ModernGhana logo
17.01.2007 Feature Article

When Dancers Play Historians And Thinkers – Part 20

When Dancers Play Historians And Thinkers – Part 20
Listen to article

It has been forty years since his auspicious and landmark overthrow, yet many a fanatical Nkrumacrat shows no signs of let or psychological maturity and discretionary growth. Thus in the “Acknowledgment” pages to his book The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement (Accra: Optimum, 1999), M. N. Tetteh makes the following patently and blasphemously hyperbolical statement about deposed Ghanaian tyrant, President Kwame Nkrumah: “It has now been made manifest that the mere mention of the name Kwame Nkrumah or association with his time and work could endanger one's security in quarters where colonialism, imperialism and apartheid could be compared with a state religion. There was an open warning given to the Uganda[n] Government not to lecture the youth of Uganda on the ideas of Kwame Nkrumah. This has exposed the magnitude of danger which people who want to be free and independent would undergo for their consciences even in so[-]called democratic and free world. Unfortunately for them, the name of Kwame Nkrumah, his ideas and philosophy cannot be erased from the minds and lives of the liberated African child. Kwame Nkrumah is the founder and father of Ghana and indeed a prophet of African Unity. Any nation or individual who is against the ideas and the philosophy of Kwame Nkrumah being exposed to the youth of Africa is at [sic] an undeclared war against Africa” (YPM vi).

Indeed, as Peter Omari poignantly noted in his classic monograph Kwame Nkrumah: The Anatomy of an African Dictatorship (1972), to cavalierly characterize the proverbial “Iron Boy” of Africa as “the founder and father of Ghana,” flagrantly betrays the glorious memory of such phenomenal and authentically pioneering heroes of modern Ghana as George Kuntu Blankson, John Mensah-Sarbah (father and son), Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford, Osagyefo Nana Ofori-Atta I, Dr. Joseph Boakye Danquah and all the other equally illustrious members of what became known as THE BIG SIX, as well as Mr. George Alfred (Paa) Grant, first president of the first modern Ghanaian political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). Such imperious characterization, it cannot be gainsaid, also summarily insults the intelligence and dignity of Ghanaians and fosters the unpardonable crime of intellectual dishonesty, that is, assuming that, indeed, Dr. M. N. Tetteh had the indispensable concept of “Intellectual Integrity” fore-grounded as a salient objective while fabricating the rather fantasmagorical contents of his purportedly official history, or record, of the infamous Ghana Young Pioneer Movement.

If, indeed, Dr. Tetteh were interested in testing his rather cavalier assertion, or thesis, regarding the mnemonic retention of Nkrumah's name and achievements in the “minds and lives of the liberated African child,” the author would have done himself and his readers – particularly the sympathetic ones – a lot of good by conducting a scientific survey of Ghanaian elementary and secondary school pupils and had his findings published for all to see and learn a thing or two from it. This, in no way, is to suggest that those of us avid and scholastically dispassionate students of postcolonial Ghanaian history are not fully aware of the embarrassing fact that sheer rhetorical bluster constitutes the veritable essence of Nkrumaist propaganda, which is exactly what Mr. Tetteh's The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement appears to be incontrovertibly about.

And when the author scandalously determines to fault some ill-conceived external detractors for the epic failure of the tyrannical Nkrumaist pseudo-socialist project, the level-headed reader, or critical thinker, cannot help stopping his/her proverbial sides from, literally, splitting with laughter: “Finally, my experience in Ghana and in a couple of European countries, is that there are more people in high positions of authority [sic] who take delight in pulling other people down[,] especially Africans[,] and preventing them by any means from achieving their lawful and just objectives than there are people who encourage and motivate others to succeed for the sake of civilized human society.”

On the latter score, one cannot help wondering what Mr. Tetteh was doing in those unnamed, presumably Western, European, countries if he felt so strongly about the psychically blistering anti-African sentiments among the people – particularly among the most powerful ones – in these European countries. In other words, why not sojourn in China, Cuba or any one of the erstwhile Eastern Bloc countries which the proverbial “Deliverer of Ghana” considered to be the Black-Man's-Heaven-On-Earth? Then, again, what is even more interesting is the fact that in 1985, when Mr. Tetteh first presented portions of his book at a conference hosted by the University of Ghana's Institute of African Studies, the author claims to have flown into Ghana from England, the Vatican of Western Imperialism, not from the erstwhile Soviet Union or, let's say, China. And so, oh yes, the children of Africa may never forget the name of Kwame Nkrumah and, perhaps, even what the “Osagyefo” officially stood for; the equally significant question, though, is whether these children would also, likely, ignore knowledge of the abject hypocrisy on the part of these fanatical Nkrumacrats.

