African Politics Kwame Nkrumah

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The political leadership of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah liberated the Gold Coast into the State of Ghana on March 6, 1957. In this time period the continent of Africa was experiencing the political changes of its people against imperial rule of powers such as, France, Britain, Poland, and Portugal. When colonial rule ended in Ghana, there were only eight independent African States Ethiopia, Ghana, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Liberia and Sudan. Even while witnessing the beginnings of Colonial Independence, Nkrumah believed that Imperialist have "cleverly postponed their ultimate and inevitable demise by deviously granting formal sovereignty to their colonies, yet by various economic and political demises continuing to exploit and direct the fortunes of new states." We'll find that Nkrumah's tactical political objectives against Imperialism were right, when the political environment was ripe shifting towards Colonial Independence. Moreover, leading him to seek the vision Ghana's Colonial Unification and Continental Unity of Africa as whole, earning him a place in African political history.

The Road to Ghana's Colonial Independence

As a graduate student in England, he presented his political beliefs against Colonialist, by joining student organizations and disseminating his message through the press. While at the London School of economics to the In 1947 Kwame published a powerful pamphlet denouncing Imperialist rule in the Gold Coast, Towards Colonial Freedom, where he presented a four-point program that called for the abolition of political illiteracy, the organization of the masses and the establishment of an educational fund and an national press. He became Vice President of the West African Student Union while at the same time denouncing foreign rule in Africa through the African Interpreter. Such passion toward ending foreign rule drove Kwame to form secret society know as Circle Union of Socialist African Republics that sought to liberate Africa from Imperialist oppression.

After forming the circle in England, Kwame was asked become a secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), "an organization formed mainly by lawyers, doctors and chiefs, to end British colonial rule in the Gold Coast in the shortest possible time" in 1947. In his new position, Kwame demonstrated the organizational skills he acquired through Coloured Workers Association by quickly expanding UGCC offices throughout Ghana from two to six hundred with a six-month framework. This outreach program proved to be effective, in spreading the organization's principle motive of self government in the shortest time possible to farmers, unions, women's groups and youth. Kwame's accomplishment, led to the validity of his leadership within the professionals of the UGCC expanding to ordinary citizens, at the same time creating a political constituency for his future political party the Conventions Peoples Party (CPP).

On June 12, 1949 Osagyfo officially founded the CPP from members of Committee on Youth Organization (CYO) formerly a section of the UGCC, in order to liberate Ghana from colonialist political oppression. Nkrumah proclaimed, "I am happy to be able to tell you that the CYO, owing to the present political tension, has decided to transform itself into a fully fledged political party with the object of promoting the fight for full self government" According to Nkrumah, in order for Ghanaians to take control of their own affairs they had to concentrate on achieving political power through unity. He argued that a united Ghana was necessary to remove the British from Ghanaian political affairs. Once political independence was achieved, Nkrumah argued, economic and cultural liberation would shortly follow.

Kwame's policy of positive action left blow to the British government when he implemented. He rallied people with propaganda signs and the CPP flag colored red, white, and green followed by the use of party songs stating, "there is victory for us," calling them to stop the function for the colonial government. Positive Action began on January 8, 1950 after the parliament refused to draw a constitution for the Ghanaian people causing the government into a standstill as shops, factories, and transportation services closed. The government retaliated by closing down CPP offices and arresting Kwame. Within the confines of jail, he planned his campaign for the 1951 elections, which brought the CPP 71 seats while 16 were won mostly by independents. Gaining a political seat allowed Kwame Nkrumah to become Prime Minister in 1952 and eventually Prime Minister and president on Ghana's Independence Day.

The Unification of Ghana

Once Ghana gained Independence; Kwame focused on effective control of politics and modernization way as fronts to fight external imperialistic pressures. Kwame believed that he could combat colonialism through five ways, diplomatic cooperation of independent African states, political education, the use propaganda, aid to nationalist, and a policy of non-fraternization with the imperialist. He considered every step in toward these policies a positive one, and he viewed political opposition as an obstacle to a united Africa. For this reason, developed a single party state because one group of leaders could represent common interest of the masses and having an opposition would add inefficiency in governmental action towards improvement. Also, took measures such as the abolition of interim regional assemblies, constitutional safeguards for the opposition, and the enactment of Preventive Detention Act of 1957, a law that enabled the police to arrest and detain people believed to be collaborating with the imperialist opposition. Most of these where members disbanded United Party, that was composed of rent seeking doctors, lawyers, and other intelligista looking to gain power and exploit along foreigners along Neo-Colonialism He added to this mixture Socialist of creating a from of communalism while having a lending ear to towards Communism which would later provide the West with motive to end to Kwame's regime as the Cold War spread.

