers, especially the US. Which bring us to the second component of neo-colonialism, namely, the re-subjugation of former colonies by old and new imperial powers.
THE IMPLICATIONS of the second component are that weak countries could be invaded by powerful countries and reverse the achievement of independence and thus undermine self-determination and collective freedom. Examples abound to support this position, including interventions in Egypt on the Suez Canal by Britain, France and Israel; and interventions in Iran, Guatemala and Vietnam by the US (Chomsky 1993).
Where direct intervention is not an option, a third option is invoked, namely, neo-colonialism as a form of bribery of local populations such as "politicians"; especially soldiers and public servants who act as agents or stooges of imperial powers became the most effective instrument against the Pan-African project. We speak here of a project because a project has a beginning and an end. We have noted that around 1950, the probability that any of the three organized political forces in question (i.e. the colonial authorities, holistic nationalists and sub-nationalists) could carry out its own wishes in isolation was relatively low. The ability of any one of the political actors to dominate the political arena depended on a conscious and/or unconscious alliance of two of the forces, in opposition to a third party.
Not only did Busia advocate against the granting of independence by the British, he also called on the US government to "impose sanctions" against Ghana in order to bring down the Nkrumah regime. Thus after wandering through Europe for support in vain, Busia found people to listen to him in the US. On 3 December 1962 Busia appeared before a Congressional Committee to plead for the overthrow of Nkrumah.
To this effect Senator Thomas J. Dodd led off by stating that Ghana had become "the mortal enemy of true freedom and independence for the peoples of Africa and the mortal enemy of African peace." As Basil Davidson put it:
Dr. Busia could only agree with him. "I should say," he told the Senator, "that politics isn't my career, but what made me go into politics is the fact that I saw right at the beginning, as far back as Nkrumah's return, .... That we had there all the makings, all the ingredients of revolutionary communism." (Davidson 1973: 173)
Here was a crooked logic. The African who was fighting for the freedom and independence of Africa was being accused by an American of being "the mortal enemy of African peace."
IT WOULD BE FOOLISH to infer that Busia could tell the US government what to do. Nevertheless, with the support of the US, Nkrumah was overthrown in a bloody military operation by some Ghanaian soldiers on 24 February 1966 in the name of the restoration of freedom and democracy. The problem, however, was that the architects of the coup did not seem to know why they became involved in the coup. According to one of the coup makers, Major A.A. Afrifa:
"One of the reasons for my bitterness against Kwame Nkrumah's rule was that he paid lip-service to our membership of the [British] Commonwealth ... African Unity ... is impossible to achieve within our life-time. Organization of African Unity or no Organization of African Unity, I will claim my citizenship of Ghana and of the [British] Commonwealth in any part of the world. I have been trained in the United Kingdom as a soldier, and I am ever prepared to fight alongside my friends in the United Kingdom in the same way as Canadians and Australians do." (Afrifa in Nimako, 1991: 112-113)
In other words, Major Afrifa thought he was fighting for the British whereas he was actually fighting for the Americans. Another planner of the coup, Colonel A.K. Ocran, claimed to resent the fact that Nkrumah had terminated the appointment of the former British Army Chief of Staff, Major General Alexander, after the latter had expressed his reservations on Ghana's role in the Congo crisis and opposed the training of Ghanaian military officers in the Soviet Union. Major General Alexander also admitted later that he "often found it very difficult to act on Nkrumah's orders without feeling the [he] might be hurting British interests" (Alexander in Nimako: 119).What about freedom and democracy? In the words of Major Afrifa:
"The irony of the present situation in Ghana is that it is quite probable that President Nkrumah and the CPP would command the support of a majority of the electorate, even in genuinely free elections. It is a pity that it is not possible to test this hypothesis." (Afrifa, in Nimako, 1991:118)
SINCE BUSIA wanted to be the leader of Ghana, let us bring him into the equation. Busia returned to Ghana and became an advisor to the military junta; he persuaded military rulers to hand over government to him, but through election. Through the logic of Major Afrifa, the CPP was banned from participating in the 1969 general election; this made it possible for Busia and his newly formed Progress Party (PP) the win the election. Busia thus formed or became the leader of four political parties at various times (GCP-1952, NLM-1954, UP-1958, and PP-1969) before he could win an election, but this was only possible under the condition that the CPP would be prevented from contesting the election. However, twenty-seven months after Busia formed his government, another group of soldiers overthrew the Busia government in January 1972. Busia was not protected by the US.
In justifying the military takeover, Colonel Acheampong, the leader of the coup, made his own balance of Nkrumah and Busia in his first radio speech to announce the coup as follows:
"The first people Busia put his eye on were the armed forces and police. Some army and police officers were dismissed under the pretext of retirement. Some officers were put in certain positions to suit the whim of Busia and his colleagues. Then he started taking from us the few amenities and facilities which we in the armed forces and the police enjoyed even under the Nkrumah regime. Having lowered morale in the armed forces and the police to the extent that officers could not exert any meaningful influence over their men, so that by this strategy coming together to overthrow his government was to him impossible, he turned his eyes on the civilians." (quoted from Bennet 1975: 308, in Nimako, 1991: 144)
HERE ARE STRUCTURE and agency at work. Busia focused on the agency of Nkrumah but he underestimated the structure Nkrumah put in place in his attempt to build a post-colonial state. Both Nkrumah and Busia spent the rest of the lives in exile; Nkrumah in Guinea, and Busia in Britain.