Intriguing also is the fact that Tetteh's The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement, perhaps, contains the most intellectually scandalous – to speak much less of the outright bankrupt – “Foreword” of any self-serving book that seeks to apotheosize for President Nkrumah by criminally and unconscionably attempting to portray modern Ghana, one of the most civilized nations of the world, as a woefully benighted polity which only came within the ambit of human civilization through the “beneficent” tyranny of Kwame Nkrumah and his so-called Convention People's Party (CPP), according to Dr. J. S. A. Stephens, a past president of the Ghana Methodist Conference, and first Rector of the so-called Kwame Nkrumah Youth Leadership Training Institute: “In this connection, I hereby identify myself with the attempt by Dr. Tetteh to use the medium of this book to remind the nation of our glorious past which was created out of colonialism and the efforts that must be made to cleanse[,] once again[,] our land of evil, blood, cult, defilement and the spell of witchcraft which is driving the nation into vanity and immorality” (YPM x).

At this juncture, one is almost tempted to wonder aloud thus: “Whatever happened to 'Nzema Bayie' [putatively the most potent traditional Ghanaian 'Witch-Doctorate' or Medical College in Nkrumah's own Nzemaland] if, indeed, the “Wonder Boy of Africa” was the pioneering Witchcraft Juggernaut of this purported underbelly of indigenous Ghanaian culture?

Indeed, in his account of the founding of the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement Rev. Stephens, Nkrumah's functional surrogate for the organization, deftly and deviously attempts to portray efforts that went into creating the YPM as nothing short of yeomanry, for a Youth Study Tour delegation was set up in 1956 which visited the United States and Britain and acquainted itself with the institutional structures and functioning of the Boys' Scout Movement, as well as the Girls' Guides. The delegation's tour, almost as if calculated to deftly balance off the “Western Imperialist” against their Eastern Bloc counterparts, likely in a dogmatic bid to affirming Ghana's non-aligned status, also visited Germany and the former Soviet Union. Curiously enough, while Rev. Stephens and the members of his delegation found German and Soviet youth organizations to be the most politicized and thus perfect for massive Nkrumaist indoctrination, nonetheless, the delegates preferred to utilize the administrative culture of the British and American Boys' Scouts and Girls' Guides organizations because, unlike their German and Soviet counterparts, the British and American youth organizations indoctrinated their subjects as integral parts of the official school curriculum, whereas in Germany and Russia such activities were more extracurricular-oriented:

“Accordingly, the delegation submitted a report to a four-member Cabinet Committee set up to evaluate its report. It recommended the formation of a National Youth Movement in Ghana similar to, or along the same lines as the youth organizations in Germany and the Soviet Union. Upholding the report of the delegation, the Cabinet evaluation committee went a step further in adding to the report of the delegation. It recommended that the National Youth Movement when established, should have its programs taught in all schools and colleges in Ghana as done by the Boys Scouts and Girls Guides Movement in Britain and America. Teachers in the various schools were also to be invited to serve as leaders of the school groups. The report laid emphasis on the establishment of a Youth Leadership Training Center to train both professional and voluntary youth leaders” (YPM xiv).
Needless to say, in the preceding, what the anti-capitalist and anti-democratic Dr. Stephens and his cohorts end up rigging up is a veritable straw-man, just so that they could cavalierly justify the immitigable reign-of-terror visited on an unsuspecting Ghanaian electorate by Nkrumah and his so-called Convention People's Party. For after all, if Britain, Ghana's former colonial mistress and the great beacon of Western democracy, the United States of America, appeared to be using their respective youth organizations to routinely interfere with civic life, then who were the critics of Nkrumah and the CPP to impeach the ethical misconduct of the cynical administrators of the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement (YPM)?

Interestingly, however, the striking fact that the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement was named after its predecessor- or model-counterparts in Germany and Russia, and not those of Britain and the United States of America could, obviously, be explained off without the fear or unease of appearing to be tendentiously courting Eastern Imperialism. For did not such a strategy, or ideological move, offset the fact that the YPM was functionally, at least theoretically speaking, administered along “Western Imperialist” lines? Needless to say, the actual manipulation of the YPM political juggernaut against opponents of the Nkrumah government tells a totally different story altogether, as shall be critically examined in due course. For now, at least, suffice it to relate that this is what Rev. Stephens claims to have constituted the primary objective of the YPM: “The aim of the movement being the fear of God, patriotism, respect of parents, respect for government and public property and each person regarding one another as his brother's keeper” (YPM xv).

In case the keen reader was wondering just who this phenomenon called “God” was, to whose sacred aim and purpose of instilling “fear” into Ghanaian youth the Young Pioneer Movement was established, this staple slogan of the Movement may, likely, go a remarkable way to answering this question: “Nkrumah Never Dies!”

