GHANA’S DAY OF SHAME: DR. KWAME NKRUMAH NAMIBIAN MEMORIAL 2012
In anticipation of GHANA’S DAY OF SHAME 2013 the Centre for Consciencist Studies and Analyses (CENCSA) shares with its readers proceedings in the Republic of Namibia last year in memory of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah while the Socialist Forum of Ghana (SFG) was observing GHANA’S DAY OF SHAME on February 24, 2012 in Ghana, the day he was overthrown by betrayers of Africa with the help of the United States CIA and other Western secret agencies.
It was a seminar addressed by experienced Pan-Africanists and scholars. Before we respond to some of the issues raised at the seminar we seize this opportunity to congratulate the organizers of the event. The seminar, by the presented report, was very well organized. Specifically, it made up for the shortcomings of the previous seminar, captioned Sustaining The New Wave of Pan-Africanism, where Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was ignored and not a single paper was presented on him.
We urge our readers to critically go through the papers published below and acquaint themselves with the great issues agitating the hearts and minds of Pan-African revolutionaries and how they respond to them.
On the 24th of February, 2013 CENCSA will publish its critical appreciation of the papers below and publish an article captioned Dr. Kwame Nkrumah: Philosophical Applications in Building a Socialist State. The latter illustrates Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s applications of philosophical principles in his political analyses from his school days until 1972 when he was poisoned and died of cancer. The development of his ideologico-philosophical thought system, Marxism-Nkrumaism, is traced.
Kindly read on.
DR. KWAME NKRUMAH NAMIBIAN MEMORIAL
Edited by: Bankie Forster Bankie and Etuna Josua
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Namibian Memorial
Editors: Bankie Forster Bankie and Etuna Josua
Published in 2012 by the National Youth Council of Namibia (NYCN), Windhoek,
PO Box 60956
© Copyright National Youth Council of Namibia 2012
All rights reserved
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright holder.
Copy Editor: Viola Zimunya
Printed by the Polytechnic Press
The Polytechnic of Namibia
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Part 1 – Homage Page
1.1 The source of the movement for the total liberation of Africa
Dr Sam Nujoma 1
Part 2 – Dedication to Dorothy Lewis
2.1 Biographical sketch of Dorothy Lewis 5
Part 3 – Verbatim Report
3.1 Final program 8
3.2 Comments on program from the Editors 9
3.3 List of Acronyms 10
3.4 Transcript of summaries 12
3.5 Interactive forum 38
3.6 Vote of thanks 48
Part 4 – The Papers
4.1 On the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah 50
Dr Elijah Ngurare
4.2 Nkrumah’s intellectual legacies and Africa’s political tribulations
in the 21st Century 55
4.3 Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party 61
Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa
4.4 Egyptian Nasserite memories of African Liberation (1956-1975) 75
Prof Helmi Sharawy
4.5 The Legacy of Dr Kwame Nkrumah 92
Prof. P. Anyang’ Nyong’o
4.6 Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy through the eyes of the Youth 97
Part 5 – Addendum
5.1 Is Continental Union Government necessary for the total liberation of Black Africa? 103
5.2 Dr Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana domestic and international affairs in retrospect 125
Bankie Forster Bankie
Part 6 – Photos 137 – 146
Part 1 – Homage
1.1 THE SOURCE OF THE MOVEMENT FOR THE TOTAL
LIBERATION OF AFRICA
Dr Sam Shafishuna Nujoma
Statement by His Excellency Dr Sam Nujoma, Founding President of the Republic of Namibia and Founding Father of the Namibian Nation, on the occasion of a meeting with Pan-Afrikan speakers and delegates attending Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial – February 24, 2012
My fellow Pan-Africanists attending Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial, it is always a personal and inspirational journey and great pleasure for me to pay homage to the source of the movement for the total liberation of Africa.
I went to Ghana in April 1960 as a freedom fighter, 51 years ago, on my way to the United Nations to petition for the independence of Namibia. The Government and people of Ghana, under the leadership of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, assured the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) of their full support and solidarity which continued throughout the struggle until we attained our freedom and genuine Independence.
Indeed, the Government and people of Ghana did provide all round political, diplomatic and material support to the just cause of our freedom. For this reason, the people of Namibia will forever be grateful to the Government and the people of Ghana.
When Ghana attained her independence in 1957, she did not consider the achievement of her freedom and independence as a victory for her own people only. Ghana saw that independence as a vital stepping stone towards the total liberation of Africa.
We recall Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s famous dictum: ‘The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of Africa’. In a true sense, Ghana felt that her independence was not assured if she was an island hemmed in by colonial territories. And so Dr Kwame Nkrumah committed his energies and financial resources and those of his people to the total liberation of our continent.
Indeed, Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a firm believer in African liberation and pursued a genuine Pan-African policy, playing a key role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
For this reason, I would like to pay tribute to Dr Nkrumah who not only contributed immensely to the development of Ghana but also to the entire African continent. Dr. Nkrumah is no longer with us, but his pioneering work towards the total emancipation of our continent will be remembered by current and future generations. The entire continent should be proud that his vision of a free and independent Africa is now realized and today, his legacy and dream of a ‘United States of Africa’ is nearly achieved and still remains relevant.
My fellow Pan-Africanists, when the Founding Fathers were calling for African Unity, they were calling for economic emancipation, co-operation and integration of the entire African continent; because they fully understood that political freedom would remain insufficient and meaningless unless it was accompanied by genuine economic independence.
In this regard, we similarly remember when Dr Nkrumah crafted a philosophy that later became a leading liberation ideological trade-mark which says: ‘Seek first the political independence and all else shall be added unto you’.
Now that we have attained our political freedom, we should embark upon the second phase of the struggle for economic independence.
On September 9, 1999, the Heads of State and Government of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), issued the Sirte Declaration, calling for the establishment of the African Union (AU), with a view, inter alia, towards accelerating the process of integration of the continent, to enable it to play its rightful role in the global economy, while addressing multifaceted social, economic and political challenges on the continent.
The creation of the AU has also the ultimate objective of enhancing unity, strengthening co-operation and co-ordination, as well as equipping the African continent with a legal and institutional framework, which would enable it to gain its rightful place in the community of nations. The cardinal motivation behind the establishment of the African Union was the desire to deepen and strengthen the cohesion, solidarity and integration of the countries and peoples of Africa.
It is well known that Africa is one of the richest regions of the world. For example, the Southern Africa region contains a variety of resources, including natural gas, coal, uranium, diamonds, gold, platinum, perennial rivers, etc. These resources must be harnessed to improve the standard of living of all our people. For that to happen, we should embark upon strategies which promote manufacturing and add value to our natural resources.
In that manner we will not only be able to create wealth but will also be able to enhance economic growth and improve the competitiveness of our economies in the international markets. We should now imbue the sense of urgency in the consolidation of all the structures of the AU so that we can build a united Africa with one defence force, an African Central Bank, a single African currency and a single passport.
My fellow Pan-Africanists, as you are all aware, the achievement of freedom and independence of our continent was only a critical point of departure but not the destination. For this reason, our Youth should become active participants in the socioeconomic development of our continent in order to take it to an advanced level of development.
We should therefore continue to educate our Youth and equip them with relevant technical skills, knowledge, cultural norms and values. In this way, we will be able to achieve our strategic objectives, namely the eradication of poverty, disease, ignorance and under-development.
Although the enemy was defeated politically, he has not given up. History has taught us how the enemies of peace, freedom and social progress have caused division, political instability and economic sabotage in some sisterly countries on the African continent and embarked upon maneuvers and machinations in order to mislead and convert some of our fellow African compatriots and turns them against their own people with the view to reverse the gains of our freedom and independence.
We have now seen what happened in Libya last year (2011), when Western Imperial Forces, using the UN Security Council, and regardless of the opinion of African leaders, removed a sitting Head of State and government by force and thus effected regime change in their interest.
These deceptive attempts are also the main cause of political instabilities in the Middle East. Our Youth must therefore be on the full alert and remain vigilant against deceptive attempts by the enemy to divide them. As the future leaders of our continent, our Youth should act with dedication and commitment to always promote the interests of Africa before their own, otherwise the Western Imperialists will re-colonize our continent wherever and whenever they believe this is necessary and to the extent that this will serve their interests.
What is at stake right now is neither who the Chairman of the AU is, nor which country heads the AU. At stake right now is whether, as Africans, we are able to unite and speak with one voice – whether we can respond without equivocation to the challenges before us and whether the current generation can uphold the legacy of our Founding Fathers, including that of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
I believe they can and I have confidence that they will live up to the expectations and meet the challenges with vigour and determination, including defending the air space and the territorial integrity of the entire African continent.
Last but not least, I commend the organizers of the Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s Memorial event for their initiative. Your efforts will go a long way to preserve his memory and legacy. I would also like to commend the main speakers and indeed all the participants for sparing time to take part in this worthy cause. May all your endeavours be met with success.
Remember, a united people, striving to achieve a common good for all members in the society, will always emerge victorious. If we hold fast to that truth and the ideals of Dr. Nkrumah, there is no obstacle too insurmountable, no challenge too great, as long as we are united in common action and purpose.
Long Live the Spirit of Dr Kwame Nkrumah!
Long Live the Spirit of Pan-Africanism!
I thank you.
Part 2 – Dedication to Dorothy Lewis
2.1 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF NANA YAA
Also known as Queen Mother Dorothy Benton Lewis (Oravouche)
The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA) bestowed upon Ms Dorothy Benton Lewis the title of Queen Mother (QM), for her life-long commitment and exemplary service to the liberation and reparation struggle of African people.
QM Dorothy Benton Lewis was the former National Co-Chair of N’COBRA and became the current Co-Chair of N’COBRA’s International Affairs Commission. She was a researcher, writer, and lecturer on reparations and related social and economic development issues. She was quoted in numerous newspapers, magazines, and books. She published several articles, and wrote three ‘Black Reparations Now!’ booklets:
1. 40 Acres, $50 and a Mule;
2. Black Reparations, Religion and Faith: Raising the Contradictions, and
3. A Black and White Perspective
These self-published booklets and the questions they addressed shaped the conversations that guided the early reparations discourse in the general public. She was in the process of completing her fourth book on reparations when she made her transition.
Queen Mother Lewis appeared on numerous radio and television talk shows, including British Broadcasting of Canada and London, Tony Brown’s Journal, C-SPAN’s AM Journal, CNN, Fox News, and BBC Television in the United Kingdom. She debated the issue of reparations at college campuses throughout the Unites States, including Howard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, and Spellman and Morehouse Colleges.
She presented the reparations issue at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Suriname, South America; and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She spoke on numerous national forums including the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Million Family March, Fortieth Anniversary March on Washington, and Millions for Reparations.
QM Lewis co-founded and provided leadership to four national reparations
- Restitution for Involuntary Servitude, Inc. (Alaska, 1968);
- The Black Reparations Commission (Maryland, 1978);
- The African National Reparations Organization (New York, 1982); and
- The National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (Washington, DC, 1987)
For the past years she had been serving as the co-representative from North America with an International Working Committee laying the foundation for a Pan-African reparations movement, via the Global Afrikan Congress, which was formed in Bridgetown, Barbados, in follow up to the UN World Conference Against Racism (WCAR).
She was the co-chair of the NCOBRA International Affairs Commission (NIAC) and facilitated, along with a coalition of Pan-Afrikan and reparations organizations from around the world, the launching of its first Global Pan-Afrikan Reparations and Repatriation Conference (G-PARRC) at the University of Ghana at Legon near Accra, Ghana, in July 2006.
While the issue of reparations was her mission, she started her public service career as a social worker for the State of Alaska, in Fairbanks, and remained in public service in the public health field. Queen Mother Lewis had children and grandchildren to whom she desired to leave a better world.
A graduate of the University of Alaska, Ms Lewis’ passion for reparations arose out of her childhood experiences in predominantly white schools in Fairbanks, Alaska. She viewed herself as a ‘reparationist’ and a children’s advocate, dedicated to bringing truth to the world and exposing the lies that still plague the American educational system, and distort the realities of children, especially African American children.
Year on year, she endured class lectures on the ‘Benefits of Slavery’ (to the African) from the slave owners’ perspective. Although the painful memories of those classroom experiences faded, she always recalled the snickering of her white classmates, and her haunting thought, ‘Will anyone ever speak for those enslaved?’ In answer to her own youthful inquiry, her mission, for almost four decades, was that of speaking for and seeking redress on behalf of Africans held as slaves. Her understanding that there was a process for a redress of grievances came out of her experience in the Fairbanks, Alaska Chapter of the NAACP, and support for the successful Alaska Native Land Claims movement.
She was instrumental in the successful endorsement of HR 40 by the national body of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, of which she was a proud member, and served as chair of her chapter’s, International Committee. (HR 40 is a bill to study the impact of slavery on African Americans, has been introduced in the US Congress each year, since 1989, by Congressman John Conyers of Michigan.)
In keeping with her view that Black Reparations is an international issue and should be supported by all freedom and democracy loving people of the world, Queen Mother Lewis took the Black Reparations message to a number of African countries, and to several international conferences including the 1985 International Women’s Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, East Africa; the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in 1998 and 2002; and to a conference on Development in Honduras, Central America, in 1999.
She has been a constant voice for Black Reparations since the early 1960s, and was among the most articulate and active reparations’ advocates in the United States. She influenced (and sometimes coerced) a number of national leaders and organizations to take a public stand for reparations. QM Lewis reflected that when she first went to Kenya, East Africa, to the UN International Women’s Conference in 1985, she was a lone voice for reparations. When she went to Durban, South Africa, to the UN Conference on Racism, Black Reparations was a major issue about which everyone was talking.
By Explo Nani-Kofi, Peki, Ghana, July 2012
Part 3 – Verbatim Report
3.1 FINAL PROGRAMME
Dr. KWAME NKRUMAH MEMORIAL PROGRAMME
Venue: Auditorium 1, Opposite School of Engineering, Polytechnic of Namibia,
Time: 17h30 for 18h00
Date: 24 February 2012.
Playing of the Anthems of Ghana, Namibia and African Union.
Welcoming Remarks by the Rector, Polytechnic of Namibia.
Cde. Dr. T. E. Ngurare, Secretary of South West Africa Organisation (SWAPO) Youth League.
Introduction of 6 Speakers by Ms. Maureen Hinda, Vice Chairperson of the Board of The Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON).
Remarks by the Moderator, Mr. Andile Lungisa, President, Pan-African Youth Union (PAYU) and
Chairperson, National Youth Development Agency of South Africa (NYDA).
Chairperson, Mr. Mandela Kapere, Executive Chairperson, National Youth Council of Namibia (NYCN).
Five minute summary of papers:-
Dr. H. Geingob
Mr. P. Kaapama
Prof. A. B. Akosa
Prof. H. Sharawy
Hon. (Prof ) P. A. Nyong’o.
Mr. Andile Lungisa
The Moderator requests the Speakers to comment on the summaries, if any.
The Moderator opens the floor for interactive discussions based on questions arising from the reviews of the papers delivered.
The Vote of Thanks is delivered by H. E. Maj.Gen. S. A. Odotei (Rtd), The Ghana High Commissioner to Namibia.
Playing of the African Union, Namibia and Ghana Anthems.
Refreshments will be served in the Foyer of the Auditorium Hall.
3.2 COMMENTS ON PROGRAM FROM THE EDITORS
Before the event, speakers were requested to present short summaries (5 minutes) of their papers, which in any case would be reproduced in the book, in order to make more time for the interactive questions and answers session. Some chose to do otherwise, leaving little time for the interactive forum at the end. Such as it was, we include this forum, which was originally intended to take up most of the proceedings, eliciting the Youth voice.
In the interests of completeness, we decided, therefore, to reproduce verbatim the ‘short’ summaries, followed by the full texts of papers for those Speakers who prepared papers.
Part 5, Addendums, represents papers prepared for the occasion
3.3 LIST OF ACRONYMS
AAPSO: Afro Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization
AARC: Arab African Research Center (AARC)
AFRICOM: United States African Command
ANC: African National Congress
ANCYL: African National Congress Youth League
ALESCO: Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO)
AU: African Union
BPC: Basoto People’s Congress, Lesotho
BBC: British Broadcasting Corporation
BBCTV: British Broadcasting Corporation Television
CIA: Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
COSAS: Congress of South African Students
CPP: Convention Peoples Party
CODESREA: Council for Development of Social Research in Africa
DLM: Djibouti Liberation Movement, Djibouti
EAC: East African Community
ECOWAS: Economic Community of West African States
ECOSOC: Economic and Social Council
ELF: Eritrean Liberation Front, Eritrea
EPAs: Economic Partnership Agreements
EPLF: Eritrean People’s Liberation Front, Eritrea
ET: Etudiants de Tchad
FRELIMO: Front do Liberacion do Mozambique, Mozambique
GIMPA: Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration
G-PARRC: Global Pan-Afrikan Reparations and Repatriation Conference
GRAI: Governamento do Angola Independente, Angola
HDI: Human Development Index
IUM: International University of Management
KANU: Kenya African National Union
LECIA: Legon Centre for International Affairs
LIGA: League for Liberation of Somalia
MIT: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MLC: Mouvement de Liberation du Congo
MPLA: Movimento Popular do Liberacion do Angola
NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NAMCOL: Namibia College of Open Learning
N’COBRA: National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA)
NIAC: NCOBRA International Affairs Commission
NLM: National Liberation Movement
NYCN: National Youth Council of Namibia
OAU: Organization of African Unity
PACON: Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia
PAIGS: Parti Africaine do Independence do Guinee, Capo Verde, Guinea and Cape Verde
PAFMECA: Pan-African Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA)
PAYU: Pan-African Youth Union
PNDC: Provisional National Defence Council
PoN: Polytechnic of Namibia
QM: Queen Mother
SASCO: South African Students Congress
SPP: Swaziland Peoples Party
SRC: Student Representative Councils
SWANU: South West Africa National Union, Namibia
SWAPO: South West Africa People’s Organization, Namibia
TUC: Trades Union Congress
UDI: Unilateral Declaration of Independence
UGCC: United Gold Coast Convention
UNAM: University of Namibia
UNC: Ugandan National Congress
UNESCO: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNIA: United Negro Improvement Association
UNITA: Union do Independente Angola
UNRIP: United Northern Rhodesia Independence Party, Zambia
UNWCAR: UN World Conference Against Racism
UPC: Union du Peuple du Cameroun
WANS: West African National Secretariat
ZANU: Zimbabwe African National Union
ZAPU: Zimbabwe African People’s Union
ZNP: Zanzibar National Party
ZNU: Zanzibar National Union
3.4 TRANSCRIPT OF SUMMARIES
Mr. Mandela Kapere – Master of Ceremonies: I want to call Professor Tjivikua, Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, to come to the podium and welcome everybody present here.
Dr Tjama Tjivikua: Good evening everyone. Mr. Mandela Kapere, Master of Ceremonies and Executive Chairperson of the National Youth Council of Namibia, thank you very much. I would like to also acknowledge the other Director of Ceremonies for the second part, Andile Lungisa, Member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress Youth League; Honourable Theo-Ben Gurirab, Speaker of the National Assembly; Honourable Hage Geingob, the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) Vice-President and Minister of Trade and Industry; Ministers present; Ambassador Kalomoh; His Excellency Major General Samuel Odotei, High Commissioner of the Republic of Ghana to Namibia; Honourable Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Minister of Medical Services of Kenya; His Excellency Peter Gitau, the High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya to Namibia; Dr Elijah Ngurare, Secretary of the SWAPO Party Youth League; Professor Helmi Sharawy; Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa; Phanuel Kaapama, Lecturer at the University of Namibia; the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON) representative Ms Maureen Hinda, representatives of all national institutions and organizations in Namibia, Members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am speaking here because I am your host, nothing more than that, and I am also privileged to speak because I share something with Kwame Nkrumah. Today we are celebrating his legacy as one of Africa’s prominent and greatest luminaries. Coincidently, this celebration takes place in February, which month the Americans have designated Black History Month. During this month the Americans celebrate the legacy of Black Americans and their Civil Rights Movement and how they have contributed to the national dialogue on human rights integration and reconciliation. However, a crucial issue that seems to evade us as intellectuals is the fact that the Civil Rights Movement had a great impact on the Pan-African thinking.
Interestingly, Dr Kwame Nkrumah was in fact the first African graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and so was Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first President of Nigeria, also a graduate of the Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and as a young man, born just after the independence of Ghana, my generation always looked up to Ghana as a shining star of Africa. It is no small wonder that I was inspired to retrace the footsteps of the great luminaries as a student and then graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. You know when you are young and you know these prominent Africans have walked the ground; you would like to walk every inch of the campus so that you can feel their presence and live their legacy.
In talking about the legacy of Dr Nkrumah, I am reminded of what a Ghanaian born scholar and author, Kofi Hadjor once said: ‘Nkrumah is a reminder not of what Africa is, but of what Africa must become’. I believe that today we can do justice to the legacy of Nkrumah by re-evaluating not only his achievements, but also in terms of the controversy surrounding him as a political figure and his vision for achieving a continental government for Africa through Pan-Africanism.
Everyone knows and talks about the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Indeed, Madiba is a living legend. Although no one could say that Nkrumah was the Nelson Mandela of the 1950s and 1960s, we can say that. Some may not say it, but we can say that because many of the new generation of Africans do know, but some seem not to know about the towering figures that preceded us in history. It is, therefore, befitting to look at the achievements, relevance and re-assessment of his role and contribution to Africa’s history that are not only acknowledged today but are celebrated and passed on to the next generations of Africans.
Nkrumah, as Ghana’s Founding President and the influence of his policies on the domestic African leaders and states, continues to generate lively debate in Africa and outside the continent. In an opinion poll conducted by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) among African listeners in 1999, Nkrumah was voted as Africa’s Man of the Millennium and again in the New African 2004 poll of the Hundred Greatest Africans, Nkrumah was voted second only to Nelson Mandela. This is the man whose legacy we have gathered here to celebrate this evening and let us do justice to his legacy.
My parting question to all this evening is: Have we created the Africa which Nkrumah dreamt about, and if not, why not? I thank you.
Master of Ceremonies: We thank you, Professor Tjivikua. Those were reflective and deep remarks. I now have the distinct honour of calling a good friend of ours of the National Youth Council, Dr Ngurare, to the podium to share with you all some Namibian perspectives on Pan-Africanism and the legacy of Dr Kwame Nkrumah
Dr Elijah Ngurare: Good evening everybody. To all the dignitaries, as Comrade Rector has acknowledged them and maybe to add: To all our seniors, Pan-Africanists from Egypt, Ghana and from Kenya; the senior leadership of SWAPO Party and Government that are here; the leadership of the Youth, of SWAPO Youth League, ANC Youth League; the leadership of the tertiary institutions; the President of the Student Representative Councils (SRC) at the University of Namibia (UNAM), Polytechnic of Namibia and the International University of Management (IUM) and The Comrades at National Youth Council of Namibia (NYCN) and everybody in the house.
I agree with the Rector in saying, is the Africa we have today the Africa that Kwame Nkrumah dreamt of? Is it the Africa that he would have been very proud of?
I think a lot is known and a lot will be said, speeches will be offered and delivered and as we know, speeches are many when it comes to Africa. There are many workshops, there are many conferences – some of the workshops and conferences are sponsored by imperialists and we go and sit and listen, but in 1960 we were not there, but some of you were there. What we read is that there was a man out of Ghana who had a dream beyond Ghana, who wanted a United States of Africa, but that man is no more, that man was actually removed from power, by imperialists, but also with the help of Africans.
In fact, what happened to Kwame Nkrumah was what we today call regime change. Regime change is in 2012, regime change continues to be in Africa and then sometimes we ourselves as Africans or African leaders fly somewhere else from Africa and we change not to be Africans. The eminent example is the North African regime change in Libya. Some African countries, some African Presidents voted for it. Whether it was political amnesia I do not know, but they voted for it.
The challenge I see is that Africa is rich in mineral resources, that Africa is the breadbasket that makes those who claim to be rich, to be rich. America and all others who are interested in Africa, the continent they call the ‘Dark Continent’, will never call our gold or diamonds ‘dark’, or the uranium or the coltan used in cell phones and other technological advancements. These they will never call ‘dark’.
The question then is, why is the African child in 2012 still hungry? Why are there not many schools for young people in Africa? Why is it that somehow we look down upon ourselves and look up at others? Would Kwame Nkrumah be happy that today in Africa we cannot drive on a modern highway from Windhoek all the way to our kraal? Will Kwame Nkrumah be happy that we cannot fly directly from here to Timbuktu but have to change planes in France? Kwame Nkrumah might want to know whether the leadership of African countries today are servants or do they behave like celebrities? Some musicians cannot even match the celebrity status of some of our leaders in Africa. Maybe Kwame Nkrumah would want to know why this is the case if, indeed, we have all the wealth and the resources in Africa.
I am asking these questions about Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy so that it should not be a legacy of more speeches but of more action. We cannot continue to wish and pray that somehow when the second coming of Jesus Christ comes everybody will be happy. I think that is good, but in practice it is difficult. It is difficult, specifically my seniors, my elders, to say to you here in Namibia what we were saying in 2009, that as we were going to the elections, let us use ‘polytainment’ to combine education and entertainment, and the reason we did that is very simple, that there is a born-free generation in many of our African countries and there has to be concerted effort to connect with them, speak and listen to them and if you ignore them, you ignore a time bomb that will eventually destroy everything.
It is the duty of every African country and every person of African descent to ensure that we unite as soldiers against hunger, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and other developments. We must resolve collectively and individually to use our resources to develop our people and countries. The legacy of Kwame Nkrumah, therefore, must be measured in the education of our present and future generations. We must continue to train adequate doctors, engineers, marine biologists and so forth to ensure that we have an army of patriotic experts to guarantee Africa’s self-determination and prosperity. We simply mean that when there is a job that needs to be done in Africa, why is it that consultants must be imported from elsewhere and not from Africa?
Sometimes it does not make sense when you listen to what some of our leaders are saying. Even to cook a simple umutete, which is a local spinach, we need a consultant to come from somewhere to give us specifications. Even to put up a hut that generations of our elders have been living in, we need a consultant and World Bank approval before we can do that. Yet at some of the universities we train young people and some people are Honourable and Excellency, but you are allergic to having a young person who is trained in your own school to be your advisor. Then some of our African leaders, when nature is about to make them return to their Maker, go to hospitals in the West and not the hospitals in Africa. It goes to show that we have no confidence in our own institutions.
The future of Africa’s economic development, therefore, must be determined in Africa and not in western capitals. Thus, to paraphrase the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah, I would end by saying that Africa’s struggle for economic independence is our generation’s unfinished agenda, which we must bequeath to the younger generation and generations of Africans yet to be born. This agenda we must actualize and implement militantly and patriotically without compromise and when young people say this at all levels, it is not because they want to be some kind of religious followers. They are mainly saying this is what our challenges are and for our elders in Africa, there is no need to be allergic to this. Be allergic to those who are coming from western capitals and taking our resources.
When the students at our universities are marching, they are not marching to do anything else but to strengthen Africa and the Youth must also be careful, let us not be used. Some people are saying there is an Arab Spring. Which spring was it that is engineered from other western capitals? Is there now democracy in Tunisia, is there democracy in Libya, is there democracy in Egypt? That is not democracy and we must also guard against cultural imperialism. Today here we are, maybe 60 years or so after Kwame Nkrumah, in Africa we do not have a continental television that informs us about Africa.
We do not have a radio that is African, nothing. Therefore, we are rushing and killing each other to appear on CNN because it looks nice. Then when you listen even to our radio stations, demeaning terms are used to describe Blacks and we are dancing about it and the Black young person is called a nigger and you are dancing, ‘hey nigger, what’s up, hey’? We are even using bad language about ourselves, and we are proud about it. That is cultural imperialism. Let us rather reverse this. Those who invented the word ‘nigger’, let us go and tell them words that are better. Those who are proud of niggers, automatically you must also be proud of kaffirs.
Can you be proud to be called a kaffir, Comrade Governor? Then why are we proud of nigger? We are dancing, how low can it go, then we dance? It is demeaning. Therefore, the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah must be measured in our ability to resist any attempt of imperialism, be it mental, be it economic, be it political, be it of whatever other categorization, because we can aspire to be speaking English, but we can never be English. We can aspire to speak French, we can never be French. Maybe it is time that the elders must show us which African language we can make our official language and if we cannot do that, I do not know how free we truly are.
Master of Ceremonies: I have the pleasure to call to the stage Ms Maureen Hinda, Vice-Chairperson of the Board of the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON), to introduce to you the distinguished panel of speakers that are assembled from all over the African continent here today. Ms Maureen Hinda.
Ms Maureen Hinda: Thank you, Director of Ceremonies. Allow me to recognize theprotocol in the order you presented. I would give a short summary as an introductionto the speakers that are lined up.
Short profile of the speakers
At 31 years of age Andile Lungisa is the youngest of the speakers. Born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, he has spent a lifetime in Youth politics, through the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and later the South African Students Congress (SASCO). The year 1998 found him active in the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League. In 2008 he was elected Deputy President of the ANC Youth League. He now serves on the National Executive Committee of the ANC Youth League. Andile is an engineer by profession, as well as a creative writer. Currently he heads up the National Youth Development Agency, the South African equivalent of the National Youth Council of Namibia. At the 3rd Congress of the Pan-African Youth Union, the Youth wing of the African Union (AU), held in Khartoum, Sudan, in December last year (2011), Lungisa was elected President of the PAYU. He will moderate this interactive forum.
Phanuel Kaapama was born in Windhoek, Namibia. He received his higher education at the Polytechnic of Namibia, the University of South Africa and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Currently he is a Candidate for a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Public and Development Administration at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. He currently is a Lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies, in the Faculty of Economics and Management Science, lecturing in Politics, Governance and Development Studies, at the University of Namibia. Kaapama, from 1994 to 1997, served as the Founding Secretary General of the National Youth Council of Namibia. He has also worked at the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry and at the UNDP. He has undertaken numerous consultancies and has several publications to his credit.
Agyemang Badu Akosa
Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa is a graduate of the Ghana Medical School, University of London and the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). He holds Fellowships of the Royal College of Pathologists (UK), West African College of Physicians and the Ghana College of Physicians. He has an Executive Masters in Governance and Leadership from GIMPA. Amongst other positions, Professor Akosa is the immediate past Director General of the Ghana Health Service and is the current President of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation. He is an avowed Nkrumahist and a member of the Convention People’s Party. He is currently the Executive Director at Healthy Ghana.
Dr Hage Geingob was the first Prime Minister of Namibia after the country became independent on March 21, 1990. He served in this position from 1990 to 2002. From 2003 to 2004, he served as the Executive Secretary of the Global Coalition for Africa in Washington, D.C. Since 2007, he has been the Vice President of the ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) in Namibia, and is currently also the Minister of Trade and Industry of Namibia. Dr Geingob trained as a teacher in Namibia. The year 1963 found him in Botswana in a representative capacity for SWAPO. Subsequently he went to the United States where he obtained a BA degree, as well as Master’s degree in International Relations from the Graduate Faculty of The New School in New York in 1974. From 1964 until 1971 he served as SWAPO representative to the United Nations. He undertook many responsibilities for SWAPO during the liberation struggle. In 2004 Hage Geingob received his PhD from the University of Leeds.
Mohamed Helmy el Sharawy
Professor Sharawy graduated from Cairo University in Egypt in 1958, with a degree in Sociology. From 1960 to 1975 he was the coordinator of the Office for African Liberation Movements at the African Association, in Zamalek in Cairo, Egypt, this being President Nasser’s Office for African Affairs. In this capacity Helmy interacted with African freedom fighters, including Dr Sam Nujoma. Consequently Prof Sharawy has unique knowledge and insights as regards African liberation from Arab perspective. He is an expert on Afro-Arab cultural relations and in particular on Sudan. Professor Sharawy has written many books in both Arabic and English on diverse subjects such as African languages and the Angolan Revolution.
Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o
Professor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o hails from Kenya, where he has been Minister for Medical Services since 2008. He combines that function with that of Secretary General of the Orange Democratic Party, led by Raila Odinga. He is also Director of the African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF) in Nairobi, Kenya. We are hoping that ARRF and the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON) will enter into a relationship. His first degree was from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, and his Masters and Doctorate from the University of Chicago in the USA. From 1977 to 1982 Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o was first a Lecturer and thereafter a Senior Lecturer in Political Science and Political Economy at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. He brings an East African dimension to the forum.
Windhoek, Namibia, February, 2012
Master of Ceremonies: Please do allow me to express regrets from Honourable Samia Nkrumah, MP. She was expected to join us, but she had some urgent business in her constituency in Ghana and as a result could not be here. But nevertheless, I am confident that the Panel that we have assembled is more than distinguished and more than knowledgeable to be able to address and expand on the issues at hand. Allow me, as Vice-President of the Pan-African Youth Union (PAYU) of the African Union (AU), to hand over to the President of the PAYU, Comrade Andile Lungisa, who will be moderating the discussion, starting with himself and then followed by Honourable Hage Geingob. Andile, the floor is yours.
Andile Lungisa: Amandla! Amandla! All power to the people! Thank you very much, Comrade Mandela. I am going to move with speed because I know I must be able to speak longer and I will be the last person to speak from the panelists. What we are going to do now, we are going to move with speed, because all the panelists have been introduced and all of us know them. We have pens and we are writing, because it is a seminar. At least we must be able to take forward the discussions, to be able to change the situation in the African continent. I am going to call on the Minister of Trade and Industry of Namibia, the Land of the Brave, to open the floor and to lead the discussions. Thank you very much.
Dr Hage Geingob: Thank you, Directors of Ceremony
Right Honourable Prime Minister Gurirab and the Speaker of the National Assembly, I used to be a teacher, let me teach you one thing. When I said ‘Right Honourable Prime Minister’, you were giggling. He was a Prime Minister and he will remain a Prime Minister. I did not say Prime Minister of the Republic of Namibia – that is Nahas Angula. Honourable Minister from Kenya, I always refer to him as my friend and say, Peter. But the other name, I do not want to join Maureen to struggle with it. It is a very good African name. Fellow panelists, Excellences, the High Commissioners and Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, or may I simply say Comrades and friends.
The Youth talk about today and the future guiding us. Since we are commemorating a great son of Africa, I would like to run you through the history and what makes him an outstanding scholar, philosopher and politician, but to kind of locate my intervention, let me quote what is very, very important from the paper prepared by the organizers. ‘Nkrumah is unique in the modern history of Africa. History created Nkrumah and he created history. He was always ahead of others; he was the first to build a mass anticolonial organization. His political legacy is complex and controversial. Many years have passed since he was removed from office, but his stature has not faded. All bear witness to his prominence’.
I came with the Speaker to the old Augustineum School in Okahandja in 1958. Ghana got independence in 1957 – it was about nine months after Ghana got independence. I was only about 16 to 17 years old when I first heard about Kwame Nkrumah from elders who were there, who were telling us about the Black man who is now ruling Africa. That is how we were initiated to Kwame Nkrumah’s name when I was 16 years old. Shortly after that I left the country. When I left the country I was in Botswana for some years, suffering, not going for joy, suffering there, and sleeping outside. Then I happened to go to DRC, Congo that time.
When I came there I did not know any French, no English, no Lingala, but Pan-Africanism started to work there. No penny in my pocket, but the Congolese brothers and sisters welcomed me. I was being given hospitality, drinking and dancing and then the only communication, ‘Congo and South West Africa are one’. They would just laugh, no communication, but I was not hungry. That is Pan-Africanism in action. Then from there I had to board a Pan-American Airways plane to go to the United States of America to go and study there and I do not know where Dr Ngurare got his doctorate from, where is it from?
Dr Ngurare: Republic of Ireland.
Hon Geingob: Oh, European. So I went. When I came to the States, I met the Speaker, Theo-Ben Gurirab. He was already there and as we were studying, I was appointed Representative of SWAPO and the two of us were introduced to American life, from Philadelphia to New York, to Dirty White Man’s house. Dirty White Man was Kwame Nkrumah’s father in America – that is the house where he stayed. We went by taxi and when we came there, of course the taxi man cheated us by making rounds, but we gave him our little money and we thought since it is his taxi, we paid him. I gave him a dime as a tip. He threw it back and used a four-letter word. He was talking about, ‘you mother so-and-so’.
We were perplexed, we said what kind of a life is this, we are giving the man a tip on top of what we have paid. We did not know America, so that is how we were baptized. We went to the house of the Dirty White Man. We were received, we were shown where Kwame Nkrumah used to stay, his photos, everything and that is how as Pan-African Youth we were introduced to Kwame Nkrumah. I want to talk about Kwame Nkrumah through his writings and that will make a good introduction. When he was talking about freedom for Africa, trying to urge us all to fight for our liberation, he wrote a book called, I Speak of Freedom that is, Africa must be free from Cape to Cairo. That was Kwame Nkrumah, ‘I Speak of Freedom – Africa must unite’.
For those of you who are young, I have first to locate the history of Kwame Nkrumah after the African countries obtained Independence. He said Ghana’s Independence was meaningless unless it was linked with the independence of the rest of Africa. Therefore he wrote Africa must unite. He wrote that. Fighting for African unity, we had the Casablanca and Monrovia Groups. Eventually out of that we had the Organization of African Unity (OAU). He was for the continental army and continental command, so if Africa is threatened, we could take action as Africans. He was calling for an immediate African Union Government, hence Africa must unite.
Then there was a crisis, Lumumba was overthrown in Congo and, therefore, there was a crisis. Nkrumah wrote the book, Crisis in Congo. If you read that book, you will still see what he was analyzing at that time, that we remained somehow still in bondage. Then after he had focused on those things, he thought of co-existence between Islamic and African Africa. He became philosophical and he wrote a book called, Consciencism, a very difficult book. We were studying that book in a newspaper called Spark. We had to start at this chapter, not from the beginning; we had to read with that newspaper called Spark to guide us. It was indeed difficult, but the idea was to show that Islamic Africa and Christian Africa can co-exist. He was not just a talker to unite Islamic Africa and Christian Africa; he made it an Egyptian legend, to try to unite us.
When things were going bad, he wrote Neo-Colonialism – The Last Stage of Imperialism. That is when he first coined that ‘Africa is rich, but Africans are poor’. He analyzed the exploitation of Africa through that book and that is the book which caused, in my view, the downfall of Kwame Nkrumah. Then after he was overthrown, we were Pan-Africanists, the Speaker is here, we were working then as Youth, demonstrating, fighting, joining our Black brothers and there was war now in America, literally. We were with Malcolm X, we were always with our Black people, we were fighting revolutionaries and let us not forget, Pan-Africanism comes from our brothers in the Diaspora. It is them, Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey – if we talk about Pan-Africanism, we start there.
After Nkrumah was overthrown, there were about 15 or 20 of us who went to march in front of the Ghana Mission to the United Nations. We were mostly southern Africans, the fighters, who went to march. We had many of the Africans from independent countries, but when it came to going to the scene, many of them disappeared. So, we were there as freedom fighters, trying to expose imperialism, and marching. Thereafter, when a very important Chinese leader, Zhou Enlai, landed there was a coup (in Ghana) and he told Kwame Nkrumah, ‘Mr President, there is a coup in Ghana,’ and he said, ‘No, that can never happen in Ghana, never’. Then Zhou Enlai said, ‘Mr. President, these things do happen’.
Then Nkrumah wrote a small booklet, Dark Days in Ghana. That book is what we were using as freedom fighters. In that book he is analyzing that the whole of Africa is a battlefield. He regarded the countries that we thought as independent as ‘liberated zones’ and those which were neo-colonial as ‘contested territory’ and those of us who were occupied by colonialism as ‘occupied territories’. That is how Nkrumah would be remembered by us. We were young but we were activists, we were not talking, we were not into talk, we were acting. When I was about 21, I was appointed and had to run.
Then we joined the Black Struggle which actually was a war in America between Blacks and Whites, to tell the truth. We later went to join other Black Pan-Africanists – persons such as Malcolm X, a very different person. All the time I was there I was a Malcolm X person. I only came to embrace Reverend Martin Luther King when I came here and became Prime Minister, when he was talking about reconciliation. That is the time I had to study him and try to really understand his concepts and welcome them, because I needed to apply them here.
One important thing, when I took the Pan-American Airlines flight, landing in Accra, that was 1964, many of you who are sitting here were not born yet. Comrade Ngurare was not born yet. As we were landing they announced that there is a form that you must all fill out if you want to land in Accra. You have to denounce apartheid, that you detest it, that you will fight against apartheid and you signed and delivered it. This plane was coming from Johannesburg and imagine who was on that plane? All the South African White people and two of us were Black guys. I got up for the first time very proudly in front of the White people, strolling with joy and I was looking at them, ‘Are you not coming,’ and went down and kissed the soil and said, ‘This is Ghana, the Black Star’. I cannot talk about our President, I know there are many scholars, they like to do research, they will do that, but I just wanted to give you this rundown of what Nkrumah means to us.