The response of the British lawyer, Geoffrey Bing, to these political developments in Ghana at that point in time was instructive. Bing defended Nkrumah in 1951 against the British colonial authorities. When Nkrumah became Prime Minister he invited Bing to Ghana and appointed him Attorney General. Like Nkrumah, Bing became a subject of abuse, insults and ridicule in sections of the Western media. In that regard Bing summed up the attitudes of Western governments and media towards Nkrumah and the African and African Diaspora struggles in the following words:
For NINE years, from its independence in 1957 to 1966, Ghana was illuminated by the glare of world publicity. Every figure who appeared on its stage magnified and distorted, almost beyond recognition. Then suddenly in February 1966, as a result of a military rebellion, this little country was, so it seemed, cut down to size. Overnight it was converted into what in fact it had always been, a small state on the West Coast of Africa in no way historically, strategically or economically important to the world. (Bing: 11 in Nimako 1991: 125)
THIS WAS THE SITUATION Ghana found herself and continued to find herself, after the overthrow of Nkrumah. Though the institutions which emerged as a result of Nkrumah's struggle, such as the African Union, and the social cohesion in Ghana remained, the role of Ghana as an innovator of ideas diminished after the overthrow of Nkrumah.
Here was another irony. Let us recall that Nkrumah's arrival coincided with the decline of the UK as an imperial power and the rise of the US as a new hegemonic power. Nkrumah was a pioneer in introducing the US to Africa. Equally ironic, if we can call it ironic, is that Nkrumah achieved political independence for Ghana through moral pressure but was himself overthrown through an armed revolt on the instigation of the US and the tacit approval of Britain. However, just as Nkrumah considered neocolonialism as the last stage of imperialism, so did he consider his overthrow as part of attempts to reverse the gains of the anti-colonial and anti-racism struggles in the 1950s by former colonial powers. This is all the more so since the non-violent struggles by black Americans in the US of America and that of Africans in Africa, from Alabama to Sharpeville, have been met with state violence. In Nkrumah's words, "The same power structure which is blocking the efforts of African-Americans in the US is also now throwing road-blocks in Africa's way. Imperialism, neo-colonialism, settler domination and racialism seek to bring us down and re-subjugate us" (Nkrumah 1973: 42).
In response, to and in symbiotic relation to these developments, armed struggle intensified in Africa just as Black Power raged in America. Thus, according to Nkrumah:
Black Power is part of the world rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, of the exploited against the exploiter. It operates throughout the African continent, in North and South America, the Caribbean, where ever Africans and people of African descent live. It is linked with the Pan-African struggle for unity on the African continent, and with all those who strive to establish a socialist society. (Nkrumah 1973: 40)
Viewed in this context, theoretically the time line of organized and co-ordinated African struggles for liberation is the first Pan-African conference in London in 1900 through Ghana's independence in 1957 to the end of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994.
LET US CONCLUDE this section by introducing the third symbol that Nkrumah introduced to Ghanaians and the international stage: the Kente cloth. The achievement of independence relegated the Red Rooster to the background and brought the Black Star, which we have already discussed, and the Kente cloth to the fore. Though known and used in Ghana as luxurious clothing worn on special occasions by sections of the country, Nkrumah used the Kente cloth in his official portrait and thus elevated it to the level of a national dress code; he also encouraged parliamentarians to wear the Kente cloth on the opening of parliament. Since then the Kente cloth has also been adopted by many Ghanaians as a national dress; the Kente cloth has also been adopted and adapted by many black Americans as an expression of black American Africanity.
Thus, via Nkrumah, not only has the Black Star and Pan-Africanism become a permanent feature of Black American awakening in Africa, but also the Kente cloth and the concepts of positive action and neocolonialism entered the lexicon of Black America and the African Diaspora as part of African awakening in Black America.
Conclusion: Three Things that Went Wrong
NKRUMAH has played a major role in forging Pan-African identity and solidarity. During his rule many Africans and people of African descent found refuge in Ghana. For these reasons the overthrow of Nkrumah should not be taken lightly because anyone who embarked on such a project, as Nkrumah did, should contemplate survival, suicide and genocide.
Survival in this context refers to strategies to ensure that one can carry one's project through and live to see the fruits of one's project. Those who planned the overthrow of Nkrumah were aware that his overthrow would have negative implications for the Pan-African project.
The second, suicide, refers to the sacrifices one has to make to achieve success. Nkrumah's overthrow constituted suicide because he sacrificed too much to keep Pan-Africanism alive. As a resistance and de-colonization project, Pan-Africanism is one of the most successful social movements (awareness raising and mobilization) in the twentieth century.
But as a transformative and state development project (consolidation and development), the results are mixed, because African states still depend on "development aid" and thus live under neo-colonialism.