It is also interesting to recall that at the very same conference where Dr. Tetteh presented the preliminary stages of his book, or the initial draft thereof, Professor Kwesi Dickson, an equally distinguished prelate of the Methodist Church of Ghana as Dr. Stephens, and perhaps even far more remarkably so, presented a quite well-researched paper in which the former head of the University of Ghana's Religious Studies and African Studies departments authoritatively observed that President Nkrumah had never promulgated any significant policy on Religion in Ghana (see Kwame Arhin's The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah 129).

And so it curiously comes as quite an occasion for great amusement when Dr. Stephens attempts to make a pontifical claim on the Christian religion and, indeed, religion in general on behalf of then-Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah. We also know for a fact that in his own will, President Nkrumah had emphatically urged upon the executors of his estate the hosting of a non-denominational burial service upon his death because the extant Ghanaian premier did not believe in the existence of a Christian God (see Peter Omari's Kwame Nkrumah: The Anatomy of an African Dictatorship). But even more significant was Nkrumah's assertion that he did not believe in any of the major organized religions – in sum, the proverbial Africa's “Man of Destiny,” a degree holder in Christian Divinity, was an officially self-confessed Atheist. But, of course, since in Nkrumaist parlance there are no Apostles of Untruth, particularly among the ranks of those dedicated to the immitigable apotheosizing of their “Prophet of Continental African Unity,” we can only withdraw ourselves to the sidelines and let known and recorded facts and events speak for themselves.

The preceding notwithstanding, it is extremely difficult, if not virtually impossible, to affirm with the exuberant rhetoric of Dr. J. S. A. Stephens that the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement wrought the following magical feats among the Movement's unsuspecting and helpless victims: “Within a matter of only five years the influence of the movement on the character of its members, the overall level of discipline exhibited by Ghanaian children, the performances of the members in all fields of skill [sic] appeared to have won for Ghana, a great deal of respect, and raised the level of Ghanaian integrity on the continent above average. They took to the air as pilots, to the high seas as navigators and marine engineers; to the land as soil scientists, to the [sic] academia as philosophers, poets, priests, doctors, pastors, politicians and humble servants in all spheres of life” (YPM xv).

But even more fascinating is the following expansive plaint from Rev. Stephens purporting to seriously impeach the credibility, as well as impugn the integrity, of both those Ghanaians and foreigners who flatly refused to be cheaply bought into the reckless apotheosizing of the proverbial African Show Boy: “It was indeed strange and tragic that the most deadly attack on the Young Pioneer Movement should come from a priest of the Christian Faith, Bishop Richard Roseveare of the Anglican Church of Ghana. The circumstance in which the first stone was thrown against the movement, the loss of lives that followed in subsequent [sic] violent attacks on the school children who formed the body of the movement, the fears and panic that gripped the nation and the eventual overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and, of course, also of the movement compel me to record on these pages, the sad story of how the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement and Kwame Nkrumah were blackmailed, undermined, and finally destroyed from within and outside Ghana. Let it be known to new generations, as is already known by [sic] the old that the Anglican Bishop of Accra[,] Richard Roseveare[,] was a personal friend of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, ever since the Bishop assumed his office in Ghana. On the basis of the [sic] friendship, the Bishop had dined more frequently with Dr. Nkrumah than the known close friends of the President. When unfortunate rumors started to emerged about the movement and against the person of the President, Dr. Nkrumah was still a close friend to Bishop Richard Roseveare. To add insult to injury, Bishop Roseveare had [had] dinner with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah on a Thursday at the Flagstaff House. Bishop Roseveare left Accra on the following Friday afternoon for a Synod in Sekondi. On Saturday, Bishop Roseveare addressed the Synod. In a speech, he launched the first scathing, open attack on both the President and the Youth Movement. The speech[,] distributed to the BBC Bush House, London[,] and the GBC[,] Accra[,] was read on these airwaves simultaneously when the Bishop was still speaking in Sekondi. Bishop Roseveare accused Dr. Nkrumah and the Young Pioneers of blasphemy and godlessness. He charged Dr. Nkrumah for [sic] impersonating God, and teaching the young people of Ghana that there was no God. Nkrumah was the MESSIAH. The story went that the Young Pioneers were being taught to spy on their parents for the authorities, etc., etc. One would have expected the man of God, Bishop Roseveare to, at least, have attempted to advise the President, or to enquire from the President, when he had dinner with him on the eve of the devastating speech, whether he had any knowledge of the so-called blasphemies and evil things going on in the Young Pioneer Movement before going on the air. He did not. He dipped his hand in the same plate with Dr. Nkrumah only to betray him a few hours later, in a manner that had thrown Ghana and Africa into the abyss of confusion, despair, and irreparable disaster [sic]. The attack on Dr. Nkrumah and the Young Pioneers by Bishop Roseveare on BBC and GBC simultaneously at the Synod and on the air triggered the final assault on Dr. Nkrumah and the movement. Naturally, the same people on the land rose up and demanded the repatriation of Bishop Roseveare from Ghana. I [i.e. Rev. J. S. A. Stephens?] quickly intervened and advised Dr. Nkrumah against it since the repatriation might turn an otherwise unknown Bishop into an undeserved hero overnight. Nkrumah agreed never to repatriate the Bishop as announced earlier by the government. Paradoxically[,] when after a few days there was no news of the repatriation of the Bishop, hundreds of protest letters from members of the Bishop's own church were received in [sic] the Flagstaff House[,] asking why the Bishop was [sic] not repatriated as officially announced. There were even threats of unfortunate consequences if the Bishop were left off the hook. The Government had no other choice than [sic] to reluctantly repatriate the Bishop as originally announced” (YPM xvi-xviii).