Kwame believed that in order to maintain imperialist forces at bay and maintain political independence Ghana needed to be economically independent, therefore industrialization was the key issue. The first development plan initiated by Nkrumah and the CPP in 1957 concentrated on preparing the country for industrialization. It included improving availability of electricity, railways, roads and canals, mechanized agriculture, education, and general services. Kwame delivered by directing government efforts in establishing the Volta River project to provide electricity, building the Accra to Tema Motorway while creating Ghana Airways and Black Star Shipping Line. Ghana's agriculture needed to shift its dependency from cocoa, it cash crop that accounted for nearly seventy five percent of all exports.

Having state ownership and control of the infrastructure had the underlying objective of avoiding foreign ownership of such vital factors of production. Yet, rapid modernization was one factor that made communism attractive to Nkrumah, but he actively rejected attempts to reduce Ghana to a Soviet satellite state, though the US believed this connection actually existed. Nkrumah saw communism as an efficient way for developing countries to industrialize quickly. Nkrumah also hoped that by using a communist system of industrialization his country would be spared some of the worst injustices he saw in the capitalistic model, such as a tiny group of people becoming very rich at the expense of an enormous group of people who were very poor. For these reasons, the Agricultural Development Board was established to regulate cocoa production, purchasing and marketing and to identify, subsidize and promote the production of other cash crops, such a cotton, pineapple, and rubber to alleviate the tenuous cocoa dependency. This economic stimulus provided short growth of 12 percent between 1957-1962, but the dependency on cocoa would be costly for Ghana as the collapse of its market would be used as an excuse for coup de'tat on February 24, 1966.

African Unity and Kwame's Downfall

His leadership provided a base for support and stability for other African state by spearheading the African Liberation Movement against the colonial powers. Kwame exclaimed, "our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent." As he sought to combine forces against foreign ownership of the means of production. The formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1964 can be seen as successful deflection of Nkrumah's efforts to solidly unite the African continent into a powerful union. The OAU's charter prescribed immutability of the colonial borders and ensured the non-viability of African microstates. In a nutshell, its existence pleased the ex-colonial and Neo-Colonial powers, but the revolutionary politics of Kwame generally displeased them. According to Nkrumah, only through a united effort would the removal of the colonial powers be successful, because no one country had the resources to prevail alone but Unified Africa would. Nkrumah, Toure, Nasser joined forces and as icons of rejection of the European colonial order. Each of them was leaning toward the socialist block and each of them had considerable following especially Kwame with his writings.

In his book, Neo Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperealism Osagyefo presented the notion of Neo-Colonailism, the situation where the pattern of relationships between former metropolitan Power and its former colony remained unchanged even after the attainment of Independence, basically Colonialism without accountablity. He expressed the tactics of foreign power, such the US and Britain, which included: the policy of balkanization, the lowering of the living standard of the people in developing countries, the retention of military bases in former colonies and the signing of military pacts with extra African powers, and the maintenance in power through any means including coup d'état of puppet regimes in Africa. Later Nkrumah would state "In this book I exposed the economic stranglehold exercised by foreign monopolistic complexes such as the Anglo-American Corporation, and illustrated the ways in which this financial grip perpetuated the paradox of Africa poverty in the midst of plenty. The American Government sent me a note of protest, and promptly refused Ghana $35 million of `aid'."

His final writing denouncing the "New Imperialism" and Ghana's dependency led to his downfall. By writing this book, he was against America who at the time was fighting a Vietnam War and fearing that Ghana would follow the domino effect of becoming a communist country. Meanwhile, the economy had been depleted; foreign exchange and government's reserves shrank and disappeared. Unemployment rose dramatically. Food prices skyrocketed up over 250% from 1957 levels and up a phenomenal 66% in 1965. Eventually, there were massive food and essentials shortages effecting every area, sector and individual in Ghana.

Thus the opposing National Liberation Council (NLC) with leadership Colonel Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka of the 2nd Infantry Brigade on 24 February, 1966, took over government in "Operation Cold Chop", a well organized coup d'etat. The US and Ghana's Neo-Colonialist heavily backed this operation, causing Parliament to dissolve and outlawing Nkrumah's ruling political organization, the Convention People's Party (C.P.P.) and by dismissing Nkrumah himself as President of Ghana's First Republic, all while he was in peace keeping mission in Vietnam.


Indeed, His successes, his Pan-African enthusiasm, the political galvanization of a very diverse, multi-faceted society, the attainment of independence for Ghana and his early economic achievements have earned him an important place in history. His message Independence became a vibrant national passion for development and self-reliance. Throughout the nation, in every region, in every Chiefdom, the population was enthusiastically and earnestly engaged following the principles of the CPP. He organized for Independence setting a model for other African countries to follow, particularly in the grand liberation of 1960 where countries such as Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. He political objective of having a strong Ghanan government and modernization prove to be effective, but only the short run. Most Africans remember him as the "the redeemer" because he provide the charisma that Africans needed for a leading statesmen against any form of imperialism.

His loss of power in Ghana is overshadowed by providing Africans a rallying point to achieve African unity and end economic dependence on the West, which he fought for as an live exile by proclaiming his beliefs for African Unity and the end of Imperialism until his death due to cancer on April 27, 1972.


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