Kwame Nkrumah (9/21/09 – 4/27/72) was the first president of Ghana and one of the most influential Pan-Africanists. He was born in Nkroful in Nzemaland. He was educated in Ghana, the US, and the UK.
He returned to Accra in 1947 where he soon started to cause trouble for the British who at that time were ruling Ghana. He called for “self-government now” and “positive action” which basically meant civil disobedience and boycotts/strikes. He rallied the Ghanaian people. He was arrested several times with each imprisonment making him more of a martyr and hero.
The British were forced to leave Ghana. They tried to leave Ghana in the hands of the Ghanaian élite whose strings could be pulled from Britain but Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples Party won. Nkrumah became Prime Minister in 1957 making Ghana the first sub-Saharan African country to gain independence from the colonial masters. Yes Ghana is 50 years this year – March 6th – and there is much fanfare planned which I will unfortunately miss.
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra is relatively new. Kwame Nkrumah himself was ousted from power in 1966 through a coup as Ghanaians were getting more resentful of his pan-Africanist ideals. He spent the rest of his life in exile in Guinea – where he was their co-President, eventually dying from prostate cancer.
It is only recently that Ghana is going through an Nkrumah renaissance as people can now acknowledge that probably 90% of Ghana’s development – the major roads, major universities, major hospitals, major industries not forgetting Volta Lake and the hydroelectric dam, were built or majorly financed during his rule.
The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park was nice. It would have been more impressive if the fountains were actually flowing but I understand. It’s Harmattan afterall! At least the gardens were green and the flowers colourful. The mausoleum is supposed to represent a cut tree trunk, symbolizing that Nkrumah was not able to finish his plans for Ghana before being overthrown.
The Kwame Nkrumah museum was pretty bare and hot as the air-conditioning was off. It contained a lot of photographs of Nkrumah with pretty much all the famous people of the past century. Pictures with him posing with Fidel Castro, John F. Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II (they were dancing together!), Mao Ze-Dong, Jawarhawal Nehru, the Pope, Lumumba, Kaunda, Toure, Azikwe and so many others. Very impressive!
I can only imagine how Ghana would be now, if Ghanaians then allowed Nkrumah to complete his plans for the country. Or if the United States/CIA weren’t going around trying to get rid of all those – Fidel, Mao, Lumumba, Nkrumah etc. who were leaning towards socialism/communism. Enough said.