In the preceding extract, needless to say, Rev. Stephens resorts to the same facile, nauseating and cavalier game of summarily blaming “Agents of Western Imperialism” by vulgarly and scurrilously pretending that Ghanaians, somehow, were too daft to have readily caught on to President Nkrumah's blasphemous attempt at forcibly apotheosizing and etching himself into the postcolonial Ghanaian national psyche. Consequently, a characteristic Western-European scapegoat is glibly introduced into the equation in order to mitigate and, perhaps, totally divert the reader's attention from the primary discursive context of “Nkrumaist God-Complex” or the “Tyranny of Nkrumah's Cult of Personality” as constituting both the remote and immediate cause(s) of the Ghanaian premier's ouster, in much the same manner that the U. S. – Central Intelligence Agency continues to be routinely faulted for the February 24, 1966 Anti-Nkrumah Revolution. For the typical Nkrumacrat, Ghanaians were, somehow, too intellectually stolid and morally stunted to logically and promptly respond to their wholesale and summary abuse and exploitation by a lone ideological lunatic who would have them strait-jacketed into the apodictic vehicle of pseudo-socialism or eternal damnation in Dante's Inferno.
Interestingly, just as I was rearing to take an early morning nap, having sat through most of the night plodding through Rev. Stephens' flagrant “Foreword” to Tetteh's The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement, a simple but quite stinging word that I seemed to have long forgotten suddenly shot right up and back into my mind, after reading the following most scandalous and hollow plaint: “Thirty years of misinformation and malicious rumor mongering have earned us a generation who do not know how to appreciate their own greatness and their own achievements. People with weak morals and backward disposition do not read for truth. They monger, and with their mouth [sic], they tear themselves and their beloved nation apart, throwing their nation's legacies to the wind only to gasp for death in poverty” (YPM xxii).

The long-forgotten word that abruptly shot right back and up into my mind is STOOGE; a word which almost sounds like STOOL, that which medical doctors routinely test in laboratories in order to find out exactly what is ailing the patient. STOOL, indeed, Dr. Stephens….

Curiously enough, though hardly surprising, the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement plays fast and loose with traditional African cultural ethos and protocol by brazenly publishing a photograph of Nana Kwamena Anaisie, the late Omanhene of Sekondi, playing the Fontomfrom drums, with a rather profane caption written by the author which reads, in part: “…the late Nana Kwamena Anaisie…who is performing his fatherly traditional role in [sic] opening a cultural drumming demonstration by the Pioneers.” Perhaps somebody more cultured ought to remind Dr. Tetteh that, among the Akan, it constitutes the very height of disrespect, verging on outright sacrilege, for a major traditional authority, such as an Omanhene, to be commanded, as only Nkrumah and his Verandah Boys of the so-called Convention People's Party could dare, to publicly play the sacred Fontomfrom for the theatrical entertainment of the Handsome-Boy-From-Nzema's YPM children, rather the State-Drummer. Indeed, it is precisely this sort of moral decadence, that Nkrumah cavalierly endorsed, which is squarely to blame for the current abject disregard on the part of some woefully alienated Ghanaians (or, perhaps more aptly, “Afropeans”) for the august and glorious institution of Chieftaincy. And, perhaps, we also need to recall for the records, the fact that just like a colonial governor Nkrumah was widely known to junket around the country summarily deposing distinguished traditional rulers who would exercise their fundamental human and democratic rights by flatly refusing to have anything to do with the self-proclaimed Osagyefo's neo-imperialist ideology of “Nkrumaism,” or pseudo-“African Socialism,” and indiscriminately creating Amanhene, or statal chieftains in a manner that only a Eurocentric politician afflicted with the mortal canker of God-Complex would presume to do.