Thank you very much.
Master of Ceremonies: Thank you, Comrade Minister, I think you have given a correct account of the life and times of one of the greatest sons of the African continent. I think all the intellectuals and the professors who are sitting on the other side agree with you and there will be time for them to interact with all the presentations. I am going to call on Comrade Kaapama to come forward.
Mr. Fanuel Kaapama: Your Excellences, honourables, distinguished fellow academics, fellow panelists, comrades, ladies and gentlemen.
I would not take you through the rituals of courtesy and protocol, I will just acknowledge it by saying they are observed. When I got this invitation I accepted it after quite a lot of doubt because, given the occasion, the legacy of Nkrumah, I would have wanted to be in the audience so that I could benefit much better from the wisdom of those who may have directly interacted with him. However, I accepted the invitation and decided to bite the bullet.
Now, in biting this bullet, I would not reflect much on the history, but as a political scientist I will try and reflect a little bit on the impact that the Nkrumah ideas had on politics on the African continent and also Pan-Africanist politics throughout the world. If you take a person of Nkrumah’s stature, as was indicated in the short document drafted by the organizers, which the minister read, he was a formidable person and I think part of that came from the fact that he combined quite a number of things in one. He was a political activist, he was a political philosopher and he was a political leader practicing politics as it is and I think that is why the writers may not be too much off the mark when they describe him as him having been made by history and also him having made history. That is that he shaped history significantly.
If one looks at the writings of Nkrumah, it addresses a number of pertinent issues that are of interest, such as issues relating to African nationalism and African revolutionary struggle, the challenges that are presented by the undesirable effects of neo-colonialism, the cause of Pan-African continental unity and, of course, he also strongly resented the idea of the Balkanization of the African continent. With all these ideas, if we are talking about the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah, we would have to try and reflect on the extent to which we as Africans have learned from these ideas. He made a number of prophecies, where he warned Africa about certain issues that many African leaders at that time, and I believe even now, are taking for granted, although the grass under our feet has already started burning, as he prophesied.
One of the statements that Nkrumah used and which, I believe, inspired many Africans then and many of us who went to the struggle much later after he had departed, was the statement of, ‘seek first political freedom and all shall be added onto it’. That was a prophetic statement and, of course, for those that are engaged in analyzing political science and writings, it is something which is being interpreted in quite a number of ways. Many people believe that what he advocated for was, get independence and after the political independence the struggle stops.
But I think the minister alluded that what Nkrumah had indicated was that Ghana will not be free unless the rest of Africa is free and I think that is the broader context that we would have to take on board. Because of his concern about neo-colonialism and its effects, he advocated the idea of Pan-African unity. To him this political kingdom that he advocated was a means to a bigger objective, bigger ideal, which I think we in Africa today have not realized and I also think maybe we would have to debate whether we are doing enough and whether or not we are prepared to realize that specific objective.
When one talks about the idea of Pan-African continental unity, of course the minister alluded to the two political groups, the Casablanca and also the Monrovia groups and also that the final product was a compromise pact, which established the Organization of African Unity. Many African scholars of politics are engaged in the process of trying to interrogate the achievements and shortcomings of the Organization of African Unity. Of course, many forget that this great organization was instrumental in supporting the liberation struggles especially in the southern part of Africa through the Liberation Committee, and I think that idea has been achieved, because when Nkrumah said that Ghana cannot be free unless the rest of Africa is free, today political freedom is being enjoyed largely from Cairo in the north all the way down to the Cape in the south.
But I think if one looks at his writings, one would also have to understand that his emphasis on the political freedom or the political kingdom is that everything will be added onto it and what he had in mind was economic emancipation. That is reflected in his book, Neo-Colonialism – The Last Stage of Imperialism, which the minister has alluded to, where he eloquently articulated the wealth that Africa has and the fact that despite the wealth, most of the African people are poor. Nkrumah died four decades ago and before he died he wrote that. Can we today say that we have done enough in order to address the poverty that is being felt by the African people?
The other key issue that one may have to identify is that the Organization of African Unity also had a number of shortcomings and divisions within the organization – one is the fact that quite a number of African leaders also participated in a number of programmes that undermined the Pan-Africanist agenda; the fact that the organization became very alienated from the masses of the people and especially in the sense that it tolerated numerous human rights violations, where peers who were part of the Organization of African Unity sat down and watched how others terrorized their own masses and so on. Of course, despite the achievements, there was also quite a number of shortcomings, which we as the current generation of political scientists and political leaders would have to assess and reflect on.
If one looks at the idea of African unity, it took place round about the same time that others in other parts of the world also engaged in similar ideas. For instance, six years before the establishment of the Organization of African Unity the European States were also engaged in similar activities and one would have to refer here to the Treaty of Rome, which adopted a comprehensive strategic outlook for the unification of Europe. In 1993 the Maastricht Treaty was signed in Europe and it heralded the transformation from the European Economic Community to the European Union. In Africa we have made the transformation from the Organization of African Unity to the African Union, but are we making the same level of progress?
In the context of the European Union, for instance, there is a bigger drive undertaken by Europeans for the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe and that is a continental army, which you would find in the writings of Nkrumah, especially that Africa should unite in order to be able to protect Africa from military threats from outside the continent. But I do not believe we can say that on the African continent we are making progress that we can compare to what the Europeans are doing. The Euro Monetary Area has been a dream of Europeans, they have moved on. How far are we from a common African currency? These are some of the fundamental ideas which maybe we as Africans started to think about long before many European leaders could even believe that such things could happen in Europe.
However, as my dear friend Ngurare has pointed out, Africans would have to make time to talk and time to reflect on what we have been talking about, so that we can embark upon action. One good example that one can refer to here is that when the Europeans or when the European Union is negotiating the economic partnership agreements (EPAs), it is negotiating as a bloc. African countries that do not have the might to compete with Europe or with the individual countries of Europe allow ourselves to enter into these agreements divided – and as we were saying during the liberation struggle, united we stand and united we fall. I think that is why Africa will always struggle to make an impact in the globalized economy.
To conclude, let me come back to the idea of Pan-Africanism, and I think the minister has touched on that one, especially when he narrated his experience in the United States of America. When the idea of Pan-Africanism was initiated, when it was at its height in terms of general public support, very few African countries were free. Today all of Africa is free. What can we say about the support and our commitment to Pan-Africanism, comparing now to the sixties? In the Diaspora many Africans or people of African descent were on the fringes of politics. In the United States of America Blacks were slaves. When they were freed, they were denied the right to participate in the political processes of their country, they were seen as half citizens. Africans bought into the idea of Pan-Africanism. In fact, when they were fighting their own struggles, they were supporting the African struggle for liberation. Today we have a person of African descent in the White House. For the last 15 years we had people of African descent as Secretaries of State in the United States of America.
Can we say they are Pan-Africanists? Can we say they have heard of Pan-Africanism and out of choice maybe opted not to support? I think the challenge for us as young scholars is the challenge my brother Ngurare has put to the elders. I think the challenge for us is that we have to revive this idea, because it is through the idea of Pan-Africanism that we can restore African pride, which we have lost. With those few remarks, let me conclude and allow for time to hear from others, otherwise I will deprive myself of the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of others.
Thank you very much.
Master of Ceremonies: Thank you very much. I think you made a clear clarion call that we must be able to revive the ideas of Pan-Africanism. If there is the rise of Barack Obama of African descent in the United States, we must be able to stand tall and say he is our product. I am very happy that at the back of this hall there are young people who are wearing (school) uniform. I think they will be able to assist us to make sure that we take the challenge, which was put before us, forward.
Master of Ceremonies – Andile Lungisa: Now I think it would be important to call Professor Akosa from Ghana, where the great icon Nkrumah was born. But we know Kwame Nkrumah does not belong to Ghana, he belongs to the whole African continent.
Professor Agyemang Badu Akosa: Comrades, good evening. Today is the 24th of February 2012. Forty-six years ago Dr Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown by a CIAMI6 orchestrated coup with the complicity of members of the Ghana Armed Forces and the Ghana Police. Today is Ghana’s day of shame and as we sit here, there is a conference being organized in Ghana where people are articulating the essence and the setting back of the clock of Ghana’s progress and Africa’s progress.
Kwame Nkrumah was a man who prepared himself for leadership. He understood the effect and impact of slavery. Sadly, we on the African continent think we can forget it. Slavery was the greatest accumulator of capital for Europe. Slavery did not benefit Africans and people talk as if there were Africans who collaborated, but Africans had no choice because these people came with guns and all those who attempted to resist slavery were themselves killed. It was raiding and they took our people and people make estimates all the way from 20 million to about 50 million and I say that if a whole country like Ghana with 24 million had all its virile youth, young men and women taken away, there is no way the continent can survive.
I think the fact that Africa today survives is in itself a tribute to Africa’s resilience. Slavery accumulated capital and nobody abolished slavery. Because people realized that the slaves were becoming a problem and in any case, they needed the raw materials from Africa, the next stage was colonialism. Colonialism was imperialism plus racism. Africa was the only continent that they came and took control of. It was to make sure that we as Africans were inferior. If you do not understand this and you think today that they are back to assist Africa, then I think Africa makes that mistake.
The Jews have always said that they will never allow anybody to forget the Holocaust, because never should that Holocaust happen again. Africans, let not our Youth and our children forget slavery and colonialism, because that is what has kept Africa where it is today. Nkrumah knew that and in the liberation struggle when he came back to Ghana, he realized he was amongst what I would call ‘conservative compradors’.
They thought independence was going to be achieved by discussions with the Governor, drinking tea with the Governor and what they were not realizing was that yes, they were going to be given incremental participation in the governance of the country, but certainly not self-government. Kwame Nkrumah said no country has won independence on a silver platter, it is either won through warfare or through struggle. The difference Nkrumah made was the fact that he realized that the energy and the intellect of the masses were crucial and he tapped into the energy of the masses. How could you be looking for independence for the people without talking to the people?
He went to the people, he spoke to the people. Nkrumah’s organization said ‘go to the people, sleep with them, eat with them, live with them, learn from what they know and that is the difference, learn from what they know’. It is not to go and tell them what they should do. That was the struggle that won Ghana independence, because when Nkrumah’s party, his political conduit, the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), came out and said we prefer self-government in danger than servitude in tranquility – that was what broke the ice.
The people realized that so long as you were in servitude, you did not have freedom. Again Kwame Nkrumah said seek first political freedom and all else will be added unto you. It was not the end of the fight because he knew the struggle was for economic emancipation and of course, when he became the leader of government business he immediately set into motion action so that Africans be educated. Free compulsory education was started in 1951 in Ghana. What people forget was that at the time of independence how many Ghanaians were educated? Very few. Everything that was in Ghana was to benefit the metropolis – London. A road would only be constructed if it earns them their raw materials and, therefore, all Africa had independence with no infrastructure.
It is interesting that after Julius Nyerere had finished his term as President, he visited Washington and at the World Bank somebody asked, ‘How come after all the 30 years you have failed’? He said: ‘I have failed? The British left me with one doctor and one engineer and as I left Tanzania, there were thousands of doctors and thousands of Tanzanian engineers’. Equally Kwame Nkrumah said, ‘Beware of the middle class who have gone to the metropolis to study, because their advice is coached in the mentality of the metropolis’.
We must go out there and learn, like all of us did, but we must come back and reconstitute ourselves as Africans. Nkrumah indeed was a prophet, because everything that he prophesied has come to pass. He asked that we form the African High Command and all the ingredients towards African unity, because he said none of our individual African countries will survive the machinations of the West and today, what happened in 1961 to Patrice Lumumba has happened to Muammar Gaddafi.
We are not here to split hairs about whether Gaddafi did well for the people of Libya or not, but regime change is unacceptable in Africa and it should be unacceptable anywhere. Kwame Nkrumah, through the Convention Peoples Party, said to his people on the dawn of the first Christmas, December 24, 1955, that the welfare of the people is his chief pride and it is on that basis that he asks to be judged. He was a leader that thought only about his people – a selfless visionary, he did everything for his people. But you know, in all our countries there are people who are prepared to side with the neo-colonialists and, therefore, of course there would also be people who will be on their side to take advantage of the situation, but these are people who as Africans wanted to be capitalists, who would exploit their people.
Kwame Nkrumah believed in Socialism and the essence of Socialism was self-determination and self-reliance for the African, equal opportunity and social justice for the African and Pan-Africanism. These were the pillars of the Convention Peoples Party. We are a mass party. We believe in the people because he said the African is capable of managing his own affairs. Why today, as said by the Secretary of the SWAPO Youth League, do we just employ people who have just finished university? A chap who has just finished at Edinburgh University in Economics was made the Economic Advisor in the World Bank Office in Accra, a year after finishing university and yet our leaders sit down and do not have the means of even vetting these people who are brought in by all these organizations. Africa belongs to Africa, it is a continent blessed with 60 percent of the world’s natural resources and yet we control less than 1 percent of the world’s money.
That is an incongruity that cannot be acceptable to all of us and all of us must work hard to live the Nkrumah dream, the Nkrumah dream of a united Africa, an Africa harnessing its resources for the benefit of the African people. Africa is not poor, but Africans think they are poor. The time has come that we should all work together and read the Anthem of the African Union. It is unity that will deliver Africa. None of our nations are strong enough to survive. Whilst we think today, whilst Africa is in a survival mode, the people of the West are thinking 30 years ahead and they are thinking long-term, and their machinations are so subtle that you would think they are your friends and by the time you are aware, everything of yours has been taken away.
Let me just say one thing, since I know the High Commissioner from Nigeria is here, and this is something that a lot of people do not know: In the middle of the Nigerian civil war when the French, American and British were subtly behind the Biafran government, because of oil, the federal government was in a quandary. The war was going badly for them, they needed a counter-vaillance and what they did was to call Nkrumah. Nkrumah called (President Leonid) Brezhnev in Russia and Brezhnev directed that MIG jet fighters from Czechoslovakia, through Egypt under Egypt’s Air Force, provide cover to the Federal Government of Nigeria. That is how the Federal Government won the Nigerian war. Otherwise Nigeria would have been balkanized and Kwame Nkrumah stood against the balkanization of Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is a son of Africa that we must all read about. He left us a great legacy and the legacy is in the 16 books that Kwame Nkrumah authored. I do not believe that there has ever been a sitting Head of State who in his lifetime has ended up giving all his thoughts to the future generation. His books are there, let us read.
But the final thing I want to say is that Kwame Nkrumah did not only limit himself to Africa, but to people of African descent, because his Chief Advisor on African Affairs was George Padmore from the Caribbean. Kwame Nkrumah also had with him Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois. People such as Henry Sylvester Williams and C. L. R. James were his teachers. These were the people who thought about the fact that Africa is the commonality of people of Black descent. We have an opportunity to do the same. It has always been said that the day that the creativity and the imagination and the intelligence of our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora fuse with the brothers and sisters on this Mother Continent, the world will change. Let me say that everything will be done to prevent the fusing of the creativity and imagination of Blacks in the Diaspora with that of us on this Mother Continent.
That is an aspiration that we should all work to achieve and the day that that fusion takes place, the rest of the world will certainly not be able to handle it.
Master of Ceremonies: Thank you Professor. The message is very clear. It is a revolutionary message that all young people in the African continent must be able to take and protect the natural resources that are being squandered on a daily basis in the African continent. I think we are going to put a clear perspective on how we will move forward as a continent, especially when we have the people of Ghana who are very energetic and very dynamic, while very clear as to how we must be able to march forward.
I think we must continue going to Ghana and draw inspiration from the people of Ghana, the founders of the independence of the African continent. I can see the delegation from South Africa are smiling. We are also going to give a proper account of what is happening in South Africa currently, where the imperialist forces are still controlling, those that were controlling before. Even here in Namibia and South Africa they still celebrate being part of the Commonwealth. That is the situation we have in the African continent, we are still divided, those who were under the Francophone and the Anglophone in Africa.
There is no change, they are just managing the interests of the imperialists, who put us under apartheid, under colonialism. I think I am going to explain, as the Youth of this continent, how we must move forward, because if the elders are tired, they must be able to go and look after their own grandchildren and not mess up the African continent. We are calling on our veteran from Egypt who understands the African continent better.
Prof Mohamed Helmy el Sharawy: Good evening comrades and friends. It seems that I am the oldest in this hall. I think I should start by thanking those who have invited me to this occasion, the Ghana High Commission in Windhoek, the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia and the National Youth Council of Namibia, organizations led by different people. I will come back to Dr Ngurare in this connection. I thank you all and I say this Memorial, at this time, for the President Kwame Nkrumah is very important, to activate the nationalist memories, especially on Pan-Africanism. I remember when we were at University in 1958, after the aggression of Britain, France and Israel on Egypt, after the nationalization of our national resource, the Suez Canal President Gamal Abdel Nasser achieved his first victories at that time. In 1958, at the University, we found our star from Africa coming to visit Cairo at that time. We went to see this great man Kwame Nkrumah, coming to Egypt and it was a very good occasion to see him. After this visit, I think in the same year, he married an Egyptian, Fathia Nkrumah. We considered it a marriage of Pan-Africanism with Pan-Arabism at the time. It was a great occasion to celebrate the two occasions in fact, because it happened that other forums of collaboration or co-operation between the North and what is called Sub-Sahara, were achieved in Casablanca, Morocco, where there were Egypt, the revolutionary Government of Algeria and Morocco with some other leaders including Nkrumah.
At that time, the 1st of January 1961, which I remember because it was the date when I was appointed as Researcher and a member of President Nasser’s Office for African Affairs, and from there I started coordinating our relationship with the representatives of liberation movements, which were about 22 or 23 offices in Zamalek in Cairo and there in Zamalek, after some time, I met the Founding Father and President of Namibia, President Sam Nujoma. We remember Mr. Mohamed Fayek as President Nasser’s Assistant for African Affairs. I was at that time in the same office. I consider that very important.
The African Military Command for the Organization of African Unity (OAU) had been established in Casablanca, not in Addis Ababa. The six leaders sent their military forces to protect Lumumba in that same month and their meeting in Casablanca was just two weeks before Lumumba’s assassination in Congo by the imperialist forces of that time. It is important to remember those developments. Some scholars concluded that those leaders made compromises in order to establish the Organization of African Unity. Nkrumah agreed to this strategy, to allow into the organization regimes known to be neo-colonial. This permitted the establishment of that vital organ – the Liberation Committee in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
Another significant achievement of Nkrumah was the convening, in Accra, of the All-African People’s Conference. He created through his work for African Unity, the material basis for future economic life in Africa. We in Cairo continued to work with Nkrumah up to the 1965-1966 coup d’état. This deprived Nkrumah of his physical base in Ghana, but not his standing in Africa. All this happened a long time ago, before most, if not all of you, were born. Nasser died in September 1970, by the way.
I tried as a young scholar to come to terms with Nkrumah’s memory under the Pan-Africanism and Consciencism by obtaining all his books. He said, ‘Friend, the revolution is continuous in Africa’ and he presented to me not only his book as a present, signed, but his books about warfare in Africa, about liberation in Africa, about the struggle continuing in Africa. After that Cabral and Neto declared aluta continua in Angola, Guinea Bissau and others, after 1970. At that time the armed struggle started in Africa. It continued here and there on the continent and we understood the meaning of Nkrumah writing about neo-colonialism as the last phase of imperialism.
That book was very important. I remember in that book he collected very good material on Africa that you, the Youth, should read again. Nkrumah celebrated this book and invited Ambassadors and officials from Africa and the world to its launch. It was at the time when the Americans were organizing coups d’état here and there. In 1965, the same year of the issuing of this book, Nasser was giving speeches at the Non-Alignment meetings, after the Suez Group of 77 Development Summit in Cairo, in 1965-1966. Nasser, in one of his speeches, was challenging the European and Western powers and Nkrumah was challenging imperialism in Africa in that year. I remember Nasser said, ‘Those who do not like it should drink from the sea’. Nkrumah was saying that imperialist multi-national companies were exploiting Africa and the struggle should continue to liberate Africa.
We scholars are not as diplomatic as politicians. I became later a teacher and Professor like my colleague the Honourable Minister, Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o. He was also a friend of mine as a political scientist. Anyhow, we have to understand the globalization process, which Shamir Amin, an Egyptian thinker, called military globalizing or militarized globalization. We should understand why imperialism came militarily to Libya, for example, and now they are planning to take over Syria and they may come to any other African state. But at that time in 1970 Nkrumah told me: ‘Helmi, Africa is ripe for revolution’. That was 40 years ago.
It may be that the time has come to see how Africa will manage in this time of military globalization, how to reach the second wave of liberation from its own efforts, with the people, with the Youth, with the real social struggle for social justice, because our people need this social justice, to be part of the second wave of liberation. That happened in Egypt last year in January 2011. It was what my friend, Comrade Ngurare, called the Youth revolution in Egypt, where 15 million were in the street. I was standing there most of the 18 days in Tahrir Square and more than tens of thousands of Egyptians, millions were there. Not only this, I want to inform you that last January of 2012, more millions were in the street and I was there also, it was very crowded, they were the Youth. It was called the Arab Spring – by the way that is a Western name, not our name for it in Egypt.
The Egyptian revolution was to some extent different from that in Tunisia and both of them were very different from that in Libya. You should not speak about the Arab Spring. Rather you should speak about Youth Revolution in Egypt. We were against dictatorship, against corruption and by very peaceful ways of change, we asked for a change. Young people with old people wanted peace in Egypt peacefully. We wanted radical change for the people’s interest, for social justice. You have to read it, not hear it through the FM broadcast or western agencies, but read it through our own sources to see that bread, dignity and social justice, the three words, were our slogans.
We got maybe the dignity to make revolution, but we still fight for social justice in Egypt. There is still no justice. We made radical change but still we are asking for social justice and the Youth usually tell us that ‘we made the uprising, but we should make the revolution’.
Thank you very much.
I leave the book, Class Struggle in Africa, signed by Nkrumah, to the representative of Nkrumah’s legacy in Ghana, Professor Akosa. I present to him my copy to keep it in Ghana, to let the revolution continue.
Master of Ceremonies: Thank you very much, Professor, veteran of our struggle. We are happy when you talk about Kwame Nkrumah and you talk about Nasser, especially when he nationalized the Suez Canal. All of us are very happy about that epoch in our revolution to make sure that the resources in the African continent are in the hands of the majority, especially the poor. Now I am going to call on Professor Nyong’o from Kenya, from the land of a great leader, Jomo Kenyatta, to come forward.
Prof Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o: Thank you very much, Mr. Moderator. My colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, all protocol observed. My friend Hage Geingob is always very unfair to me, because I can pronounce his name, Hage Geingob, but then he cannot pronounce mine. So, today I told him that I am going to put him in a class of phonetics.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am very happy to be here, I am going to talk about two aspects of Nkrumah’s legacy to us, that is his writings and theories on neo-colonialism, which I think all of us have talked about today and, secondly, what Nkrumah means to us today. The rest you will read in the book of these proceedings.
In his book, Neo-Colonialism – The Last Stage of Imperialism, Nkrumah defines neo-colonialism as ‘the conditioning and control of Africa’s independence by the social, political and economic forces of imperialist powers and former colonial masters, so as to continue with and perpetuate the exploitation and, at times, pillage of African resources and labour power for purposes of capital accumulation and the building of military strength in this country’. It is a complete and comprehensive definition of neo-colonialism and I think our speakers today have spoken about several aspects of that very innovative theory of how imperialism continues after our formal independence.
In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries, it is necessary to study, understand, expose and actively combat neo-colonialism in whatever guise it may appear. It is important that we young people study and understand neo-colonialism. Not just mouth it. It will not help, for the methods of neo-colonialism are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres. Nkrumah, while the first-known exponent of neocolonialism, has actually been followed by many African scholars, playwrights and political biographers exposing and emphasizing various aspects of neo-colonialism in Africa. My colleague, Professor Sharawy, is one of them.
What I mean, for example in his book, Neo-Colonialism in West Africa published also in French, Nkrumah noted in the early 70s that the economies of West African States were blocked from making any progress, precisely as a result of the way they had been integrated into and remained to be integrated into the economies of their colonial masters. They were economies of trade, supplying raw materials to European industries and consuming manufactured goods from the same sources without any structural or radical transformation within those economies.
First with the militant people of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America in the 1960s onwards, imperialism simply changed tactics. Without qualms it dispenses with the flag of colonial rule and puts in place presidential authoritarian regimes and military Juntas which have little regard for the aspirations of the broad masses of the people and preside over the continued exploitation of Africa’s resources by the imperialists. Any leader who appeared to radically challenge this model was quite frequently overthrown from power by the military and progressive military rulers assassinated or equally overthrown. Nkrumah saw his fate as having come about as a result of this ruthless imposition of neo-colonial rule in Africa by the imperialists.
Foremost among neo-colonialists Nkrumah named the United States of America, hence he was actually overthrown during his trip to try and stop the Vietnam War. Analyzing the political economies of Latin-American countries which had long suffered under the yoke of US neo-colonialism, Nkrumah saw an invisible hand directing affairs from the Pentagon in Washington and the financial conglomerates of Wall Street in New York. Like the Latin-American dependencia political economies, as described by persons such as Fernando Enrique Cardoso, Latin America could only experience dependent capitalist development, with the exclusion of the masses from the benefits of this development and the continued acceleration of capital accumulation in imperialist countries.
Once politicians understood the mystery behind neo-colonialism, then they could come to a better position of waging struggles for political and economic emancipation that could benefit the broad masses of their peoples. Some positive results were achieved during Nkrumah’s time and after his demise from power. His own building of the Akosombo Dam so that Ghana could generate its own electricity and capacity for aluminium production, was an anti-imperialist economic project. That partly explained the desire of the imperialists to overthrow him. Gamal Abdul Nasser’s seizure of the Suez Canal from the British in 1956 was a bold step towards economic independence from Britain, which led to a war between Egypt and Britain, a war that Egypt won.
On the economic front, a strong factor favouring Western monopolies and acting against the developing world was the control by Western monopoly multi-national capital of the world market, fixing the prices of raw materials imported from the developing world and manufactured goods exported to the same. Another tactic was the imposition of high interest rates for money borrowed from the international market by these developing countries for their own capital accumulation. This accumulation cannot go very far if it continues to be expropriated by imperialist finance capital.
For example, and this is an example that Nkrumah gave, while capital worth US$30 billion was exported to some 56 developing countries between 1956 and 1962, it is estimated that interest and profit alone extracted on this sum from the debtor countries amounted to more than 15 billion British Pounds. In other words, the interest was much more than the capital borrowed. Nkrumah referred to many such examples in his book and further noted that even so-called multilateral aid achieved no different results.
The International Monetary Fund, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, otherwise called the World Bank, the International Development Association and the International Finance Corporation, all have US capital as their major backing, argued Kwame Nkrumah. These agencies imposed conditionalities on the borrowers, making it difficult for the borrowers to exit from the model of development assumed even if it is not working for them. Nkrumah said this well before Africa went through the World Bank conditionalities of the 1970s and 1980s, which completely messed up African economies, leading to major economic, social and political upheavals from which Africa is just beginning to recover.
Latin-America had gone through this period in the sixties and some countries, like Brazil, were beginning to get their own houses in order by the beginning of the eighties following the Chilean Coup of 1973. By 1988 Brazil, unlike most African countries, had adopted a new constitution, emphasizing their centre of concern for Latin-American economic integration and bringing to the fore the urgency of bringing the masses into the centre of the Brazilian development model, which had to rely first and foremost on auto-centred capitalist accumulation. Samir Amin put this in his book, Accumulation on a World Scale, also published in French.
We can safely say that Nkrumah died young. In fact, at 63 he was younger than both Hage Geingob and myself, if we leave out Helmi Sharawy. Hage, I know you are my senior, but Nkrumah died younger than both of us and we are still very young. But like Martin Luther King, Tom Mboya and Amilcar Cabral, he had packed a lot of achievements in the short time the he had lived and left Africa and the world with a wealth of knowledge to carry on with the struggle, just as Julius Nyerere did later in the nineties.
Imperialism, neo-colonialism and the pillage of Africa still lives with us today. The Congo, more than half a century after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, still wallows in poverty and underdevelopment, notwithstanding an estimated mineral wealth worth 24 trillion dollars. That is the mineral wealth of the Congo. I know you cannot imagine what a trillion dollars is, but that is the worth of the mineral wealth in the Congo today, after centuries of pillage by imperialism. In the Congo there are water resources that can generate hydro-electric power not just for the consumption in the Congo, but for the whole of Africa. Indeed, when I was in China in the year 2005, I was amazed having some discussion in Hunan Province, by some Chinese technocrats and they were telling me that China has a great problem with water. Water is a crisis in China and they were contemplating how they can pipe water from the Congo to China.
Western mining companies still fly – and this is very true by the way and I have evidence for this – western mining companies still fly into private airfields in the Congo to airlift crude minerals without paying as much as a cent to the Congolese Treasury. Behind them they leave a country where physical infrastructure is scarce and people are engaged in intermittent internal conflicts. The rest of Africa, balkanized into so-called sovereign territories, watches with benign neglect as country after country follows the path of political repression by multi-nationals, pirates and mercenaries and as economic and political vultures continue to pillage our nations.
Gabon, another oil-rich and mineral-laden country, will run out of its oil in the next twenty-five years. In the meantime, after 50 years of independence under continuous exploitation of these resources, the Gabonese Republic, notwithstanding a GDP per capita of 8 600 dollars – Kenya’s GDP per capita is only 1 800 dollars – over 35 percent of the Gabonese people still live in utter poverty. Some 20 percent of the population receive 90 percent of the income. High dependence on a colonial-type economy has left the people vulnerable to poverty, very much in the manner that Nkrumah predicted it for the whole of Africa under the continued yoke of neo-colonialism.
Although Nigeria is one of the biggest nations in Africa in terms of population, size and natural resources and being the largest trading partner of the USA in Africa, it has not seen substantial socio-economic transformation since independence. The US trade deficit with Nigeria in 2010 was 26 billion dollars. Some of the social conflicts emanating from Nigeria today are the outcome of this socio-economic decay in the midst of tremendous elite wealth and economic prosperity, more as extensions of the global economy rather than as integral parts of Nigerian development. Food production is low and Nigeria is still a net importer for such basic foodstuffs as rice, which is a basic staple and could easily be produced locally in plenty in Nigeria.
Even part of the oil production in Nigeria is wasted as Nigerian oil companies burn it away although this should be harvested in the form of gas. Instead, as the oil is produced the gas is burned away. If you are flying over Nigeria you can see all these flames. That is gas that should be harvested, but Nigeria apparently signed mining agreements with these companies several years ago and has not been able to change the situation. They burn away the gas that accompanies the extraction of crude oil simply because of the unfavourable contracts Nigeria signed many years ago with the multi-national oil companies.
There are, of course, a few countries in Africa which have made tremendous strides to move forward in spite of this stranglehold of globalization. Mauritius is an example. South Africa, having endured a period under apartheid when trade boycotts unwittingly disengaged her from the global markets, developed internal capacity for industrialization and self-reliance from which the African National Congress (ANC) government has reaped tremendous mileage in terms of developing a national democratic and developmental economy, both a challenge in terms of integrating the masses, but at least an inheritance that must be developed upon.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is just in brief what Africa is today. The present-day examples we have given above make it imperative that we re-read Nkrumah. We must re-read Nkrumah if we are going to talk sensibly about his legacy. His works immortalized his ideas and his influence on us, something we cannot afford to ignore or underrate.
And finally just as a parting shot to our youthful members of this audience today, revolutionaries do not distinguish between age; revolutionaries distinguish between ideas and commitment. Revolutionaries understand contradictions within the people. Those contradictions at times may reach national level. They could take the form of religious conflicts. We ought to be able to identify permanent contradictions that shape revolution.
So, we must understand, one, contradiction of ideas and commitment and number two, contradictions within the people.
Thank you very much.
Andile Lungisa: Thank you very much. We agree with Professor – age is a tendency on its own. That is why we cannot talk about juniors and seniors, because it is a tendency on its own in the revolution. That is why we agree, but I think we have not managed to put it in the proper context. I think what we are trying to say as a generation in the African continent which worked and fought for political freedom, is that that generation is not ready for the second phase of the revolution, which is economic freedom in our lifetime.
That is why I am simply saying, if we are revolutionaries we are in the revolution. Sometimes when you are in a marathon, some want to go for 12 rounds, others want to go for eight rounds, others want to go for six rounds. I was simply saying, those who want to go for six rounds must not block those ones who want to finish the marathon.
Comrade Mandela Kapere is going to take over as Master of Ceremonies, because now I want to give a youthful account about the life and times of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, which is going to be very long, because I do not want to commit and jump other inputs, because I want to address the past, present and the future, because in order to confront the future, the past plus present is the future.
It is both an honour and privilege for me to stand here before you as the President of the Pan-African Youth Union, to address this extraordinary gathering, in honour of one of the exceptional leaders of Africa. Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a visionary beyond any doubt. The mere fact that he is still admired even today by Africa and the world at large, is testimony to that.
According to the history books, 103 years ago, September 21st 1909, Kwame Nkrumah, the founder and the leader of the African Independence Movement and the most eminent advocate of Pan-Africanism, was born in the western Nzima Region of the Gold Coast, later known as the Independent State of Ghana.
Nkrumah was the first Head of State of any independent state in Africa south of the Sahara. He led Ghana to national liberation under the direction of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) in 1957.
Educated at the historically Black College of Lincoln University, in Pennsylvania in the USA, Nkrumah became involved in the Pan-African Movement in the United States during the 1940s as a leading member of the African Student Association, the Council of African Affairs, as well as other organizations.
After leaving the United States at the conclusion of World War II in 1945, he played a leading role in convening the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England, a gathering that many credited with the laying of the foundation for the mass struggles for independence in Africa during the forties and fifties. During his days in England from 1945 to 1947 he collaborated with George Padmore of Trinidad, a veteran activist in the Communist International and a journalist, who wrote extensively on African affairs.
Nkrumah was offered a position with the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), as an organizer in late 1947 in the then Gold Coast. He made the critical decision to return to the Gold Coast to assist the anti-colonial struggle that was intensifying in the aftermath of World War II. After being in prison with other leaders of the UGCC for supposedly inciting unrest amongst workers and farmers, he gained widespread popularity amongst the people, who responded enthusiastically to the militant and anti-bourgeois, anti-imperialist movement.
After forming a committee, which became the best organized segment of UGCC, Nkrumah was later isolated from the top leadership of the Convention, who objected to his demands for immediate political independence for the Gold Coast. On June 12, 1949, Nkrumah and the Committee members formed the Convention Peoples Party (CCP) in Accra, Ghana, at a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people. They were prepared to launch a mass struggle for the abolition of British colonial rule over the Gold Coast.
During this same period, Nkrumah formed links with other anti-colonial and Pan-African organizations that were operating in other colonies of West Africa. When the CPP called for a positive action campaign in the early 1950s, this led to the massive strike and rebellion throughout the colony. Nkrumah was imprisoned by the colonial authorities. The executive members of the CPP continued to press for total independence of the colony, eventually creating conditions for popular elections in 1951, which the CPP won overwhelmingly.
In February 1951, Nkrumah was released from prison in Ghana and appointed leader of the government business in the constitutional arrangement that eventually led to the independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957. His vision aimed at Pan-Africanism and Socialism. At the independence gathering on March 6, Nkrumah, now Prime Minister, declared Ghana’s independence as meaningless unless it was directly linked with the total liberation of the continent.
This statement served as a cornerstone of Ghanaian foreign policy during Nkrumah’s term as a leader of that country. I think the speakers that alluded to this have given a correct account. George Padmore became the official advisor on African affairs and was placed in charge of the Bureau of African Affairs, whose task was to assist other liberation movements on the continent in their efforts to win political independence. In April 1958 the first Conference of Independent African States was convened with eight nations as participants. This gathering broke down the colonial imposed divisions between Africa North and the South of the Sahara.
In December later the same year, the first All-African Peoples Conference was held in Accra, bringing together 62 national liberation movements from across the continent, as well as representation from Africans in the United States and also people of African descent from other parts of the Caribbean. It was at this conference in December 1958 that Patrice Lumumba of Congo became an internationally recognized leader of anti-colonial struggle in that then Belgium colony.
By 1960, the Independence Movement had gained tremendous influence throughout Africa, resulting in the emergence of many new nation states on the continent. That same year Ghana became a republic and adopted its own constitution, making Nkrumah the President of the government. However, there were within the leadership of CPP opposing views over which direction the new state would take in its economic and social policies. Many of Nkrumah’s colleagues who had been instrumental in the struggle for independence were not committed to the long-term goals of Pan-Africanism and Socialism.
Consequently many of the problematic initiatives launched by the CPP government were stifled by the class aspirations of those state and party officials who were not committed to the total revolutionary transformation of Ghanaian society and the African continent as a whole. Nkrumah’s most enduring theoretical work was Neo-Colonialism – I think it has been properly explained by revolutionaries who came before me – and The Last Stage of Imperialism, which doomed the United States as the principal internal power behind the new form of hegemonic rule, which was designed to maintain Western control over the newly independent states in Africa and throughout the so-called developing world.
His book so impacted the US Government that secretly Under-Secretary of the State of African Affairs, Jim Williams, wrote a memorandum of protest to Ghana’s Embassy in Washington DC, saying that Nkrumah was working in contravention of the interest of the US Government in Africa. Just four months after the release of his book, Neo-Colonialism, Nkrumah was overthrown on February 24, 1966 by a coup led by lower-ranking military officers and the police in Ghana. I think our comrade from Ghana has explained it very clearly. Since they perceived Nkrumah’s policies as a threat to the economic and political interest of the Western powers, the US Government and the West were united behind the coup.
At that time Nkrumah was in China en route to North Vietnam. He was on a mission to bring about peaceful settlement in the US war against the people of Southern Asia. Those Chinese officials informed him of the events in Ghana. Aborting his mission in Vietnam, he returned via the Soviet Union to Africa, travelling to Egypt and eventually settling in Guinea. Nkrumah remained in Guinea until he was flown to Romania to undergo treatment for cancer in 1971.
During the period following the coup from 1966 to 1971, he continued to write on the history of Africa and the revolutionary movements of Pan-Africanism and World Socialism.
The Legacy of Kwame Nkrumah – despite the coup, Nkrumah’s legacy in Africa and throughout the African world continues to be appreciated. This is in view of the necessity for coordinated guerrilla warfare to liberate Africans – was realized in the subcontinent during the 1970s and 1980s, when the settler colonial regimes of Rhodesia and eventually South Africa were defeated. Cuba’s role in the liberation of Angola and Namibia was clearly in line with Nkrumah’s ideas, which argue that until settler colonialism is destroyed, the entire continent of Africa will not be secure.
Though the realization of the United States of Africa is still far away, this issue continues to be discussed broadly on the continent and in the Diaspora. The Organization of African Unity was transformed into the Africa Union in 2002, in order to create a force aimed at the unification of the African continent. A Pan-African Parliament was formed and is now housed in the Republic of South Africa. I think what must be clear to us in this gathering is the idea of Kwame Nkrumah, was that not only should the African Union lead, but that the African Union would be the affair of the Heads of State. That is why this continent is failing. We must be able to discuss as intellectuals, as revolutionaries, that all of us in the African continent, also in the African Diaspora must be able to participate equally with the Heads of State. It is not the affair of the Heads of State, it has been made to be the affair of Heads of State alone.
The imperialists murdered the former Chairman of the African Union. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi continued to stress the necessity of forming a continental government along the lines Nkrumah advocated during the 1950s and 1960s. In Ghana Nkrumah’s legacy was utilized in both a positive and negative manner by successive regimes that took power after his departure. Those regimes are compelled to use his image and legacy despite their refusal to adopt the CPP programme in its totality.
Our historical epoch is characterized by a significant intensification of the economic and political crisis of the world capitalist system and the turbulence in the world financial markets, particularly the debt crisis ripping Europe. It is an expression of not merely a consequential downturn, but rather a profound systemic disorder which is already destabilizing international politics. This is coupled with the historic decline of the only super power in the world, the United States, which is trying to arrest its decline through military intervention. As always, the weakest links in the chain of imperialist geo-politics are the first link.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, the eruptions and civil confrontations in Congo and Kenya, the violence and criminal articulation of the Libyan political scenario and the present murder of Gaddafi, the belligerent provocation of the Syrian and Iranian regimes by western imperialists and the renewed tensions in the Balkans over Kosovo, are indicative of the increasingly explosive state of the world politics. The NATO powers saw in the overthrow of Gaddafi the prospects of establishing far tighter controls over Libya’s oil and gas reserves by merging western energy companies BP, Total and ENI.