The third, genocide, refers to assassination of the leader or mass murder of the fop lowers by the dominant group. There were several assassination attempts on the life of Nkrumah within Ghana during his presidency; strangely the assassination attempts were not resolved. It appeared that Nkrumah was better protected under British-led police force than under his leadership.
HOWEVER the three problems that Nkrumah failed to resolve are still unresolved in Africa.
This of course poses the problem of what went wrong.
The first problem is that of the transition from nationalist (liberation) movement to political parties. This is tied to the contradictions between collective freedom and individual freedom or human fights. Generally the transition from nationalist movement to political party has been misunderstood and mismanaged in Africa. This is partly because individual freedom has been subsumed under collective freedom. This has been a fertile ground for foreign intervention in Africa.
The second problem is related to consolidation of sovereignty and development; this in turn is tied to security, both food and physical. Most African states have not succeeded in adequately feeding their populations; this reinforces neocolonialism. With regard to physical security, Nkrumah himself felt that his overthrow was a result of an imperialist plot and neo-colonialists in the country. Nkrumah's own reading about his overthrow can be summed up in this statement:
Ghana, on the threshold of economic independence, and in the vanguard of the African revolutionary struggle to achieve continental liberation and unity, was too dangerous an example to the rest of Africa to be allowed to continue under a socialist-directed government. (Nkrumah 1968: 47)
This raises some questions: If imperialism is that strong, why bother to initiate change? One initiates change out of the recognition that change is possible. But what change is possible? Others have argued that he was overthrown because he ran a one-party state. This is illogical and unrelated to the actual political developments that took place. Others argue that he was not a true socialist, hence his ouster signalled the end of an illusion (Fitch & Oppenheimer 1966; Marable 1987). This is also not based on evidence because the reason Nkrumah's regime did not nationalize anything was because there was nothing to nationalize. The issues of capitalism and socialism were secondary to developments of the period. Of course, if by capitalism we mean European colonization of Africa, then Africa has been capitalist for centuries; this in turn means that capitalism cannot be defended. With regard to socialism, nobody knows what it is, so it need not detain us here. In sum I found these explanations too simplistic, so two decades ago I introduced the concepts of holistic nationalism and sub-nationalism to explain the forces that worked against Nkrumah's project.
The third problem is the relevance of institutionalized Pan-Africanism for the African Diaspora beyond memory and belonging. As a social movement and ideological expression of African identity, Pan-Africanism is one of the most successful movements in modern history because it achieved its aim of freedom and self-determination of African peoples worldwide. People of Africa and African descent worldwide now recognize a shared history. However, African states abandoned the African Diaspora after the overthrow of Nkrumah. Thus, as an institutionalized project to foster economic development in Africa, Pan-Africanism is less successful.
Besides, the relatively weak status and position of the African Diaspora in the imperial countries where they are citizens implied that they could not influence their countries or states in relation to positive developments in Africa. This was compounded by the death of George Padmore (1903-1959) and W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) and the alienation of C.R.L. James. This was when Nkrumah realized that Ghana did not have the resources to act as a springboard for African Liberation, given the counter-revolutionary forces from what he considered as the imperialist world and led him to coin the term neo-colonialism. This does not imply that colonialism is better than neocolonialism.
CAN AFRICA, as a continent, do more for its Diaspora? Here we should revisit our previous work.
The African Union's renewed interest in Pan-Africanism should be applauded, but the declaration of African Diaspora by the African Union as the latter's sixth region is inadequate, deficient and contradictory; it is formulated in terms of what the Diaspora can do for Africa but not what the African Union and the Diaspora can do for each other.
There should be a better way to integrate institutionalized Pan-Africanism, which is what the African Union is, and African Diaspora as civil society and social movement. As a start, the more than 100 million strong African Diaspora worldwide can be more useful to the African Union if the African Union considers the African Diaspora as a market for "Made in Africa" products, rather than as a forum to appeal for development aid.
Continental Africa has the land, the natural resources and the international legal framework to effect the desired changes. Africans in the Diaspora may be separated by citizenship but they are united by history, memory and "race"; market and cultural forces can transcend citizenship. This is all the more so since history, memory and culture without production or material base are empty (Nimako and Small 2009).
WHAT CONSIDERATION of Pan-Africanism n the context of the fortieth anniversary of Allen's important book--Black Awakening in Capitalist America--tells us is the following. We are reminded of the complex links beween black subordination and the broader political terrain on which struggle must be waged, a terrain that is extensive in both its national and international dimensions. It reminds us of the complex matrix of variables that must be considered in efforts to attain black liberation. And a central feature of this concerns the power of cultural and political symbols in the struggle for black liberation; it also remphasizes the importance and indispensability of international connections, cooperation and collaborations--of the need for a continued emphasis on Pan-Africanism as social movement. In the twenty-first century, many of the protagonists have changed, but the struggle and the obstacles to be overcome remain very similar. By comparing Allen's analysis with an analysis of the dyanmics of Nkrumah's struggles we extract important lessons for our continuing struggles.
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|Title Annotation:||Kwame Nkrumah|
|Publication:||The Black Scholar|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2010|
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