Ever the characteristic opportunist, the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement desperately struggles to align the discredited fortunes of the old Convention People's Party with those of the equally discredited so-called National Democratic Congress, a pseudo-civilian junta, in a bid to re-apotheosizing the irreparably dented image of the African Show Boy. To this effect, Tetteh writes: “The fact that it is now possible to rehabilitate the image and ideals for which Kwame Nkrumah lived and died and, above all, to construct a mausoleum to accommodate his mortal remains with even the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Party openly claiming to be true followers of Kwame Nkrumah[,] as against the known Nkrumah's [sic] traditional followers, shows that this is an opportune time to set the historical records straight in our lifetime for succeeding generations to give their own verdict or judgment on the time and work of Kwame Nkrumah” (YPM xxvii).

First of all, isn't it quite intriguing to the keen reader or avid student of postcolonial Ghanaian history that ideologues of the P/NDC and the CPP would desperately tussle over the purportedly enviable legacy of the so-called Star-of-Africa? In several respects, such crass exhibition of lurid opportunism is to be expected. For starters, both the CPP and its ideological bastard child, the P/NDC, were spearheaded by irredeemable dictators both of whose individual and God-Complex temperaments verged on clinical lunacy. And so it is only natural for a self-proclaimed Osagyefo to have the fanatical disciples and lackeys of a “Junior Jesus” vying for the former's heirloom, whatever the latter may be. What is more, both leaders also dogmatically pursued an ideological phenomenon called “African Socialism,” with the African Show Boy attempting to brazenly and desperately cannibalize this age-old concept as his personal mintage or property and fetish. And for the “Junior Jesus,” an Arabo-African brand of pseudo-socialism would be imported a la Libya's People's Republic and Colonel Muamar el-Gadafi's Green Book. In the end, both pseudo-Ghanaian prophets of African Socialism would claim to personally embody the essence of the Ghanaian polity: “L'ETAT C'EST MOI,” as a famous pre-Revolutionary French monarch was known to claim.

Even so, fanatical Nkrumaists, also known as “Nkrumacrats,” do not seem to have emotionally advanced beyond the auspicious overthrow of their martyr on February 24, 1966. Thus in his desperate bid to mythologizing the African Show Boy and so-called Founder of Modern Ghana, author Tetteh lies through his teeth, literally speaking. For instance, the author writes the following pabulum on the very first page of the first chapter of his book: “He was called a verandah boy because, indeed, Kwame Nkrumah had no place to lay his head in his own home for the very sake of his own people” (YPM 37). To be certain, as could be readily verified, the pejorative epithet of “Verandah Boy(s)” was used by the so-called Intelligentsia of the Ghanaian political arena to describe the woefully undereducated youth whom Nkrumah deviously, tactically and opportunistically preferred to recruit and manipulate during his “transitional governance” of Ghana (1951-1956). Conversely, Nkrumah exhibited brazen contempt for the better-equipped or well-educated Ghanaian, the so-called Intelligentsia. Needless to say, it is this sort of abject intellectual dishonesty on the part of the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement which many a fanatical Nkrumaist has been propagating for more than a half-century now, and which all serious scholars and intellectuals of postcolonial Ghanaian history may do well to protect our impressionable youth from being infected with.
Then also, perhaps even more significantly, one can make the equally legitimate claim that the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics, the man who paid the African Show Boy's return passage from England to Ghana in December 1947, as well as a substantial portion of Nkrumah's salary out of his own pocket, during Nkrumah's UGCC days, never owned a home. Did this fact, therefore, make Dr. Danquah a “Homeless Man”? But, then, isn't it also rather curious that the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement egregiously fails to mention the fact that even while he did not own a home during his UGCC days, nevertheless, the future premier of Independent Ghana did, indeed, own a car purchased for him by the seminal executive members of the UGCC?