They also saw the installation in Tripoli of a wholly subservient client regime as a means of asserting military power in the region that has been canvassed by popular upheavals both in Tunisia to the west and Egypt to the east. The regime taking shape in Tripoli and Benghazi will be one dominated by gangsters, western intelligence officers and bribed former Libyan officials, all offering their service in the decolonization of the country – an ominous development mirroring the explosive expansion of US militarism.
The US Government in 2007 designated Africa as a continent of strategic national concern and importance and initiated a new military policy to coincide with this new classification. In the same year the US Government announced the formation of a new military command system in Africa, the United States African Command, which is called AFRICOM which is configured to achieve the unusual combination of humanitarian and anti-terrorist action. West Africa, including Nigeria, presently supplies 20 percent of US crude oil imports. By 2015 it is estimated its share will rise to 25 percent. Imperialist logic is waging wars in Africa in defence of US interest.
China is the second-largest importer of oil after the US, to fuel its rapid economic expansion. According to China’s general administration, the Asian nation imported nearly 16 percent more oil during the last four months of 2011 than during the same period in 2010, of which the bulk is coming from Africa. In 2010, China consumed 520 million tons of crude oil with 9 percent of its imports coming from Sudan. Since 2000 there has been a five-fold increase in trade between China and Africa, now totaling 9.5 billion a year. China now is the continent’s third-largest trading partner, following the US and France.
We must be able to put in proper context why there is a collapse in Greece, why there is a collapse in Italy, why there is a collapse in Spain and also in Portugal. Portugal had colonized a number of African countries. When they cut ties, their economies went down. It happened to all other countries. Britain and France are still surviving. Why are they still surviving? Because Britain still controls the whole economy of South Africa. They are still in charge of all the countries colonized by Britain. France is still in charge of the countries colonized by them, that is why there is no crisis in those countries. If we take out our accounts, there will be a crisis in those countries.
With the end of the Cold War, when the major concern of the US was the struggle against the Soviet Union, in alliances with colonial regimes after 1991, the US felt able to pursue more open economic policies of hegemonic control with the use of the military. The September 11 terrorist attack in the US served as a useful pretext for the shift in the US operations in Africa. Despite the pretext of fighting terrorism and preventing humanitarian disasters, the main purpose of US military operations in Africa, as reported and published by the American National Intelligence Journal, which formulates mid-term and long-term strategic thinking, it is clear that US aims in the region are geo-political in nature with control of oil resources as a primary concern.
Entitled, ‘External Relations in Africa’, the report says: ‘Military engagement has shifted from direct support of regimes or movements during the Cold War’.
In concluding, let me explain the South African scenery, which I think we must be able to put in proper context. When I explain the South African scenery, it is going to affect the Namibian scenery. In South Africa there is no reason why today you must still have people who live in poverty, also in Namibia. The liberation of the people of Namibia was led by SWAPO. In South Africa it was led by the ANC. If you read the budget speech in South Africa last week by the Minister of Finance and you read the State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma in South Africa, the development in South Africa is moving along the lines which were raised by Winston Churchill. The lines of development are very clear in Namibia and South Africa, you must be able to build rails which must go to the sea. Development in South Africa goes to the sea. It is like in Namibia, it goes to the sea. Development in Africa goes to the waters.
We must be able to ask ourselves a simple question, why does development in South Africa go to the sea? In South Africa the government has put more than R300 billion towards TransNet, with which they are going to build rails. That railway is going to transport platinum, it is going to transport iron ore, it is going to transport manganese. They are going to be taken as raw natural resources straight to China and Europe, there is no beneficiation.
There is no industrialization that Kwame Nkrumah talked about in Ghana. In South Africa it is not happening. Workers in South Africa will be coming from China, they will be coming from India, they will be coming from Europe. What did the Secretary of the SWAPO Youth League speak about? You will have graduates in Namibia, you will have graduates in South Africa and they will be told about experience. I normally ask a simple question: Which shop in South Africa or Namibia or anywhere in Africa is selling experience so that young people can buy experience like a loaf of bread? I have not been told of any shop, because in order for anybody to have experience, they must be given opportunity to learn and gain experience.
In South Africa we are saying – also in the African continent – the current generation must be able to make sure that all the commanding heights of the economy in the African continent, financial sector, banks, are nationalized, are in the hands of the majority. If banks are in the hands of the majority, if our people want to participate in the economic sector, at least they can be able to use those banks to get financial backup, which is not happening in the African continent. We are saying mines must be able to be nationalized to make sure that there is provision for free, quality and qualitative education up to the first degree. Ghana, which implemented free education in the fifties, managed to produce teachers, professors and doctors all over the world. Africa is able to do it because we have enough resources.
That is why I was simply saying, we have the responsibility as a young generation, to be able to take over and take charge. We need what is called a generational takeover, because when Kwame Nkrumah was faced by this challenge, he never said we are going to postpone to another generation. They said they are going to fight for independence on the African continent. What we are faced with is that the old generation is comfortable with the current conditions. As young people are not comfortable with the current conditions, we need generational takeover.
What happened in Egypt and Tunisia was not a mistake. In South Africa we convened what was called a World Youth Festival of Youth and Students. From Namibia there was a big delegation which attended and Mandela Kapere was leading that delegation and the SWAPO Youth. There were 125 young people who came from Egypt, there were a 125 young people coming from Tunisia, whom we literally trained, that if you go back to those countries you must be able to change the situation. That is why the banner of the World Federation of Democratic Youth was at the forefront at the Tahrir Square. It was not a mistake, we knew what was happening in Egypt.
I visited Egypt and the young people were simply saying here in Namibia they must take over, in South Africa they must take over. That is why in South Africa Julius Malema is leading a campaign. He is being charged by the leadership of the ANC, but we are very clear that they cannot silence the Youth, the charges are not going to close the mouth of the Youth.
The economy must be in the hands of young people.
Thank you very much.
3.5 INTERACTIVE FORUM
Master of Ceremonies, Mandela Kapere: Comrades, that is what we call affirmative action in favour of the Youth. We allowed Andile time to speak to make up for all the years that we were not part of the past. We are always asked ‘where were you’? We have run way beyond our schedule, so we will not be able to have as much of an interactive session as we would have liked to have. I am going to ask for six questions from the floor, very brief ones. I will cut you off if you make long statements. I just want six people and maybe we should do it in an approach of generational mix, three elders and three youth.
Question: Mr. Moderator, Niccolo Machiavelli, in his book, The Prince speaks about the principle that must be observed by anyone who is in leadership. He says that a Prince must concentrate on the art of war, he must not concentrate on many other things, because once you do that, you are going to lose your principality. Most of the time we thought maybe Machiavelli did not have a point until we saw that the prince called Muammar Gaddafi had concentrated on other things and he sold his nuclear weapons and now we see that he lost his principality and we also understand that when the Whites encouraged Kwame Nkrumah to go and make peace, they had an agenda, they overthrew him because Nkrumah had concentrated on other things that were not important. He moved away from being the master.
What we must do as Pan-Africanist Youth is to obtain Black power. Unity for its own sake is not just important, because effectively when you have a bunch of midgets that are put together and you put them before the muscular man, he will kick all of them, whether they are united or not. Chinweizu speaks about this very well and I must say that the true victory of Pan-African Youth is coming and whoever is associated with the enemy, that toasted glasses and slept with the Whites and the enemy, they will be bombed together with the enemy.
Master of Ceremonies: There was no question, it was a statement.
Question: It is not a question, it is a form of contribution, a brief point that is coming from the discussions. We were told that apparently there was a movement in Egypt, but I am disappointed to say that you cannot tell us that Pan-Africanism is actually succeeding, when the military controls 40 percent of the economy. There are so many doubts. The revolution in Egypt has been stolen, so we are really not seeing what we are supposed to be seeing.
The other fact is that with regard to the issue of Pan-Africanism that we are pushing, we are not really able to move forward because these people that say we want Pan-Africanism to move forward, these are the very same people that were collaborating with the Americans to overthrow Kwame Nkrumah. Now they are telling us of Pan-Africanism. Pan-Africanism has been hijacked. The matter of the fact is that for me it is unacceptable that you have a President of the DRC who does not sleep in the State House, he sleeps from one province to the next. What are we doing to address this situation?
Thirdly, structural dependency on Europe must come to an end. Thank you.
Question: I thank the panel for a wonderful presentation. The question is, how do we transmit the message of Pan-Africanism to the regular people there in the street, not those maybe with a college education or who have been abroad, but the regular actual people? As the Honourable Theo-Ben Gurirab said a few weeks ago in his talk on Black economic empowerment, what are we doing for people who are there who are not eating, who are struggling every single day? So, the question I have is, what can we do to transmit the message of Pan-Africanism to the regular people of the African continent?
Question: I am the former University of Namibia, Student Representative Council (SRC) president. My question goes to Comrade Ngurare, two questions that I have for you. Comrade Ngurare spoke about cultural imperialism and you can see most of us young people, especially us females, until we have Brazilian hair on us, we don’t feel modernized. How can we defeat this cultural imperialism?
Secondly, Comrade Ngurare, you spoke about the language that the Africans have to speak, a common language, but tell me, how can we speak a common language, if the whole of Africa cannot even sing the African Union Anthem? How do we jump to the language if all of us cannot even sing the African Union Anthem?
Question: Thank you, Comrade Chair. I record that this was, indeed, a knowledge accumulation platform, which the current and future generation could always draw from. I have a question to Professor Akosa from Ghana. I would like you to shed more insight on what ‘Positive Action’, as a political ideology that was introduced by Nkrumah, entails and what Nkrumah intended to achieve with it.
Secondly, some are telling us that in the dark days when Nkrumah’s government got thrown out, Nkrumah banned the workers’ right to strike. I would like you to touch on that a little bit and how do you reconcile that with the project of human rights and particularly the freedom of workers?
Then the third question goes to Honourable Hage Geingob. What I want to find out from him as a senior government minister, how is the Namibian economic landscape different from the then Ghanaian economic landscape that allowed free education? Why can we not do the same in Namibia?
Question: Mine is not a question, just one small comment. When Comrade Hage was speaking, he was quoting from some books and all these books are in our library here. The one he did not mention is the Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare. In this book there are rules that need to be respected by the Youth. One of them is to obey orders all the time.
Secondly, speak politely.
Thirdly, do not misuse women.
Fourthly, know the enemy. I want every Youth here to next week finish reading this book.
Question: I thank the panel for a wonderful presentation. The question is, how do we transmit the message of Pan-Africanism to the regular people there in the street, not those maybe with a college education or who have been abroad, but the regular actual people? As the Honourable Theo-Ben Gurirab said a few weeks ago in his talk on Black economic empowerment, what are we doing for people who are there who are not eating, who are struggling every single day? So, the question I have is, what can we do to transmit the message of Pan-Africanism to the regular people of the African continent?
Question: I am the former University of Namibia, Student Representative Council (SRC) president. My question goes to Comrade Ngurare, two questions that I have for you. Comrade Ngurare spoke about cultural imperialism and you can see most of us young people, especially us females, until we have Brazilian hair on us, we don’t feel modernized. How can we defeat this cultural imperialism?
Secondly, Comrade Ngurare, you spoke about the language that the Africans have to speak, a common language, but tell me, how can we speak a common language, if the whole of Africa cannot even sing the African Union Anthem? How do we jump to the language if all of us cannot even sing the African Union Anthem?
Question: Thank you, Comrade Chair. I record that this was, indeed, a knowledge accumulation platform, which the current and future generation could always draw from. I have a question to Professor Akosa from Ghana. I would like you to shed more insight on what ‘Positive Action’, as a political ideology that was introduced by Nkrumah, entails and what Nkrumah intended to achieve with it.
Secondly, some are telling us that in the dark days when Nkrumah’s government got thrown out, Nkrumah banned the workers’ right to strike. I would like you to touch on that a little bit and how do you reconcile that with the project of human rights and particularly the freedom of workers?
Then the third question goes to Honourable Hage Geingob. What I want to find out from him as a senior government minister, how is the Namibian economic landscape different from the then Ghanaian economic landscape that allowed free education? Why can we not do the same in Namibia?
Question: I would like to thank the organizers for this excellent dialogue. We should have these discussions regularly. My questions to the panel are as follows: in order to implement Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy, give practical solutions and suggestions to the following: Firstly, Africa is rich but does not control its economy.
Secondly, prevent regime change, a notion brought in by imperialism in Africa and lastly, strengthen the implementation of African unity.
Long live the legacy of Kwame Nkrumah and viva Africa.
I thank you.
Question: I want to know if the panel agrees with the statement of Frantz Fanon that each and every generation has its own mission. It is either they fulfill that mission or betray that mission in the context of the generation of Nkrumah, who led a struggle for independence. The generation of Mandela led a struggle for political freedom in our lifetime. They did not delegate it, they assumed it and they led the struggle. The generation of Mandela Kapere, of Andile Lungisa, of myself and Julius Malema is speaking about economic freedom in our lifetime. Should they delegate that struggle or should they assume it and lead it immediately, which is called generational takeover?
The last question I would like to ask is about the Egyptian struggle or revolution, which ended up not necessarily becoming a desired outcome of the masses that gathered at Tahrir Square. Was that a revolution or anarchy? I just want to understand that. Was it a revolution, having the specific ideological context of giving state direction, or was that an act of replacing a leader by another, hence the outcomes were not revolutionary and what do you think should be the role of a vanguard in the revolution? Those who lead a Socialist or a Communist revolution know that even if the masses organize themselves from all different points without coordination, because there is an ideological orientation of the Left, the Left will assume leadership and lead and provide sustainable direction. Do you think this is the situation, as it has happened in Egypt?
Master of Ceremonies: There were specific questions asked to Honourable Hage Geingob, Professor Akosa and to Dr Ngurare and then any other panelists who would want to contribute to any of the statements or questions that were asked, we will give them an opportunity to do so.
Hon Geingob: Thank you very much. I was out of the hall but I was told what was said. How different is the Namibian economic landscape from that of Ghana? Very different.
Firstly, let us look at our situation. You do not have to expect Socialist results or outcomes from a capitalist economy. When we were campaigning in 1989, maybe you were not big enough to join us, the war was not about giving SWAPO a two-thirds majority. All of them agreed, the Western Five. Some of you who are here, do not give SWAPO a two-thirds majority, so that they can be confined, they can be forced to listen to others and, therefore, they can come with a democratic constitution. Again, many of you were applauding the Constitution and praising me, because I was the chairman, that we have the best Constitution in the world. You are forgetting what that Constitution is saying.
Now the question of free education, I support it. I even said recently that maybe the time has come that we must just go and propose that. It is true, we have free education at primary school level and people are forgetting that. You do not pay tuition in our primary schools, you do not pay the teachers, you do not pay for the books, the classrooms. What you are paying is what the individual school boards decide to charge. That is why it differs from place to place. If you were paying school fees they would have been uniform, but you are paying because the school boards decided on that and it is very little. Take your child to a private school, that is where they are paying tuition and everything.
What you pay for school boards, in Katutura it is about N$100, but go to St Paul’s, it is about N$40 000 they are paying. That is a big difference. But given the problems we are facing, the problem of lack of skills, yes, it is something government must one day look at definitely. Singapore did it, Malaysia was doing it. If the young people will today take over without skills, it will be a disaster.
Let me say one thing. Somebody said that the AU is for leaders and when are the people going to participate? I want to look at AU as I look at South Africa, between President Mandela and President Mbeki. I will regard Mandela as a transactional leader who came out, times were very tough, maintained everything, did not rock the boat, because we have to reconcile with White people, did not make them angry, so just be a Black president, do not rock the boat. Thabo Mbeki came, he touched on many things, not economically properly structured maybe, but at least he did something, touching the pockets of some White people. OAU was transactional, so to say, to free Africa. It was for states, it was for liberation movements and they did an excellent job, we must accept that. We are free because of the Liberation Committee. Africans were sacrificing to help us while they were poor. Let us also recognize that. Africans and the world too supported us.
Now the AU tried to be transactional, because there is the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Realising that you cannot just have Heads of State there, there is ECOSOC. In the ECOSOC they have five regions. They are trying to add a sixth region, which will include also the Diaspora. So, the Diaspora can also have an input. That is a little bit more progressive. Therefore, some of us who benefitted from the Diaspora and I will tell you that I was in the United States, I do not regret, I learned a lot from our Black brothers. Everything I got I learned from them, whether it is Africa’s history itself. I never knew about West Africa, French-speaking Africans, Nigeria and Ghana yes, but it is my Black professor who took me through that. So, I am not going to regret. If Castro can recognize me, invited me in person and gave me two highest honours, who am I going to be afraid of?
Prof Akosa: Let me start by saying that if politics is to meet the needs of the people at their point of need, then yes, the common man on the street will begin to understand what Pan-Africanism means. I say that Africans are in a survival mode, because if you have to get up and all you can think about is how to feed yourself and your family, you have no room for anything else. But if politics meets the needs of the people at their point of need, in other words, the basic, fundamental things are met, then of course the ability to tell an African that yes, you must sacrifice for the good of all, that then becomes acceptable.
Let me talk about Positive Action. Kwame Nkrumah learned a lot from (Mahatma) Ghandi, that non-violent positive action was an instrument in the political struggle. In fact, it was one of the tools that Kwame Nkrumah used to beat the Conservatives that he came to meet, because at a particular time when he had become leader of government business, the leader of the opposition moved what was a motion of destiny. He said because Kwame Nkrumah had become a government appointee, he was not interested in self-government anymore and you know what Kwame Nkrumah told him?
He said, ‘I would approve and accept the motion of destiny. Provided that the governor does not accept it, you will back positive action’, and the Conservatives were certainly not prepared to back positive action and that motion was defeated.
The essence of it was that you put your hand where your mouth is. If you want self-government and the governor is saying no, then you should be prepared for boycotts, for strikes or sitdowns and for what you would call positive action and that was the essence of it.
Kwame Nkrumah and the TUC were one and indivisible. At a certain stage in the political process it was important for him to tell the workers that the time had come for you to give up some of your rights. It had nothing to do with fundamental human rights. You see, if you are part of a process and the process gets to a boiling point, the very point when, should I say, the compradors have the backing of Western powers and are out to usurp what it is that you are developing, then you have to let your friends know this is not the time to rock the boat and I am glad about what the Minister said. At every stage there are decisions that are made particular to that process.
But let me say that we live in a world where human rights began after the Second World War. Is that it, that we Africans accepted that human rights started only after Second World War and we are not prepared to talk about all the things that have been done to us? For Christ’s sake, how do we sit down and be schooled about human rights by those who did grievous harm to us? That is why I say that so long as Africans are prepared to accept or forget slavery and colonialism and neo-colonialism, then they are not going to move on.
The Jews will never let you forget the Holocaust because for them it must not happen again. For us as Africans, slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism must not be forgotten and must not be allowed to happen again.
Prof Sharawy: In very short words, we are speaking in Egypt about the military power and the commercial bourgeoisie of the Islamists. That was the competition between the despotic Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. It was like that before the revolution. But the Parliament now is not expressing the real popular aspirations, the aspirations are still not implemented. It is not just a populist issue, because I told you that January 2012 was better for us than January 2011 because it was real, sincere and peaceful and declared against those compradors in the Parliament, the commercial bourgeoisie of the Islamists, which you also call cultural imperialism, because religion is religion every time, but that is the new political Islam, used by the Gulf and by Saudi-Arabia and so on, that we are fighting. That is why we revisit Nkrumah or aluta continua.
The military is promising it will leave with the presidential election next month. Okay, it is peaceful revolution, we are waiting. The Islamists wanted to control the committee that will elaborate the constitution and we are fighting against that, to let the whole popular coalition develop the new constitution, not Islamic power. Still we are different, but I am against calling it a chaotic situation, an uprising or revolution or just chaos.
No, no, it is not like that and every day I see the people, I am old enough to follow in the streets, but in the streets in Cairo last week the students were contributing. You cannot imagine that those of the ancient regime were against demonstrations before, but anyhow, we are gaining them as political power, we can debate. But that means of the 30 million who had participated in the last elections, we gained really in the politics. That was to politicize the masses, it is very important, not just to make slogans or chant populist ideas. So I hope that we shall succeed in this connection.
The last comment just before Gaddafi, we are against any assassination of the type that happened in Libya. The bourgeoisie that has been there, the Islamists have resurfaced. Because there was no critical analysis allowed by the Gaddafi regime itself, they lost everything. They did not know that all this was under the table, all those reactionaries, all those military elements or records were there and suddenly we found all that in Libya. We did not know because he did not allow for a real socio-political analysis of the society and the types of resistance, opposition and so on.
We lost Libya itself to the influences coming from the Gulf and to cultural imperialism. These are points that we are aware of.
Prof Nyong’o: Thank you very much, I just want to handle one or two things, one from Professor. I think Professor asked very specific questions. The point was, what political solutions and suggestions can we give to Nkrumah’s analysis in Neo-colonialism – The Last Days of Imperialism and that Africa is very rich in resources but does not control its economy. How can we today deal with these issues?
I will give you an example from Kenya. For a long time since independence we have been developing our tourism industry and tourism, as it were, has been a major foreign exchange earner. For a long time since independence we have been investing in our coffee and tea industry. Coffee and tea, as it were, were major earners in foreign exchange.
At one point when there was frost in Brazil and problems in Uganda, our coffee fetched a lot of money from the world market. In fact it was called black gold. When there was no more frost in Brazil and Amin had gone and the Ugandan economy came back to stability, farmers in Kenya started uprooting coffee to look for another means of livelihood.
When the shilling was too strong and the exchange rate did not get a lot of dollars for tea farmers, tea farmers also felt threatened.
Now, in the year 2007/2008 we had a crisis with our elections and you know what happened, there was violence and so on and the tourism industry almost went dead. If you went to Mombasa where we have tourist hotels, I remember a hotel of 320 beds had 16 guests in one month. If you compare it with the local hotels, which handle domestic tourism in Kasumo, Eldorate and so on, they were full of people all the time, they were making a lot of money, whereas the tourist hotels in Mombasa were not making money.
Why am I telling you this story? The moral of the story is the following. If an African country like us depends for its foreign earnings entirely on a crop like coffee and tea, which depends entirely on the fluctuation in the world market, you can suffer and go down the poverty way. If again your tourism industry is run in such a way that it is one way, just integrated in the world market, the money is actually paid in Europe and they just come for pittance, you are in problems.
Really, we must integrate our tourism industry like in Mexico. Domestic tourism in Mexico is extremely well advanced. You could buy a ticket with all paid for, and you can travel around Mexico for even three weeks, you just pay in one place and you travel in all the states, you see the pyramids, all that and that is domestic. The airlines do much more business internally than externally. There is an integration of air transport, hotels, what-not that makes the tourism industry live and also the infrastructure is very well developed.
After the 2007/2008 experience we took infrastructural development very seriously. The Minister of Tourism took investing in domestic tourism much more seriously, giving loans to local hotel owners, encouraging people to build first-class hotels internally, trying to link with other African countries, which is part of the reason why I come here often and Hage knows that.
This means that we must even encourage and make sure that Air Namibia and Kenya Airways fly to each other’s capitals directly so that tomorrow when I go to Nairobi I do not need to go and sleep in Johannesburg and then go back the next day. That is an example.
The last example I want to give is areas in which we can integrate. I will give you an example from the Ministry in which I am. When I became the Minister of Health, previously I was Minister for Planning and National Development, but when I became Minister of Health, I found that we have a tremendous health connection with Namibia.
We have lots of nurses and doctors working here. So, with my Ambassador I decided I must come and see what is going on, where they are working and so on and how we can encourage. I then discovered that we actually train a lot of Namibian nurses and doctors in Nairobi. In fact, today I gave seven Bachelors of Science in Pharmacy diplomas here at the School of Medicine, to Namibians who were trained at the University of Nairobi and have come back here. In fact, they are going to become the first Professors of Pharmacy in the School of Medicine – this is inter-African cooperation and integration.
I also realised when I came here last time that the School of Medicine here is actually so advanced that we can learn about building Schools of Medicine in Kenya. Fortunately it is a Kenyan who is the first Dean of Medicine here. But as I talk today, we have in Namibia a team from Kenyatta National Hospital, which is the first hospital of reference in Kenya. They have come to Namibia to learn about the Namibian health system, because when I was last here I was very much impressed about certain aspects of the health system and we do not need to go to Beijing or to Rome to learn about these things, we must learn from each other.
So, we have many things we can do in common just by improving infrastructure across African countries. The road that Nkrumah once talked about, the highway from Cape Town to Cairo, must be a reality, the railroad from Cape Town to Cairo must be a reality. We should be able to travel from Mombasa across DRC to West Africa and we can do it, because China today is building 1 000 kilometres of railroad in one year and if you want to board the fastest train moving on earth today, go to Shanghai and try and go to Beijing.
Learn something about a Third World country which, when I was at graduate school in 1971-1977 in Chicago, we used to learn about poverty in China and poverty in India and we were being told, please when you are eating and there are some leftovers, think that there are people dying in China and India because of poverty.
Let me just conclude, I think this is important. I do not want to go too far, there were other questions, but maybe some of them will be handled in the book as we incorporate them in our articles.
Master of Ceremonies: Thank you, very much, Honourable Professor.
Mr. Kaapama: Thank you very much, just one question from Dr. Wise with regard to the contradiction that maybe may have arisen because Dr Nkrumah banned trade unions.
Let me put it this way that as they say, politics is war by other means. So, if you have to go into politics, you have two options. The first option is to try to become a messiah, in the eyes of everybody you become acceptable and if we have to look at the legacy of Nkrumah, he refused to become friends with all and sundry and in the process he stepped on many toes.
So, for the Youth today, do you want to be on the same side and not rock the boat so that you become a messiah, or you would advocate for change and in the process maybe get some kicks? I think that is the understanding that we have to bring.
With regard to my brother, delegation of economic liberation, let us also try and broaden the scope. We have made reference to the experience, it was referred to as the Arab Spring, you have corrected that they have nothing in common, but let me just take the example of Libya. If you look at that example very clearly, you see the impact of cultural imperialism. When the AU was being formed and there was the grand debate, I think it took place in Accra, Gaddafi was emphasizing the idea of the high command very much. Unfortunately maybe others did not buy into it, but I think that experience in itself shows us that change or regime change can take place throughout Africa, not necessarily through military means.
The competition is all for the hearts and minds of the African people. We could be colonized not maybe through the military, but through our own people and I think one issue that we should not delegate is the cultural structure, because that in itself is important. Without a cultural structure we would delegate the economic liberation and that is the biggest threat.
Thank you very much.
Dr Ngurare: Thank you very much for those specific questions and also thank you Comrade Kaapama for touching on the issue of cultural imperialism. Let me say this, we have been here for maybe four hours to discuss the legacy of one of the illustrious sons of Africa, but 54 or 50 other countries of Africa are not aware of what we have discussed here and chances are maybe Ghana will get to know because they are represented. Kenya might get to know because they are represented. Egypt is represented by our youthful revolutionary. I do hope that this discussion of four hours will find a way of reaching out to others that are not here. Maybe it is a wishful hope, but I hope it is a better hope.
Cultural imperialism, let me just be very simplistic. If you take to any village of Africa, maybe southern Africa more so, including South Africa, take a black doll and a white doll and give them to the Black child and let that child decide which is the best doll, which one do you think that child will choose? Which means cultural imperialism is something all of us can answer. Even in here I am sure some have Levis (jeans). Do we have a jean called Afro? No. So, I am just saying that it is not a question only to myself or my good sister, it is a question to us all. It is something within, that we seem to appreciate other people’s things more than ours.
I am told Brazil has one of the largest populations of people of African descent, so maybe the hair is the closeness to Africa that has gone outside Africa. I am just saying, but really now on a serious note, I think what we must encourage, all of us as young people, to find a way of appreciating ourselves. African hair is good and they used to say ‘black is beautiful’ and ‘black is proud’. Maybe we should do that. That is where we start. Instead of a white doll, give a black doll and then the Minister of Trade is here, which is very good.
In our shops we find that they are selling more white dolls instead of black dolls and it is predominantly in black areas where they are selling white dolls. Maybe we should reverse this and make sure that in Ludwigsdorf there are a lot of black dolls so that we can win Windhoek East back for SWAPO Party. That is on a lighter note.
On the AU anthem, yes, Namibia prides itself for singing the AU anthem and I think we should be proud as Namibians that we are singing this anthem and we thank our leaders for that. I understand we are the first country to do that, as well as flying the AU Flag alongside our National Flag. So, the question you asked me, I want to ask to the elders, the revolutionaries here: When they meet in those nice meetings of the AU, perhaps let us plead with them to say, ‘Namibia is an example, what is the problem with you, the other 50?’ Let them also sing it. I know that Swahili is there, and Zulu. No, I mean in the official language. Let us do that and I hope that can be done and we start with Swahili.
Mr. Lungisa: Thank you very much. I am responding to the question which has been posed by Professor. What we must fix is, for example, if I phone Mandela Kapere here from my cell phone, it goes to London. It is where there is a telephone exchange. Mandela is here, from my cell phone it does not go straight to him, it goes to London. All the African companies are paying tariffs in London.
What we must do in Africa as a first step towards African integration, let us integrate our economies, let us be able to play it among ourselves. Our population is close to a billion; at least we can be able to survive amongst ourselves, the natural resources as well. For instance, if you go to Congo, the Chinese are cutting trees in Congo. Jan Van Riebeeck arrived in 1652 in South Africa, in Tsitsikama they cut all those trees. It is what they are doing in the RSA, it is the Chinese who are doing that, they are very quiet.
We must be able to attend to the issue of the Chinese as well as attending to the issue of Europeans, Americans, because there is a new form of imperialism in the African continent. They are squandering our resources like nobody’s business. If you go to DRC, it is more of a chaos, they are taking anything they come across in DRC. The first is regional integration economically, the second is, we must be able to fly amongst ourselves. The third issue, politically, the issue of Heads of State, the agencies of the African Union are just observers. I am part of the agents of the African Union, every day when I go there I am an observer, sitting at the back.
We can hear whatever the Heads of State are talking about, they do not have clarity and you need a situation which brings change in the African continent, because they are literally managing the interest of the West. If, for instance, you come to countries which have been colonized by Britain, all Heads of State buy their suits in London. If you go to countries which have been colonized by France, all of them will say Paris, they go to Paris to buy suits. It goes to your question which we are talking about, what about the local industry, the textile industry, because it would be important when the President of South Africa or of Namibia is wearing a suit which is produced locally. It would make South Africa to buy locally and I am simply saying there are small things that we need to do in the African continent.
When we talk about free education it seems like I do not agree with the Minister of Trade and Industry. When I was saying free education, ‘free’ is explained even in the Oxford Dictionary, free. When we are talking about free education, it must be free up to the first degree at the university. Free, you must not pay even a cent, you must not pay for books, you must not pay for transport. It must be democratic and qualitative. Parents must also play their role to make sure that the little ones go to school every day. There must be no boards which decide prices. That is no longer free education.
Master of Ceremonies: Thank you very much. I am going to ask His Excellency the High Commissioner of the Republic of Ghana to Namibia to give us the Vote of Thanks, after which we will have the AU Anthem, followed by the Ghanaian Anthem, followed by the Namibian Anthem, after which there will be a reception and photo exhibition outside.
3.6 VOTE OF THANKS
H.E. Maj-Gen. S.A. Odotei (Rtd)
Ghana High Commissioner to Namibia
Right Honourable Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, Speaker of the National Assembly of Namibia; Honourable Dr Hage Geingob, the first Prime Minister of Namibia, Vice-President of the ruling SWAPO Party and the Minister of Trade and Industry; Honourable Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Minister of Medical Service of Kenya; Honourable Ministers, Honourable Members of Parliament present here, distinguished guest speakers, your Excellencies, my colleagues, the members of the Diplomatic Corps, the Rector of the Polytechnic of Namibia, distinguished invited guests, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.
Let’s first of all express our thanks to the Almighty God for the gift of today, our lives and health and the travelling mercies extended to our guests from outside Namibia. Today is February 24, 2012, and 46 years since the First President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup d’état. We are grateful that today, February 24, 2012, provides a forum to honour the memory of a true Pan-Africanist and one of the Founding Fathers of the OAU, which today is the African Union and to replace a bad memory with a good one.
I wish to acknowledge the role played by the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON), the National Youth Council of Namibia, and the Ghanaian High Commission in Windhoek in organizing this important seminar, and thereby creating an effective platform to exhibit the life, thoughts and works of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, after whom a street has been named in Ludwigsdorf, in Windhoek, Namibia, which we herewith celebrate.
My special thanks also go to our distinguished Speakers who painstakingly researched and have so eloquently shared their thoughts on Dr Kwame Nkrumah with us in their presentations. May I request that we give them a befitting round of applause?
I wish to thank the Rector and staff of the Polytechnic of Namibia for offering us the use of this appropriate auditorium for the Seminar.
Obviously, this seminar would not have been possible without the sponsorship of some public-spirited organizations. In this regard, I wish to express my appreciation and gratitude to the following companies and organizations:
- The Namibian Diamond Trading Company (Pty) Ltd;
- The Millennium Investment Group;
- Sanlam Namibia;
- Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Namibia;
- Namibia Water Corporation (NAMWATER);
- Namibian College of Open Learning (NAMCOL);
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO);
- Namibian National Commission for UNESCO;
- Kalahari Holdings;
- The National Youth Council of Namibia (NYCN);
- First National Bank of Namibia;
- United Africa Group;
- The Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON); and
- The Ghana High Commission in Windhoek.
I would also like to take this opportunity, to thank the members of the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Support Committee whose untiring efforts made this seminar possible, and request that they stand to be acknowledged:
- Dr Vaino Shivute, Chief Executive Officer of the Namibia Water Corporation (NAMWATER);
- Mr. Etuna Joshua of the Epangelo Mining Company;
- Mr. Bankie F. Bankie of the National Youth Council of Namibia; and
- Dr Frednard Gideon, Dean Faculty of Science, University of Namibia (UNAM).
May I request that we give them a round of applause?
May I extend special thanks to the members of the media who have been with the team of Speakers since yesterday and are with us this evening to cover every facet of the celebration. We are indeed grateful to them.
Last but not the least, I wish to thank you, the members of the public, for your rapt attention and lively participation in this seminar.
To our distinguished speakers who have travelled from outside, I pray for God’s travelling mercies for you as you return to your various destinations.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all, good night and may God richly bless us all.
May I inform you that there is a photo exhibition on the life and works of the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and refreshment in the hall outside.
Part 4 – The Papers
4.1 ON THE LEGACY OF KWAME NKRUMAH
Dr Elijah Ngurare
Secretary of SWAPO Party Youth League
It is pleasing that the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia (PACON) has deemed it fit to devote this month of February 2012 to remember the life and legacy of one of Africa’s illustrious leaders, the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana. Kwame Nkrumah was born on September 21, 1909, at Nkroful in what was then the British-ruled Gold Coast. Kwame’s father was a goldsmith and his mother a retail trader. After graduation from Achimota College in 1930, he started his career as a teacher at Roman Catholic junior schools in Elmina, Axim and at a seminary.
Increasingly drawn to politics, Nkrumah decided to pursue further studies in the United States. He entered Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1935 and, after graduating in 1939, obtained master’s degrees from Lincoln and from the University of Pennsylvania. He studied the literature of socialism, notably Karl Marx and Vladimir I. Lenin, and of nationalism, especially Marcus Garvey, the black leader of the 1920s. Eventually, Nkrumah came to describe himself as a ‘non-denominational Christian and a Marxist socialist’.
He also immersed himself in political work, re-organizing and becoming president of the African Students’ Organization of the United States and Canada. He left the United States in May 1945 and went to England, where he organized the fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester.
He returned to Ghana in 1947 and became General Secretary of the newly founded United Gold Coast Convention, but split from it in 1949 to form the Convention People’s Party (CPP). After his ‘positive action’ campaign created disturbances in 1950, Nkrumah was jailed, but when the CPP swept the 1951 elections, he was freed to form a government, and he led the colony to independence as Ghana in 1957.
A firm believer in African liberation, Nkrumah pursued a radical Pan-African policy, playing a key role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. His legacy and dream of a ‘United States of African’ still remains a goal among many. In particular, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah selflessly dedicated his life to show how future sons and daughters of Africa should prepare themselves as well as strive to unify Africa and harness its wealth for the benefit of all descendants of the continent. Today, the African continent is beset with poverty and misery even as it is endowed with an abundance of natural, climatic, strategic and human wealth.
In pursuit of African Unity
In 1960, Nkrumah announced plans for a new constitution which would make Ghana a republic and boldly included plans for an eventual surrender of Ghanaian sovereignty to a union of African states. Around this time, Nkrumah instilled inspiration and confidence in all Ghanaians by saying: ‘no amount of autonomy or self-rule could match the energy, commitment, and focus of a government and people in a truly independent country such as Ghana’.
He further crafted a philosophy that later became a leading liberation ideological trade-mark which says: ‘seek first the political independence and all else shall be added unto you’. These words and works of Kwame Nkrumah, for decades later, inspired many leaders of African liberation movements, who modelled their routes to independence on Ghana under the presidency of Nkrumah. Undoubtedly, it was Nkrumah’s and other foresighted leaders’ steadfastness and commitment towards the decolonization process of Africa that gave birth to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, which essentially set its sights on uniting Africa both politically and economically.
Nkrumah warned Africa to be vigilant against possible neo-colonialism, by predicting many features of the post-colonial system long before they were even in place. He opted to argue that imperialism is deeply rooted in capitalism and that ‘Neo-colonialism, like colonialism, is an attempt to export the social conflicts of the capitalist countries’. The temporary success of this policy can be seen in the ever-widening gap between the richer and the poorer nations of the world. But the internal contradictions and conflicts of neo-colonialism make it certain that it cannot endure as a permanent world policy.
While Nkrumah did not provide a solution to neo-colonialism, he made a number of tacit suggestions, including the need for Pan-African unity, in order to make the task more difficult for neo-colonialism. Ironically, he further argued that neo-colonialism is potentially and effectively a self-defeating project because of post-colonial resistance and revolt when it reaches an extreme in the periphery, indirectly destabilizing the neo-colonial centre that practices it.
All in all, while remaining an advocate of world socialism, Nkrumah believed that the solution to neo-colonialism lies in continental unity and the national sacrifices of individual states towards the collective well-being of Africa. In laying the foundation of OAU, Nkrumah observed the following three conflicting conceptions of African unity which explain to a large extent, the present critical challenges to the Africa unity:
1. The mutual protection theory
The OAU serves as a kind of insurance against any change in the status quo, membership providing a protection for heads of state and government against all forms of political action aimed at their overthrow. Since most of the leaders who adhere to this idea owe their position to imperialists and their agents, it is not surprising that this is the viewpoint which really serves the interests of imperialism. For the puppet states are being used both for short-term purposes of exploitation and as springboards of subversion against progressive African states.
2. The functional conception
That African unity should be purely a matter of economic co-operation. Those who hold this view overlook the vital fact that African regional economic organizations will remain weak and subject to the same neo-colonialist pressures and domination, as long as they lack overall political cohesion. Without political unity, African states can never commit themselves to full economic integration, which is the only productive form of integration able to develop our great resources fully for the well-being of the African people as a whole. Furthermore, the lack of political unity places inter-African economic institutions at the mercy of powerful, foreign commercial interests, and sooner or later these will use such institutions as funnels through which to pour money for the continued exploitation of Africa.
3. The political union conception
That a union government should be in charge of economic development, defence and foreign policy, while other government functions would continue to be discharged by the existing states grouped, in federal fashion, within a gigantic central political organization. Clearly, this is the strongest position Africa could adopt in its struggle against modern imperialism, which is mostly cultural and economic.
Beware of imperialist manoeuvres
Fiercely, in his book Class Struggle in Africa the great Pan-Africanist warned against dependence on capitalist global institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the Bretton Woods institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Nkrumah reminded us that the UN is the tool of the elite states which control the Security Council and that it was/is ‘just as reliable an instrument for world order and peace as the Great Powers are prepared to allow it to be’. He stressed that the community of economic life is the major feature within a nation, and it is the economy which holds together the people living in a territory, thus new Africans should recognise themselves as potentially one nation, whose dominion is the entire African continent, if they are to fight for the survival of independent Africa.
