[ 2012-09-21 ]
Ghana Marks Founder's day
Today marks the 103rd birthday of Ghana's first
President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
From humble beginnings in the village of Nkroful
in the Western Region of the then Gold Coast
through Achimota School in Accra to the Lincoln
University in the USA, Nkrumah rose to become the
founder of modern Ghana and the greatest African
of the last millennium.
His charisma, vision and desire to see his country
industrialise and prosper and to unite Africa into
a strong, prosperous continent that could
influence decisions in the international arena
Winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963, Nkrumah
enrolled in the Lincoln University in
Pennsylvania, USA, and graduated with a bachelor’s
degree in 1939. He obtained another bachelor’s
degree in Sacred Theology in 1939.
In 1942, he was awarded a Master of Science in
Education and a Master of Science in Philosophy.
While lecturing in Political Science at the
Lincoln University, he was elected President of
the African Students Organisation of America.
His association with well-known Marxists, such as
Raya Dunayevskaya and Grace Lee Boggs, brought him
to the attention of the American Federal Bureau of
Investigations (FBI) and by early 1945 he was
under FBI surveillance.
In that same year, he left the US with the
intention of studying at the London School of
His meeting with George Padmore, a Trinidadian
Pan-Africanist, in England got him involved in the
organisation of the fifth Pan-African Congress in
He later founded the West African National
Secretariat to fight for an end to colonialism in
Africa and was later elected Vice-President of the
West African Students Union (WASU).
Due to his strong radical and anti-colonial views,
he never escaped the eyes of the British Special
In 1947, Nkrumah was invited by the United Gold
Coast Convention (UGCC) to serve as its General
Secretary but due to disagreements regarding the
way forward in the fight for self-government, he
broke away and formed the Convention People's
Party (CPP) on June 12, 1949.
He involved the youth, women and ordinary people
in his party and travelled the length and breadth
of the country to spread his message. Within a
short period, the CPP had become the biggest
political party in the then Gold Coast.
In late 1949, he made some proposals for
constitutional amendment which were rejected, and
on January 1,1950 he called for 'positive action'.
He was arrested and jailed for three years, but
the peace and quiet the British colonial
administration thought his incarceration would
bring did not materialise.
Faced with local protests, the British organised
elections in 1951, and although he was in prison,
Nkrumah and his CPP won by a landslide, taking 34
out of the 38 seats. Consequently, the colonial
administration had no choice but to release him.
He was asked to form a government within a day of
He formed a government and was given the title
'Leader of Government Business'.
In 1952, however, the Legislative Assembly elected
him, by secret ballot, as Prime Minister, after
the constitution had been amended.
As Prime Minister, Nkrumah continued to agitate
for independence and, on March 6, 1957, the Gold
Coast became independent with the new name
Nkrumah quickly launched into a massive
industrialisation programme to bring Ghana at par
with the developed world. He established factories
all over the country and, to generate electric
power for the smooth running of those factories,
he built the Akosombo Dam, a massive electricity
generating plant at the time.
To open the hinterlands to development, he built
roads, hospitals and schools. Education in Ghana
was free up to the university level. He built two
more universities to add to the one established by
In 1960, a new constitution was drawn to make
Ghana a Republic. The draft constitution included
a clause to surrender the sovereignty of Ghana to
a Union of African States.
A presidential election was held in 1960 and
Nkrumah again won by a landslide, obtaining
1,016,076 votes as against Dr J.B. Danquah's
He organised Pan-African congresses in Ghana and
supported freedom fighters all over Africa.
He was a founding father of the Organisation of
African Unity (OAU) and the Non-Aligned Movement
Nkrumah took a non-aligned Marxist approach
towards development. He was often quoted as
saying, 'We face neither East nor West; we face
His government, however, had traces of socialism.
Due to subversive acts against his government,
which included two assassination attempts against
him, one at Kulungugu and the other at the
Flagstaff House where he resided, he introduced
the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) under which
opponents were detained without trial.
In 1964, Ghana was proclaimed a one-party state
and all political parties were banned, except the
CPP. Nkrumah was proclaimed Life President, with
some political opponents fleeing into exile.
While on his way to Hanoi to discuss moves to stop
the Vietnam War in February 1966, Nkrumah was
overthrown by some senior military officers, led
by General Emmanuel K. Kotoka.
Forty years after his overthrow, Nkrumah's legacy
lives on. The Accra-Tema Motorway, the Tema
Harbour, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science
and Technology, the University of Cape Coast and
many other development projects attest to his
desire to raise Ghana onto a pedestal far higher
than he had met it.
At the turn of the last century, listeners of BBC
voted him the African of the Millennium, while the
African Union (AU) erected a giant statue of him
at the new AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa in
Source - Daily Graphic
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