In terms of his scholarship on both Nkrumah and the watershed period leading up to Ghana's independence, as well as the immediate postcolonial era, almost no avid or serious student of modern Ghanaian history could take Mr. Tetteh's The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement other than with a pinch of salt; and here, we mean, a jumbo pinch of salt! But, perhaps, what needs to be promptly pointed out is the author's at once rather facile and sophomoric attempt to claiming a special leadership role for Nkrumah in a purely fortuitous and spontaneous convergence of events collectively engineered by the proverbial average Ghanaian and his/her traditional rulers in the landmark 1948 boycotts and riots. A veritable master of artless and tasteless mendacity, this is what the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement recalls of the preceding events: “Kwame Nkrumah found his employers too gentle and too fraternal with the British aristocracy to be of any threat to their hold on our country. The UGCC leadership appeared to be composed of men who were too aristocratic to risk their social status in a gamble war for independence. Kwame Nkrumah then had already started to put his own agenda into operation with spontaneous support from the people. As a result, some soldiers who were [had been?] sent to Burma, East and North Africa to fight for Britain during the second world war, and those who fought in the first world war, and were all waiting for their backpay as promised by the British government also felt that the time had come for them to demand their right [sic], their backpay, which was kept behind for them by the British government. On 28 February, 1948, barely two months after the arrival of Kwame Nkrumah in the Gold Coast, the entire political atmosphere in the country had [sic] changed. Some Ex-servicemen, who had been conscripted to fight wars for Britain, were on their way to the Osu Castle, the official residence of the then Governor[,] to demand their backpay. Dressed in their Ex-servicemen's uniforms but without any arms, these men were matching peacefully to the Castle to present their request [grievances?] to the Governor when suddenly on reaching the crossroad to the Castle, a white Policeman, Peter Imry[,] opened fire on them. As a result, the leader of the Ex-servicemen, Sergeant Adjetey, his deputy, Odartey Lawson[,] and one other were killed instantly on the spot. The sad news of the shooting and killing of the three veterans turned what was a smoldering political situation into a political conflagration. Within minutes after the shooting incident, shops and offices belonging to whites and their agents were looted. Boycott of goods in foreign shops were soon organized by a popular chief of Osu, Nii Kwabena Bonney, personally organized the boycott of foreign goods to the bewilderment of the colonial authorities in Accra and England. As a direct result, the leaders of the UGCC, including Kwame Nkrumah[,] who was the General Secretary, were rounded up and detained separately in different secret places, by the British authorities. Kwame Nkrumah was detained in Wa, in the Upper-West Region of Ghana. Naturally, the other members of the group which became popularly known as the BIG SIX, put all the cause [blame?] for their arrest squarely on Kwame Nkrumah. He was accused by them for [sic] being too radical and too revolutionary for their liking. He was referred to, by his colleagues, as a verandah boy, a homeless man who was paid by them but would want to dictate the pace for [of?] Self-Government to them. It became obvious from this time that Kwame Nkrumah could no longer work with the UGCC as its General Secretary as relations in the party between Kwame Nkrumah and Ako Adjei, on one hand, and the rest of the members, on the other, had [sic] turned acrimonious and the group had [sic] decided nervously [sic] to get rid of Nkrumah. Meanwhile, Accra was on fire of revolutionary agitation against British colonial rule in the Gold Coast” (YPM 41-42).

Indeed, had author Tetteh paid even the most cursory attention to some of the serious scholars of the preceding period of modern Ghanaian history, such as Bob Fitch and Mary Oppenheimer (see the latter's seminal classic Ghana: End of an Illusion), he would, likely, not have made his flippant and blatantly embarrassing remarks, especially for one who claims a personal pride of place in the watershed activities of the period under discussion. Needless to say, the critical reader comes away from Dr. Tetteh's rather badly written and edited hagiography of a book feeling unpardonably insulted, and his/her time totally wasted.

Quite refreshingly, however, and in one of the negligibly few instances where Tetteh comes closest to a modicum of truth and objectivity, the author describes Nkrumah, both on the eve and in the wake of Ghana's declaration of sovereignty from England, as a man at the crossroads, one confused about the specific political destination to which he intended to steer the proverbial Ghanaian ship-of-state: “But [the] declaration of Ghana as a Republic [in July, 1960] was not without fears from Great Britain, Ghana being the first British colony south of the Sahara to win full self-government from British rule, and by the monumental statement of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah soon after declaring Ghana as an independent free [sic] nation, that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked up with the total liberation of Africa, it was feared that Ghana was likely to set a precedence for the other African nations lined up to attain [sic] independence. In fact[,] Great Britain got scared to think that should Dr. Kwame Nkrumah decided [sic] to opt out from [sic] the British Commonwealth, all other independent nations in Africa would also follow Ghana to ensure that they were really [as] free as Ghana, and since the British Monarchy is depending [sic] on the Commonwealth for its survival, such action could spell the doom and therefore the end of the Monarchy…. It was to remove the fears of the British people and to reassure the Queen, the Ceremonial Head of the Commonwealth, of Ghana's faith and commitment to the Club that Kwame Nkrumah had invited the Queen to visit Ghana in 1961, soon after the declaration of Ghana as a Republic. Kwame Nkrumah went a step further to suggest the establishment of the Commonwealth Secretariat to buttress the club, and had contributed personnel to help man the initial stages [sic] of the Secretariat” (YPM 45-46).

Ghana's attainment of sovereignty under Nkrumah was woefully tinged with a rhetoric of barely muffled diffidence – or the abject lack of self-confidence on the part of the “Iron-Boy-of-Africa” (see Austin's Politics in Ghana 281-2). And so it is hardly surprising that throughout the Show Boy's tenure, this trait of diffidence glaringly manifested itself in the capricious, erratic and ham-fisted manner in which Nkrumah routinely dealt with formidable figures and other personalities whom the first premier of Independent Ghana perceived to be a threat – palpable or chimerical – to his peremptory exercise of executive power.