Pursuant to the foregoing discussion, it is now very lucid that Nkrumah, a great Pan-Africanist, played a vital role in the decolonization and liberation process of Africa. He will be remembered for his uncompromising stance against the injustices meted out by colonial and neo-colonial powers, and his sound and brilliant economic policies that benefited Ghana tremendously and had a spill-over effect to the entire African continent. Indisputably, it was a difficult process to develop a country that had been run by foreign powers for so long. Of course, it would take time and effort to improve the shortcomings of the previous system and even more time for the population to reap the benefits of the newly instituted programmes.
But Nkrumah’s steadfastness and visionary leadership made everything possible and within the shortest period, Ghana was gloried territory. Fortunately, unlike during Nkrumah’s life time, OAU and of course the AU, has to date gained momentum and is fully functional but seems financially too reliant on the West and other donors, thus one would express the hope that it would devise well-rounded strategies in order to give breath and life to the political unification of Africa.
The challenges that the continent faces today include inter alia, disunity, poverty, hunger and disease. Furthermore, the consolidation of continental unity and socialism may be hampered by enemies within, who maliciously day-in, day-out press for regime changes and ill-fated revolutions across the continent at the service and interests of the imperialists and neo-colonialists.
What would Nkrumah say about how the West has short-changed Africa? What would he have said about an International Court that African governments have willingly signed on to but tries only African leaders, in spite of Africa’s stated position to police itself? This state of affairs calls for renewed multi-faceted continental strategies in response to the neo-colonialists’ aggression of the 21st century. It is either we collectively concentrate our energies for a decisive economic struggle to achieve continental-economic prosperity, or we each fall one by one into the deepest sea of poverty in the lifetime of humankind.
Nkrumah would have correctly said that what Africa need is not pity but fairness. Fairness in how its resources are shared by others, while Africans scramble for the leftovers.
Economic independence of Africa
Thus, now that the dream of Kwame Nkrumah for the political independence of entire Africa has been attained, we must restlessly and vigorously embark on the economic struggle for the continent. Going by Nkrumah’s own words, African political independence will be meaningless if it was not accompanied by the African economic independence.
In order to do this successfully, an economic revolution is required and due. All African states must mobilize their total human power for the industrial, economic, technological and scientific reconstruction of Africa, so that we can bring about the total and much needed economic independence of the continent and its inhabitants. Mind you Africa, the best time is today and now. We are blessed with the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people, why not grasp the opportunities and meet the challenge to our present and future survival?
Let’s make the welfare and well-being of our people as our number one pride and save Africa from being a playground of capitalists. It is the duty of every African country and every person of African descent to ensure that we unite as soldiers against hunger, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and underdevelopment. We must resolve collectively and individually to use our resources to develop our people and countries.
The legacy of Kwame Nkrumah must be measured in the education of our present and future generations. We must continue to train adequate doctors, engineers, marine biologists, geologists, ICT specialists, lawyers, etc. to ensure that we have an army of patriotic experts to guarantee Africa’s self-determination and prosperity.
The legacy of Kwame Nkrumah must also be realised in the creation of infrastructure for economic development in Africa. Let generations of Africa be able to drive on new highways; let them fly the skies of Africa just like Air Namibia has a direct flight to Ghana; let them connect through the Internet, through Twitter, Facebook and other innovative technological developments that have the potential to unite our continent.
The African Youth must also be at the forefront of fighting cultural imperialism, let them not use all the foreign technology to mentally enslave themselves but rather, let them use such technology to develop their potential and respective countries’ ability to showcase the pride of Africa.
The future of Africa’s economic development must be determined in Africa and not in Western capitals, thus to paraphrase the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah, I would end by saying that Africa’s struggle for economic independence is our generation’s unfinished agenda, which we must bequeath to the younger generation and generations of Africans yet to be born; this agenda we must actualise and implement, militantly and patriotically, without compromise.
Long Live the Legacy of Dr Kwame Nkrumah!
4.2 NKRUMAH’S INTELLECTUAL LEGACIES AND AFRICA’S POLITICAL TRIBULATIONS IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Lecturer: Governance, Politics and Development Studies,
Department of Political and Administrative Studies, University of Namibia
This paper pays tribute to a Pan-African intellectual, whose great persona to the political ideology of Pan-Africanism was exemplified through his staunch political activism, which helped pave the way towards Africa’s independence. Second, his political leadership at home in Ghana, on the African continent, as well as internationally. Thirdly through his stupendous contributions to the revolutionary body of intellectual political thought. The latter is reflected in a massive body of classical and timeless works that are embodied in approximately 16 books. These include Africa Must Unite (1963), Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965), etc. which have left an undoubted mark on the existing body of Pan-Africanist political thought.
Through these contributions Dr Nkrumah is rightly described as not merely a product of history, but as having made history on the continental as well as the global stage. The public commemorative gesture by the Pan-Afrikan Centre of Namibia and the High Commission of the Republic of Ghana in Namibia provides a clear testament of his ever flourishing legacy. Forty years since his death in 1972, the memory of his revolutionary praxis on African redemption shows little signs of fading.
Hence this written tribute provides a synopsis on Nkrumah’s intellectual legacies, which among others covered the themes of African nationalism and revolutionary struggle; the challenges presented by the undesirable effects of neo-colonialism; the cause of Pan-African continental unification, and his strong resentment of the balkanization of the continent, etc.
African Nationalism and the quest for the Political Kingdom
Nkrumah urged Africans to ‘Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you’. On Ghana’s Independence Day he proclaimed that ‘The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of the African Continent’. On this basis the independence of Ghana became a critical turning point in the struggle for independence on the African continent, as it opened the floodgates of liberation against colonialism and apartheid. Indeed within the next 10 years most African countries would achieve independence, but this struggle was not to end until the collapse of apartheid in the early 1990s. Ghana thus became a beacon of hope and a refuge for many freedom fighters who came to the country for inspiration and material support.(1. Addy Sheila, Ghana: Land of the Free 50 Years on, http://www.unspecial.org/UNS661/t35.html<downloaded February 20, 2012>)
Maybe in acknowledging these – in February 1960 the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Harold Macmillan, prophetically stated the following in his famous ‘Wind of change’ speech in the South African Parliament in Cape Town – ‘…Ever since the break-up of the Roman Empire one of the constant facts of political life in Europe has been the emergence of independent nations… fifteen years ago this movement spread through Asia…Today the same thing is happening in Africa… The wind of change is blowing through this continent, and whether we like it or not this growth of national consciousness is a political fact…” This demonstrates the inevitability of the ideal of the pioneer African nationalists for political independence, which compelled the former colonial powers to surrender direct political control.
The African State as an embodiment of the political kingdom that Nkrumah dreamed about is in a state of demise – as exemplified by heightened insecurity, civil strife and corruption. This state of affairs was envisioned by Nkrumah in most of his writing, hence his strong resentment of the idea of the balkanization of the continent. This he defined as the breaking up of Africa into small, weak states; in the same way that great powers divided up Europe and part of the old Turkish Empire and created a number of dependent and competing states in the Balkan Peninsula.
His other fear related to the challenges presented by the undesirable effects of neocolonialism. For example, in Africa Must Unite, Nkrumah wrote: ‘New nations like ours are confronted with the tasks and problems that would… be difficult enough if we existed in a peaceful world, free of contending powers and interested countries eager to dabble in our domestic affairs and manipulate our domestic and external relations in order to divide us nationally and internationally. As it is, our problems are made more vexed by the devices of neo-colonialists’. As a possible remedy to these anomalies, he advocated the idea of a robust federated United States of Africa. Thus the attainment of the political kingdom was, in its most fundamental sense, a means to this larger end.
Balkanization vs. Continental Unification
Reflecting back critically more than five decades since Nkrumah’s first call for African continental unification, the questions remains: have African leaders, intellectuals, workers performed to the best of their abilities to advance this cause? The responses of the successive generations of African leaders, starting with those who secured state power at independence to the present days, to this message, as Young ( 2. Young Kurt B. (2010), ‘Africa Must Unite Revisited: Continuity and Change in the Case for Continental Unification’, Africa Today 57(1), pp. 47) rightly noted, mask deeper contradictions.
For instance, during Nkrumah’s own times, the idea of the United States of Africa divided the leaders of the continent into two political camps.
- Firstly, what became known as the Casablanca Group, which argued the essence of the federal Africa-wide model of government as a bulwark against neo-colonialism and as a necessary tool for realizing the continent’s complete political, economic and social transformation. Unfortunately, this camp in which Nkrumah was one of the foremost proponents came up against all types of internal and external odds.
- The other camp was known as the Monrovia Group, which pursued the narrow interests of the post-colonial political elites, who saw the post-colonial state as their own ultimate trophy from decolonization. Hence their self-interested opposition to Nkrumah’s proposal, opting instead for a moderate form of economic integration. To them the Westphalian conception of the sovereign state was the desirable vehicle for moving Africa forward in the post-independence era. The Monrovia Group embraced this integrationist philosophical and practical approach.
The Organization of African Unity (OAU)
The formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963 was based on a compromised charter that embraced the notion of a limited unity pact that preserved individual state sovereignty and territorial integrity. To some Pan- Africanist scholars such as Elenga M’buyinga (3. Cited in Young, op cit, pp. 48 in a co-authored publication titled: Pan Africanism or Neo-Colonialism? The Bankruptcy of the OAU) – described the OAU as ‘… a practical expression of the desires of neo-colonialist imperialism and the African bourgeoisie’.
As a practical symbol of its dedication to the eradication of all forms of colonialism on the African continent, the OAU established the Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa (Liberation Committee) to aid liberation movements. From its headquarters in Dar es Salaam, it provided funding, logistical support, training, publicity and so on to all liberation movements officially recognized by the OAU. The Committee also organized its presence and campaigns on the diplomatic front through conferences, visits, press campaigns and radio broadcasts, etc. The fact that today all of Africa from Cairo in the north all the way to the Cape in the south is free from direct foreign political domination, represents a major milestone for the OAU and all its pioneers.
However, the paradox is that the post-colonial state in Africa has been co-opted as well as the OAU/AU and have become the embodiment of neo-colonialism in the contemporary era of globalization. The OAU’s ineptness during major episodes of state-sanctioned human rights violations was inseparable from its commitment to the non-interference and territorial integrity doctrines, which alienated this structure from masses of the African people in whose names independence was sought. (4 Op cit, pp. 51)
The African Union (AU)
Recognizing the paralysis that was both created and in which the OAU found itself, African leaders put in motion the transformation of the OAU into an entity closer to Nkrumah‘s original model, which culminated in the formation of the African Union (AU). This process resulted in some major breaks with the established post-colonial political tradition. For instance, Article 4 (h) of the AU Constitutive Act provided for an affirmation of the Union’s right ‘to intervene in a Member State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of grave circumstances, namely war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity’.
Another milestone was the creation of the Peace and Security Council in 2004, which institutionalized an intervention doctrine. However, questions abound as to whether this process of formal transition signified a significantly progressive step forward in the struggle for Africa’s redemption; and whether or not enough measures were instituted to overcome the obstacles that compromised the effectiveness of the OAU.
One interesting observation from this process seems to be the reincarnation of the political experiences that characterized the formation of the OAU. In that history somehow repeated itself, resulting once more in a situation in which the fundamental component of a continent-wide political kingdom remained as elusive as ever. In the sense that although the process projected a consensus on the preference for a higher level of continental unity, in practical terms the energies for creating a supranational mechanism were sacrificed on the scaffoldings for the maintenance of the state sovereignty doctrine. (5 Young, op cit, pp. 51)
For instance, although the 1999 4th Extra-Ordinary Summit and the 2007 9th Ordinary AU Summit held in Sirte, Libya and Accra, Ghana respectively – were convened with the aims of providing ultimate platforms for the grand debate on the union’s transition to a union government, African leaders were once more divided into two ideological camps – the maximalist (federalists) pushing for a strong central governmental entity, while the gradualists (moderates) argued for incremental steps towards a federal government.
One of the reasons that are regularly cited by the moderate camp of the gradualist was the alleged personal calculations by Muammar Gaddafi to promote his political self-aggrandizement. If this was the true reason why African leaders seem to be dragging their feet towards the conceptual framework that Nkrumah developed in the 1960’s, then they may have thrown the baby out with the bath water. Therefore, in spite of the birth of the AU, this did not fully encapsulate the spirit of the political kingdom as Nkrumah had envisioned.
Economic independence and the threat of Neo-Colonialism
The noble idea of economic independence has remained elusive for Africa, therefore the attainment of political independence has by and large remained meaningless. This situation has been derided by Chango Machyo w’Obanda – through what he termed Africa’s sham independence, which held negative implications for substantive political, economic, cultural and social development.
In particular the internal impasse and procrastination around the question of a muscular unity on the African continent stand in glaring contradiction when viewed against the contemporaneous path and pace towards increasing levels of unity as demonstrated in other regions of the world.(6. Young op cit, pp. 57, 58)
Although it may not be fair to compare Europe which colonized and continues to exploit and balkanize Africa, European states through the Treaty of Rome in 1957 adopted a strategic comprehensive integration outlook. This was six years before the OAU was chartered. Through the 1993 Maastricht Treaty this was taken a step further when the EEC was transformed into a muscular continental entity, in the form of the European Union (EU). Despite the converging and diverging perspectives the EU have been making major thrusts toward the realization of a more comprehensive continental unity.
For instance the subject of NATO expansion and the Euro monetary area are testaments of progress in this regard. Economic Partnerships with Europe (EPAs) are being initiated by the EU to facilitate the creation of a free trade area (FTA) arrangement between the European Union as an economic bloc and the individual African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States. Thus far interim EPAs were being concluded and signed with not less than 15 African states. Whilst another group of less than 10 states have initialed their respective agreements however, their actual final signatures are still pending.
This is flabbergasting in the sense that many of these countries are unable to compete singularly with the respective individual European state. One therefore wonders as to what chance would each African state on its own stand against the unified EU economies?
Another reference point is the case of (New Partnership for African Development) NEPAD, which was commissioned in 2001. This preposition embodied the perpetuation of the outward economic orientations similar to that of the neo-colonial era of modernization and structural adjustment programmes. Although dissolved in 2010, NEPAD symbolized the AU’s attempt to further institutionalize Africa’s economic ties to the West. Therefore the neo-colonial dilemma that awaited the African state as it transited from the colonial era remains relevant to this very day as contemporary African states are now faced with what seems to be maturing international interests and unrelenting internal crises. (7 Young, op cit, pp. 45)
Cultural Imperialism vs. Pan-African Cultural Revival
Pan-Africanism has remained a true movement for the unification of African people into one formidable African community. As a philosophy, Pan-Africanism represents the aggregation of the historical, cultural, spiritual, artistic, scientific and philosophical legacies of Africans from past times to the present. To paraphrase Bekerie (8 Cited in Young , op cit, pp. 60) – to guarantee Africa’s economic and political progress in the emerging new world order, Africans on the continent and in the Diaspora need to transform the intellectual idea of pan-Africanism into political, economic and military reality. Therefore Pan-Africanism remains an important ideological tool for the mobilization of all the people of African descent around a common cultural foundation – as an important ingredient in the political remapping concept.
As noted by Lumumba Kasongo (9 Young, op cit, pp. 50) these entailed ‘a strong sense of self-determination and of belonging to a larger political and cultural unit, knowledge of one’s self objective conditions and constraints, possession of a progressive agenda, a permanently critical assessment of one’s role in the international political economy and the division of labour, and a strong cultural basis’.
The ideals of Pan-Africanism can be traced back to the efforts to end slavery and the slave trade, and were given further impetus through subsequent campaigns for the African Diaspora to be accorded full political, social, economic and cultural rights in their adopted countries; and later the struggle against colonialism and Imperial rule in Africa and the Caribbean. At its height in the 19th through to the first half of the 20th century, people of African descent were generally relegated to the fringes of the social, political and economic lives of their respective societies. Black people in Europe and the Americas endured slavery, segregation and political disenfranchisement, the whole of Africa was subdued under the yoke of colonialism and foreign domination.
Today this situation has changed. All of Africa has gained political independence of a sort. In the United States for the first time in history a person of colour occupies the highest office in the world economic and political powerhouse. The most pertinent questions to be asked are: what is the fate (both at the present juncture and in the future) of Pan-Africanism as an important ideological tool for the mobilization of all the people of African descent, around a common cultural foundation? Do the persons of African descent holding positions of influence in politics, the economy, academia, the media, etc., share any common cultural foundations to start with?
4.3 OSAGYEFO DR KWAME NKRUMAH AND THE CONVENTION
Prof. Agyemang Badu Akosa
Osagyefo was born in very humble settings in a village called Nkroful in the Western Region of Ghana. His parents were poor. The only child of his mother, he completed primary and middle school under the guidance of Rev Fr George Fischer. He was a very good student and taught as an untrained teacher in his own school. He was recommended by an Education Officer to become a professional teacher. By good fortune he was accepted into the newly established Teacher Training College, the Prince of Wales’ College at Achimota, as part of the pioneer group.
He worked hard and got noticed by one of the most prominent African scholars of the time Dr Kwegyir Aggrey who had studied in America. He inspired Kwame Nkrumah, who was devastated when Dr Aggrey died whilst on a trip to America. One of Aggrey’s profound statements read, ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’.
Nkrumah finished teacher training and went back to teaching. He joined the Roman Catholic Seminary at Amissano in the Central Region of Ghana and while there considered becoming a priest but as an avid reader, he again got influenced by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who was then a journalist in Ghana and later the first President of Nigeria. Like Aggrey he had been educated in America and influenced the young Nkrumah to go to America for the rest of his education. Azikiwe was the editor of the African Morning Post, which published anti-colonial articles.
One such article was titled: ‘Has the African a God?’ written by Wallace Johnson, which described how the colonial powers abused the rights and liberties of the African and the role of Christianity. This article was to lead to the arrest and imprisonment and subsequent expulsion of Wallace Johnson and Azikiwe from the Gold Coast. Such articles made profound impressions on Nkrumah and were good preparation for his later years.
While teaching in the Central Region of Ghana, he demonstrated the beginning of leadership and the knack for organization. He played a lead role in the formation of the Teachers Association and also established the Nzema (his native area) Literature Society to assist the Youth to cultivate the habit of reading and writing.
Despite the difficult family circumstances, good fortune again visited Nkrumah and in 1935, he got to America. In America, he enrolled in Lincoln University. He had been encouraged by Azikiwe through correspondence. The final telegram he received from Azikiwe urged: ‘Believe in God and yourself’. His admission was fraught with difficulties because of funding but Nkrumah made a strong case that he would work during vacation to pay for his fees. His boldness and enthusiasm earned him conditional admission. He adjusted quickly and worked very hard doing all the menial jobs available to keep body and soul together.
Every step of the way he was discriminated against except on the academic front where he achieved great laurels to the surprise of faculty. He worked all the God-given hours and people wondered how he was able to study and do so well. In addition, he had great interest in a lot of extra-curricular activities like drama, debate and speech writing. He became President of the African Students Association in America and Canada. He became a keen activist in the civil rights movement and learnt a lot about organization. He read extensively on Marcus Garvey, Dr W.E.B. Du Bois, George Padmore, Karl Marx, Fredrich Engels and many other philosophers and gained firsthand insight on the effects of slavery, colonialism and racism.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Sociology in 1939 and also earned a Bachelor in Theology from the Theological Seminary at Lincoln in 1942. At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, he obtained a Master of Science in Education (1943) and a Master of Arts in Philosophy in 1944. He was adjudged the ‘most interesting student of the graduating year 1939’. He joined the faculty of Lincoln University and taught Philosophy, Greek and Negro History. Nkrumah learnt the art of oratory, speaking to increasingly large audiences in churches and at seminars. In 1945, the magazine of Lincoln University, Lincolnian, voted him ‘the most outstanding professor of the year’.
Nkrumah arrived in England in May 1945, determined to pursue further studies in law and achieve his doctorate. He enrolled in the London School of Economics. He met up with Ako Adjei, a Ghanaian who had also been to America. Nkrumah found out that there were many West African students in England and several groups in support of the anti-colonial struggle in their respective countries. The most prominent was the West African Students Union founded in 1925 with Dr J.B. Danquah as its founding president. The membership was drawn from students from the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Gambia. Nkrumah founded the West African National Secretariat (WANS) which included student activists from French-speaking West Africa.
In 1945 during the preparation for the fifth Pan-African congress in Manchester, Nkrumah was made co-secretary of the organizing committee together with George Padmore. The Congress that was chaired by Dr W.E.B, Du Bois, was very successful. In attendance were Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Felix Houphouet-Boigny (Cote d’Ivoire), Souron Migan-Apithy (Benin), Ahmed Sekou Toure (Guinea), Leopold Senghor (Senegal), Albert Magai (Sierra Leone) and many others who became founding presidents of their respective countries. Nkrumah authored the final communiqué which reiterated that the battle was not in Europe but in Africa and all were enjoined to go home and help in the struggle.
Back to the Gold Coast
Nkrumah had abandoned his studies for greater participation in the politics of the liberation struggles not only of the Gold Coast but the whole of West Africa and the total emancipation of Africa. He was engaged in the delivery of fiery speeches on the liberation struggle and had become a marked man by the United Kingdom authorities. He had been labeled as a Communist even though he never considered himself as one, but had had minor dealings with the Communist Party of the United Kingdom in order to understand them.
He had prepared himself in the knowledge of slavery, colonialism, imperialism and racism and how all individually and together had worked to subjugate Africa and he was ready to play a major role. He had established contacts with many of the leading lights of the Civil rights movement in America, key among them being Dr W.E.B Du Bois and from the Caribbean the likes of George Padmore, C.L.R. James and many others. He had squared up with the leading lights amongst Black Africans and people of African descent in North America and the Caribbean. He was now ready to take his place.
The call to come and join the newly created United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) came through his old friend Ako Adjei, who had finished a law degree and gone back to the Gold Coast. As a founding member of the UGCC, Ako Adjei had noticed that the convention had been seized by inertia because its leaders were part-time politicians and it therefore needed a dynamic organizer as a full-time member to advance its cause. Adjei recommended Nkrumah. Nkrumah hesitated, sought advice and was advised to accept and move to the Gold Coast.
He was trailed on the journey as the Police had been alerted of his imminent arrival in the Gold Coast. Good fortune was to be on his side again; he decided, en route, to visit his friends in Liberia and Sierra Leone where he met up with Wallace Johnson and others. He was able to slip away then he eventually landed at the Takoradi Harbour on December 16, 1947.
United Gold Coast Convention
As the General Secretary and full-time member of staff he set himself a huge task of taking the UGCC to the whole country rather than the Gold Coast colony (present day Western, Central, Greater Accra and Eastern regions) alone where it was. It was unknown in Trans Volta Togoland, Asante and the Northern Territories. In addition, he made one cardinal departure from what it had been before. He decided to educate ordinary people on the liberation struggle and why it was so important for all of them to actively participate in it.
Wherever he went, he was overwhelmed by the response and the people’s genuine desire to offer him assistance. His car was a wreck most of the time and very little money was available, but he was able with the help from the people to create several offices in all the provinces and many of the big towns. The people were to organize themselves as Youth organizations and that was soon to become a threat to the establishment, the founding members of UGCC, who did not see the need to involve the people and felt the ordinary people were more of a nuisance than beneficial.
Within a month of the assumption of office, in January 1948, Nkrumah presented to the working committee of the UGCC, a working paper in which he outlined plans for political action to force self-government from the colonialists. It included organized demonstrations, boycotts and strikes to test the strength of the UGCC taking advantage of the political crisis, and convening of a Constitutional Assembly of the people to draw up a constitution for self-government. It most certainly did not go down well with the conservative founding members of the UGCC, who felt continual dialogue with the Governor was all that was required to achieve independence.
Incidentally, within two months of the meeting with the Working Committee of the UGCC, two important events happened that were to change the dynamics completely. There was the boycott of goods and services of predominantly European, Syrian and Lebanese shops under the direction of a traditional ruler Nii Kwabena Bonne, who asked his fellow chiefs, who in the past were collaborators, to stop collaborating with the government and join the people and support the aspiration for freedom and self-determination. He asked them to fight for the liberty and freedom of the country.
The boycott came into force on January 26, 1948 and extended throughout the country to February 28, 1948. Then on February 28, a planned march by ex-servicemen of the Great Wars and Burma War to present a petition to the governor went all wrong and a police superintendent gunned down three of the ex-servicemen, all of whom died instantly. The two issues led to the burning and looting of shops belonging to foreign companies. The news spread through the entire country and more burning and looting followed. After three days when the event subsided, there were 137 dead and many wounded.
A state of emergency was declared, the governor announced that it was the work of a communist conspiracy and that the government had arrested the communist leaders. Six leading members of the UGCC were arrested, including Nkrumah. All the others blamed Nkrumah for their arrest. They had lived in Ghana all these years without any trouble till the arrival of Nkrumah with the presentation of his blueprint on political action.
Subsequent to this many other things happened which resulted in greater suspicion between the founding members of the UGCC and Nkrumah. Prominent among those was the start of the Evening News newspaper as the mouthpiece of the UGCC, and the sponsoring of students who had been sacked from school due to rioting over the arrest of the leaders. The threat to demote and sack Kwame Nkrumah from the party caused a meeting of the Youth organizations in Tarkwa, initially under Nkrumah and later under Komla Gbedemah. The decision was made that he should resign and form a party. On June 12, 1949, Nkrumah resigned and announced the formation of the Convention People’s Party.
The Convention People’s Party (CPP)
The Convention People’s Party was incubated in Tarkwa in the Western region of Ghana, delivered in Saltpond in the Central region on June 12, 1949 and ‘out-doored’ at a mammoth rally at Arena in Accra. The energy and brain of the masses of ordinary people had transformed their Youth organizations into a National Party.
The party set itself to confront the constitutional reform committees handpicked by the governor. It declared its report as ‘bogus and fraudulent’ and castigated the chiefs and educated elite for once again betraying the wishes of the people, in not demanding for self-government. The report represented the views of the old traditional class of politicians, chiefs, intellectuals and bourgeois. The views of the masses or anybody purported to hold radical views were ignored.
On November 20, 1949, Nkrumah convened a mass meeting in Accra, of people representing different shades of opinion, called the Ghana People’s Representative Assembly. Also in attendance were the CPP, Committee of Youth Organizations, Trades Union Congress, Farmers, Ex-Servicemen and local Youth societies. Chiefs and leading members of the UGCC boycotted the meeting, but it was very successful.
The meeting resolution called on the British Government to realize that the Constitutional Review Committee recommendations were unacceptable. It called for the granting of immediate self-government to the colony, as well as full dominion status within the Commonwealth of Nations. It added that with the rejection of the resolution, ‘positive action’ was to follow. Nkrumah warned the chiefs that if they persisted in collaborating with the colonial administration in sabotaging the aspirations of the people, they (the chiefs) would run away and leave their sandals behind.
The CPP unlike the earlier political movements, whose activities were generally confined to chiefs and the middle class of society, threw its net widely to embrace all classes of people, drawing its strength instead from the Youth and low-income workers and farmers throughout the country, referred to as the masses. The party opened branches throughout the country and set in motion very effective organizational and propaganda machinery never before known in the country. The influence of the party swept across to the remotest villages in the country through mass rallies addressed by Nkrumah himself and his leading men.
The party’s success owed much also to the dynamism and the charismatic leadership of Kwame Nkrumah and his able and faithful political strategists. Nkrumah toured the country arguing that since the chiefs had failed once again, the people must prepare for ‘positive action’ – a non-violent sit-down-at-home, strike, civil disobedience and non-cooperation campaign. Nkrumah’s Christmas message on December 25, 1949 cautioned the country about the dangers and temptations ahead, counseled firmness and courage, and reminded his followers not to forget that ‘organization decides all’. The message also reminded members of the party’s motto: ‘We prefer self-government in danger to servitude in tranquility’.
The party changed its demand for ‘immediate self-government’ to ‘self-government now’ and again threatened to have recourse to positive action should the colonial administration ignore or attempt to stifle the demand for self-government.
On Friday, January 6, 1950 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) declared a general strike and on Sunday, January 8, 1950 Nkrumah declared Positive Action with the overwhelming support of the TUC. It succeeded, causing considerable disruption to the economic and social life of the country. By Wednesday January 11, 1950 the general strike had brought crowds onto the streets. A nationwide state of emergency was declared and resulted in the arrest of Kwame Nkrumah, CPP activists and TUC leaders, who were charged with sedition and inciting an illegal strike. The leaders were tried in court and jailed for between six months and three years. Nkrumah was jailed for three years and the offices of the Evening News newspaper were closed. The army and police took over all the major towns in the Gold Coast.
The imprisonment of the leaders of the CPP increased their popularity and that of the party. The party continued to grow in membership and by the end of the year had become the strongest party in the country. While the leaders of the party were in prison and believing it would favour the elitist UGCC, the colonial government announced municipal elections. The CPP won all seven seats in April 1950 and also in November 1950 it won all the seats in the Kumasi Town Council. The dates for the general elections were set for February 5 to 10, 1951.
An issue that came out of the Constitutional Review Committee’s recommendation was the age of consent for voting, which had been pegged at 25 years. Lawyer Kwesi Plange argued successfully for a reduction to 21 years. The UGCC opposed the age reduction. The elections results saw the CPP win 34 of the 38 elected seats. The UGCC won three seats and there was one independent member. Nkrumah, although in prison, had stood as a candidate for the Accra Central constituency against a native of the area E.O. Obetsebi Lamptey, a leading member of the opposition and a founding member of the UGCC. Nkrumah won by a landslide. Out of a total of 23,122 recorded votes, Nkrumah won 22,780 leaving only 342 for his opponent.
The governor had no choice but to release Nkrumah from prison and to ask him to form a government.
Leader of Government Business
As leader of Government Business, Nkrumah had to work with the 1950 constitution that he had criticized so vehemently. Despite his reservations, he immediately set out to work like a man on a mission. The mission was clearly to press on with the agenda for self-government but to use the position to begin to reverse the perverseness of colonialism with its inherent imperialism and racism. Self-reliance and self-determination, equal opportunity and social justice, all situated in a Pan-African context were the underpinning principles. The CPP adopted central planning as the development tool after fierce debate and set off immediately with the first five-year development plan.
1951-1956 First Five-Year Development Plan
The plan was to ensure that development proceeded as a balanced whole rather than as a series of uncoordinated projects. Economic and productive sectors were given the pride of place with particular attention paid to agriculture in the widest sense, industry and water supply. For the execution of most of the development projects in the 1951 plan, the government relied on domestic resources of the country. This reliance on own resources to promote development was a remarkable feature of the planned economic development in Ghana during the CPP government.
Agriculture, which the colonialist had developed as a mono-crop raw material producer, was to be modernized with improvement of farming practices. Provision of credit for small-scale farmers was to reduce indebtedness to money lenders and reduce the high burden of farm debt. To remove the monopoly of big foreign companies over the purchase of cocoa, the government established the Cocoa Purchasing Company in 1952. In addition to buying cocoa, it offered loans to assist cocoa farmers during off season.
The plan also contained proposals for government promotion of a number of industries including textiles, shoes, breweries, tobacco and canning, building materials, cement, bricks, tiles and timber, jute, pencils, pens and many others. By 1960, many of these had been established.
There was ambitious development of the country’s communication network – improvements and extensions to the railways system, construction of trunk and feeder roads, extension to the Takoradi Harbour and the improvement of the post, telegraph and telephone services.
Elaborate plans were made for education, health and nutrition, social welfare and community development schemes. Free compulsory education was introduced, secondary education was expanded and the University College of Gold Coast was also expanded. The plan also recognized the fundamental importance of preventive medicine and health measures, and aimed for the establishment of a medical school as part of the University College.
The Second Five-Year Development Plan (1956-1963)
This plan was to give a solid foundation to build a welfare state. Nkrumah indicated: ‘We believe that it should show what we have to do by our own work, by the use of our natural resources, and by encouraging investment in Ghana, to give us a standard of living which will abolish disease, poverty, and illiteracy, give our people ample food and good housing, and let us advance confidently together as a nation.’
Like the first plan, it also recognized the importance of the agricultural industry and the development of the hydro-electric potential through the Volta River Project. The six top priorities included establishing large acreages of rubber in the wet south-west, raising yields of the cocoa industry, establishing the foundations of the cattle industry, raising the yields of cereals in the northern region, irrigation of the Volta flood plains and promoting the use of fertilizers. In addition it had proposals for research, education and extension programmes in the fields of agriculture.
The plan recognized the role of foreign private industrial firms in the industrial development of the country and categorized industries into three: those reserved exclusively for government, government participation such as alcohol, narcotics and alcoholic beverages and those open freely to private enterprise.
In the later it indicated the recognition of trade unions, training of Ghanaians for superior posts and their employment in superior posts and the development of the use of local raw materials where possible.
The first and second five-year development plans were successfully executed and laid the foundation for building a welfare state.
The Seven-Year Development Plan (1964-1971)
Announcing the plan to the National Assembly, Nkrumah said: ‘I can really see it in my mind’s eye – a picture of Ghana as it will be by the end of the plan period. I see a state with a strong and virile economy, its agriculture and industry buoyant and prosperous, an industrial nation serving the people. By the end of the plan period, no Ghanaian shall be in need of food, clothing, shelter, health and education.’
He also stated, ‘We welcome foreign investors in the spirit of partnership. They can come and earn their profit here, provided they leave us an agreed portion for promoting the welfare and happiness of our people as a whole against the greedy ambitions of a few. From what we get out of the partnership, we hope to be able to expand our health services for our people, feed and house them well and give them more and better institutions and see to it that they have a rising standard of living.’
Priority was given to the further modernization of agriculture, the expansion of industries and education for the production of a skilled labour force needed to run the industries and farming enterprises.
The goal was not only to make maximum use of the rich land resources of the country, so as to make people less and less dependent on imported food, but also to produce locally as much raw materials as possible for industrial processes. First the cocoa industry needed to be saved. Emphasis was placed on diversified agriculture – promotion of livestock farming and fishing. Experimental farm stations and institutions were set up where agricultural supporting staff received appropriate professional and practical training. Farmers were also trained in modern methodology. Improved seeds and breeds of livestock were provided to farmers from such centres at subsidized charges to improve cultivation and breeding. Agricultural extension services were provided. Credit facilities were provided with the establishment of Agricultural Credit Bank and Agricultural Cooperative Societies.
Teaching of Agricultural Science was emphasized in the curricula of secondary schools and universities. The Soil Research Institute was established, which mapped out suitable lands in different parts of the country for agricultural use. Agricultural shows at both district and regional levels were instituted. Exhibits and prizes awarded at these shows gave farmers valuable incentives to improve yields of crops and breeds of livestock
Bodies including United Farmers’ Council, Workers’ Brigade, State Farms Corporation, State Fishing Corporation and the Food Processing Division of the Ghana Industrial Holding Corporation were all established to give agriculture a major boost.
The colonial administration put emphasis on the production and export of raw materials to feed the metropolitan secondary industries. Government nationalized or took majority shares in some companies and set up statutory bodies which controlled the purchase and marketing of these agricultural and forest products.
In the promotion of manufacturing industries, the Capital Investment Board, Industrial Development Bank and the Standards Board were established to overcome the multifaceted problems of lack of indigenous trained personnel and funds and also the lack of other forms of capital such as imported expensive machinery and adequate raw materials. Industries established included safety matches, canned foods, pharmaceutical products, boat building, electronics and paper products, bamboo, ceramics, vegetable oil, rubber tyres and many more.
Government also went into partnership in the manufacturing of detergents and textiles. The Volta River Project was established to electrify the country and also provide cheap electricity for industrialization, such as the Volta Aluminium Company (Valco). The dam created the largest man-made lake, which was to serve a growing fish industry, provide transportation between the south and the north and also to irrigate the vast Accra plains. It was commissioned by Nkrumah, a month before his government was overthrown.
In the tertiary and service industry, the Ghana National Trading Corporation was established to break the hold on trading by foreign companies. It became so successful that by 1965 it had become the largest trading concern in Ghana. In 1952, the Ghana Commercial Bank was established to provide support for indigenous people and companies. In 1957, the Bank of Ghana was formed. Through patronage and preferential treatment for the state-owned financial institutions including the State Insurance Corporation, their activities superseded their foreign counterparts in importance to the economy of the country. The State Hotels Corporation was established to manage all the large hotels and guest houses in the country. The Black Star Line and Ghana Airways were established in 1958 to give tourism a boost and to facilitate the easy transfer of exports and imports into Ghana.
All of these were done by Nkrumah and the CPP government to give meaning to its three fundamental aims of self-determination, self-reliance and using domestic resources for most of the projects that were provided. Also in focus was the use of trained Ghanaians, equal opportunity and social justice through the provision of education and health, which were hitherto not available for all the indigenes. Pan-Africanism was promoted by which Ghana’s independence was stated to be meaningless unless it was linked with the total liberation of Africa. Freedom fighters in the many unliberated African countries including Namibia were supported.
The colonial period saw very few primary schools built for the natives. There were even fewer middle schools. Of the number of children of school-going age estimated at 470,000, only 90,000 were attending school. Free compulsory education was instituted and by January 1957, 450,000 children were in school, taught by 15,000 teachers. There were 15 secondary schools in Ghana, all built by church missions, which trained locals to become catechists and lay preachers, to further the churches programmes.
As leader of Government Business, Nkrumah set out to provide free education for the people and started an extensive building and expansion programmes of schools throughout the country. By September 1961, 2,494 new primary schools had been built to take on 219,480 new pupils in year one. This number had increased to 8,144 with an enrolment number of 1,137,495 by the overthrow of Nkrumah and the CPP. Middle schools also increased from 1,234 schools with an enrolment of 145,377 in 1960/61 to 2,277 and 267,434 by 1965/66. Secondary schools increased from 15 in 1951 to 105 by 1966. Teacher training schools also increased from five to 80 and technical schools to 11 by the time of the overthrow. Polytechnics were built in all the eight regions of the country.
Ghana had only one university established in 1948, which was housed in temporary buildings. Purposeful buildings were provided for the University of Ghana and in addition two new universities were established: the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Cape Coast. Today, Ghana has six public universities. The remaining three, all had their antecedents established by the CPP government. The National Research Council was established in August 1958 to promote and coordinate research and the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences was set up a year later in 1959. All the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s 13 research institutes were set up by the CPP. In addition, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission was set with the aim of acquiring an atomic reactor for research into the use of nuclear energy in food and seed preservation, insect control and others. The Arts Council was established and a School of African Studies was created within the University of Ghana.
Nothing was left to chance by the CPP government in its endeavour to provide meaningful education as the major expression of equal opportunity and social justice.
The colonial legacy was one hospital in the whole country for the natives built by Governor Guggisberg in 1927. All others were European hospitals primarily for the Europeans and their compradors who could afford to pay for the services.
The CPP set off to build hospitals and polyclinics and opened the Medical Field Unit for disease control measures. Many Ghanaians were sent to medical schools and to nursing institutions abroad. The University of Ghana Medical School was established as part of the self-reliance and self-determination concept using specialist doctors who were available in Ghana. At the tenth anniversary celebration of the school in 1974, the school had achieved enviable status with the General Medical Council of the UK and the American Medical Association.
Nursing colleges were increased from one to six, the School of Hygiene was set up to train environmental officers and the Kintampo Rural Health School was established to train disease control officers and many other health related officers.
Despite all the massive improvements to the welfare of the people of Ghana that Nkrumah and the CPP pursued over the years, the opposition politicians who were fragmented into regional, ethnic and religious parties were not letting up. Having lost the 1951 elections, they regrouped and suffered even greater losses in the 1954 elections and visited mayhem on innocent Ghanaians. Theirs was to win power by any means necessary, aided by the power and money of the colonialist. As compradors to the cause of imperialism, the governor was prepared to do anything to assist them win power.
Nkrumah as leader of Government Business and later as Prime Minister had moved a change of the constitution to make all positions in the Legislative Assembly electable and also the cabinet of eight to be chosen from the Assembly and responsible to the Assembly and not the governor. The governor still retained some powers and two portfolios of external affairs and defence were reserved for him.
The period after the 1954 elections was the most devastating for politics in the Gold Coast. It resulted in the formation of the National Liberation Movement (NLM) by the opposition. Supported by one of the most powerful chiefs in Ghana, it forced supporters of Nkrumah and the CPP into exile from the Asante region of Ghana. It further argued for further elections, to which the governor obliged. It was after the July 1956 elections that the British Government agreed to accept a motion calling for independence within the Commonwealth. The CPP triumphed again, winning 76 of the 104 seats. The NLM won 12 seats only in the Asante region.
