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October 22, 2009 | Political

My father's legacy (1), Sekou Nkrumah's recollections of his dad

Sekou Nkrumah
Sekou Nkrumah

The only certain facts about Nkrumah's birth appear to be that he was born in the village of Nkroful in Nzima around mid¬day on a Saturday in mid September.

Nzima lies in the extreme South¬west of Ghana and covers an area of about a thousand square miles stretching from the river Ankobra on the east to the river Tano and its lagoon on the west. Nzima was known to Europeans for many years as Apollonia because it was on the feast day of St. Apollo that the white man first set foot in Nzima land.

In the outlying areas of the then Gold Coast, nobody bothered to record the dates of births, marriages and deaths, as is the custom of the Western world. Such happenings were remarkable only because they provided a cause for celebration. By tribal custom it was enough for a mother to assess the age of her child by calculating the number of national festivals that had been celebrated since its birth.

The national festival of Nzima is called Kundum. According to Nkrumah's mother's calculations, forty-five Kundums have taken place since he was born, which makes the year of his birth 1912.

On the other hand, the priest who later baptized him into the Roman Catholic Church recorded his birth date as September 21, 1909.

In Nkrumah's autobiography he writes: " ...Although this was a mere guess on his part, I have always used this date on official documents, not so much because I believed in its accuracy, but in so far as officialdom was concerned, it was the line of least resistance. It was not until recently that I came to realise how near the mark this guess must have been."

Nkrumah goes on to recapture a short holiday spent in Nzima where he had the opportunity to revisit some of his childhood haunts, and to recapture the past. As he sat with some friends on the sea shore at Half Assini their eyes were drawn to the rusty brink of the Bakana, a cargo boat owned by the British and African steam Navigation Company which had been wrecked in 1913 and had come to rest on the sea shore.

The Bakana had been a landmark to Nkrumah for so long that he had never realised how significant a part it could play in throwing light on his age. One of his friends then asked what had happened and whether he could remember it. Although Nkrumah was certainly not older than three or four years at the time, he could well remember being told the story of this disaster.

His mother confirmed the fact that he was a small boy at that time the event occurred some little time after she had brought him from Nkroful to live with his father at Half Assini. Assuming, therefore, that the year of Nkrumah birth was 1909, the Saturday nearest to the middle of September in that year was the 18th. It seems likely, therefore, that he was born on Saturday, September 18, 1909.

Source: Ghanaian Times

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