Interestingly, the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement also makes the following rather paradoxical and anachronistic statement regarding Nkrumah's, and for that matter Ghana's, remarkable material contribution towards World War II: “The Monarchy which has [sic] been hit by changing circumstances of the world, - [sic] the effects of the Second World War, the Independent status of nearly all the former colonies in Africa with the concomitant end of economic gains from the former colonies, would have been [sic] irrelevant now, but for the Commonwealth Secretariat [Nkrumah's neocolonialist contribution to Britain?] Ghana indeed is important to the Queen, the British people and the Commonwealth in general. Ghanaians have fought to save Britain from Hitler in the first [sic] and second world wars. Even school children in the Gold Coast were forced to bring [collect and carry?] one John Players Cigarette tin full of Palm Kernel each, every Monday [sic] morning to school, as their contribution to Britain to help her win the second world war” (YPM 46).
Needless to say, the rather embarrassing anachronism lies in the glaring fact of the author's devious attempt at locating his hero and martyr, the African Show Boy, at the font of Ghana's contribution to the Second-European War effort, a full six years after the fact. For Nkrumah did not return to Ghana, from advanced studies abroad, until the end of 1947, more than 24 months after World War II had ended; and then only six years later, in 1951, as head of a transitional government (1951-1957). But what is remarkable here is the author's implicit attempt to claim post-hoc victory for Nkrumah over Hitler's Nazi government – the Third Reich – when, in reality, the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement, of which Tetteh propagandistically writes, was a veritable institutional legacy imported from the vanquished and putatively erratic German Chancellor. Indeed, the preceding brazen exhibition of gross intellectual dishonesty may be squarely and aptly reckoned as, perhaps, the single greatest bane to postcolonial Ghanaian historiography, particularly with regard to what might be aptly termed as “The Nkrumah Legacy.”

And regarding the preceding, author Tetteh has the following historically curious statement to make: “The happy moments in Kwame Nkrumah's life and his sad moods to the last minute, when he closed his eyes in death and gave up the GHOST in far away Romania on April 27, 1972, are being written for generations yet unborn. If there is one human being who had [sic] created a national CAKE for others to enjoy; if there is one being who had [sic] given his entire life for the glory and well being of his people at the peril of his own, that man is Kwame Nkrumah” (YPM 47).
Indeed, if anything meaningful deserves to be written about the “Monkey-Work-Baboon-Chop” symbolism that characterized much of Ghana's immediate pre-colonial and postcolonial eras, it is the crying need for intellectually honest historians to meticulously expose the African Show Boy as the pathologically mischievous “Baboon” who knife-jacked the diligent “Monkeys” of the United Gold Coast Convention, led by Arch-Chef, Dr. J. B. Danquah, and callously devoured their sumptuously prepared “Independence Dinner” with his cronies, largely non-Ghanaian Africans and other foreigners of all stripes and shades, and then having been finally and condignly brought to popular justice, scurried abroad, into one of the safe hideouts of his pelf, screaming: “It is the Imperialists! I am the Pan-Africanist Arch-Angel! Ask the Western Imperialists!”

“Listening” to Tetteh yap about youth development under the Nkrumah government, the reader is given the nauseatingly misleading impression to the incredible effect that before the advent of the Wonder-Boy-of-Nzema, Ghanaians were virtually starveling and bereft of any significant or viable traditional institutions that sought to channel the creative energies of our youth into productive ventures, even when faced with the glaring evidence of the preexistence of the Boys Scout and Girls Guide movements, as well as a plethora of other indigenous and ethnically oriented youth organizations. Likewise, the unsuspecting reader is given the patently deleterious impression that, perhaps, it was Nkrumah's so-called Young Farmers' League that developed Ghana's world-renowned cocoa industry which, by 1910, was already producing nearly half of the cocoa beans on the world market. The historical reality, as it is to be expected, tells a very different story. For as hinted by Fitch and Oppenheimer (see Ghana: End of an Illusion) and detailed elsewhere in this series, in his zealous but hardly creative, or original, bid to industrializing Ghana along Western-European economic lines, paradoxically, Nkrumah brusquely ignored the expert advice of Sir Arthur Lewis, the Afro-Caribbean Nobel Economics laureate, to agro-base Ghana's economic development, by instead recklessly investing in heavy capital machinery of whose operation Ghanaians had practically no skills. The catastrophic result was the indiscriminate and massive importation of foreign industrial experts, largely from the erstwhile Eastern Bloc countries, who, almost to a person, knew next to nothing about the soil texture and land-tenure system in Ghana.

Again, in a rather characteristically sophomoric attempt at faulting subsequent Ghanaian governments for woefully neglecting the education of the country's youth, as well as to conveniently ward off provable charges regarding the CPP government's known record of unprecedented wastage of Ghana's national monetary and capital resources, this is what the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement relates to his, presumably gullible, target audience: “The facilities which were made available to the young generation to acquire all levels of education were neither a gift nor a favor to them. It was also not because the population at the time was small that it was possible to provide a fee free all level[s] of education to all in the country. Low population means low taxation and small income, while high population means there are more people to pay tax[es] to raise funds to meet national development [needs?]” (YPM 61).