Nkrumah in August 1956 tabled a motion for independence in the new Parliament, which was accepted by the British Government and March 6, 1957 was set as the date for Ghana’s independence. Ghana’s independence celebrations were attended by many in the liberation movements around Africa, as well as the representatives of people of African descent in North America and the Caribbean, for Ghana was to become the home for all Africans. It was there that the famous statement: ‘Ghana’s independence is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of Africa’ was made. He also stated that ‘Ghana must prove to the whole world that when given the opportunity, the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.’
Nkrumah and the CPP were genuinely interested in managing their own affairs and on July 1, 1960 Ghana became a republic, removing the Queen as the Head of State and replacing her with the President – President Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
Nkrumah faced many attempts on his life. As early as in January 1958, a coup d’état was being hatched to overthrow his government of barely 10 months. The year 1961 saw many bomb attacks on him coming soon after the murder of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo. On August 1, 1962, while returning from a meeting with President Yameogo of Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), he narrowly escaped a grenade attack at Kulungugu in the now Upper East region of Ghana. On September 23, 1962, there were simultaneous bomb blasts in Accra and Tema. Many other attacks took place in the Accra Stadium and elsewhere. On January 2, 1964 an attempt was made on his life in the Flagstaff House by a police constable on guard duty, who shot at close range but missed killing the head of the Police Guard.
In all of these many innocent Ghanaians were killed and maimed by a conspiracy of the opposition and neo-colonialist forces to get Nkrumah killed or overthrown. They succeeded on February 24, 1966, whilst he was on a peace mission to Hanoi.
The Preventive Detention Act (PDA) was promulgated on July 1, 1958. It gave powers of arrest of any person found to be involved in acts inimical to the state. In that period much unrest and violence was perpetuated by the opposition. The PDA has been criticized in many circles as having given wide powers which were abused. It surely did not end acts of violence in Ghana but it must have reduced them considerably and saved many lives. Many who have criticized it have however, not been able to say same about the Terrorism Act and Patriots Act of UK and USA respectively.
The Workers’ Brigade was set up by the CPP as a paramilitary organization to mobilize unemployed Youth to undertake the many jobs that needed to be done but also to acquire knowledge and skill. It was a disciplined force which became the centre of agriculture. It set up many farms, as well as seedling production and demonstration centres to help provide seedlings for farmers and also to train farmers in modern farming practices.
Its workshops for training artisans were state of the art. Many who entered the Workers’ Brigade as unskilled illiterates came out when it was disbanded after the overthrow of Nkrumah’s government as knowledgeable and skilled workers, masons, carpenters, tailors, seamstresses, barbers, tractor mechanics, auto mechanics, electricians, etc.
What happened to all the properties of the Workers’ Brigade remains one of the many unanswered questions. Many have criticized it as just a political grouping, but people forget that by the turn of independence many people were illiterates, unskilled and unemployed. It was to meet the needs of the people at their time of need. It did train many Ghanaians to do many tasks which would otherwise not have been done.
Young Pioneer Youth Movement
The Youth movements that existed in Ghana were the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Brownies, all imports from the colonial masters in addition to church Youth groups. The CPP government was determined to introduce a home-grown Youth movement that will educate Ghanaians on their ‘Ghanaianness and Africanness’. After visits to the home of many Youth movements in the UK, USA, West Germany and Russia, Ghana’s Young Pioneer Youth Movement was created as an amalgamation of the strengths of the West German and Russian models, to produce well-bred, disciplined and knowledgeable Ghanaian Youth. It started under the leadership of a Methodist Minister but was accused by the opposition of blasphemy and as a movement to brainwash Ghanaian children.
The author joined the movement in 1964 and learnt the 12-point discipline code of the movement which still serves him well:
- Love of Country;
- Discipline and Obedience;
- Honesty and Morality;
- Protection of State Property;
- Reliability and Secrecy;
- Comradeship and Forbearance;
- Love of Work;
- Field craft;
- Selflessness; and
- Striving to Faultlessness.
If present-day schooling taught the children the essence of Ghanaian values and the code of discipline, there would be better citizens in Ghana today. The Youth were trained in Ghanaian culture, poetry and dance and many extracurricular activities, as well as how to be good citizens in a newly independent country.
Of course songs were sung that praised Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the President and that infuriated members of the opposition. One of the bomb attacks in Accra was targeted at the Young Pioneer’s orchestra while playing at a Presidential ceremony.
The Young Pioneer Youth Movement was immediately abolished at the time of the coup d’état and has still not been replaced. The Ghanaian educational system has not been able to engage the minds of the Youth of Ghana and the result is increasing indiscipline which did not exist before.
Nkrumah and the CPP believed that Africa’s survival and ability to use its numerous resources to benefit its people lay not in our individual states but in a United Africa where all the resources were harnessed in all the different parts of the continent for all the people.
The freedom fighters from all of Africa were given support. To give greater impetus to the African Unity project, the first conference of independent African States was held in Accra in April 1958, organized by George Padmore, Nkrumah’s advisor on African Affairs. Eight states were represented, namely Ethiopia, Sudan, United Arab Republic (Egypt), Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Liberia and Ghana. The leadership pledged to assert the African Personality.
Nkrumah and Sekou Toure formed the Ghana-Guinea Union to give meaning to the unity project. The union was open to all independent African States. Mali joined the union at the end of 1960 and in July 1961 the union issued a charter, as the nucleus of the United States of Africa.
In December 1958 the All African People’s Conference was held in Accra and brought together heads of independent African States and delegates of nationalist movements which led to the creation of a Permanent Secretariat in Ghana to ‘accelerate the liberation of Africa from imperialism and colonialism’. Ghana offered to train freedom fighters from other African countries. Many from other African countries were admitted into Ghanaian educational institutions.
Whereas Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Egypt and Morocco formed the Casablanca group and stood for the unity of Africa, there were those who advocated for cooperation among Africans in various fields. The Monrovia group included Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Liberia, Gabon, Chad, Nigeria, Congo and the Ivory Coast.
In May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nkrumah made an impassioned plea for African Unity during the inauguration of the Organization of African Union (OAU). Ghana hosted the OAU conference in Accra and again Nkrumah made the call for unity stating that it will be impossible for any one African country to meet the challenges and machinations of the colonial masters, who had come back as neo-colonialists to prevent our economic emancipation. Like a prophet all his protestations and warnings have come to pass. African Unity continues to be a dream which must be attained to give Africa its voice and role in the world order.
The issues of France’s role in Ivory Coast and regime change in Libya in recent times further add credence to Nkrumah’s call. It must be African Unity now!
The CPP was a mass political organization of common people who had been marginalized in the independence process and was led by a selfless, visionary and charismatic leader, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. A man of distinction who had educated and trained himself but who unlike most of the intelligentsia had not forgotten his humble roots and was there to serve the people. The party’s organizational mantra was, go to the people, live with them, eat with them, sleep with them, learn from what they know and add on to what they know.
The CPP worked on the three pillars of self-reliance and self-determination, believing that the black man was capable of managing his own affairs; equal opportunity and social justice, making health and education accessible to all Ghanaians; and Pan-Africanism, working for African Unity and the commonality of purpose of all African people.
The welfare and happiness of the people was the pride of the party and everything it did was to provide the basic fundamentals of life, food, clothing, shelter, health and education for the people. Forty-six years after the overthrow of the CPP government, Ghana as a country has become the poorer. The welfare of the people was no longer the main objective of successive governments, but the need for politicians at the helm of affairs to make money at the expense of the poor. Corruption is rife and politics in Ghana and Africa has become monetized. Social inequity is great and the poor and marginalized have very little hope of achieving a decent life.
The Pan-African agenda requires re-invigoration. Everything Osagyefo said would befall Africa if we did not unite has come to pass. We are all worse off as a people than at the turn of independence and yet our leaders have been lured into accepting neo-liberal solutions to our fundamental and basic necessities.
The solution must lie within us as African people believing in ourselves and accepting the blueprint of African development by Osagyefo.
Long live Africa!
4.4 EGYPTIAN NASSERITE MEMORIES OF AFRICAN LIBERATION (1956-1975)
A Personal Experience1
Prof Helmy Sharawy2
This preliminary study of the role of Nasser’s Egypt in the process of African Liberation stems from the personal experience of the author who was attached to the Bureau of African Affairs of the Presidency at a crucial period (1956 – 1975). His duties included the coordination of the Offices of the various Liberation Movements that proliferated in Cairo at that period, and acting as liaison officer between them and the State and other public institutions. The man in charge of African Affairs from July 23rd , 1952 was the Assistant of the President, Minister Mohammad Fayek, until he was imprisoned by President Sadat in 1971. After that the support for Liberation Movements went on the decline until Angola and Mozambique gained their independence in 1975.
The Writer is the Vice President of the Arab African Research Center, Cairo
Tel.: Office:00202 37744644/ Home:33475321
E mail, Office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Email, Personal: email@example.com
The need for oral history as exemplified in personal narratives of the actual actors in the history of Africa in particular is obvious, in view of the scarcity of authentic sources for that history. The same is true for social and cultural histories of societies in periods of social transformation. Thus these personal narratives fill the many gaps that are sure to occur if we rely solely on official documents that may be biased by the interests and policies of the people in power. My own experience in Egyptian politics – and probably in others – shows that official history is often subjected to processes of deconstruction and reconstruction of the facts to suit the changing moods of the main actors in power, or those who follow them. Thus the multiplicity of narratives may be a source of better control rather than cause for confusion as some may think.
The relations between Egypt and the rest of Africa, before or after the July 23rd Revolution, are a model for the importance of oral history of those relations, whether in the fields of political and economic development or in the common struggle against foreign domination. The radical change of policy of the (Anwar) Sadat regime in 1971 immediately after the death of President (Gamal Abdel) Nasser resulted in an obvious lack of adequate documentation of the Nasser regime and hence the need for the contributions of oral history. My present contribution in this area is a modest addition that needs to be complimented by contributions of other actors in this field, either from Egypt or from the Arab North of Africa.
Indeed I have had the chance to record the memories of Mr. Mohammad Fayek, the Assistant of President Nasser for African Affairs (2002). I also had a long interview with the late Kwame Nkrumah in Conakry 1970 after he was ousted from power, and with former President (Ahmed) Ben Bella in Bamako. Add to this my direct personal relations with a number of the leaders of African liberation movements that are exposed in this paper, or were referred to in previous contributions of mine.
The scope of this paper will not allow a detailed expose of all the events that took place after the end of World War II that led to the involvement of Egypt of the Nasser regime (1952-1970), in the process of national liberation. I believe this was prompted more by the course of events rather than by any prior belief of that nationalist leader, as expressed in his booklet Philosophy of the Revolution published in 1955, where he mentioned three spheres of interest in Egypt’s foreign policy.
After the end of World War II the nationalist fervour in Egypt was very high, while at the same time there kept cropping up imperialist projects of alliances in the Middle East trying to include our countries in anti-Soviet Blocs, and creating imperialist military bases. Confronting the popular attempt to gain full independence from Britain, we were confronted with the occupying British troops in the Suez Canal Zone, and the attempts to lure Egypt into membership of the Bagdad, then the Cento Pacts. We also had to face imperialist bases in Tripoli in Libya and Canio Station in Ethiopia, apart from direct colonial rule in Africa. At the same time, Sudan was nominally under joint Anglo Egyptian rule while it was in fact a simple British colony.
The new ‘revolutionary’ regime had to face such a situation, so it allowed forms of resistance against British troops, while going into negotiations for the evacuation of those troops from both Egypt and the Sudan. However, it was careful to keep away from all imperialist military pacts in the region and not to become implicated in the cold war, taking into consideration that Israel was one of the forward bases of imperialism in that Arab region, since it was created in Palestine in 1948 as part of the cold war and to protect Middle East oil. Therefore, to write the national history of Egypt post World War II we should consider the ‘Free Officers’ led by Nasser in 1952 as part of the nationalist movement, and not as founders of the independence movement as known in other cases in Africa.
1. Joining up
One may consider the effects of this environment on a young man born in 1935, joining the university in Cairo, with his background of Wafdist and Moslem Brotherhood influences, and beginning his studies of philosophy and sociology, in the Leftist atmosphere at the university. Amid the wide nationalist propaganda of the Free Officers, he started frequenting the African Association at 5 Ahmed Hishmat Str, Zamalek, in 1956 where he met the young African students of Islamic Studies, many of whom had rallied to the popular defence of Egypt against the Anglo French Israeli aggression that year. That aggression was to punish Egypt for its nationalist spirit in the Arab world and Africa (including Algeria), and its insistence on getting rid of all occupation troops, and breaking the monopoly of the West for arms supply, and its nationalization of the Suez Canal Company.
In his long dialogue sessions in 2002, Mr. Fayek told me of Nasser’s instructions during the Sudan negotiations with Britain in 1953 to deploy much effort against the British and American influence and to gain the support of the peoples of Sudan’s neighbours in Ethiopia and East Africa, after relinquishing the old slogan of Egypt-Sudan unity, under the Egyptian Crown. At the time the Egyptian Broadcasting System started its dedicated transmissions in Tigrean (for Ethiopia and Eritrea) and in Swahili (for East Africa). By the 1960s these transmissions were extended to cover 30 African languages.
The central pole of attraction for those Youth was the late Mohammad Abdel Aziz Ishak, the well-known intellectual. They also met Mohammad Fayek who was keen to keep in touch with African Youth, mostly Azhar students, with a few from Cairo University. For me this experience of getting acquainted with these Youth, full of enthusiasm to go back to their respective countries to help in their liberation and development efforts, was very instructive and eye opening on the new world and cultures. Needless to point out that their activities were much influenced by the fervour of the Nasserist media.
I have always pointed out that Nasser’s mention in his booklet Philosophy of the Revolution of the three spheres of interest in Egyptian politics (Arab, African and Islamic, in this order) did not indicate the real priority given to our relations with Africa. Indeed, in 1955 Nasser was exploring the Asian experience when he met in Bandung, Indonesia, with the leaders of China, India and Indonesia (as well as the Ethiopian and Ghanaian representatives).
Until that time his interest in Africa was mainly concerned with securing the situation of the newly independent Sudan, and hence he saw it fit to support the independence efforts of the Nile Basin countries: Kenya, Uganda, Eritrea and Congo. The regime had created the Tahrir Publishing House to publish its own newspapers: Al Gomhouria daily and the weekly Al Tahrir Liberation. In this latter we read about American military bases, and the Kenyan ‘Mau Mau’ revolution under Jomo Kenyatta. Between 1956 and 1958 there were many African and Asian developments that were followed by the Syrians asking for unity with Egypt and thus shifting our priority once more to the Arab sphere.
Thus the interaction with the Nile countries and the rest of Africa came before this talk about the three circles of interest. It seems to me that this latter theory was the brainchild of some petty bourgeois intellectuals who were obsessed with the role of Egypt and its influence in this or that region, while the feudal land owners considered the right of self-determination for the Sudan to be a huge surrender to British colonialism.
It was a period of rich experiences for Egypt and for a youthful student of Cairo University, who witnessed, among his newly acquired African friends (many of whom undertook military training with the Egyptian National Guard) the defeat of the imperialist aggression of 1956. Soon after came the first Afro Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Conference (December 1957/January 1958), where scores of young delegates from African and Asian countries thronged through the premises of the halls of Cairo University. Together with my African friends, I accompanied many of those delegates and thus improved my previous superfluous information about their countries (despite my studies of sociology and anthropology).
Such contacts prompted my increased interest in the African Association, and acceptance to contribute some modest articles to the new periodical African Renaissance, about African journalism as well as African music and sculpture. This periodical (1957) was the best known about Africa at the time, and an issue in English soon followed, to make it more accessible to a wider audience. At the time I was also a researcher at the Egyptian Folklore Institute.
The period 1956-1960 was rich in nationalist fervour both in Egypt and Africa where the struggle for independence was the first priority. Contacts with the Socialist powers (The Soviet Union and China) were needed in the struggle against colonialism in its various manifestations. Thus the Youth Festival in Tashkent saw many participants from African countries, but many of them were students in Cairo because or in spite of the obstacles put up by the colonial powers against travel to the Soviet Union. So it was decided to hold the Afro Asian Peoples Conference in Cairo, and it was attended by hundreds of young delegates, although many of them also came from countries of voluntary exile.
Some of these extended their stay in Cairo, while many more left permanent representatives, to found offices in Cairo, their best opening to the outer world. The rule was for the leader to hold a personal meeting with Nasser before leaving the country, and he would obtain Nasser’s instructions for founding that new office, and allotting time on the Broadcasting System. Some other members of the office would be posted at the Secretariat of the Afro Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Organization (AAPSO). Thus Zamalek was crowded with many Africans, such that we nicknamed it The African Colony! It became a refuge for revolutionaries and a venue for many students in Egypt, and even for Egyptian students and journalists, and sometimes some nationalist leaders such as Fathi Radwan, Helmi Murad, friends of our delegate assassinated in Somalia, Kamal Ed Dine Salah. Their presence introduced me also to Egyptian political life.
Among the leaders received early by Nasser (1957/58), was Sheikh Ali Mohsen Al Berwani, the leader of the Zanzibar National Party (ZNP), who pointed out to Nasser his dilemma as a nationalist leader, but was accused by the Africans of being an Arabist. Nasser rallied his support by allotting a special guest house named ‘The East Africa House’ to accommodate some 40 students from all the East African countries (including Zanzibar). I was appointed as supervisor of this group in 1958 after graduating from university (Social Sciences). My background as a frequenter of the African Association must have been taken into account for this appointment. I spent two years in this job, years that were very useful to my later work (1958/1960).
The declarations of self-rule or independence came one after another from the French African colonies. That eventually led to their independence, while the Algerians kept up their armed struggle against France with full Egyptian support. It looked as if Egypt was getting back at France for its part in the Suez Aggression of 1956, but it was the natural reaction to its arrogant claim that Algeria was a French department. The same attitude with regard to Britain meant that Egypt supported the struggle for independence by their colonies in Africa. Our support for the Somalis and Eritreans was easier to explain because of their strong Arab connections. This support was crowned by Nasser joining other leaders of the world in New York (September 1960). Also there were Nehru, Sokarno, Fidel Castro and others, to promulgate the Declaration of Decolonization of All Colonized Peoples, a declaration that we continued to celebrate for many years.
The peoples’ opposition to French and British colonialism flared up by the end of 1958, such that within a few months we saw Felix Mumie, the leader of Union du Peuple du Cameroun (UPC) visit the African Association, followed immediately by Ignatius Musaazi the leader of the Ugandan National Congress (UNC), who left the brilliant John Kaley to manage their office in Cairo. Then came Oginga Odinga to start the office of the Kenya African National Union (KANU), followed by Oliver Tambo to open the office of the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa, and the list goes on.
At the same period or a little earlier, came Wold Ab Wold Mariam, who directed the Tigrean Broadcasting, followed by Adam Mohammad Adam and Sheikh Ibrahim Soltan, the leaders of the Eritrean liberation front before they fired their first shot. They were to present their demand for self-determination status for Eritrea to the United Nations. As for Haj Mohammad Hussein who belonged to the Ogadin (part of Ethiopia populated by ethnic Somalis), he led the Somalian Liga that called for grouping all Somalis in Greater Somalia. He solicited Egypt’s support for his cause, in view of the assassination of Kamal Ed dine Salah, Egypt’s representative in the Somali Council of Trustees. We also received Harbi and his comrades in Djibuti, and Joshua Nkomo and his comrades in Southern Rhodesia, and Kenneth Kaunda and his comrades of UNIP from Northern Rhodesia. As a young man, I was really overworked by my duties in the East Africa House and the African Association with all these leaders to look after and help solve problems (a list of the African Liberation Movements is attached).
The sources of information about Africa were very scarce in Egypt at the time, and Mr. Fayek in his reminiscences told me his only source of information about Africa in the fifties was John Gunther’s book Inside Africa and a few booklets in Arabic. Thus I was happy when he instructed me to translate certain articles in some African newspapers he managed to subscribe into. So I could read papers from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Rhodesia and Uganda (all of them unavailable in Egypt today). I was also happy to lay hands on Lord Healy’s book Survey of Africa (1958), that was later updated in Colin Legum’s treaties in the 1960s. Afterwards the Information Authority translated books by Kenyatta and Nkrumah and others. And the Sudanese Studies Research Institute was transformed to become the African Research Institute.
We had the feeling that Israel was trying hard to circumscribe Egypt’s role in the Nile Basin and we countered this by deep solidarity with all liberation movements in the region. The close alliance between Israel and the racist segregation regime in South Africa was a clear warning to Egypt of the similarity between the settlers’ colonization systems in both Palestine and Southern Africa. This was a lesson for me about the various systems of colonization.
At the time I was getting involved with the Leftist trend in Egypt, and I knew from our friends in the African Association that most African liberation movements were also leftist. Thus it was an unpleasant surprise when George Padmore visited Egypt as an advisor to President Nkrumah. This author of Pan-Africanism or Communism, whose anti-communist trend was very pronounced, did not fit in the guise of advisor to Nkrumah who championed the liberation movements and the unity of all African Peoples. Indeed Padmore met with little welcome among the delegations in Egypt, especially as the Soviets and the Chinese had established friendly relations of cooperation with all these movements, and had their representatives in the secretariat of AAPSO in Cairo. I shall touch later on the problems caused by the competition between the Soviets and the Chinese over their support to the different liberation movements.
Later on I understood why our government concentrated great efforts on the liberation movements in Zamalek, to stress the difference of Egyptian support for these movements from that accorded by the communist states. However, my role in this direction was negatively assessed by those Egyptians who were aware of my Leftist tendencies. That did not reduce my enthusiasm for the Nasserist leadership. I overcame this ambiguous feeling only after coming into close contact with David Dubois and his mother Shirley Dubois, who explained the leftist content of the Nkrumah concepts. They had come to Egypt after the great Pan-Africanist William Dubois had passed away in Accra in 1963, and we read together the poem, where that great man had celebrated the ‘Triumph of the Nile Pharaoh (= Nasser) over the British Lion’ in 1956. We also reviewed William Dubois’s concept of African unity and his influence on President Nkrumah who considered him the father and teacher of all African Nationalists. Strange to note that few African intellectuals give much attention nowadays to this internationalist Marxist thinker. I also noted how George Padmore tried to eradicate the influence of Dubois on Nkrumah, and even tried to sow discord between Nkrumah and Nasser over the Afro Asian peoples’ solidarity by holding the All African Peoples Conference in Accra only one year after the AAPSO conference in Cairo (1958).
I was surprised when the delegates returning from Accra told me of the non-violence policy announced in that conference, that Fanon had opposed. I decided to study the effect of Fanon’s teachings in Africa and whether the presence of Asian citizens there had spread some of Gandhi’s non-violence policies. Indeed, we were concerned in Egypt that some of Nkrumah’s advisors may have made him believe that Nasser was competing with his policy of African Unity in favour of Arab leadership. Such ideas were manifested by Kojo Botsio, Nkrumah’s advisor disapproving the so-called Arab influence. Indeed, we always suspected in that atmosphere that any anti-Arab policies in Africa were the outcome of Israeli instigation.
Yet we were all pleasantly surprised when President Nkrumah asked President Nasser to help him marry an Egyptian lady. As Fayek told me, this was done in a very friendly manner, and disproved all rumours about competition for influence between the two men. Indeed, we jokingly called this marriage a marriage of Pan-Africanism with Pan-Arabism. Later Mrs. Dubois chose, in 1966, to stay in Cairo after the coup against Nkrumah, and I found her a nice flat overlooking the Nile that Dr. Dubois had been fond of during his stay in Cairo in 1958. She was so happy with that flat and treated me as a close member of the family. Her son David lived in that flat until his death some five years ago when he bequeathed it to an Egyptian friend.
During the Nasser era the political culture of liberation did not have the monopoly of the arena as some may believe, but the conservative cultures also flourished because of the depth of religious feelings among the people. The big changes Nasser applied to the scope of study as the Azhar by introducing secular and scientific curricula did not alter significantly this situation, but on the contrary increased its role in the higher education system. Thus the number of African students seeking education at Al Azhar in the mid-1960s exceeded twenty thousand.
The non-Moslem African countries complained that their students could not easily follow studies in other branches of higher education, and Nasser decided to remedy this shortcoming by founding new institutions of higher education, where tuition was carried out in English and French. Bureaucracy too was an obstacle for any insertion of the representatives of liberation movements into Egyptian society, despite their acceptance by some responsible people. Indeed, the efforts of our Bureau of African Affairs were decisive in this direction, and it did not suffer from the political internal strife within other offices such as those concerned with Arab or Sudanese affairs. The different members of the Free Officers Movement sometimes competed for influence in such a way as to adversely affect the various spheres of activity.
African Affairs sometimes suffered when we had to solve problems in cooperation with the myriad of centres of influence, such as the centres in charge of foreign students (in Azhar or elsewhere), or the Secretariat of AAPSO, or the Federation of Labour, or the Nasr Company for Export and Import, or the Higher Islamic Council, or Parliament, or the Socialist Union, or the Deputies to the President, etc. The young responsible that I was, would sometimes feel dizzy trying to handle such entangled connections. Even the African Affairs Bureau sometimes suffered from internal differences of opinion that needed a Presidential decision.
The above is some sort of auto criticism of a period rich in movement, where the objectives were always greater than the movement itself. This criticism was directed at the Egyptian system, but it also applies to many of the participants of the African Movements themselves. Indeed, few of them were ambitious enough to study the Egyptian society, or even raise their own political consciousness to make known their society in revolution against colonialism. Only a few, among them Archie Mafejie, John Kaley and Belesso were those with whom I managed to make rich intellectual dialogue.
However, my personal and human relations were very fruitful with many of the leaders as my home was always a welcoming venue, and my wife and children were familiar with many of those friends. It seems to me that this lack of political culture among many of those cadres of the liberation movements may explain many of the setbacks that befell some of the countries liberated through the struggle led by well-established movements. In many cases internal ethnic or communal strife wasted much of the gains of independence and hampered development efforts, such as to cause the perplexity of some observers such as Davidson or Gerard Chalian.
Such reflections may need a detailed study well outside the scope of these memories, and may explain the preponderance of the military action over the political during the liberation struggle. We could assess the effectiveness of the particular liberation movement by the activity of its office in Cairo and the effectiveness of its representation. Thus Dr. Mumie, the president of the UPC of Cameroun headed in person their office in Cairo, and he was a well-known opponent of the French colonial policies, such that his assassination was obviously imputed to the French Secret Service.
John Kaley was the deputy president of the Uganda Congress Party, and Rubin Kamanga was elected as deputy president of the Zambia Independence Party while resident in Cairo. Similarly Alfred Nzo was elected Secretary General of the ANC of South Africa while resident in Cairo, and later was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs in Mandela’s first administration after apartheid. Also Mokhekhly the President of Basoto Congress Party and its representative Shakila were often seen in Cairo, then their party won a great majority and they were recalled to form the government.
These close political – and personal – relations with such well accredited leaders of their countries were a cause for pride to all of us in the African Affairs Bureau, and to me in particular.
All these leaders occupied modest offices beside my own modest office at the African Association, but they were all a model of activity and vitality. The financial help given to such powerful parties in their respective countries was generally modest. (I remember that all that was given to a liberation leader to carry out a country wide election campaign before independence 1964 was equal to 25,000 dollars).
Other cases were not so brilliant, e.g. Nquoqo the leader of the Swaziland Congress was a frequent visitor of Cairo, and was vocal in his denunciation of British Imperialism and the king in his country, but his party did not win one seat in Parliament. In answer he held a press conference where he claimed that he was the strongest opponent of colonialism and as such was ferociously opposed by the colonialists and their lackeys!
As for the defeat of Joshua Nkomo and his ZAPU party before the ZANU party led by Ndabaningi Sithole and Robert Mugabe, we find it hard to explain unless it is related to tribal loyalties, an explanation that is unpleasant to me.
The concept of national liberation at that moment immediately after independence still needs some deep thought. Indeed, I never attended any real debate during those two decades (1955/75) about the real content of Fanonism, Guevarism, or even Nasserism or Nkrumahism that were coined rather lately. We were all the time taken up by the day-to-day events and the progress of this insurgency or revolt in this colony or the other, such that we never had the leisure to debate the theoretical or social content in a methodical fashion.
We might discuss the actions of the different leaders and the rivalries or cooperation that affected their action, or we might invoke the memories of Fanon or Guevara as nationalist leaders to be emulated. We never debated their political or social thought in order to follow their example or otherwise. The Sino-Soviet differences and their negative effects on the liberation movements shall come later on. Thus the armed struggle as the sole means for political liberation, and the rivalries that sometimes led to fratricidal strife in pursuit of supremacy after independence, was the salient facet of the picture. However, there were exceptions where some leaders had enough social and class consciousness, as in the case of South Africa, and the thinking of Amilcar Cabral and a few other leaders. Indeed, it is hard to expect that the concepts of the necessary social transformations, not developed during the period of national unity during the liberation struggle, can be seriously addressed during the less exacting situations after independence.
I recall that when I met the late Nkrumah in Conakry in December 1970 after his ousting, he exposed at length his views about such matters in retrospect, and about which he wrote his book titled: The Class Struggle in Africa. He gave me a copy of that valuable book exposing the state of the classes and the role of the intellectuals in Africa, and even the conditions for successful guerilla warfare in Africa and the social background for such success.
4. Getting into the Framework
The year 1960 was of crucial importance to the National Liberation of Africa, not only because the Declaration of Independence of All Colonized Peoples was adopted by the United Nations on December 14, but also because it was the year when much was achieved in terms of clarifying the difference between the concepts of formal independence and real national liberation.
In 1960 the Algerian revolution was advancing despite the fierce repression of the French colonialists after their recent defeat in Vietnam. The Algerians had created their government in exile, and that government had a strong representation in Egypt, and was recognized by Nasser as a legitimate government of an independent country. Before that France had maintained that Algeria was simply a French department, and tried to gain as many votes as possible in the UN to corroborate its claim.
Then all of a sudden it granted ‘Independence’ to 10 French colonies in Africa, hoping to muster their votes in the General Assembly, together with some other British colonies granted independence that year. All these newly independent African countries had to decide their position towards the French claim about Algeria, but only a few of them rallied to the strong stand of Egypt that year, despite the fact that world public opinion was slowly accepting the principle of independence for Algeria.
France had taken a violent attitude towards Guinea two years earlier when Sekou Toure refused the constitution proposed by France and unilaterally declared his country’s independence. I recall now the great impact of the articles published by the thinker Ahmed Baha Ed Dine on his return from the celebrations of Guinea’s independence that year. Sekou Toure was a trade union leader, and his clear understanding of the exploitation of colonialism and class struggle was an eye opener for our generation on the essence of liberation from colonialism. This differed greatly from our attitude towards Mau Mau resistance of the Kikuyu in Kenya under Jomo Kenyatta, which bore folkloric proportions.
The national liberation countries in Africa were limited to Ghana, Guinea and Mali in sub-Saharan Africa, and Egypt and the Maghreb in North Africa together with the Algerian Government in exile. This small group took a distinctive attitude in supporting the popular regime of Patrice Lumumba in the Congo against the imperialist supported Kazavubu and Moise Tchombe. I remember the workers and students’ demonstrations in Cairo against the Belgian Embassy. The name of Tchombe was considered an insult in Egypt at the time, while Lumumba had the same esteem as Ben Bella and his comrades after their abduction by France.
I must stress here that Egypt’s role in these liberation struggles was not just some fiery speeches of the type common in the Arab world, but conducted with a serious sense of national responsibility that led to mobilization of our military forces during the Congolese crisis, and the involvement of our diplomatic personnel. I remember how Mohammad Abdel Aziz Ishak accompanied Lumumba’s widow and children who were smuggled out of Congo by our diplomatic staff after his assassination by Mobutu and Tchombe in defiance of world public opinion. They were given the full support of the President, and I was detached to arrange for their accommodation in Cairo, and find proper schooling for the children.
Nasser always cited the example of the Congo to stress Egypt’s commitment to help all liberation struggles and make sacrifices if necessary, and the Casablanca group mentioned above supported this position. This was the main topic among the Egyptian public opinion that made fun of Tchombe being ‘sequestrated’ in the Republican Palace when he came to attend the African Unity Summit in 1964. I sometimes compare this nationalistic position of the Egyptian public opinion in those years with the public craze about the football ‘Mondial’ in the years 2009/10.
Here I must make the parallel between the struggle of Lumumba and his comrades in defence of the mineral riches of their country, coveted by Imperialism, and the defence of the Egyptian people of their Suez Canal also coveted by the same imperialism. Indeed, the picture of the assassinated Lumumba and his family as refugees in Egypt had an impact on our public opinion far in excess of any enthusiastic speeches.
The Congolese crisis led to a situation where the newly independent African states fell into two clear camps: the Casablanca Group and the Monrovia Group. The first took its name from the meeting held in that city in January 1961 when it was decided to support the legitimate government of Lumumba even by military action, by sending armed forces. The second grouped most of the new francophone states and was called the Monrovia Group. The Casablanca Group had a special significance for our generation as it included the Arab North with various progressive countries both Francophone and Anglophone. It also grouped the revolutionaries Nasser and Ben Bella with the nationalist King Mohammad the Fifth, and favoured the policies of revolutionary struggle advocated by Fanon, and where President Nkrumah advanced his policy of ‘Positive Action’. Indeed I was told that when Fanon attended the first Afro Asian Peoples’ Solidarity Conference in Accra in 1958, he was offended when he saw the slogans containing quotations by Nkrumah extolling positive action and nonviolence and insisted they be removed.
At the time we were impressed by reading the Arabic translation of Fanon’s books, and thrilled by the revolt of the Angolan political prisoners on a Portuguese ship. We were also dismayed by the abduction by France of the Algerian leaders, but happy for the liberation of Kenyatta the leader of Kenya.
I had the privilege of attending the Uhuru celebrations of Tanganyika’s independence on December 9, 1961 (and later attended the celebration of Kenya and Zanzibar’s independence in January 1963). On such occasions I would wonder at the significance of the independence of this or that country for the peoples of the continent, or the role of this or that leader.
At the time, Julius Nyerere was intent on the union of East Africa only, while President Nkrumah was campaigning for the United States of Africa, and Tanganyika was somewhat worried by his support for the various liberation movements, many of which were neighbours to Dar Es Salam. President Nyerere was also worried about Nasser’s influence on Zanzibar and the Arabs of East Africa. Thus we were not very happy in Cairo with his policies until the social changes of Tanzania and the Arusha Declaration in 1966.
The representatives of most liberation movements were unhappy about the policies of Nyerere that did not seem revolutionary enough and were in opposition to Nkrumah’s call for African Unity. I was acquainted with Abdel Rahman Babu the progressive from Zanzibar, who maintained the necessity of change, and also acquainted with Ali Mohsen who was accused of being an advocate of Arabism there. I was not surprised when Babu with Salem Ahmed Salem led secession in the Nationalist Party that led to the bloody events in that island.
I was dismayed by those events as I had personally known the families of the 40 Zanzibari students in the East Africa House. I recall meeting Babu in a café in Dar Es Salam in 1964 and he was frustrated after being ousted by the new regime in Zanzibar, and expected little good from Dar Es Salam, such that he chose self-exile in Britain as an internationalist, writing about socialism in Africa.
I must admit how I was thrilled when witnessing the British flag being drawn down, to be replaced by that of Kenya or Tanganyika and thought it was a huge step forward surely to be followed by other social advances. However, I soon found Nyerere’s policies to be not so progressive and in collision with Nkrumah’s policy of a United Africa.
The leaders of the Casablanca Group were also frustrated because of their failure in the events of Congo and the triumph of Tchombe and Mobutu and the fleeing of Gizenga and his colleagues to Eastern Congo. Finally, Nkrumah accepted a compromise policy to succeed in gathering both progressive and moderate leaders, and with Nasser called for a summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where they declared the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Thus May 25, 1963 was celebrated as the birth of African Unity that concentrates political efforts against imperialism while putting off any social progress to a later stage.
In Egypt we had to face the problem of countering the role of Israel as an imperialist agent in Africa, and in the face of the support received from the former colonial states. We were pained in particular by the relations of Israel with the Ghana of Nkrumah, while Israel boasted its relations with Ethiopia and Tanzania as well. Israel at the time, tried to present itself as a developing country, while the statements of the Afro Asian conferences as well as the Casablanca group exposed it as an advanced base of ‘new colonialism’.
At the OAU conference Nasser declared he would not ask the African leaders present to state their stand point against Israel, but asked them to find out for themselves its reality as an agent of imperialism. He succeeded in leading the conference to a moderate policy and struck the correct balance between Nkrumah and Nyerere and Cote d’Ivoire as three distinct trends in the meeting. Thus Nasser and Emperor Haile Selassie assumed the role of the Big Brother to all their colleagues.
Many were those who came to Cairo after the conference asking for support especially as Cairo was chosen as the venue for the next meeting in May 1964, supposed to be the first Summit of the OAU. As a token of the Organization’s role in liquidating colonialism, the Coordination Committee for Liberation of the Colonies was created. Thus Cairo took a position between the leaders of Ghana and Tanzania, as well as between Senegal and Cote d’Ivoire competing among the OCAM group of francophone countries. There was a tendency among the participants to liquidate all regional groupings and the Casablanca group did so while the OCAM group continued as such.
Those were glorious days for African activity in Cairo where Egyptian media showed great interest in the activity of the Liberation Movement’s Offices in Zamalek. Liberation activity including armed struggle was acclaimed by everybody without fear of talk of ‘intervention’. A positive factor in this connection was the anecdote of sequestrating Tchombe in one of the rooms of Cairo’s Presidential Palace, with the group of Belgian Belles who accompanied him to prevent him from attending the OAU conference in 1964, which caused much fun for the public in Cairo, and compromised the francophone group that arranged for his uninvited visit to Cairo.
New liberation movements kept coming to Cairo, especially from the Portuguese colonies, looking for support which they readily got from Nasser, and I watched their happiness after such audiences. Indeed, Fayek and our group of his assistants did a good job in accommodating some 20 such offices. The big number was partly due to receiving more than one delegation from one country, and this was my personal dilemma as I had to coordinate their demands such as to render them acceptable to Fayek’s Presidential Bureau. Those demands included scholarships for students, military training, allotted time for broadcasting, etc.
I was sometimes torn up by my happiness that Cairo was helpful to these young revolutionaries and having to decide who were worthy of that help and who were not, who were ‘authentic’ and who were not. The legitimacy of different levels of liberation struggle was a good reason for such variety, and Cairo was one of few capitals to accept this diversity. The deep reasons for such an attitude were to be understood by me in good time.
At times there were three movements from one country, such as the case of South Africa and Angola. Sometimes we accepted movements that were the outcome of a secession from another, as in the case of ZAPU and ZANU, or SWAPO and SWANU, or even movements that had no weight at all such as COREMU in Mozambique. Thus some movements would group together as authentic, such as ZAPU, PAIGC, FRELIMO, SWAPO, MPLA and ANC. The others could not meet as authentic, and we labeled them pro-Chinese. There was a real Cold War waged at the African Association where the Socialist states were competing for the adherence of the different movements in a manner more open than that between the respective embassies.
This cold war would become quite hot when the AAPSO conferences were held, and the Soviets would provide air tickets and accommodation for everybody at the conference held in a friendly city. In such cases, their friends seemed in a strong position and would group as the only ‘authentic’
Such situations were somewhat embarrassing to me. I was a reader of Fanon and Mao Ze Dung and Lin Piao’s article on the centre and the peripheries, where the countryside refuses the influence of the cities. In this context the countryside stands for China and the Third World, and the cities stand for the Western bourgeoisies and the Imperialist Socialists who emulate them!
To a ‘Fanonist’, this was an attractive presentation, but the pro-Chinese group in Cairo presented little thought of value, and had little to boast of in the way of active struggle at home. On the other hand, the discussions with the authentic group were always deeper and reflected clear cut concepts, and concrete political and diplomatic action. Also the Leftist movement in Egypt had not given much attention to the Chinese Revolution and its Asiatic neighbours, and the Cultural Revolution and the Red Book were rather scorned. The Nasser Regime and most Egyptian intellectuals accepted the Soviet concepts including the Non Capitalist Road for Development, the Democratic Revolutionaries and the Countries on the Road to Liberation. All such concepts were welcomed by the Nasser Regime and other leaders of the Third World, but were rather frustrating to any radical trends, and to radical Youth, including myself.
The Sino Soviet conflict was not the only cause for our concern in Cairo during the 1960s, as the Maoist Group soon began to lose ground as they failed to consolidate their organizations. They looked like a group of unruly persons whose main task was to expose their competitors to ‘authentic’ position in the public meetings, while they showed no progress in their respective fields of struggle. On the other hand the influence of the ‘authentics’ was on the rise as was their liberation struggle in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea, and this gave them better ground to counter the ‘Maoists’. I recall that President Augustino Neto would not accept my invitation to the premises of the African Association, because UNITA and GRAI had offices there, and he established his office and the lodging of his men outside that building.
This position seemed more significant when he insisted on not signing the ceasefire agreement with Portugal in Lisbon, but at the point of the start of the struggle in Angola. President Sam Nujoma of Namibia was more tolerant as he was bolstered by a UN resolution in favour of SWAPO, and the UN Namibia Institute in Lusaka gave him moral support, such that the competing SWANU was soon liquidated as its leaders were not worthy of respect. There seemed to me that there was some sort of competition between Cairo and Algiers over our relations with liberation movements. Cairo seemed more intent on national liberation policies in general, and providing diplomatic contacts and media coverage. Algeria on the other hand, was more intent on military training and providing arms for the armed struggle through the Committee for Liberation of Colonies.
I asked President Ben Bella about this at the Bamako World Social Forum in 2003, and he confirmed there had been a sort of Gentleman’s Agreement with President Nasser over a difference in the role played by each country.
I felt that creating the OAU has set aside the liberation activity to the benefit of the ruling bureaucracies some of which were openly despotic. This was noticed in many cases such as Ethiopia’s position towards Eritrea, or in the conflicts in Somalia and the Comores. As regards France’s treatment of its former colonies, we reduced our former level of criticism as a token of our regard for Gaullist France. Indeed we gave a warm welcome to Senghor in 1966, while neglecting the progressive Cheikh Anta Diop who extolled the ancient Egyptian Civilization in his book. Indeed, I did not fully accept Senghor’s claims except after naming Dakar University after Diop, to whom I extended my apologies when I met him in the early 1980s in his laboratory at Dakar University.
Zambia was oscillating between the role of a confrontation state, and some sort of acceptance of the racist regimes in southern Africa, while Egypt respected Kenneth Kaunda’s nationalism and considered his dilemma with the racist South that seemed somewhat similar to our dilemma with Israel. Thus Cairo welcomed Kaunda warmly and omitted taking issue with him as Ghana did despite the decline of its influence in the OAU embraced by Haile Selassie, and the Committee for Liberation of the Colonies embraced by Nyerere. The liberation movements responded to Cairo’s moderation by deepening their direct ties with the Soviet Union and the States of Scandinavia. This policy of moderation was strengthened by the series of military coups that took place in the Congo, then Ghana and some Francophone countries.
The moderate national regimes were weakened by this succession of setbacks during the 1960s, while the armed struggle in the Portuguese colonies was getting tougher under leaders such as Cabral, Neto and Mondlanie, who got active support from Socialist countries. I recall that the late great leader Cabral told me in Accra (January 1973), only two weeks before his assassination, that they were on the point of getting anti-aircraft guns from the Soviets, and that would send a message to the Atlantic powers, that Bissau would thus become a new Vietnam. I remembered this when only a short time later, these powers decided to get rid of the Salazar Regime, when Spinola took over in a coup and decided to start negotiations with their colonies in the mid-1970s.
Sam Nujoma took advantage of this change and took a tougher stand towards the UN agencies and consolidated his ties with Angola to provide his guerillas with arms. He was also strengthened by the presence of Cuban forces in the region. As I had warm relations with president Nujoma I could understand his concern with SWAPO’s relations with MPLA due to become stronger after Angola’s independence. When I met President Neto during the independence anniversary in 1976, he explained to me much of the machinations of the racist regime in South Africa and their trying to sow differences between the nationalist forces in the region to whom most support came from the Socialist countries. Indeed, even the Soviets were not so forthcoming in their aid and had to be urged by threats of asking for Chinese help to make good their deficiency.
The 1970s were very frustrating both for my personal duties and for my feelings towards Sadat’s Egypt’s position with regard to supporting liberation movements. At the time Sadat went hand in hand with the Americans in confronting what he called the communist influence in Africa. He stigmatized the Cuban presence in countries such as Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique.
All progressive forces in Egypt and most national liberation countries faced an impasse, and we would recall the atmosphere of the 1960s that we used to criticize as moderate! In those days the liberation movements in the progressive countries were supported by popular forces, but the successive military coups changed the situation. The popular bases included the trade unionists in Egypt, Maghreb, Ghana, Tanzania, Sudan and Kenya. At times, there was competition that obstructed the smooth cooperation between Ahmed Fahim in Egypt, Al Sediky in Maghreb, Tettegah in Accra, Kampona in Dar Es Salam and Shafii in Sudan against the moderates such as Mboya in Kenya, Aashour in Tunis and others. The first group would ask the leader for help for liberation movements, and sometimes other forces such as the students at the Dar Es Salam University campus or the October revolution intellectuals in Sudan, but it was always the leader who took the decision. After the successive coups and the transformations of the 1970s these popular forces lost their influence.
To illustrate the contrast between the two situations, let us compare the reaction to the colonial action in Rhodesia in 1965, and the position towards the racist regime in South Africa in the late 1970s. I recall that when we heard about the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) in Rhodesia in November 1965, Egypt was intent on Socialist transformation. Ghana was actively developing by building the Volta Dam. In Tanzania there was the euphoria of the Committee for Liberation of the Colonies, and we all considered UDI as a serious challenge to liberation of the colonies.
I recall that in my position as a researcher in an important institution, I received urgent instructions to gather all pertinent information about the event and in particular the role of Britain as protector and instigator. The same day, I felt similar fervour in the President’s Bureau and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The next day a memorandum was prepared by Mohammad Fayek, with the President’s instruction addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to explore with Ghana, Algeria, the Casablanca Group and others the possibility of severing political relations with Britain as being responsible for its colony Rhodesia. It was thought that the new independent State would bolster the similar type of colonization of Palestine by foreign settlers, and that at a time of the rise of nationalist resistance in Palestine at the hands of the PLO and support of the Arab Liberation Countries (Egypt, Syria and Algeria), a strong and effective action would surely be taken within days.
Indeed, certain agreement was reached, and within two weeks Britain found its relations with 11 African countries severed. That action was the cause for great celebration at the African Association for all representatives of the liberation movements. It was also remarked by diplomatic observers who noted that at the time when Britain was actively attacking the nationalist activists in Aden, and Egypt’s armed forces engaged supporting the republic in Yemen, Egypt did not take such a step.
Indeed, I felt the deep contrast between such reactions and the very limited reaction of the African States at the General Assembly of the UN when trying to pass a strong resolution calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Egyptian and Arab occupied territories after the Israeli aggression of 1967, when Guinea was the only African country to sever its relations with Israel. Of course there was much American pressure on these African countries, but no doubt the main reason for such behaviour was the attitudes of the new regimes towards the liberation movement. This was a cause of great shame to us of the African Affairs after all the support given to the liberation movement. That seemed to us a lost cause to crown our failure to eradicate colonialism.
I remember that Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 war with Israel came as the high point in the series of military coups in Africa that included Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Congo and the rest of the Francophone countries and appeared to be the demise of the national liberation movements in the continent, and the end of the Committee for Liberation of the Colonies. I felt miserable when meeting our Egyptian nationalist forces, insisting on fighting popular war till the full liberation of Egyptian territories. Our only solace was to repeat the slogan coined by some leaders of the Portuguese colonies: ‘Alutta Continua, Victoria Certe’ (The struggle shall continue, and victory is certain).
However, the armed struggle was progressing, especially in the Portuguese colonies, and eventually the Polisario Movement started in the Spanish colony of the Rio de Oro in the Western Sahara of Africa. At the same time, the Palestinians started some form of liberation struggle including armed resistance, and these advances gave us new hope. I recall that the discourse around democracy and social transformation in these struggling colonies was reminiscent of our discourse about the democratization of the Nasser Regime. I would discuss with Leftist friends, with a sense of pride as a protagonist of the African Liberation Movements, about the continuing national struggle, or defend Soviet Egyptian cooperation.
Some of these friends would argue that Nasser was unrealistic trying to go back to war with such a defeated army, but it was those same efforts that resulted in the successful war of 1973. It seems to me that Nasser at last understood the necessity of democratic freedoms as a basis for effective defence of the homeland, and he tried to remedy some shortcomings of his regime by appointing some Leftist cadres at the head of some media institutions, and gave more latitude to democratic and Leftist trends in theatre, the cinema and some publications. This meant a more balanced attitude both in the internal situation and the military position as well.
Soon, the armed struggle in the colonies began to show positive results with active support from the Committee for Liberation of the Colonies, and we began to hear of ‘liberated territories’, and I felt great happiness in meeting some African activists who had visited these liberated territories. I was happy when I was nominated as Egypt’s representative in that Committee, but ‘somebody’ intervened to block that nomination. I hoped this participation would give me the chance to visit some of these liberated territories, and that hope was eventually fulfilled when I visited some liberated areas in Eritrea in the company of some Eritrean Revolutionaries in the late 1970s.
I recall that we the nationalist Youth were frustrated by our defeat in the 1967 war with Israel, while we got some relief from the presence of many delegations that came to Cairo from many liberation movements from Palestine, Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique and even Vietnam. The slogan coined by Nasser saying: ‘What was taken by Force can only be retrieved by Force’ had an encouraging significance and it meant strengthening the ties with the Soviet Union, as China was preoccupied with the consequences of the Cultural Revolution.
I could not overlook the fact that some liberation forces were not completely routed as was generally thought. I thought the explanation was that such countries had some nearby focus of armed liberation struggle, what I called a supporting ‘Hanoi’. Of course this did not mean the same staunchness as exhibited by the Vietnamese, for after all, Vietnam had China and the USSR supporting it. Such cases of support from adjacent revolutions showed in the case of Guinea adjacent to Guinea Bissau, and Tanzania neighbour of Mozambique, or Congo Brazzaville (or even the revolutionaries in Congo Kinshasa) near Angola. It seemed the social relations at the basis of armed struggle had a positive effect on the social relations in their independent neighbour being more progressive.
I must state here that we sometimes over-estimated the social progress in the liberated territories, and the possibility that such transformations would make a solid base for the regime after independence. I had little theoretical knowledge at the time except my readings of Cabral on cultural liberation, but I also heard some negative information about what took place in Mozambique, or in South Africa despite the high theoretical background of the revolutionaries there.
In Egypt we were dismayed by the rejection by the Nasser Regime of the idea of the popular resistance to the regular army fighting to regain our lost territories. This meant relying on the Soviets supplying Egypt with advanced weapons, but this retains the supremacy of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie instead of developing the social action of the popular masses. However, Nasser’s personal leadership compensated for the great shortcomings arising from his compromises with the religious trends on one hand and the military hierarchy on the other hand.
An end was put to this debate in the cultural and democratic circles by the sudden death of Gamal Abdel Nasser on September 28, 1970. His successor Anwar Sadat made a complete turnaround of all Nasser’s policies under the slogan that 99% of the playing cards were held by the United States.
After relying on the Soviets to supply the advanced weapons that eventually helped secure the 1973 victory over Israel, he sent back the Soviet military mission that was training our soldiers on the use of such weapons; he used the limited success of this war to prepare the ground for a peace agreement with Israel; he even threatened to wage war against the Mengistu Regime in Ethiopia with the pretext that it threatened the supply of the Nile water; he supported Mobutu against the revolutionaries in East and South Congo; he supported UNITA and Jonas Savimbi in Angola; he imported tobacco from the UDI regime of Ian Smith in Rhodesia; finally he replaced Nasser’s planned development economy by an open capitalist liberal policy. All these policies were the exact opposite of the policies adopted by the previous Nasser Regime.
The Bureau of African Affairs of the Presidency was dissolved after the arrest of its leader Mohammad Fayek and he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for allegedly plotting against Sadat. All members of the bureau were scattered among the various government departments. After the 1973 war I was put on pension (after only 15 years of service) in a move to get rid of all Nasserists and Marxists in office!
After 1975, I embarked on a personal tour of the realm of culture that took me successively to the Committee for the Defence of National Culture, the African Association of Political Sciences, the Council for Development of Social Research in Africa (CODESREA), teaching at Juba University in Southern Sudan, the Arab League Educational Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) in Tunis and last founding the Arab African Research Center (AARC) in Cairo in 1987.
Cairo Offices of African Liberation Movements
African National Congress (ANC), South Africa
Basoto People’s Congress (BPC), Lesotho
Djibouti Liberation Movement (DLM), Djibouti
Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF), Eritrea
Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), Eritrea
Etudiants de Tchad (ET) Tchad
Front do Liberacion do Mozambique (FRELIMO), Mozambique
Governamento do Angola Independente (GRAI), Angola
Kenya African National Union (KANU), Kenya
League for Liberation of Somalia (LIGA), Somalia
Mouvement de Liberation du Congo (MLC), Congo
Movimento Popular do Liberacion do Angola (MPLA), Angola
Parti Africaine do Independence do Guinee, Capo Verde (PAIGC), Guinea and Cape Verde
Swaziland Peoples Party (SPP), Swaziland
South West Africa National Union (SWANU), Namibia
South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), Namibia
Uganda National Congress (UNC), Uganda
Union do Independente Angola (UNITA), Angola
United Northern Rhodesia Independence Party (UNRIP), Zambia
Zanzibar National Union (ZNU), Zanzibar
Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), Zimbabwe
Arab Maghreb Office, Maghreb
Provisional Algerian Government, Algeria
The last two offices were not affiliated with the African Association
4.5 THE LEGACY OF DR KWAME NKRUMAH
Prof. P. Anyang’ Nyong’o
The Rt. Hon. Dr Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966. Overseeing the nation’s independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister in the period of transition of the self-governing Gold Coast, just before full independence in 1960.
Nkrumah became an influential personality in African independence struggles and post-colonial politics as he championed the cause of almost all nations that sought independence and that waged valiant anti-colonial struggles. He became a leading light in the Pan-African freedom movement when he called the first all Africa People’s Conference in Ghana in 1957, bringing together leading nationalists from all over Africa, and declaring that the Ghanaian independence was not meaningful until all Africa was freed from the colonial yoke. Subsequently he became one of the founding leaders of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, and its third Chairman from October 21, 1965 to February 24, 1966 when his government was overthrown whilst he was on a mission to Hanoi as the OAU Chairman to try and seek solution to the Vietnam War and roll back the mission of imperialism in South East Asia.
Nkrumah wrote many books on Africa’s independence struggles which spanned the whole spectrum of history, politics, philosophy, political sociology and theories of revolution while in office and after he had been overthrown. He is well remembered by his theories of ‘neo-colonialism’, a concept which remains potent to this very day. Among the many books that he wrote in and out of the office were the following:
- Ghana: the autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (1957)
- Africa Must Unite (1963)
- The African Personality (1963)
- Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965)
- Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah (1967)
- African Socialism Re-visited (1967)
- Voice from Conakry (1967)
- Dark Days in Ghana (1968)
- Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968)
- Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonization (1970)
- Class Struggle in Africa (1970)
- The Struggle Continues (1973)
- I Speak of Freedom (1973)
- Revolutionary Path (1973)
The statue of Nkrumah stands prominently at the entrance of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, as well as the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra to remind us today of his great contribution to African independence as well as to the advancement of knowledge. Nkrumah was always concerned that the African asserts his independence and dignity even under the colonial yoke. It is this consciousness of the African having a unique personality as a human being that drove Nkrumah so hard to fight all forms of human oppression and economic exploitation globally.
While we may assume our independence as a given today, we can only know why this formal political independence has not led us to the total liberation of ourselves and our societies if we read and internalize what Nkrumah wrote and said about two important concepts in the history of African liberation. These are: Pan-Africanism and Neo-Colonialism.
Nkrumah on Pan-Africanism
Nkrumah’s writings on Pan-Africanism were inspired by such great black intellectuals like W.E.B Du Bois, Marcus Garvey and George Padmore. He also grew intellectually very close to C.L.R. James, the West Indian intellectual who outlived Nkrumah for many years.
Nkrumah’s concept of Pan-Africanism was very explicitly stated and explained in his book Africa Must Unite in 1963. In this book Nkrumah called for the immediate formation of a Pan-African government. When this union government was getting delayed and regional leaders seemed to be moving more towards functional regional economic blocks such as the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nkrumah argued that the African people needed to get involved in struggles from below, popular struggles, to free Africa from both colonial oppression and neo-colonial enslavement.
Thus Nkrumah’s concept of neo-colonialism was very closely linked with his concept and yearning for African Unity. Western-backed puppet regimes in Africa could neither champion African unity nor could they liberate the African masses from the yokes of neo-colonial economic backwardness and political oppression. In exile in Guinea Conakry Nkrumah became even more radical in his theories of African liberation, clearly going over the heads of his former colleagues in the OAU and arguing for a new Africa led by genuine African revolutionaries unencumbered with apologies to the former colonialist and fighting for the total liberation of Africa not just from political oppression but from social and economic backwardness as well.
Nkrumah on Neo-Colonialism
In his book, Neo-Colonialism; The Last Stage of Imperialism, Nkrumah defines neocolonialism as the conditioning and control of Africa’s independence by the social, political and economic forces of imperialist powers and former colonial masters so as to continue with and perpetuate the exploitation, and at times pillage, of African resources and labour power for purposes of capital accumulation and the building of military strength in these countries. In order to halt foreign interference in the affairs of developing countries it is necessary to study, understand and expose and actively combat neo-colonialism, in whatever guise it may appear. For the methods of neocolonialism are subtle and varied. They operate not only in the economic field, but also in the political, religious, ideological and cultural spheres.
Nkrumah, while the first known exponent of neo-colonialism, has actually been followed by many African scholars, playwrights and political biographers exposing and emphasizing various aspects of neo-colonialism in Africa. Samir Amin, for example, in his book Neo-Colonialism in West Africa (published in French as Afrique de L-Ouest Bloque), noted that in the early seventies the economies of West African states were ‘blocked’ from making any progress precisely as a result of the way they had been integrated into, and remained to be integrated into, the economies of their colonial masters. They were ‘economies of trade’ supplying raw materials to European industries and consuming manufactured goods from the same without any radical structural transformation within.
Faced with the militant people of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America in the 1960s onwards, imperialism simply changed tactics. Without qualm it dispenses with the flag of colonial rule and puts in place presidential authoritarian regimes and military juntas which have little regard for the aspirations of the broad masses and preside over the continued exploitation of Africa’s resources by the imperialists. Any leader who appeared to radically challenge this model was quite frequently overthrown from power by the military, and progressive military rulers assassinated or equally overthrown. Nkrumah saw his fate as having come about as a result of this ruthless imposition of neo-colonial rule in Africa by the imperialists.
Foremost among neo-colonialists Nkrumah named the United States of America, hence his trip to Hanoi to try and stop the Vietnam war when he was overthrown. Analyzing the political economies of Latin American countries which had long suffered under the yoke of US neo-colonialism, Nkrumah saw an ‘invisible hand’ directing affairs from the Pentagon in Washington and the financial conglomerates of Wall Street in New York. Like the Latin American dependencia political economists such as Andre Gunder Frank and Fernando Enrique Cardoso, Latin America could only experience ‘dependent capitalist development’, with all the exclusion of the masses from the benefits of this development, and the continued acceleration of capital accumulation in the imperialist countries. Once politicians understood the ‘mystery’ behind neocolonialism, then they could come to a better position of waging struggles of political and economic emancipation that could benefit the broad masses of their peoples.
Some positive results were achieved during Nkrumah’s time and after his demise from power. His own building of the Akosombo Dam to help Ghana generate its own electricity and build the capacity for aluminium production was an anti-imperialist economic project that partly explained the desire of the imperialists to overthrow him. Gamal Abdel Nasser’s seizure of the Suez Canal from the British in 1956 was a brave step towards economic independence from Britain which led to a war won by Egypt. On the economic front, a strong factor favouring Western monopolies and acting against the developing world is the control by western monopoly multi-national capital of the world market, fixing the prices of raw materials imported from the developing world and manufactured goods exported to the same. Another tactic is the use of high interest rates for money borrowed from the international market by these developing countries for their own capital accumulation. This accumulation cannot go very far if it continues to be expropriated by imperialist finance capital.
For example, while capital worth US$30 billion was exported to some 56 developing countries between 1956 and 1962, it is estimated that interest and profit alone extracted on this sum from the debtor countries amounted to more than 15 billion British pounds. Nkrumah referred to many such examples in his book and further noted that even so-called multilateral aid achieved no different result. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), The International Development Association (IDA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) all have US capital as their major backing, argued Nkrumah. These agencies impose ‘conditionalities’ on the borrowers, making it difficult for the borrowers to exit from the model of development assumed even if it is not working for them.
Nkrumah said this well before Africa went through the World Bank conditionalities which threw African economies into chaos in the seventies and eighties, leading to major economic, social and political upheavals from which Africa is just beginning to recover. Latin America had gone through this period in the sixties, and some countries like Brazil were beginning to get their own houses in order by the beginning of the eighties following the Chilean coup of 1973. By 1988 Brazil, unlike most African countries, had adopted a new constitution, emphasizing their centre of concern for Latin American economic integration, and bringing to the fore the urgency of bringing the masses into the centre of the Brazilian development model, which had to rely first and foremost on auto-centred capitalist accumulation – as Samir Amin put it very ably in his book Accumulation on a World Scale (published in French as Accumulacion a l’echelle mondial).
Nkrumah and Africa today
We can safely say that Nkrumah died young; in fact, at 63 Nkrumah still had many productive years ahead of him. But, like Martin Luther King, Tom Mboya and Amilcar Cabral, he had packed a lot of achievement in the short time he had lived, and left Africa and the world with a wealth of knowledge to carry on with the struggle, just as Julius Nyerere did later on in the nineties.
Imperialism, neo-colonialism and the pillage of Africa still live with us today. The Congo, more than half a century after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, still wallows in poverty and underdevelopment notwithstanding an estimated mineral wealth of 24 trillion dollars and water resources that can generate hydro-electric power for energy consumption in Congo and beyond. Western mining companies still fly into private airfields in the Congo to airlift crude minerals without paying much to the Congolese treasury. Behind them they leave a country where physical infrastructure is scarce and people engaged in intermittent conflicts. The rest of Africa, balkanized into so-called sovereign territories, watch with benign neglect as country after country fall down the path of political repression as multinationals, pirates, mercenaries and other economic and political vultures continue to pillage our nations.
Gabon, another oil rich and mineral laden country, will run out of its oil in the next 25 years. In the meantime, after 50 years of independence and the continuous exploitation of these resources, the Gabonese Republic, notwithstanding a GDP per capita of $8,600, over 35% of the Gabonese people still live in utter poverty. Some 20% of the population receives 90% of the income. High dependence on a colonial-type economy has left the people vulnerable to poverty, very much in the manner that Nkrumah predicted for the whole of Africa under the continued yoke of neo-colonialism.
Although Nigeria is one of the biggest nations in Africa in terms of population, size and natural resources, and being the largest trading partner of the USA in Africa, it has not seen substantial socio-economic transformation since independence. The US trade deficit with Nigeria in 2010 was 26 billion dollars. Some of the social conflicts emanating from Nigeria today are the outcome of this socio-economic decay in the midst of tremendous elite wealth and economic prosperity more as extensions of the global economy rather than as integral parts of Nigerian development. Food production is low and Nigeria is still a net importer of such basic foodstuffs as rice which is a basic staple and could easily be produced locally in plenty.
Even part of the oil production is wasted as Nigerian oil companies burn away the gas that accompanies the extraction of crude oil simply because of the unfavourable contracts Nigeria signed many years ago with the multinational oil companies.
There are, of course, a few countries in Africa which have made tremendous strides to move forward in spite of this stranglehold of globalization. Mauritius is an example. South Africa, having enjoyed a brief period under apartheid when trade boycotts unwittingly disengaged her from global markets, developed internal capacity for industrialization and self-reliance from which the ANC government has reaped mileage in terms of developing a national democratic and developmental economy.
The present-day examples we have given above make it imperative that we re-read Nkrumah. His work immortalized his ideas and his influence on us; something we cannot afford to ignore or underrate.
4.6 KWAME NKRUMAH’S LEGACY THROUGH THE EYES OF THE YOUTH
President of the Pan-African Youth Union and Executive Chairperson
of the National Youth Development Agency of South Africa
It is both an honour and privilege for me to stand here before you as the President of Pan-African Youth Union to address this extraordinary gathering in honour of one of the exceptional leaders of Africa. Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a visionary beyond any doubt, the mere fact that he is still admired even today by Africa and the world at large is testimony to that claim.
According to the history books, 103 years ago on September 21, 1909, Kwame Nkrumah, the founder and leader of the African independence movement and the most imminent advocate of Pan-Africanism, was born in the western Nzima region of the Gold Coast, later known as the independent state of Ghana.
Nkrumah was the first head of state of an independent post-colonial nation in Africa south of the Sahara, after he led Ghana to national liberation under the direction of the Convention Peoples Party in 1957. Educated at the historically Black college of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, USA, Nkrumah became involved in the Pan-Africanist movement in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s as a leading member of the African Students Association, the Council on African Affairs, as well as other organizations.
After leaving the United States at the conclusion of World War II in 1945, he played a leading role in convening the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England – a gathering that many credit with laying the foundation for the mass struggles for independence in Africa during the 1940s and 1950s.
During his stay in England from 1945 to 1947, he collaborated with George Padmore of Trinidad, a veteran activist in the international communist movement and a journalist who wrote extensively on African affairs. Nkrumah was offered a position with the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) as an organizer in late 1947 and made the critical decision to return to the Gold Coast to assist in the anti-colonial struggle that was intensifying in the aftermath of World War II.
After being imprisoned with other leaders of the UGCC for supposedly inciting unrest among veterans, workers and farmers in the colony, he gained widespread popularity among the people, who responded enthusiastically to his militant and fiery approach to the burgeoning anti-imperialist movement. After forming the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO), which became the best organized segment of the UGCC, Nkrumah was later isolated from the top leadership of the Convention, who objected to his demands for immediate political independence for the Gold Coast.
On June 12, 1949, Nkrumah and the CYO formed the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) in Accra, Ghana, at a mass gathering of tens of thousands of people. They were prepared to launch a mass struggle for the abolition of British colonial rule over the Gold Coast. During this same period, Nkrumah formed links with other anti-colonial and Pan-African organizations that were operating in other colonies of West Africa. When the CPP called for a Positive Action Campaign in early 1950, leading to massive strikes and rebellion throughout the colony, Nkrumah was imprisoned by the colonial authorities for sedition.
The executive members of the CPP continued to press for the total independence of the colony, eventually creating conditions for a popular election in 1951 that the CPP won overwhelmingly. In February 1951, Nkrumah was released from prison in the then Gold Coast and appointed Leader of Government Business in a transitional arrangement that eventually led to the independence of Ghana on March 6, 1957.
Vision of Pan-Africanism and socialism
At the independence gathering on March 6, Nkrumah – now Prime Minister – declared that Ghana’s independence was meaningless unless it was directly linked with the total liberation of the continent. This statement served as the cornerstone of Ghanaian foreign policy during Nkrumah’s tenure as leader of the country.
George Padmore became the official advisor on African affairs, and was placed in charge of the Bureau of African Affairs, whose task was to assist other national liberation movements on the continent in their efforts to win political independence. In April 1958, the First Conference of Independent African States was convened, with eight nation-states as participants. This gathering broke down the colonially imposed divisions between Africa north and south of the Sahara.
In December later that same year, the first All-African Peoples Conference was held in Accra, bringing together 62 national liberation movements from all over the continent, as well as representation from Africans in the United States. It was at this conference in December 1958 that Patrice Lumumba of Congo became an internationally recognized leader of the anti-colonial struggle in that Belgian colony.
By 1960 the independence movement had gained tremendous influence throughout Africa, resulting in the emergence of many new nation-states on the continent. That same year, Ghana became a republic and adopted its own constitution, making Nkrumah the President of the government.
However, there arose fissures within the leadership of the CPP over which direction the new state would take in its economic and social policies. Many of Nkrumah’s colleagues, who had been instrumental in the struggle for independence, were not committed to his long-term goals of Pan-Africanism and socialism. Consequently, many of the programmatic initiatives launched by the CPP government were stifled by the class aspirations of those state and party officials who were noncommittal about a total revolutionary transformation of Ghanaian society and the African continent as a whole.
Nkrumah’s most enduring theoretical work was Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, which condemned the United States as the principal imperial power behind the new form of hegemonic rule, which was designed to maintain Western control over the newly independent states in Africa and throughout the so-called developing world. This book so infuriated the US government that its Undersecretary of State for African Affairs G.M. Williams wrote a memorandum of protest to Ghana’s Embassy in Washington, DC, saying that Nkrumah was working in contravention to the interests of the US government in Africa.
Just four months after the release of his book on neo-colonialism, Nkrumah was overthrown on February 24, 1966, by a coup led by lower-level military officers and police in Ghana. Since they perceived Nkrumah’s policies as a threat to the economic and political interests of the Western powers, the US government and the west united behind the coup.
At the time Nkrumah was in China en route to North Vietnam. He was on a mission to bring about a peace settlement in the US war against the peoples of Southeast Asia when Chinese officials informed him of the events in Ghana.
Aborting his mission to Vietnam, he returned via the Soviet Union to Africa, traveling to Egypt and eventually settling in Conakry in Guinea. Nkrumah remained in Guinea until he was flown to Romania to undergo treatment for cancer in 1971. During the period following the coup from 1966 to 1971, he continued to write on the history of Africa and the revolutionary movement for Pan-Africanism and world socialism.
The legacy of Kwame Nkrumah
Despite the coup, Nkrumah’s legacy in Africa and throughout the African world continues. His view on the necessity of coordinated guerrilla warfare to liberate Africa was realized in the subcontinent during the 1970s and 1980s, when the settler-colonial regimes of Rhodesia and eventually South Africa were defeated. Cuba’s role in the liberation and security of Angola was clearly in line with Nkrumah’s ideas, which argued that until settler colonialism was destroyed, the entire continent of Africa would not be secure.
Though the realization of a United States of Africa is still far away, this issue continues to be discussed broadly on the continent and in the Diaspora. The Organization of African Unity was transformed into the African Union in 2002 in order to increase efforts aimed at the unification of the continent. A Pan-African Parliament was formed and is now housed in the Republic of South Africa.
The imperialist murdered former chairman of the African Union, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, who had continued to stress the necessity of forming a continental government along the lines Nkrumah advocated during the 1950s and 1960s. In Ghana Nkrumah’s legacy was utilized in both a positive and a negative manner by the successive regimes that took power after his departure. These regimes are compelled to use his image and legacy, despite their refusal to adopt the CPP program in its totality.
Our historical epoch is characterized by a significant intensification of the economic and political crisis of the world capitalist system. The turbulence in world financial markets, particularly the sovereign debt crisis gripping Europe, is the expression of not merely a conjectural downturn, but rather a profound systemic disorder which is already destabilizing international politics. This is coupled with the historic decline of the only super power in the world, the US, which is trying to arrest its decline through callous militarism.
As always, the weakest links in the chain of imperialist geo-politics are the first to break. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan, the eruptions of civil confrontations in the Congo and Kenya, the violent and criminal disarticulation of the Libyan political body and the brazen murder of Gaddafi, the belligerent provocation of the Syrian and Iranian regimes by western imperialism and the renewed tension in the Balkans over Kosovo are indicative of the increasingly explosive state of world politics.
The NATO powers saw in the overthrow of Gaddafi the prospect of establishing far tighter control over Libya’s oil and gas reserves by major Western energy conglomerates such as BP, ConocoPhillips, Total and ENI. They also saw the installation in Tripoli of a wholly subservient client regime as a means of asserting military power in a region that has been convulsed by popular upheavals, both in Tunisia to the west and Egypt to the east. The regime taking shape in Tripoli and Benghazi will be one dominated by gangsters, Western intelligence ‘assets’ and bribed former Libyan officials, all offering their services in the re-colonization of the country.
In an ominous development mirroring the explosive expansion of US militarism, the US government in 2007 designated Africa as a continent of ‘strategic national concern and importance’, and initiated a new military policy to coincide with this new classification. In the same year, the US government announced the formation of a new military command system in Africa, the United States African Command (AFRICOM), couched in the usual combination of humanitarian and anti-terrorist terminology. West Africa, including Nigeria, presently supplies 20 percent of US crude oil imports. By 2015, it is estimated this share will rise to 25 percent, a greater proportion than Saudi Arabia. Imperialist logic dictates that it is well worth waging wars in Africa in the defence of US interests.
China is the second largest importer of oil after the US, to fuel its rapid economic expansion. According to China’s General Administration of Customs, the Asian nation imported nearly 16 percent more oil during the last four months of 2011 than during the same period in 2010, with the bulk of the increase coming from Africa. In 2010 China consumed 520 million tons of crude oil, with 9 percent of its imports coming from the Sudan.
China imports 25 percent of its crude oil from Africa and is looking for ways to increase the supply from the continent. Since 2000 there has been a five-fold increase in trade between China and Africa – now totaling US$9.5 billion a year – and China is now the continent’s third largest trading partner, following the US and France and eclipsing Great Britain.
With the end of the Cold War, when the major concern of the US was the struggle against the Soviet Union, requiring alliances with nominally independent neo-colonial regimes, after 1991 the US felt able to pursue a more openly colonial-style policy of hegemonic control through the use of the military. The 9/11 terrorist attacks have served as a useful pretext for this shift in US operations in Africa.
Despite the pretence that fighting terrorists and preventing humanitarian disasters will be the main purpose of US military operations in Africa, a report published by the American National Intelligence Council, which bills itself as the US intelligence Community’s centre for mid-term and long-term strategy thinking, makes it clear that US aims in the region are geopolitical in nature, with control of oil resources a primary concern. Titled ‘External Relations and Africa’ the report says, ‘Military engagement has shifted from direct support of proxy regimes or movements during the Cold War’, (as when the Belgium government, with the help of the CIA, overthrew and murdered Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba), ‘to a combination of capacity-building and, especially post-9/11, direct American military involvement in basing areas such as Djibouti’. AFRICOM anchors the African continent in imperialist orbit.
The second president of the democratic Republic of South Africa Thabo Mbeki recently stated that 600 billion USD worth of resources are illegally usurped from the African continent. This startling figure does not include the ‘legal’ plundering of the continent which pales the illicit trade, aptly facilitated by kleptocrats who exist to repress and thieve from their people. We must face up to the reality that the aggression and recolonisation in the continent would not be possible without the complicity of African leaders. Can we imagine NATO’s unchallenged criminality in Libya had Africa had a leadership of the mantle of Kwame Nkrumah? Can we imagine France’s violent intervention in the Ivory Coast that occurred without any iota of resistance from the African leaders had Nkrumah been alive?
African leaders have been out-competing each other in their eagerness to recognize regimes that are installed by imperialism. No African leader has approached the dubious International Criminal Court to seek justice for the 50 000 Libyans that perished as NATO conducted its merciless war on Libya. No African leader has sought justice for the Afghan or Pakistan women and children mercilessly slaughtered by the US killing machine under the leadership of Barack Obama. Kwame Nkrumah insisted on the solidarity not only of Africans, but of all oppressed peoples.
Today the African continent whilst enjoying nominal economic growth and stability continues to be largely characterized by chronic underdevelopment. African leaders must insist on the ownership of our mineral resources. We must engage in a monumental industrialization of our economies by leveraging our mineral wealth. Democracy of hungry men and women is a recipe for instability and disunity. We must revive the spirit of Kwame Nkrumah and those honourable sons and daughters of our continent.
In his lifetime before and during his tenure as Prime Minister and President of Ghana, Dr Nkrumah fought for total emancipation, freedom from slavery of all forms, freedom from colonialization and justice for all, not only in Ghana but in Africa as a whole. This was a mission he took to heart and worked hard to realize the dream of a free Africa. He never doubted that Africans were fully capable of governing themselves; in fact he was adamant that Africans can better govern Africa than did the colonial masters who were only interested in exploiting Africa’s resources. All of us here and elsewhere in Africa today, as a start of our journey to free Africa, ought to internalize this belief of the great Nkrumah and echo as loud as possible his sentiments.
Nkrumah was never led to believe at any point that political freedom for Ghana was enough, for the complete emancipation all people needed to have economic freedom and eventually social freedom to carry on living a satisfactory life, such was his affirmation. Dr Nkrumah therefore envisioned a future for Ghana and Africa that many failed to imagine. He devised a method and strategy that would ensure that when the independence was accomplished in Ghana it would sweep not only the rest of Africa but also the Caribbean. His unmatched visionary capabilities shook the West, which had selfish and utterly crooked plans for Africa and its people.
If I do not say this today, I would have failed in my effort to depict a clear picture of the great Nkrumah for what he was, the son of Africa and a great visionary. Nkrumah not only had a crystal view of the future but he planned it carefully, milestone to milestone. As leaders and governors of Africa today, a lesson we all ought to take notice of in 2012, is that the people of Africa will prosper if we systematically, as Dr. Nkrumah did, position education, both in the short and long term in our grand plan for an emancipated Africa. Dr. Nkrumah set up educational institutions, at the primary, middle, secondary and university level. He also set up vocational, technical and professional institutions to train the people at all levels for jobs that would enable them to care for their families and advance their communities. He impressively helped create jobs for the masses in the commercial, financial and industrial sectors. In centuries of colonial rule in Ghana, the British had managed to set up hardly a 100 schools. Dr Nkrumah provided 1,100 institutions in about 10 years.
His vision of a progressive and prosperous Africa was not just a dream; he worked tirelessly to craft an ideal plan for an Africa that would advance economically. He firmly believed in a programme of accelerated industrialization as the main driver for economic growth, to finance Ghana’s and Africa’s development. According to Dr. Nkrumah, it was important for Ghana and Africa as a whole to add value to its abundant raw materials through processing them into finished goods and products. This, we all agree here today, is indeed a dream Africa is yet to fulfill.
Nkrumah ushered Ghana in the direction of prosperity but was deterred by dark forces that feared Africa would prosper and threaten their position in the global economy. At the beginning of his tenure as a leader of the Ghanaian government, there were business sectors where there were no Ghanaian businesses to compete with the foreign owned ones. He tactfully set up state industries to rectify this and surprisingly most of these businesses have survived till today. Dr Nkrumah did not only build the industrial township of Tema in Ghana, he also ensured that industries were set up in most districts and in all regions in Ghana. More jobs were created under the creative and innovative programs like the Workers Brigade and the Builder’s Brigade.
We need a generation of young men and young women of courage, who must fight for Africa’s total liberation economically. The commanding heights of the economy should be owned by the people as a whole. All our natural resources must be beneficiated in our continent.
I thank you.
Part 5 – Addendum
5.1 IS CONTINENTAL UNION GOVERNMENT NECESSARY FOR THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF BLACK AFRICA?
It is ‘nonsensical for us to assume that the program which we espoused in 1910 was going to work in 1950. … No idea is perfect and forever valid. Always to be living and apposite and timely, it must be modified and adapted to changing facts.’
(W. E. B. Du Bois, Dusk of Dawn,  (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1984) pp. 301-302, 303.)
“Nkrumah would be the last to say that his ideas were sacrosanct and that they were
infallible for all time!”
(Kofi Batsa, an ideological disciple who worked closely with Nkrumah as editor of The Spark, in his book The Spark: Times Behind Me, (London: Rex Collings, 1985) p.118)
‘Nkrumah told me in Conakry … “Cabral, I tell you one thing, our problem of African
unity is very important, really, but now if I had to begin again, my approach would be different”.’
(Amilcar Cabral, Return to the Source, (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973) p. 91)
As it is now constituted, the OAU is not likely to be able to achieve the political unification of Africa.
(Nkrumah, Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, , (Revolutionary Path, London: Panaf Books, 1973) p. 475)
‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.’ (1,001 Logical Laws, John Peers and Gordon Bennett Eds., (London: Hamlyn
Paperbacks, 1981) p. 101)
‘Africa South of the Sahara is isolated … African leadership, the coming African leadership, will have to bear that in mind. You are on your own.’
(Julius Nyerere, December 1997)
It is important that we remember the ideas of our ancestors, especially those ideas that have helped to bring us this far on our way out of imperialist bondage. But it is also very important that we evaluate these ideas for their usefulness to the next generation. Ideas are not immortal. Reality is ruthless in punishing those who act out unsound ideas. Even the best ideas can become obsolete with time and with changes in our circumstances. Our journey to total liberation is still uncompleted. We are still stuck in the ravines of neo-colonialism. And our obligation to future generations is not just to hand over to them a body of inherited ideas with which to start their work, but also to evaluate, winnow and upgrade these ideas for them, in the light of experience, so they can avoid the disaster of arming themselves for future combat with obsolete weapons. We wouldn’t want our grandchildren to march off to battle with bows and arrows in an age that needs machine guns and atom bombs, would we?
We must rectify the errors of our ancestors before they enslave future generations. We, therefore, need to bring some rigor to Pan-Africanist thinking. What specific kinds of African unity, if any, do we need today and in future for our total liberation? How might we reformulate Nkrumah’s African-Unity-doctrines to make them serve us better? Which of them are still sound, and which of them must we discard as obsolete or unsound? I would therefore suggest to the African scholars of today to get to work on such rectifications and improvements.
The African Unity Axiom
In the early 1960s it became an axiom of Pan-Africanism that African unity is necessary for the total liberation of Black Africa. But is it? In the last 50 years, evidence emerged that should have called that ‘axiom’ into serious question. I shall present that evidence and argue that it may no longer be assumed that a Continental Union Government [the specific form of African Unity that Nkrumah insisted on] is a necessary step in the direction of total African liberation.
We do not need to unite these ex-colonial territories; we need, instead, to develop our technological and industrial power within each of them and organize the many kinds of cooperation that would actually build our collective power, and so produce for us unity-in-strength rather than unity-in-weakness.
The argument is that African Unity is not necessary for the two key things Nkrumah correctly identified that we need for total liberation, namely: escape from the clutches of neo-colonialism and building industrial complexes in Africa. Furthermore, in the light of the resurgence of Arab expansionism and colonialism in the Sahel belt (Sudan to Mauritania), a Continental Union Government is most likely to trap all Black Africans in the dungeons of Arab colonialism, and would thus bring about the very opposite of our total liberation.
Furthermore, balkanization has been presented as a major obstacle to African development. I will argue that this is not the case and that we have to reconsider our accepted ideas about the root causes of Africa’s condition, and about what we must do to get Black Africa out of its chronic mess.
Nkrumah’s claims and theses
In 1963, at the founding of the OAU, Nkrumah advanced two theses that quickly became orthodoxy, namely:
- That under the structures of neo-colonialism at that time, only a country as vast and populous as the African continent could save itself from the clutches of neo-colonialism and imperialism; and
- That under the structures of neo-colonialism at that time, only a country as vast and populous as the African continent could amass the capital to establish the great industrial complexes required to achieve such development as would match that of the most advanced countries.
The first thesis (a) was formulated as the claim that:
‘It is African unity alone that can save us from the clutches of neo-colonialism and imperialism.’
(Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path, p.238)
But is that true?
The second thesis (b) was implied and justified by the following claims:
1. ‘It is only by uniting our productive capacity and the resultant production that we can amass capital.’
(Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path, p.238)
But is that true?
2. ‘Unless we can establish great industrial complexes in Africa – which we can only do in a united Africa – we must leave our peasantry to the mercy of foreign cash crop markets, and face the same unrest which overthrew the colonialists.’
(Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path p.239)
The part of this claim whose validity we need to examine here is this: it is only in a united Africa that we can establish great industrial complexes.
Now, is that true?
3. ‘We have emerged at a time when a continental land mass like Africa with its population approaching three hundred million are necessary to the economic capitalization and profitability of modern productive methods and techniques. Not one of us working singly and individually can successfully attain the fullest development. … Only a united Africa functioning under a Union Government can forcefully mobilize the material and moral resources of our separate countries and apply them efficiently and energetically to bring rapid change in the conditions of our people.”
(Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path, p.240)
At the time these claims were put forth, they appeared plausible. But there was no evidence at hand to prove or disprove them. Luckily, the last 50 years have supplied counter-examples from the laboratory of history as it were. Now, if someone claims that it is only with distilled water that beans can be cooked, all that is needed to show that his claim is false is to produce a pot of beans that has been cooked without using distilled water. Similarly, it is now possible to show that these African-unity-claims are false simply because several ex-colonial countries have found the capital to build great industrial complexes, without joining with any other country in political union; and because at least one country, Cuba, has escaped from the clutches of neo-colonialism since 1959, without forming a political union with any other country.
The thesis that no African country was big enough to save itself from the clutches of neo-colonialism and imperialism has been disproved by the example of Cuba. Cuba, an American neo-colony from 1898 to 1958, was no bigger in population or area than Ghana [Cuba’s population in 1960 was 7m; Ghana’s was 6.7m; Cuba’s area of 44,218 sq. mi. is only half of Ghana’s 92,090 sq mi.], yet under Fidel Castro, Cuba in 1959 escaped from US imperialism, and has maintained its escape till today, 52 years later. The difference between Castro’s Cuba and Nkrumah’s Ghana was not size but the anti-imperialist determination and skill of the leadership. If Castro’s Cuba could escape from the clutches of imperialism in the 1960s by adroitly playing on the configuration of global forces, so too might Nkrumah’s Ghana had Nkrumah and his key associates and his party, the CPP, been so minded and so bold and resourceful. But Nkrumah’s mind, alas, was elsewhere. He was obsessed with a Continental Union Government project, rather than with defeating neo-colonialism in Ghana alone. Within a few years, neo-colonialism defeated him and pushed him out of office. In contrast, Castro, who focused on defeating neo-colonialism in Cuba alone, and was not distracted by some regional unification project, survived in office for 49 years, defeated neocolonialism and left office voluntarily in 2008. And, what is more, despite the economic blockade, still on since 1962, by the USA, Cuba, which ranked (41) on the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2007, has achieved for its citizens much of the advanced standard of living that Nkrumah claimed could be achieved in Africa only by a continental union government.
The thesis that under the structures of neo-colonialism at that time, only a country as vast and populous as the African continent could amass the capital to establish the great industrial complexes required to achieve such development as would match that of the most advanced countries. Is this true? Let us see.
Let us consider the record of some non-African ex-colonial countries that were not afflicted with the states-integration mindset, or with concepts and projects like those of Pan-Africanism – Singapore, Malaysia, Qatar, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan – countries that were no less the ‘balkanized’ creation of colonizers than the ex-colonies of Africa. Since 1950, these non-African ex-colonies, despite their ‘arbitrary’ boundaries, have somehow amassed the necessary capital and industrialized themselves, and have either achieved a high standard of living or joined the club of nuclear military powers – two key tests of successful development. And they all started from conditions similar to, or even worse than, those of the Black African ex-colonies. On the UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI) for 2007, Singapore ranked (25); South Korea ranked (26); Qatar ranked (35); Malaysia ranked (63); Pakistan ranked (136) and there was no data on North Korea. But, whatever their HDI ranking, Pakistan and North Korea were nuclear military powers by 2007. Of the Black African countries, Gabon ranked highest at (119); Ghana ranked (135); Nigeria ranked (158) while the last 22 positions (156-177) were solidly occupied by Black African countries. Those ‘artificial’ Asian countries, working singly and individually, have clearly passed the key tests of development whereas the Black African countries, which have made much noise about the African unity project, have failed.
Those who bemoan the ‘balkanization’ of Africa, and claim that most African countries are too small for development, should particularly consider the case of Singapore. In 1965, tiny Singapore, with its population of under 2 million, without resources, and with a territory smaller than the smallest African country, set out to develop itself; its phenomenal success disproves this alleged consequence of balkanization.
Singapore, a city state, is smaller in area than every Black African country, and it has no natural resources, yet it has developed into Southeast Asia’s most important seaport, financial centre, and manufacturing hub, and its citizens enjoy one of the world’s highest standards of living. This was principally because, its founder, Lee Kuan Yew, set out deliberately to industrialize its economy. Explaining that to survive as a city state, Singapore had to leapfrog its neighbours economically, he said: ‘I had one simple guiding principle of survival from the very start, that Singapore had to be better organized than the countries of the region.’ [See ‘Lee Kuan Yew—Quotations’ in Microsoft Encarta Premium 2009]
We must note that Lee’s overriding concern was the ‘survival’ of Singapore, not the uniting of Singapore with others to form a bigger country, an option he first tried in 1963, but whose failure led to Singapore pulling out of the Federation of Malaysia in 1965 to seek its own individual destiny. The result of this focus, this guiding principle, has been magnificent: ‘Manufacturing now accounts for 29 percent of Singapore’s GDP. Industry has grown rapidly since the 1960s, and Singapore now produces a diversity of goods, including electronic items, chemicals, transportation equipment and machinery, petroleum products, rubber and plastic products, and fabricated metal products. Electronic goods – notably computer disk drives, communications equipment, and televisions – account for about half of the country’s manufacturing output. Singapore is one of the world’s largest petroleum-refining centers and is also an important shipbuilding center.’
The example of Singapore alone is sufficient to invalidate Nkrumah’s thesis that, in the 1960s, and under the structures of neo-colonialism at that time, only a country as vast and populous as the African continent could amass the capital to establish the great industrial complexes required to achieve such development as would match that of the most advanced countries.
But lest it be thought that Singapore’s success was a fluke, we should note some other successes.
Malaysia, at independence in 1957, was roughly comparable in population [7.4 million] and resources and social complexity with Ghana, yet whereas Ghana remains unindustrialized and poor, Malaysia has made itself into a manufacturing economy with a high living standard. ‘In 2004, manufactured items accounted for 75 percent of Malaysia’s exports by value. Electronic goods constitute most of Malaysia’s manufactured exports. Principal industrial activities are the processing of palm oil, petroleum, timber, rubber, and tin; and the production of electrical and electronic equipment, processed food, textiles, chemicals, building materials, and handicrafts. In addition, Malaysia produces its own automobile, the Proton.
North Korea was bombed to rubble in the Korean War in the early 1950s: virtually the entire population of North Korea lived and worked in manmade underground caves for three years to escape relentless attack by US planes, yet today North Korea is a nuclear power. ‘Metallurgical industries and the manufacture of heavy machinery represent a major share of North Korea’s national income. Other manufactures include trucks, diesel locomotives, heavy construction equipment, cement, synthetic fibres, fertilizers, and refined copper, lead, zinc, and aluminium.’ How was this transformation accomplished?
After the end of the Korean War in 1953, North Korea set about rebuilding and industrializing itself through state planning. It did so under the direction of President Kim Il Sung and the Korean Workers Party, and guided by its official slogan Juche – self-reliance. The four self-reliance (Juche) principles were: ‘autonomy in ideology; independence in politics; self-sufficiency in economy; and self-reliance in defence.’ Given the devastation the country had suffered during WWII and under American bombardment during the Korean War, high priority was, understandably, given to industrialization and defence, not the provision of consumer goods. Nevertheless, even according to an eyewitness report by an American journalist, by 1974, North Korea was industrialized to the point where it was manufacturing everything that was sold in its stores: toys, electric rice cookers, electric light bulbs, shoes, wool blankets, bicycles, sewing machines, pianos, etc. North Korea’s heavy industries were also turning out tractors, bulldozers, small ships, and electric and diesel locomotives. North Korea was exporting locomotives to the Soviet Union, synthetics to China, machine tools to Europe, farm machinery and chemical fertilizers to Africa and Latin America. The North Koreans had modernized their agriculture and, by 1974, claimed self sufficiency. ‘I am surprised to see so much farm machinery, irrigation channels lacing the fields, and sprinkler systems watering the vegetable crops,’ the American journalist reported.
The government gave priority to food, housing, and clothing needs – and provided everyone with free school, free medical care, and old-age and disability pensions.
In President Kim Il Sung’s words, ‘Children are kings, and they should have nothing but the best.’ According to the American journalist: in a family, both parents usually work. Day care, usually at workplaces, is free. North Korea’s schools are clean, spacious, well-equipped. Under the compulsory education program, children attend six days a week for 10 years. Stress is placed on group singing, gymnastics, and dance, and such individual skills as wireless communication, automotive repair, and sewing. Everyone learns to play a musical instrument.
([Source: Kim, H. Edward. ‘Rare Look at North Korea.’ National Geographic, August 1974 See Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.])
South Korea was poor and backward at the end of the Korean War in 1953, but it rose from devastation to become one of the world’s largest economies in the 1990s. Today it is industrialized and has even joined in the new scramble for African farmlands. ‘South Korea is an important producer of telecommunications and sound equipment and transportation equipment. Shipbuilding is a major industry. Other leading industries include the manufacture of chemicals, machinery, food products and beverages, basic metals, and textiles.’ Automobiles are produced by three major companies – Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors Corporation, and Daewoo Motor Corporation. How was this transformation accomplished?
After the Korean War, South Korea was unable to produce any significant economic development despite much aid from the United States. Then in May 1961, Park Chung-Hee and his group of officers of the South Korean army took control of the government. The Park regime initiated a successful program of industrialization for South Korea based upon export-oriented industries which were guided and aided by the government. In his 18-year rule, 1961-1979, Park Chung-Hee converted an economic basket case into an industrial powerhouse. Why did he do it? He believed, as he said in 1965, that it was ‘time for South Korea to wean itself from a passive position of receiving help or suffering intervention’.
And as he said in 1974, his agenda was to make South Korea ‘economically strong and militarily secure’. How did he do it? Park’s program for the economic development was modeled on Meiji-era Japan. To achieve the industrialization of South Korea that he thought was necessary for defence and prosperity Park Chung-Hee generally relied upon private businesses, the chaebol, the South Korean counterparts of Meiji Japan’s Zaibatsu. He nationalized the banks to gain control of the flow of capital in the country so it could be directed into the sectors that the government wanted to develop. He supplemented domestic capital by doing whatever was necessary to obtain additional capital from Japan and the USA.
To woo Japanese capital, Park took the very unpopular step of normalizing diplomatic relations with Japan, and abandoned claims for reparations from Japan for Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea. This sparked campus demonstrations in Seoul in 1964, and Park imposed martial law until quiet was restored. Normalization with Japan was achieved in 1965, bringing with it $800 million in economic aid.
To get capital from the USA, Park made the Americans an offer they couldn’t refuse. He sent two Korean divisions to fight alongside US forces in Vietnam. For this mercenary army, Korea was richly rewarded by Washington. Soldiers were paid by the United States government and their salaries were remitted directly to the South Korean government. In the mid-60s, revenues from the Vietnam War were the largest single source of foreign-exchange earnings for Korea. In return for troop commitments, South Korea received tens of billions of dollars in grants, loans, subsidies, technology transfers, and preferential markets, all provided by the Johnson and Nixon administrations. These funds helped launch the country’s transformation over the next two decades, from economic basket case to world leader in iron and steel production, shipbuilding, chemicals, consumer electronics and other commodities. Korea’s per-capita income increased tenfold during Park’s tenure.
Pakistan, an artificial country carved out of India in 1947, suffered partition in 1971, but has managed, despite social and political turmoil, to become a nuclear state. ‘In 2006, manufacturing accounted for 20 percent of Pakistan’s GDP. About 21 percent of the labour force is engaged in industry, including manufacturing and mining. Important products include processed foods, cotton textiles, silk and rayon cloth, refined petroleum, cement, fertilizers, sugar, cigarettes, and chemicals. Many handicrafts, such as pottery and carpets, also are produced.’
Qatar ‘came under British protection in the early 20th century. It became fully independent in 1971. The emirate was a relatively poor state until the mid-20th century, when its vast petroleum reserves were discovered and exploited. Qatar is now one of the world’s wealthiest countries per capita.’
‘The emir at independence was Ahmad bin Ali al-Thani, whose hoarding of oil income and extravagant expenditures led to a bloodless coup, [in 1972,] by his cousin and prime minister, Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani. Emir Khalifa oversaw tremendous economic growth, supported by revenues from oil and other natural resources. He also established a more modern, bureaucratic governmental system, created a 10-year development plan, and distributed oil moneys to the state treasury rather than the royal family.’
‘Emir Khalifa implemented far-sighted social welfare policies to provide all Qataris with a share of the country’s wealth.’
‘The industrial sector – including mining, manufacturing, construction, and power generation – produces about half of Qatar’s GDP and employs 41 percent of the country’s labour force. Petroleum accounts for much of industry’s share of GDP, but the government has encouraged diversification of the sector. Consequently, numerous new enterprises were established in the late 20th century, including a petrochemical plant, a fertilizer factory, steel and aluminium smelters, a flour mill, and a cement plant. Qatar’s gas and oil reserves power thermal generators that produce enough electricity to meet all of the country’s needs.’
[The economic data above are mostly from Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2009. © 1993-2008 Microsoft Corporation; with additional data from Wikipedia and Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2010]
No Black African ex-colony, no matter how big or small, no matter how well endowed with natural resources, no matter whether it professed capitalism or socialism, has anything similar to show after decades of self-government.
All the instrumental claims supporting the African unity thesis (the necessity of amassing capital, building industrial complexes, and mobilizing material and moral resources – all on a continental scale) have been invalidated by the great achievements of Singapore, Malaysia, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Qatar, etc. If they could, as small separate countries, make great achievements despite the global regime of neo-colonialism, Black Africa has no excuses for its failures, and these African-unity-as-precondition arguments, (for instance President Wade’s oft-repeated claim that ‘We cannot develop within the present borders.’) are exposed for what they are when invoked today – alibis for failure, alibis that won’t stand up to examination.
Given the now evident falsehood of these claims and theses, we can see that it is not true that the unification of the existing African countries – whether regionally or continentally – is necessary for defeating neo-colonialism and for industrializing Africa and thereby raising the living standard of Africans to the highest levels on earth. In as much as escaping from neo-colonialism and building industrial power are key factors for the total liberation of Africa, it is not true that unifying the existing African countries is necessary for the total liberation of Africa.
One lamentable implication of the falsity of the ‘only through unity’ claims and theses is this: For 50 years we have been wasting our precious time on a unity project that was never necessary for our objective of total liberation.
Had Nkrumah’s false theses not been accepted by his generation, what might the Black countries have achieved by now? Had Ghana done a Malaysia; had Jamaica done a Cuba; had Trinidad done a Singapore; had Nigeria done a South Korea; had Ethiopia or Congo-Brazzaville done a North Korea between 1960 and 2000, would the universal contempt for the black race not be reduced today, if not entirely ended? Such is the price we have paid for uncritically accepting Nkrumah’s ideas.
What do we need to cure – Disunity or powerlessness?
It is mind boggling that the ‘independence’ generation and its leaders focused on African disunity as the key factor in our condition, and did not raise the separate question of African powerlessness. It did not occur to them to ask: Was it simply disunity that defeated us and got us colonized or was it more crucially our lack of the appropriate kinds and magnitudes of power? Yes, we were not united in the 19th century; but we were also powerless, particularly in the economic and military aspects that counted in a showdown with invaders. Disunity would be the key factor in our defeat only if we had many separate armies equipped with weapons of the same technological level as the European armies, and if we failed simply because our polities and our armies did not cooperate or coordinate.
Nkrumah and his generation were obsessed with the adage that unity is strength. But they did not apply it correctly to our situation. They did not see that unity does not automatically result in victory. To appreciate this point, consider a tug-of-war contest between 10 kwashiorkor skeletons on the one side and a big and beefy Goliath on the other side. Of course, 10 kwashiorkor skeletons pulling together are stronger than any one of them, but not by much; but are they together strong enough to defeat a heavyweight muscleman in the tug-of-war? To stand a chance against the heavyweight muscleman, they have to first get well, put on some weight and then train hard for the tug-of-war; alternatively, they could recruit a sumo wrestler into their team or get at least one of themselves to pump iron and grow into a heavyweight muscleman.
Contrary to the premise of the unity argument, the size of our polities, and therefore the size of the army each could put on the battlefield, was not the decisive factor in our defeat. Our bigger polities, such as the Asante and Sokoto Empires went down to defeat because their armies were inferior in weaponry and organization rather than in numbers. And Menelik’s Ethiopia, the only late 19th century African polity that escaped being conquered, did so, not because of its geographical size, but because it had upgraded the weaponry of its army and improved its organization. The Ethiopian army, using breech-loading rifles and artillery, annihilated the Italian force at the Battle of Ādwa in 1896. Even if we were politically united in 1884, could we, with our spears and bows and arrows and flintlocks, have overcome the invading European armies with their rifles, artillery and maxim guns?
For some unexplained reason, the ‘independence’ generation was allergic to explicitly raising the question of power, Black African power; and it did not seem to realize the decisive importance of the enormous gap in technology and military organization which had developed between European and Black African polities in the past few centuries. This obtuseness to the question of power – economic as well as military power – has persisted for the last 50 years during which Pan-Africanists have harped on our need for unity, without explicitly emphasizing our separate need to build our technological and military power. Because of this obtuseness, they have carried on as if uniting a vast landmass would be enough to overcome our technological, military and economic backwardness. They have failed to see that a weak and disunited people is not made powerful simply by uniting them; they must, above all, consciously build their power, not just their unity.
This error persists till today. At the summit of African intellectuals held in Dakar, in July 2009, this misplaced focus on uniting into a vast territory was reiterated in President Wade’s cry that ‘we cannot be kept into a limited space’ by African leaders who are holding on to petty little states. He lamented the weakness of Africans at a time when other people have pooled political power in vast territories like China, India, Brazil, Russia and the United States of America.
That this emphasis on territorial size is misplaced must be sharply exposed by the question: Will our emancipation from imperialist domination be effected simply by uniting our territories? Or rather by having a powerful member even within our present disunity? What do we need: territorial unification without enhanced power or enhanced power even without further territorial unification? If Nigeria made itself as powerful as Japan or Germany, and carried out its responsibility as the core state (i.e. the leader and protector) of the Black race, would continental union still be necessary for our emancipation from the world’s contempt? Our African Unity enthusiasts need to recognize that if you want your side to win a high jump contest, you send someone who can jump eight feet; you don’t send eight midgets who can each jump one foot, and then chain their feet together in unity.
Pan-Africanism desperately needs to shift its focus from African unity to Black African power. The root cause of our centuries of humiliation is not disunity but powerlessness. And, furthermore, continental union is not a prerequisite for building Black African power. Unity should be pursued only as a means to Black African power and not as an end in itself. Only unity of the type and extent that would yield Black African power is relevant to our defeating our enemies and redeeming ourselves from the world’s contempt.
Now to the reason why Continental unification, in particular, is not necessary for Africa’s total liberation.
Continental unification and Africa’s total liberation
There is a great and present danger that continental unification, in the form of Gadafi’s USofAfrica, would thrust all the countries of Black Africa into the dungeons of Arab colonialism. If that should happen, then Black Africa would not have been totally liberated but totally subjugated. Let us briefly examine this danger.
We must keep in mind that whoever bankrolls the projected USofAfrica will surely control it, on the one-dollar-one-vote principle that governs international organizations such as the World Bank and the IMF. As it is, the AU is dependent on Western donors to finance a third of its budget, since the member countries are unable to foot its bills. Since he who pays the piper calls the tune, we must acknowledge that an AU that is donor funded cannot be an instrument for African liberation from the imperialist donors. Given the ability and eagerness of Libya and other petrodollar-rich Arab countries to fund it, the USofAfrica will assuredly be in the pocket of Libya and the Arabs.
It will become the instrument for their centuries-old ambition to colonize and Arabize Black Africa and enslave our population. Black Africans will then be colonized and enslaved by the Arabs under the sovereign authority of the USofAfrica that many highly vocal Pan-Africanists are clamouring for! In the light of this danger, it is our duty to educate ourselves on the Arab ambitions in Africa. Since they invaded Egypt in 639 AD, it has been the Arab ambition to empty the continent of blacks and replace us with Arabs. Gadafi’s hidden agenda in promoting his USofAfrica is precisely to use it to gain control of all of black Africa so as to facilitate this Arabization project. In line with this, here is what Gadhafi told an Arab League meeting:
‘The third of the Arab community living outside Africa should move in with the two thirds on the continent and join the African Union “which is the only space we have”.’ Col. Mouammar Gadhafi of Libya, according to a Pan African News Agency (PANA) report of 28 March, 2001.
For documentation of Arab racism, the Arab project in Africa since 639AD, and what Arabs intend to do to Black Africa through the USofAfrica, please consult the CAACBA Papers at http://www.ghanansem.org (Look under Pan-Africanism). I shall here simply draw attention to the lessons of Sudan where the Arab minority regime has been implementing this Arabization project since 1955.
‘One who is not acquainted with the designs of his neighbors should not enter into alliances with them.’
(Sun Tzu, ca. 5th century BC)
The root problem with Continentalist Pan-Africanism is that it formed an alliance of Black Africans with the Arabs without knowing or caring about the designs of the Arab neighbors of Black Africa.
Half a century on from the Nkrumah’s CIAS of 1958, where the alliance was initiated that became institutionalized in the OAU, it is in Black Africa’s interest to educate itself on Arab ambitions and designs on Africa.
Arab ambitions in Africa
Since the early 19th century, Arab leaders have been bluntly proclaiming what they want in Africa – to procure black slaves and to grab our lands and settle Arabs on them, like they had already done in North Africa since the 7th Century. Here are a few examples of what they said:
‘You are aware that the end of all our efforts and this expense is to procure Negroes [for enslavement]. Please show zeal in carrying out our wishes in this capital matter.’ (Muhammad Ali Pasha, Ruler of Egypt, 1825, in a letter to one of his generals in Sudan, quoted in [Peter Adwok Nyaba, “Afro-Arab Conflict in the 21st Century”, Tinabantu, 2002, p. 36] Tinabantu, Journal of African National Affairs Vol 1 No 1. Cape Town, CASAS.)
In his 1955 book on the orbital scheme [the three circles at whose centre he envisioned Egypt to be], President Nasser characterized Africa as ‘the remotest depths of the jungle’, and the target of an Arab civilizing mission. In a manner reminiscent of European apologists for colonialism as a civilizing mission, he patronizingly wrote: ‘The peoples of Africa will continue to look at us, who guard their northern gate, and who constitute their link with the outside world. We will never in any circumstances be able to relinquish our responsibility to support, with all our might, the spread of enlightenment and civilization to the remotest depths of the jungle.’
(Gamal Abdel Nasser, President of Egypt, 1955, quoted in [Prah, 2006: 170])
‘Sudan is geographically in Africa but is Arab in its aspirations and destiny. We consider ourselves the Arab spearhead in Africa, linking the Arab world to the African continent.’ (Sudanese Prime Minister, Mahgoub, 1968, quoted in [Opoku Agyeman, ‘Pan-Africanism vs Pan-Arabism’, Black Renaissance 1(1), January 1994, p. 38])
Sudan ‘is the basis of the Arab thrust into the heart of Black Africa, the Arab civilizing mission.’ (President Gaafar al-Nimeiry of Sudan, 1969, quoted in [Opoku Agyeman, ‘Pan-Africanism vs Pan-Arabism,’ Black Renaissance 1(1), January 1994, p. 39])
‘We want to Islamise America and Arabise Africa.’ (Dr Hassan El-Turabi, chief ideologue of Jellaba-Arab minority rule in Sudan, 1999, quoted in [Peter Adwok Nyaba, ‘Afro-Arab Conflict in the 21st century’, Tinabantu, 2002, p. 27] Tinabantu, Journal of African National Affairs Vol 1 No 1. Cape Town, CASAS.)
This thrusting of Arab spears into the body and soul of a despised Black Africa through campaigns of de-Africanization and Arabization was, of course, not confined to Sudan, but has been done wherever the Arabs spotted an opportunity to exploit African weakness, such as Mauritania, Chad, Somalia, Eritrea, Uganda. In the past 40 years, Libya’s Gadhafi has been particularly active in sponsoring chaos, anarchy and civil wars in Chad, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, the CAR, etc.
Sudan, a country of black Africans dominated by an Arab settler minority, is a prototype of the USofAfrica. We should be warned by its experiences.
The lessons of Sudan
In pursuit of their proclaimed mission of Arabizing Sudan:
‘Over the past 50 years, the [Jellaba] Arabs have embarked on a programme of changing the demographic configuration of the country in their favour. This is to be achieved through wars of extermination of the African people in southern, western and central Sudan, and their enslavement and one-sided marriage of African women to produce the Jellaba. On the other hand, the Arabs from Egypt and the Middle East are encouraged to settle and acquire land in the Sudan under the guise of agricultural investment.’
(Peter Adwok Nyaba, ‘Arab Racism in the Sudan’ p. 146, in Prah, Kwesi ed., Racism in the Global African Experience, Cape Town: CASAS, 2006, pp.145-186.)
Though unrecognized by many Black Africans, Darfur is the scene of the latest Arab campaign to seize land from black Africans and settle Arabs on it. In Darfur, as Dr El-Tom reports, the Janjaweed agents of the Khartoum regime are: effectively executing Musa Hilal’s call to: ‘change the demography of Darfur and empty it of African tribes” … Attempts to change the demography of Darfur are still going on to this day. As recently as July 2007, Bloomfield accused the government of Sudan of ‘cynically trying to change the demography of the whole region’. Monitoring the Chadian-Sudanese borders, Bloomfield wrote: ‘An internal UN report, obtained by The Independent [of London], shows that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past three months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks. They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by the government and Janjaweed forces. … further 45,000 Arabs from Niger have also crossed over.’
(‘The Arab Congregation and the Ideology of Genocide in Darfur, Sudan’ by Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, PhD.)
Darfur is a contemptuous spit in the face of Black Africa by the Arabs; a humiliating expression of their total and ancient contempt for us black Africans. They have, before our very eyes, snatched from us a territory the size of France; and to do it, they have played on the intelligence of our black African presidents. And they are confident that we won’t do anything about it.
US of Africa: Gate to the trap of Arab colonialism
Judging by the statements of Arab leaders in the last two centuries, [samples quoted above] and by what has been going on in Darfur, and in Mauritania as well, the African continental unity doctrine and project, as embodied in Afro-Arab schemes like the OAU/AU and the USofAfrica, will achieve the exact opposite of our total liberation. It turns out that for 50 years, we have been enthusiastically building and marching down the road that would lead us into the trap of Arab colonialism. In other words, without thinking properly about the consequences of our action, we have been enthusiastically digging our own graves, thereby justifying the Arabs in their contemptuous opinion of blacks. As Ibn Khaldun put it, back in the 14th century:
‘We know that the Zanj (blacks/Negroes) are the least intelligent and the least discerning of mankind, and the least capable of understanding the consequences of actions.’
We can now understand that the Continental Union Government project was a great strategic mistake. Those who championed it in the early 1960s presumably did not know the history of Arab colonialism in Africa and did not bother to investigate Arab ambitions in Africa. Consequently they violated the ancient strategic principle, enunciated by Sun Tzu more than 2,000 years earlier, namely that ‘one who is not acquainted with the designs of his neighbours should not enter into alliances with them’. Nkrumah and his generation of Black African leaders institutionalized this error in the OAU in 1963, and it has been carried over into the AU and is now being exploited by the Arab colonialists led by Gadafi. We have, as a result, for half a century been, as the Chinese put it, ‘feeding a close enemy who is a tiger’. What suicidal foolishness. If the total liberation of Black Africans (Negroes) is still the paramount aim of Pan-Africanism; and if it is the ultimate justification for the OAU/AU and the USofAfrica, then it is in the interest of Black Africa that the push for a USofAfrica be discontinued, and that the AU be disbanded.
In fact, with hindsight, we can see that we were fortunate that Nkrumah failed to persuade his OAU peers to hurriedly create a Continental Union Government in the 1960s. We would all, just like Sudan and Mauritania, have fallen under Arab colonialism long ago. We must be thankful to those who rejected Nkrumah’s rush-rush approach.
Continental Union Government not a step towards Africa’s total liberation
All in all, the African unity idea is a bad idea, a dangerous mistake. As we have seen, it won’t help us escape from neo-colonialism. And because it won’t help us get industrialized, prosperous and powerful, it won’t help to liberate us from the justified contempt of the world. And what is more, in its Continental Union Government version, it is about to hand us over to the Arabs to colonize and enslave. Accordingly, in its current form, our dream of African unity is wrong and dangerous. If it came true, it would be our nightmare. If we are wise, we should give up our obsession with African unity, and drop it from our agenda and our discourse. And we must now concentrate on the prosperity and power agenda that could yield the economically and militarily powerful black countries we need for our total liberation.
In the light of all the above, the debate about the correct paths to total African liberation, and the role of African unity in that project, a debate which was effectively closed with the formation of the OAU in 1963, needs to be reopened.
And among the issues to be reconsidered is the ‘balkanization’ notion: that these ex-colonial countries of Africa are too fragmented and too small for development, or to escape neo-colonialism. If tiny Singapore could develop, all on its own, why didn’t any African country? If Cuba could escape neo-colonialism, why didn’t Ghana or Nigeria or the Congo? Hence the entire unity business should be re-examined. Contrary to what Nkrumah and his generation believed, the fragmented condition of Africa and the small size of many of its countries, were not decisive factors in their failure to escape neocolonialism or to develop in the last 50 years. We are now obliged to investigate the true causes of Black Africa’s chronic inability to develop itself. We might want to investigate factors that have never entered our calculations, e.g. why Black Africa’s loot-and squander elites are addicted to neo-colonialism and are so allergic to organizing and industrializing their countries. Why do they lack the will-to-industrialize? Why are they so lacking in public spirit? Why do they lack the stubborn drive to immediately give the best of everything to all their people?
Why don’t we in Black Africa produce leaders who just want the best things in the world for their people, all their people; leaders like Dubai’s emir, Sheikh Mohammed ibn Rashid al-Maktum, who, it is reported, said: ‘I want my people to live better lives now, to go to the highest school now, to get good healthcare now, not after twenty years,’ and rhetorically asked CBS’s Steve Kroft why Dubai should not aspire to have the best things in the world if European countries could have such dreams. Or leaders like Emir Khalifa bin Hamad al-Thani of Qatar, who overthrew his predecessor for siphoning off and squandering the country’s oil revenues, and then instituted a social welfare system that allows all citizens to enjoy the country’s wealth. Or leaders like North Korea’s Kim Il Sung who wanted the best for all the children of his country.
Why have we been afflicted with vampires-in-power? The Mobutus, the Bokassas, the Obasanjos, the Omar Bongos – leaders who have no ambition or ideology beyond self-enrichment, and for whom the proper use of power is to plunder and rape their own society! In all of 50 years, why hasn’t a Castro or a Lee Kuan Yew or a Sheikh Maktum or an Emir Khalifa emerged in Black Africa? What in our bastardized neocolonial culture gets in their way?
What to do to undo the damage from 50 years of error
That we have, for 50 years, accepted the false claims about what African unity would do for our liberation is no reason for future generations of Black Africans to passively submit themselves to its dire consequences. It is true that Nkrumah’s generation didn’t have the evidence of the counter-examples to promptly expose these falsehoods, but we do. Now that, with hindsight, we know that the Continental Union Government doctrine is a false doctrine with potentially dangerous consequences for us, what are we obliged by common sense and self-interest to do about it?
What do you do when you find out that you have been traveling on the wrong road; on a road that does not lead to your desired destination, a road that will lead you into a nightmare? You can either doggedly continue on the wrong road, but now knowing it is the wrong road, or you can take your correct bearings and find a road that goes from where you are to where you’ve wanted to get to all along. This might even involve your retracing part or all of your steps. The first option is the way of the fool. The second is the way of the wise. Which option will Black Africans now take?
Assuming we take the wise option, what then do we do?
We must accept the fact that the countries of the world, for the last two centuries, have been competing for power, prosperity and prestige through industrializing their economies, and we should enter that competition wholeheartedly and with even more seriousness than we enter the Olympics and other world sports competitions.
Black Africa is so rich in mineral resources that almost every country there could, from its minerals revenue, dramatically improve the quality of life of its population, along Cuban or Qatari lines – where many social services and all the amenities of any modern state are made available to all citizens – if the elites make that their paramount goal, end their addiction to looting-and-squandering and give up their fixation on building infrastructure. They should recognize that the engine of development is industries, not infrastructure. Accordingly:
- Every black African country should undertake to industrialize its economy, within the scope of its resources, and should do its best to advance as fast as possible in the HDI league tables. Each should heed what Garvey told the people of tiny St. Kitts in 1937: ‘Try to make your little country the best spot in the world.’ [See Amy Jacques Garvey, Garvey and Garveyism, New York: Collier Books, 1970, p. 242] By 2040, Gabon, Nigeria, Angola and the new oil producing countries (Ghana, Uganda, Namibia, South Sudan) should have made it into the top 50 in the HDI league table. Each of them has or will have more than enough petrodollar income to finance its own industrialization without resort to foreign aid or foreign investment. Every other Black African country should strive to get into the top 100. We should note that a strong driving force for the integration of African economies would emerge after each is industrialized, as each industry would strive for a bigger African market for its products. As it is, raw materials economies have no products to exchange and thus no pressing need to integrate. What would drive two producers of bananas or bauxite to integrate? Economies of scale do not seriously apply to the labour-intensive production of raw materials.
- Countries like Nigeria and South Africa should also strive to become military powers in the footsteps of Pakistan and North Korea.
- ECOWAS and SADC should set themselves the task of becoming economic and military superpowers by 2060.
- The countries of Global Black Africa should set up a Black World League where they can, in racial privacy, discuss matters of concern to the black race. And where they can, in particular, plan and coordinate efforts to defeat the Arabs in the centuries-long war of aggression that the Arabs have waged on us.
And let there be no more excuses and alibis like ‘balkanization’, small population, no resources, neo-colonialism, etc. As we have seen, others have industrialized, become prosperous and powerful within 30 years despite these factors. If Black Africans compete among themselves they can achieve these goals. And when they do, they will gain the respect of the world and stop being treated with racist contempt. If Black Africans don’t achieve these goals, they will have demonstrated their inferiority beyond any shadow of doubt and can no longer complain about being undeservedly treated with contempt by the other races of humanity.
So let the AU be disbanded and let the HDI competition begin.
The OAU path to unity, development and liberation
By the way, those who still invoke Nkrumah’s name in support of the OAU/AU route to African unity should be reminded that, by 1968, Nkrumah himself had written off the OAU as a wrong path to African unity and, by implication, as a wrong instrument for the African development and liberation which he expected to flow from a Continental Union Government. He wrote:
As it is now constituted, the OAU is not likely to be able to achieve the political unification of Africa. This is obviously why imperialists, although against the idea of political union, will do nothing to break the OAU. It serves their purpose in slowing down revolutionary progress in Africa. (Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare, (1968), [Revolutionary Path: 475])
What he said about the OAU is even more true of its AU successor which is heavily funded by the imperialists.
Nkrumah’s contradictory legacy
It has been little noticed that Nkrumah’s Continental-unity doctrine contradicted his actual economic development practice: On the one hand he taught that no black African country could industrialize itself under neo-colonialism, and that continental union government was a prerequisite for industrialization in Africa; on the other hand he went ahead to attempt the industrialization of Ghana. With hindsight we can see, from the examples of Singapore, etc, that his industrialization-in-one-country project was correct, and that his continental-union-first doctrine was wrong.
Unfortunately for Black Africa, it is his continental-unification project that has been institutionalized while his industrialization-in-one-country example has been ignored. If we want to honour Nkrumah, let us build on those parts of his legacy that would advance his mission of total African liberation, e.g. industrialization in each country, however small; political education, for the Youth – as with the Young Pioneers, and for adults – as with The Ideological Institute, Winneba. Of course, while we need to accept the principle that we should give political education to our children and adults, and while we must honour Nkrumah for implementing that principle in his time, we must also realize that today in the 21st century the content and structure of political education cannot simply replicate Nkrumah’s Young Pioneers and Winneba Institute. We must therefore discover new ways of giving the kind of political education that is needed today.
The prime lesson for us in Nkrumah’s practice was that he derived his proposed solutions from an investigation of the situation in his time, the early 1960s. We should do likewise today and not cling to solutions he devised based on the situation in the 1960s. The world has moved on, many things have changed. Our situation and our problems are in many ways different and far worse than in the 1960s. We need to remind ourselves that a doctor who prescribes a cure today based on an examination done a year ago is a quack. A good doctor prescribes a cure based on current, up-to-date examination of the patient. So a good Nkrumahist today would not insist on implementing unchanged the solutions that Nkrumah proposed back in the 1960s; he would, following Nkrumah’s example, comprehensively examine our situation today and base his prescriptions on present-day findings. Are we prepared to do that? We should ask ourselves: If Nkrumah were alive today, don’t you think he would be reexamining the African situation and coming up with fresh solutions appropriate for today? Why don’t we do likewise?
Nkrumah’s most important legacy
Nkrumah’s most important legacy may not be his specific doctrines and projects, but rather his methodology. Nkrumah was a man who studied matters and continually learned from experience. In the late 1960s, in his exile, he continued to update his understanding of imperialism as it evolved its arsenal of methods. He was also keen to learn from his setbacks. June Milne, Nkrumah’s research and editorial assistant for many years and later his literary executrix, reports:
In Guinea, Nkrumah spent much time contemplating the causes – immediate and long term – of the 1966 coup in Ghana. What lessons could be learned in terms of party organization and the political education of the people? Soon after he arrived in Guinea, he established a political committee of his Ghanaian entourage to look into these matters. The report was typed, bound and presented to Nkrumah.
(June Milne, ‘Never Again! … 40 Years after the Coup That Disrupted Africa’s Forward March,’ New African Magazine, Feb. 2006. p. 9.)
We should note that Nkrumah himself did not treat his ideas and programs as immutable dogma. Nkrumah was not one to persevere with failed policies or fruitless projects. For example, when, by 1963, as he put it: ‘it was clear to everyone that the South African situation cannot be dealt with by attempts to maintain the normal channels of diplomatic and commercial association, or by appeals to morality and religion, justice and codes of ethics’, Nkrumah switched to a policy of ‘total economic and political boycott’ of South Africa. [See Revolutionary Path, pp. 265-266]. Another example is that after his overthrow, he wrote from his exile in Guinea: ‘We must start afresh in the light of the tragic experiences of the past two years. New thinking and action is needed.’ [Revolutionary Path, p. 414] Furthermore, it is significant that, before he died, Nkrumah told Amilcar Cabral: ‘Cabral, I tell you one thing, our problem of African unity is very important, really, but now if I had to begin again, my approach would be different.’ [Return to the Source: 91]
We don’t know what specific changes in approach he had in mind. Cabral did not report on that. But clearly, Nkrumah was not averse to new approaches. On such evidence, after half a century of the fruitlessness of the Continental government approach, is it likely that Nkrumah would insist on that project today? I don’t think so. After all, by 1968, he had already dismissed the OAU as a false path to Continental-Union-Government and its expected benefits. If Nkrumah could be asked about it today, I believe he would encourage us to rethink the doctrines and projects of Pan-Africanism and upgrade them. So, let us start afresh in the light of the changes of the last half century; let us do the new thinking that is needed and follow it up with the necessary new action.
The world has changed considerably since the 1960s when Nkrumah, Black Africa’s pioneer researcher and expert on neo-colonialism, suggested a program to combat it. As we all know, the Cold War is over. The EU has emerged whereas the Soviet Union is gone and China has gone unabashedly capitalist. China and India are on the verge of becoming the leading economies on earth. The Arabs, our one-time allies against imperialism, have reverted to their centuries-old habit of being enslavers, colonialists and expansionists in Africa. We must investigate what these changes imply for Africa’s total liberation and modify our doctrines and projects accordingly.
Of special importance is the fact that Neo-colonialism has evolved: its structures and methods are not exactly what they were in the 1960s. For example, the OAU/AU, which was founded as an organ for the fight against imperialism and colonialism, has been co-opted and added to the structures of imperialism. It is in their pay.
The AU, as a paid instrument of Western neo-colonialism and Arab colonialism, is no longer an instrument for African liberation.
Africa is now saturated with imperialist media and propaganda. African cultures have become much more shattered and atrophied and Europeanized. Our governments and economies are now even more tightly controlled than ever before by imperialism– through the strings of foreign aid, foreign debt and foreign investment. The IMF, World Bank and WTO are now accepted economic dictators to our governments. A class of Black Colonialists has emerged and entrenched itself in power in each Black African country. The missionaries of neo-colonialism, organized in imperialist-funded NGOs, are now active even in our remotest villages, undermining our societies and cultures. Such is the present form of the principal enemy that Pan-Africanism is ostensibly still pledged to fight and defeat. In addition, a resurgent Arab colonialism has added itself to our enemies’ list and must also be combated.
Would Nkrumah be a Continentalist today?
Probably not, given that he specifically wrote about ‘the need for self-critical objective diagnosis’ [Revolutionary Path, p.474]; and, as we saw, he abandoned policies that failed or proved fruitless. I believe that he would have abandoned Continentalism in the light of the changes that emerged by 2000. Nkrumah might have come to advocate a Sub-Sahara Pan-Africanism, just like Nyerere did at the end of his life.
Though the resurgence of Arab colonialism began in 1955 in Sudan, it was either not identified or was tactically ignored by Nkrumah. Whatever the case, by the time it became too blatant to ignore, and a Pan-Africanist response was required, Nkrumah was no longer on the political scene. Nyerere, in 1974, took the tactical line that Black Africans simply could not afford to take on both the Arabs and the Boers at one and the same time, saying that ‘it could be disastrous if [Pan Africanism] resulted in a division between … Black Africa and Arab Africa’. [See Opoku Agyeman, The Failure of Grassroots Pan-Africanism, p. 42, n.122]
But after 1994, with black governments in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Angola and Namibia, and a black president installed in South Africa, that forbearance was, surely, no longer necessary, and Nyerere’s line needed to be changed. Nyerere, bless him, actually did so in his 75th birthday celebration speech in December 1997, at a conference in Dar-es-Salaam, in which he recommended a Sub-Sahara Pan-Africanism for the 21st century and stressed the following points:
a) the new leadership of Africa will have to concern itself with the situation in which it finds itself in the world of tomorrow – in the world of the 21st century. And the Africa I’m going to be talking about, is Africa south of the Sahara, Sub-Sahara Africa. I’ll explain later the reason why I chose to concentrate on Africa south of the Sahara.
Europe, Western Europe, is very wealthy. It has two Mexicos. One is Eastern Europe. … Europe has a second Mexico. And Europe’s Second Mexico is North Africa. North Africa is to Europe what Mexico is to the United States. North Africans who have no jobs will not go to Nigeria, they’ll be thinking of Europe or the Middle East, because of the imperatives of geography and history and religion and language. North Africa is part of Europe and the Middle East.
Nasser was a great leader and a great African leader. I got on extremely well with him. Once he sent me a Minister, and I had a long discussion with his Minister at State House here [Dar-es-Salaam], and in the course of the discussion, the Minister says to me, ‘Mr. President this is my first visit to Africa’. North Africa, because of the pull of the Mediterranean and I say history and culture, and religion, North Africa is pulled towards the North. When North Africans look for jobs they go to Western Europe and Southern Western Europe, or they go to the Middle East.
b) Africa, South of the Sahara is different, totally different … Africa South of the Sahara is isolated. That is the first point I want to make. Africa South of the Sahara is totally isolated in terms of that configuration of developing power in the world of the 21st Century — on its own. There is no centre of power in whose self-interest it’s important to develop Africa, no centre. Not North America, not Japan, not Western Europe. There’s no self-interest to bother about Africa South of the Sahara. Africa South of the Sahara is on its own. Na sijambo baya. Those of you who don’t know Swahili, I just whispered, ‘Not necessarily bad’ … That’s the first thing I wanted to say about Africa South of the Sahara. African leadership, the coming African leadership, will have to bear that in mind. You are on your own . . .
The second point about Africa and again I am talking about Africa South of the Sahara; it is fragmented, fragmented …
c) ‘Africa south of the Sahara is isolated. Therefore, to develop, it will have to depend upon its own resources basically. Internal resources, nationally; and Africa will have to depend upon Africa. The leadership of the future will have to devise, try to carry out policies of maximum national self-reliance and maximum collective self-reliance. They have no other choice.’…
d) ‘The countries in Africa [south of the Sahara] should … come together. …If we can’t move towards bigger nation-states, at least let’s move towards greater co-operation. This is beginning to happen. And the new leadership in Africa should encourage it.’
[To see the speech, Google: Nyerere, ‘two mexicos’; then scroll down to pp. 187-197 of Tanzania Under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African Statesman, by Godfrey Mwakikagile] or see Reflections on Leadership in Africa – Forty Years After Independence, ed. by Haroub Othman, Brussels: VUB University Press , 2000, pp. 17-24
Nyerere gave a wise elder’s parting advice to Black Africa to be self-reliant and go it alone; to not rely on Arabs or Europeans or Americans or Japanese or Russians or Indians or Chinese or on any other people whatsoever, as none of them have it in their self-interest to help develop Black Africa. That we are on our own means that Black Africa should organize itself, by itself and for itself. In other words, because of our separate and unique situation in the world, Black Africans should, in effect, extricate ourselves from the problem and confusion Nkrumah created 40 years earlier by joining us in an embrace with the Arabs of North Africa in his quest for continental unification. An implication of Nyerere’s advice is for us Black Africans to withdraw from the Afro-Arab AU, USofAfrica, etc. and organize our own Blacks-only collective outfit to solve our peculiar problems.
But unfortunately, Nyerere, by 1997, was old and out of office and in no position to implement his new line. Nevertheless, tackling the problems of the Afro-Arab encounter should have been put on the agenda of Pan-Africanism in 1994. It still needs to be put there. Perhaps we should, following Nyerere’s advice, abandon Continentalism and retreat to Sub-Sahara Pan-Africanism.
This paper has presented five arguments against the Continental Union Government project:
1. Contrary to claims made in the early 1960s, it is not necessary for Africa’s industrialization, or for its liberation from neo-colonialism.
2. We do not need to unite these ex-colonial territories; we need, instead, to develop our technological and industrial power within each of them and organize the many kinds of cooperation that would actually build our collective power.
3. Continental Union Government will, almost assuredly, lead Black Africa into the dungeons of Arab colonialism and enslavement.
4. Nyerere’s point: In the global power disposition in the 21st century, Sub-Sahara Africa is entirely on its own and should become self-reliant and not tie its fortunes to any other groups, as none have it in their self-interest to help develop or liberate Black Africa.
5. Nkrumah’s point: African unity, and therefore its expected results, is never going to come about through the OAU/AU route.
Like a wise man said: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.’
So after 48 years of seeking unity through the OAU/AU route, isn’t it time we buried and forgot that futile project? It’s a mirage. Let’s stop chasing this mirage. Let’s disband the AU and throw away the idea of a USofAfrica; and let’s seek other paths out of our poverty and powerlessness. Let’s see what we can learn from the examples of Castro’s Cuba, Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore, Sheikh Mohammed Maktum’s Dubai, Park Chung Hee’s South Korea and Emir Khalifa’s Qatar as we embark on a competition to raise the ranking of each Black African country in the HDI tables.
Epilogue: Building on Nkrumah’s legacy
A good heir doesn’t just go about bemoaning his loss of his benefactor or boasting about his inheritance; he builds on the legacy he inherited. He builds on those parts that are sound and discards those that are unsound. Let us become good heirs to Nkrumah. Of his ideas and projects, let us sort out the sound from the unsound. Instead of merely parroting his ideas, we should compete to show how much further we have developed them, how much further we have helped our society advance on the road to total liberation since Nkrumah departed. In his 1962 broadcast introducing Ghana’s Seven-year Development plan, Nkrumah said he wanted ‘a healthier, happier and more prosperous life for us all’. [Revolutionary Path: 186]
Note that he wanted a better life, not for a few, but for everybody in his country. Do you, in his footsteps, seek the good things of life for everybody in your country, or do you, like the Mobutus, Omar Bongos, Obasanjos and Bokassas, crave them only for yourself, or for only a few in your society? This is what divides Nkrumah, Castro, Lee Kuan Yew, Sheikh Maktum and Emir Khalifa on the one hand, from Mobutu, Bongo, Bokassa and Obasanjo on the other hand; and what would make the former socialists and the latter not socialists. Perhaps a socialist is, in practice, a person who wants the good things of life for everybody in his society.
Have we carried forward Nkrumah’s project of political education as exemplified by the Winneba Institute, and by the Young Pioneers? On political education, Nkrumah correctly urged:
‘Our youth from the primary schools, through the secondary schools to the universities and higher institutions of learning … must be taught to know the workings of neocolonialism and trained to recognize it wherever it may rear its head. They must not only know the trappings of colonialism and imperialism, but they must also be able to smell out the hide-outs of neo-colonialism.’ [Revolutionary Path: 190]
Have we been following this wise prescription? Are we teaching Pan-Africanism, or exposing colonialism and neo-colonialism in our primary schools, secondary schools and tertiary institutions? Are we implanting in the minds of our children the motivating vision of an industrialized and powerful and respected Black Africa? Do we teach them to defend, at any price, the honour and the land of the Black race? Are we updating our knowledge of imperialism as it evolves? Are we promoting industrialization like Nkrumah did? How many industries have we established since 1966? Are we even encouraging young entrepreneurs to create industries? Are we advocating industrialization as state policy? Are we putting forward and agitating for policies that will bring prosperity to the poorest in our society? What is the evidence that we have been doing these things?
Where are the results?
Why have we, as Pan-Africanists, neglected these sound aspects of Nkrumah’s legacy? Why have we fastened with desperate tenacity on the unsound, and even dangerous, project of Continental Union Government, even after a half century of its getting us nowhere? To continue our march to total liberation, which is the ultimate goal of Pan-Africanism, we need new thinking and new initiatives. Let us get down to doing serious work on them. And whatever we do, we must never forget that total liberation is a matter of power: A people is totally liberated only when it has built up enough power to deter any others from messing with it.
Chinweizu is a Nigerian, an advocate of Neo-Garveyism [Black Power Pan-Africanism], and the author of several books including the following:
The West and the Rest of Us, (1975; New edition, 1987)
Decolonising the African Mind, (1987)
Voices from 20th Century Africa, (1988)
Anatomy of Female Power, (1990; New Edition, 2005)
His weekly column: ‘The Black Power Pan-Africanist Perspective’, currently appears every Thursday in the Lagos newspaper BusinessDay.
His anthology Pan-Africanist Wisdom, 1791-2011: selections from Pan-Africanist thinkers since Boukman, will be published in 2012.
Batsa, Kofi The Spark: Times Behind Me, London: Rex Collings, 1985.
Cabral, Amilcar Return to the Source, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1973
Du Bois, W. E. B. Dusk of Dawn, (1940) New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1984
Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite, 2010
Microsoft Encarta Premium 2009.
Mwakikagile, Godfrey Tanzania Under Mwalimu Nyerere: Reflections on an African
Statesman. Google: Nyerere, ‘two mexicos’.
Nkrumah, Revolutionary Path, London: PANAF Books, 1973.
Othman, Haroub ed. Reflections on Leadership in Africa – Forty Years After
Independence, Brussels: VUB University Press, 2000
Prah, Kwesi ed., Racism in the Global African Experience, Cape Town: CASAS, 2006
Prah, Kwesi The African Nation, Cape Town: CASAS, 2006
Tinabantu, Journal of African National Affairs Vol 1 No 1. (May 2002) Cape Town, CASAS.
5.2 DR KWAME NKRUMAH AND GHANA DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS IN RETROSPECT
Bankie Forster Bankie
Before embarking on a consideration of the constituent parts of the Dr Kwame Nkrumah legacy, it is fitting to consider the Statesman in retrospect. For this, some quotes would be appropriate.
The first is by the African American historian of the 20th century – the late John Hendrik Clarke, who stated: ‘He was the first universal African of this century.’ (From ‘Kwame Nkrumah: his years in America’, from The Black Scholar, October 1974, p. 15 )
On March 6, 1963, broadcasting on the eve of Ghana’s 16th Independence Anniversary, Nkrumah said:
Steadily and consistently we are building up a better and richer life for our people and our country. We are developing a society free from racial discrimination, a society in which people of different continents and different religious sects and beliefs can work together without molestation, a society in which the relationship between man and man is fundamentally based on the social process of production. If we continue to maintain this harmony and work together for the common good, the plans which the Government has already set in motion for our progress, happiness and development will bear rich fruit for us all.
In Timothy’s book: Kwame Nkrumah: his rise to power (published by George Allen and Unwin Ltd, London, UK in 1955) on page 183, Dr Nkrumah is quoted as saying:
I do not believe in racialism and tribalism. The concept ‘Africa for the Africans’ does not mean that other races are excluded from it. It only means that Africans shall and must govern themselves in their own countries without imperialist and foreign imposition, but that people of other races can remain on African soil, carry on their legitimate avocation and live on terms of peace, friendship and equality with Africans on their own soil.
In the same book on page 185 Dr Kwame Nkrumah stated in 1951:
I am a Marxian Socialist and [non-denominational] Christian. I am not a communist and have never been one. I come out of goal and into the Assembly without the slightest feeling of bitterness to Britain. I stand for no discrimination against any race or individual, but I am unilaterally opposed to imperialism in any form.
Dr Kwame Nkrumah was born in Nkroful, on the coast, in Western Ghana probably on September 21, 1909. He was baptized by the Roman Catholic Church and was given the Christian name of Francis. He was his mother’s only child. He attended the Roman Catholic Elementary School at Half-Assini, where his father worked as a goldsmith.
He spent some eight years at this school and showed promise as a student. He was recommended for training as a teacher at the Government Training School in Accra. It was probably in 1927 that Dr Nkrumah arrived at the school, which was absorbed into Achimota College. 1927 was the year that Kwegyir Aggrey, also known as ‘Aggrey of Africa’, left Achimota College, where he had been Assistant Vice-Principal, for the USA to complete his Doctorate. Aggrey was the role model who persuaded Nkrumah to proceed to America.
Nkrumah’s attendance at Achimota College lasted some four years and was the equivalent of secondary education. He was appointed in 1930 a teacher at the Roman Catholic Junior School at Elmina. The next year he was appointed head teacher at the Roman Catholic Junior School at Axim. Two years later he was moved to the newly opened Catholic Seminary at Amessano, near Elmina. Whilst there he considered becoming a priest.
According to Marika Sherwood, Nkrumah’s mentors in this period included the Trade Unionist S.R. Wood and Kobina Sekyi, the African Nationalist man of letters. Most likely he would have read Nnamdi Azikiwe’s editorials in the African Morning Post, in Gold Coast, where Azikiwe was Editor in Chief, before Dr Nkrumah left for the United States in December 1934. Azikiwe was later to become President of Nigeria, during which he failed to mark any particular Pan-African achievements.
On page three of her book Kwame Nkrumah: the years abroad 1935-1947 Sherwood, who researched Dr Nkrumah’s sojourns in both the USA and the UK in depth, reports that in both countries Dr Nkrumah received the close attention of both the US and UK security services, an attention that remained with him on his return home, leading to the overthrow of his Government in 1966 by the US’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Sherwood states and I quote:
But Nkrumah was not just a product of Diaspora influences. He was also a son of Africa and more particularly of the Gold Coast. Through his contacts as a young teacher in Western Ghana, near the intellectual/political centre of Cape Coast, he became heir to certain political traditions. More than some of the men who shaped his early life reappear in his life 10 to 12 years later.
Nkrumah arrived in the United States in 1935 and left 10 years later in 1945. Those of us from South West Africa who went there later bear testimony as to how the African American experience helped to shape our world view. One characteristic of note, in my view, concerning Dr Nkrumah’s stay in North America was that he immersed himself, without fear of favour, in the situation of the Africans and their descendants, who he found there. Many travel overseas for education and on arrival remain sealed within a small community of those from their ethnicities and countries of origin. By the time he left North America Dr Nkrumah had completed the preliminary stages of his PhD studies.
In May 1945, instead of returning to the Gold Coast, Dr Nkrumah headed for the United Kingdom, where he arrived with letters of introduction to leading Pan-Africanists, with the intention of qualifying to practice law (i.e. being ‘called to the English Bar’). He directed little of his time to legal studies and most of it to student activism. In the UK he worked alongside George Padmore, C.L.R. James, Ras Makonnen and others, who were later to assist the shaping of affairs in Africa. From England and active participation in the 5th Pan-African Congress of 1945, along with Jomo Kenyatta, Du Bois and others, Dr Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast in 1947 and immediately engaged in an intense involvement in the affairs of the Gold Coast.
The objective of this presentation is to consider the overall effectiveness of the administration of the Convention People’s Party (CCP) Government of Ghana, led by Dr Kwame Nkrumah from 1957 to 1966, when that Government was overthrown. For this retrospective the central focus in the domestic arena is economic policy. Foreign policy is symbiotic with domestic policy, so that consideration of the international affairs legacy should be considered after the domestic policy. Latin-American and Asiatic nationalists of the same period were being branded communists.
This was the height of the Cold War, after the Second European War, when the balance of power in international relations, to an extent, revolved around the two power centres, capitalism and communism. With hindsight it was noted that those states which aligned with capital received substantial investment, those who opted for non-alignment did not. For instance, South Korean and Taiwanese development after 1945 was on the backs of a ‘Marshall Aid’ plan for rapid development. None of the emerging self-governing countries in Africa was so assisted.
Comparisons between African development and that in Asia have been in vogue, based on the underlying psychology that Africans are unable to develop due to laziness or their inability to budget. The CPP’s experience and its place in development studies needs to be seen in this context.
The South East Asian, Ho Chi Minh, was of the same school as Dr Nkrumah. The differences being geographic and geo-strategic, in that Asia preceded Africa on its road to development, due to the choices of the colonialists. African decolonization was signposted by the Independence of Ghana in 1957.
Dr Nkrumah was essentially a Socialist and an African Nationalist. His definition of the African Nation was continental, most probably due to his sympathies with socialism and proletarian internationalism. Most of his advisors were Left of centre in their political orientation.
As we look at the strengths and weaknesses of the domestic policy of Dr Nkrumah we can draw conclusions as to its ideological orientation. From those conclusions we should be able to better assess the correctness of his foreign policy agenda. There is a belief that the foreign policy of the CPP superseded domestic considerations, especially as regards to cost effectiveness. In broad terms the paper may identify lessons for optimal development based on the experience of the CPP government.
Working back from what we now know, the development experience of Ghana under the CPP was not unique in Africa. Ghana led the way. Indeed many looked to Ghana for concrete lessons. For instance, all were interested in industrialization based on import substitution. Dr Nkrumah was guided by what he thought were the best interests of Ghana. Whereas Asia was centre stage in the East West contestation, Africa hardly featured. Simonstown at the Cape in South Africa was, in those days, said to be strategic, other parts of Africa, apart from the Suez Canal and Red Sea, were not.
Countries like Ghana were neither here nor there. Countries such as Ghana were expected to remain mono-crop cultures, whose minerals, where exploited, would add to the coffers of the developed world. Some 50 years later little has changed from the period of the CPP, despite some efforts from the so-called elites in the so-called ‘developing’ countries, attempts to break out of neo-colonialism, into economic self sufficiency and sovereignty have not worked.
These are the factors we need to bear in mind as we consider the foundational years of self-government in Ghana. Ghana was selected as the name for the former Gold Coast. The ancient Empire of Ghana set an objective standard of development and culture to be obtained by the new country. That Empire was in fact located under the sands of present-day Mauritania.
The domestic policy
The Gold Coast that became Ghana on March 6, 1957 had a typical colonial economy, characterized by extreme backwardness and a one-crop agricultural dependence. Cocoa represented over 70 percent of the total exports of the country, despite the fact that the country had been called the Gold Coast. Gold, industrial diamonds, manganese, bauxite and timber, made up the balance. Almost all of these were exported to the UK. There were no industries. As Smertin says, the Gold Coast was a land of petty merchants, artisans and craftsmen. Such factories as existed produced beer, soap, soft drinks, tobacco and clothes – the rest of the goods available were imported.
Such agriculture as did exist, apart from cocoa production, which was not done in plantation format, but in cleared spaces of forest and other undergrowth, was subsistence farming done on land based on feudal and communal land tenure. Ghana, despite its rich land and abundant rainfall, imported carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, milk, butter, etc.
After the independence celebrations were over Dr Nkrumah and other officials went to the offices formerly occupied by the departing colonialists, only to find that they had been stripped down to the last scrap of paper. Everything had been shipped to Britain. Any hope for meaningful cooperation was an illusion. Nkrumah is quoted as stating that the new state had inherited slums and squalor in the towns, huge tracts of open, untilled and uninhabited land in the countryside, whilst people were debilitated by nutritional diseases. There was much ignorance and few skills. Roads were meagre and railways short. There was 80 percent illiteracy. The curriculum content was irrelevant to national aspirations and commerce and trade were monopolized by Europeans.
To move out of darkness into the light – and he was unaware that he had only 10 years to make the transition – an economic program was required, providing for theoretically based socio-economic reform. It was to be based on an enlightened approach to tradition and custom, as much as these could be accommodated in a program, in keeping with principles of cooperation and egalitarianism, especially as regarding distribution. The thesis was based on socialism with African characteristics. There would be economic democracy, which corresponded to the Left’s concept of democratic socialism – an approach which was popular in former colonies around the world.
Dr Nkrumah, through the CPP, embraced the creation of the welfare state based on African socialist principles, adapted to suit Ghana’s conditions, in which all citizens, regardless of class, tribe, colour or creed, would have equal opportunity (p. 163 ‘I speak of freedom’, K. Nkrumah, 1961).
In his view, at the beginning of his leadership of Ghana, Dr Nkrumah believed that pure Marxism was for implementation in the West. With time and experience his views hardened. Class structure in the Gold Coast was in embryo. In these circumstances the wish to be non-aligned from any block was an important consideration. Dr Nkrumah’s principal advisor on economic policy was Prof Arthur Lewis from the Caribbean. Government would not participate directly in production, but would assist private capital, which would become the custodian in the production sphere of the economy. Since the Ghanaian private sector was weak, foreign capital was to finance economic development. Such foreign capital failed to emerge.
It was this experience that led to Ghana looking to alternative economic opportunities, such as the dominance of state property. Dr Nkrumah was averse to liberalism, in any shape or form. With time and experience he came to believe that political pluralism hindered socialist development.
By 1960, experience plus the residue of power remaining in the hands of the British, led to Ghana declaring itself a Republic on July 1, 1960, so that the Queen ceased to be the Head of State of Ghana. The new Constitution made Dr Kwame Nkrumah President for life, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces and in control of both the Legislature and the Executive branches of government.
Dr Nkrumah’s working day began at 4 am and finished late into the night. Within it he found time to write speeches, articles and books. He read extensively and encouraged others to do likewise. He was a teetotaler who shunned parties. He was not an ascetic and conducted easy social relations. In late 1957 Dr Nkrumah married a 27-yearold Egyptian woman, Fathia Helen Zitzk, a Greek Orthodox Copt. Although having his ideological and political view, Dr Nkrumah made adjustments due to the objective socio-economic and political conditions developing in Ghana. In 1962 the Congress of the CPP adopted the Work and Happiness Programme, which declared that building socialism was the aim of the party.
Congress adopted a seven-year plan. In the early years of self-government state enterprises were established in the services. Companies jointly owned by the state and foreign private interests were set up, such as the Black Star Shipping Line and Ghana Airways. The state’s economic functions were limited to the regulation of development. The state sector became a priority in the multi-structural Ghanaian economy. The determining role in economic development was assigned to the public sector. On January 13, 1965 Dr Nkrumah was quoted in the Ghanaian Times as saying: ‘State enterprises are the main economic pillars on which we expect to build our socialist state.’
The CPP Government was the first in Africa to introduce wide-scale nationalization, by way of economic policy. State monopoly in foreign trade was adopted. Such an economy was to function on planned basis. The state would regulate the entire socioeconomic complex. The CPP sought a mixed economy with the following sectors:
- State enterprises
- Enterprises owned by foreign private interests
- Small-scale Ghanaian private enterprises
Also for inclusion were the subsistence and small commodity sectors within agriculture.
Despite Dr Nkrumah’s asceticism, his plain living was not followed by many state officials. The Ideological Institute at Winneba and the newspaper The Spark laid down CPP orthodoxy. African nationalists from all over Africa, especially those areas remaining under colonialism, came to study in Winneba, some of these feature in public life today in Namibia. The bureaucratic bourgeoisie, not only in Ghana, but in many parts of Africa, proved incapable of maintaining the principled standards of the CPP and other vanguard parties which emerged in the different parts of Africa. The cult of personality around Dr Nkrumah became oppressive in the state, isolating the leader from the people. Similar developments took place in Mali under Modibo Keita and in Algeria under Ahmed Ben Bella. Keep in mind that since European colonialism these areas had been ruled by outsiders and had abandoned traditional rule.
In Ghana: Politics, Economics and Society by Donald I. Ray, published by Frances Pinter (Publishers) Ltd, London 1986, which is focused on the study of the early period of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Government of Ghana starting from 1981, there is a review of the economic policies, from the Left perspective, of that Government. After the overthrow of the CPP Administration, some residual Left elements from the Nkrumah era returned to office in the early PNDC period. In the intervening period of 1966 to 1981 according to Ray, there was no attempt to move Ghana out of the World Bank/IMF axis. The move of the CPP towards industrialization from cocoa dependence was not sustained in a forthright manner. Neither was any serious effort made to transform agriculture. Feudal land tenure was further entrenched in the intervening years.
Ray acknowledges that the CPP established a significant base for Ghana’s economy – the Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam complex, the Tema Port, the Black Star Shipping Line. International Airports at Accra and Tamale in the north, roads, bridges, state farms, public housing, health facilities and free universities were established. By 1965, 53 percent of all companies were either public or joint public-private operations. Ray notes that funding was put into private farming cooperatives. He confirms that the foreign exchange reserves of the CPP’s Ghana were virtually exhausted by the time its government was overthrown in 1966.
‘Ghana’s Independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa’ (Page 4 of Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah – Freedom Fighters Edition published 1967 by Panaf Books, London)
Late last year one of the ‘Top Four’ in Namibia was heard to say words to the effect that, he knew nothing about Africa until he arrived in the USA. It is unlikely that Dr Nkrumah was different. The influence of US-based Pan-Africanists such as John Hendrik Clarke on Africans and those of African descent is not well known or understood by Namibians in general and deserves separate study. The initial impact of Pan-Africanism in Namibia came through Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) which opened offices in Lüderitz and Windhoek around 1924, leading to the formation for the first time of a united front of Namibian ethnicities to confront German imperialism. The second wave is marked by the arrival in North America of Namibian nationalists including Prof Mburumba Kerina, Dr Sam Nujoma, Chief Kuaima Riruako and many others, who later returned to Africa as Pan-Africanists.
This initiation in the US was experienced by sojourners in North America from all over the African continent, whether it was Duse Mohamed Ali from Sudan/Egypt, Pixie Seme from South Africa or Kwame Nkrumah from the then Gold Coast. Each carried back to Africa a vision of African unity and self-rule. Dr Nkrumah was different in that as a subsequent Head of State in Africa he was particularly well placed to actualize Pan-Africanism and did so with dedication.
The Dr Kwame Nkrumah Memorial for the Founding President of Ghana, consequent on the naming of the street in Ludwigsdorf, Windhoek, after the Late President, affords us collectively, as a 22-year-old country, to reflect on where we come from and where in Africa’s future we fit in. We need to remember that Nkrumah’s Ghana was a staging point on the journey of our Founding President on his maiden journey out of the then South West Africa en route to the United Nations in New York to petition for the self-government of the then South West Africa. Do we accord Dr Nkrumah a place in our history?
Dr Nkrumah’s commitment to the liberation of Africa was unshakable. Indeed some Ghanaians complained of the excessive expenditure by the CPP on international affairs and under-expenditure on domestic affairs during the CPP rule in Ghana. All African Nationalists who could, attended the All Africa Peoples Conference and the First Conference of Independent African States both in Accra soon after Ghana’s self-government. Both of these meetings in Accra marked the irreversible assertion of African Nationalism and the decolonization of Africa.
By the time Ghana obtained self-government in 1957 under the CPP Government it would not be an exaggeration to say that its leader Dr Kwame Nkrumah was a schooled Pan-Africanist. Having been on the North East Coast of the Unites States and thereafter in London, Dr Nkrumah had been well placed to imbibe African Nationalism from a particular generation of African Americans and Pan-Africanists in the UK. Those who came later were not as fortunate. It was that exposure which later was to guide his approach to the unity movement. Not only had he submitted to teaching, whilst a student, but he distinguished himself at the earliest opportunity on his return home by inviting those teachers to join him, such as Du Bois, Padmore and Makonnen, to settle in Ghana, in order to better avail himself of their wisdom. This was an approach to research and foreign policy formulation which was not duplicated by any of his peers, including Azikiwe in Nigeria, and goes a long way in explaining Nkrumah’s unique position in contemporary African affairs. By all accounts Nkrumah’s relationship with these African foreign policy advisors was based on long standing humility and mutual respect.
One of Namibia’s first foreign policy advisors after self-government was the Ghanaian Ambassador E. M. Debrah, who spent time with us in Windhoek working on the professionalizing of our diplomatic service. In an exposition on ‘Lessons from Ghana’s foreign policy since Independence’, published as part of the proceedings of a Conference organized by the University of Ghana’s Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ghana, in May 2002, on Ghana’s Foreign Policy options, Ambassador Debrah makes the point that: ‘Foreign policy will have meaning only if it is translated into steady jobs.’ Amb Debrah went on to refer to ‘the deplorable conditions in which the majority of the people live’ (i.e. the link between foreign policy and domestic considerations).
The fact is that it is in recent years that Africans have learnt about the realities of other Africans, especially those living south of the Sahara. Colonialism discouraged Pan-Africanism and curiosity about other Africans. An example of this was the independence of South Sudan last year. There are a number of reasons for this policy, such as the history of slavery, which still persists in parts of Africa, the absence of travel documents, borders which hermetically sealed off neighbours, some straddling these borders. In essence the colonial policy was one of divide and rule.
Whilst in North America and Europe Dr. Nkrumah studied in depth the global African situation. He had teachers well researched on the subject. On the opening of the George Padmore Memorial Library in Accra on June 30, 1961, Dr Nkrumah developed our understanding of African Nationalism. It was Padmore who had risen to the highest heights in foreign policy formulation in the Soviet system, to become a member of the Comintern in Moscow for a number of years. In as much as Dr. Nkrumah is hailed these days as a Pan-Africanist, it may be that in future he will be remembered foremost as an African Nationalist, who had an early appreciation of the significance of African nationalism in the collective mobilization of the global African community.
In his address and tribute to Padmore, Dr. Nkrumah stated: ‘Comrade Padmore’s life was spent in the development of African nationalism.’
Of his relationship with Padmore, who originated from the Caribbean, Dr. Nkrumah states that ‘it was a genuine spiritual and intellectual loyalty’. The library was and still does, serve as a research centre and as a repository of culture and wisdom. Dr. Nkrumah never ceased to promote the power of ‘intelligent reading’. In his view progress was dependent on reading.
Eminent figures in Ghana’s foreign policy, such as Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Victor James Gbeho and K. B. Asante have affirmed Ghana’s foreign policy from 1957 to the 21st Century, spanning 10 different administrations has remained basically unchanged from that established by the CPP. Ambassador Debrah asserts that Dr Nkrumah pursued an active and aggressive foreign policy: ‘He led the fight against colonialism, ultimately leading to the total liberation of Africa; he sensitized Africa on the need to be free by hosting African conferences at the level of states and freedom fighters; he set the example of regional integration by his unions with Guinea and Mali; he built the Volta project as a basis for Ghana’s industrialization.’
The historical significance of Dr. Nkrumah within the Pan-Africanist Movement is that he served as the link between the Fifth Pan-African Congress, the West African Secretariat (in London) and the Independence movement in Africa. He connected his Pan-African background to his later international activities as the first President of Ghana. For Nkrumah, the goal of Pan-Africanism was to go beyond the geographic, national and cultural barriers imposed by colonialism. (P136 Pan-Africanism for beginners by Sid Lemelle, Writers and Readers Publishing, Inc., New York, 1992)
The Ghana Guinea Union of African states, formed May 1, 1959 was to have been joined by the Republic of the Congo, whose Premier, Patrice Lumumba, in early August 1960, signed an agreement to join the union during a brief visit to Accra. By September Lumumba had been removed from office and was later murdered by Western Special Forces. Mali joined the Union on July 1, 1961.
In 1958 Julius Nyerere of Tanzania formed the Pan-African Movement for East and Central Africa (PAFMECA) being the only effective regional political organization on the Continent. Mwalimu Nyerere in his Opening Speech delivered at the 6th Pan- African Congress of 1974 held in Dar es Salaam paid tribute to both Nkrumah and Kenyatta for their input in the work of the 5th Pan-African Congress as well as to Garvey, Makonnen and others for their contributions to the Pan-African movement.
Dr Nkrumah’s leadership of Ghana towards the building of meaningful African unity, via the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the reception those efforts encountered was a lesson in determination, courage and fortitude. Despite the hostility and resistance his initiative met from some quarters, such as the Francophone community (excluding Guinea and Mali), which could have led to discouragement, since they amounted to personal attacks on his character, questions as to his sincerity and his ambition – despite all these Nkrumah refused to relent and continued his work to unite Africa and its people.
During the time of the CPP Government of Ghana, preventive detention legislation was implemented by virtue of which opposition members were incarcerated. J. B. Danquah passed away in detention.
These days we hear and read little about what is discussed in this paper. The rationale for interstates relations within Africa nowadays is said to be Pan-Africanism. The ideology of the unity movement has been thoroughly researched by the likes of P. Olisanwuche Esedebe as expounded in his work: Pan-Africanism – the idea and the Movement 1776-1991 (Howard University Press, Washington DC, 1994).
On page 5 Esedebe states: ‘… we can say that Pan-Africanism is a political and cultural phenomenon that regards Africa, Africans and African descendants abroad as a unit. It seeks to regenerate and unify Africa and promote a feeling of oneness among the people of the African world.’
At Pan-Africanist gatherings, whether continental or regional, we do not hear the language of Pan-Africanism and its authorities such as Rodney, Cabral and Nabudere. Rather, what we hear are the platitudes and verbiage of the bureaucracy. This does not augur well for our collective memory and the realization of the ideology.
Dr. Nkrumah’s CPP government was overthrown by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States, whilst he was in Asia seeking to assist peace in Vietnam. When his plane landed in Beijing, China, he was informed that the military and police had taken over the government in Ghana. He proceeded to Guinea in West Africa where its leader, Ahmed Sekou Toure, appointed Nkrumah Deputy President, a titular post he retained until he passed away in 1972.
By 1966 Ghana had moved from a reserve fund of 200 million Pounds Sterling to a national debt of 349.20 million Pounds Sterling. The balance of payments was such that the financing of the industrialization program was challenged. Exports and imports were under threat due to the shortage of foreign exchange. Taxation had reached its highest levels. Civil Service salaries had not been reviewed for nine years. The cost of living was such that it had become difficult to make ends meet. One of the main challenges for the government was meeting loan repayments. Concerning real economic growth in percentage points, the Economic Survey of 1964 issued by the Ghana Government at page 15, gave economic growth for Ghana as follows:
Ghana being the first country in Africa in the contemporary period to accede to self- government in 1957, it was difficult to evaluate, as compared with what followed, not only in Ghana, but elsewhere in Africa, the strengths and weaknesses/successes and failures of the deposed CPP government. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and the CPP government of Ghana did more than any succeeding government in Ghana, to lay the foundations of a modern state. The CPP exhausted the financial resources of the country. With hindsight we now know the foreign attempts to overthrow the CPP Government started earlier than 1966. Given Dr. Nkrumah’s long experience of foreign covert action, he must have been aware that the CPP administration was under attack. Indeed the CPP was involved in a race to the bottom, in its laying of the foundations of Ghana. The regimes that followed proved incapable of building on the achievements of the CPP and Ghana entered a long period of declining growth. Would Ghana have progressed under capitalism? Whatever the answer, the fact remains that the CPP Government was ideologically based, if not driven. In this regard it established an important precedent.
H.L. Bretton. The rise and fall of Kwame Nkrumah – A study of personal rule in Africa,
Pall Mall Press, London, 1966
H. Campbell. Sixth Pan-African Congress – Resolutions and selected speeches,
Tanzania Publishing House, Dar es Salaam, 1976
P.O. Esedebe, Pan-Africanism – The idea and the movement 1776-1991, Howard
University Press, Washington DC, 1994
Y.D. Gebe and others, Ghana’s foreign policy options, Legon Centre for International
Affairs (LECIA) University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana, 2002
P.H. Katjavivi, A history of resistance in Namibia, UNESCO, Paris, 1988
S. Lemelle, Pan-Africanism for beginners, Writers and Readers Publishing Inc, New York, 1992
K. Nkrumah, Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah – Freedom Fighters Edition, PANAF Books Ltd, London, 1967
S. Obeng, Selected speeches of Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Vol 2, Afram
Publications (Ghana) Ltd, 1961
D. I. Ray, Ghana – politics, economics and society, Frances Pinter (Publishers),
M. Sherwood, Kwame Nkrumah – The years abroad 1935-1947, Freedom Publications, Legon, Ghana, 1996
Y. Smertin, Kwame Nkrumah, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1987
B. Timothy, Kwame Nkrumah – his rise to power, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1955
Part 6 – Reception at the Residence of Ghana High Commissioner 23/2/2012
Part 6 – Reception at the Residence of Ghana High Commissioner 23 February 2012
Courtesy Call by speakers and delegates on the Founding President of Namibia 24/2/2012
Dr. K. Nkrumah Memorial at Polytechnic of Namibia 24/2/2012