Interestingly what author Tetteh, himself a major player in the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement, achieves is a sheepishly infantile portrait of the African Show Boy as a nonesuch magician, drawing purified water out of basaltic boulders, where lesser, subsequent Ghanaian leaders resorted to the hardly dignified task of foreign beggary. But here also must be remarked the pedestrian fact that such hyperbole is nothing new, being that it rather neatly synchs with the fanatical Nkrumaist ideology of mythopoeisis.

To be certain, the Ghana Young Pioneer Movement, as an institution for the systematic development of our youth, was patently nihilistic and culturally regressive, to speak much less of the criminally dehumanizing. For instance, one aspect of its youth development agenda, speciously subsumed under the guise of “Nkrumaism,” expressed itself in the dubious concept of “Comradeship and Forbearance” and sought to inculcate into the youth the African Show Boy's ideology of cultural unity which, in essence, entailed a flagrant attempt at the total erasure of ethnicity. In other words, the ultimate goal of Young Pioneer indoctrination was to teach the youth to roundly reject their diverse and rich cultures, so as to be processed into homogeneous human automatons and rendered prime grist for Nkrumah's neo-fascist pan-Africanist juggernaut. And on the preceding score, this is what author Tetteh has to say: “Comradeship and forbearance meant living together as one people in one nation with one aspiration, namely[,] to make Ghana economically strong and free from poverty and hunger, a nation with her own citizens well educated, capable and willing to serve their motherland. In this spirit, one did not see his or her comrade as a Ga-Adangme, Akan, Ewe or Ayigbe, a Frafra, or Northerner and so on, but as Ghanaian first and then as African. There must be no tribal marks in the face of any Young Pioneer comrade” (YPM 69).

Needless to say, this blatantly and criminally fascist attempt at culturally homogenizing Ghanaians by President Nkrumah, would have meant the summary and instant death of one's humanistic creativity. For, it cannot be gainsaid that it is the rich diversity of cultures that has been responsible for the creation of such impressive civilizations as Asante (or Akan), American, European, Indian, Egyptian, Chinese and Russian, whose emulation Nkrumah blindly pursued, even while accusing the Western variants of imperial cannibalism. One, however, is apt to suspecting that Nkrumah's attempt at summary ethnic erasure of Ghanaian youth was one that was almost certainly borne out of patent inferiority complex than any constructive, or progressive, pretense to the salutary and organic unification of the proverbial “African Personality.” But even more pathetic and suspect was Nkrumah's understanding and definition of “African Culture.” Again, this is what Tetteh has to say: “The movement was the first to popularize cultural drumming and dancing in various schools in the country. By the end of 1962[,] nearly all schools in the country had a branch of the movement with the school teachers and young workers playing the role of voluntary teachers or leaders” (YPM 60).
It goes without saying that such ideological absurdity was to inform Nkrumah's much remarked disdain for the otherwise glorious and psychologically stabilizing institution of chieftaincy throughout his 15-year tenure.

And as already intimated, the Young Pioneer Movement appears to have been primarily established in order to thoroughly indoctrinate many a Ghanaian youth into becoming an “Nkrumaist Automaton” or a political marionette of the Convention People's Party, just as Chancellor Adolf Hitler had done with his model German Young Pioneer Movement nearly a generation earlier. Consequently, as Tetteh rather unconscionably narrates, the “political education” of Ghanaian youth began with toddlers who could barely recognize any of the letters of the Latin Alphabet or even the first ten digits of the Arabic Numerals, let alone read:

“Membership was made up of three distinct age groups, namely:
1. The African Personality Children[,] ranging in age from four to eight years;
2. The Young Pioneers, from eight [sic] to sixteen years;
3. The Kwame Nkrumah Youth[,] from seventeen to twenty-one years old” (YPM 81)

In sum, as many a social psychologist would say, Ghanaian children, in the dubious name of “Nkrumaism,” were summarily robbed of their youthful and individual creative identity. And as to whether youth so criminally deprived of their humanity and inalienable right to childhood innocence and enjoyment, having been converted into Nkrumaist guinea pigs, could reasonably be expected to grow up as healthy and intellectually balanced adult Ghanaian citizens, is undoubtedly moot: “Above all, the training of the African Personality Children and the Young Pioneers after their school hours was to ensure that by the time a child attained the age of sixteen[,] he or she was able to use his or her hands to produce some useful craft before leaving school” (YPM 82).

Another intellectually nauseating aspect of Tetteh's The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement inheres in the author's rather vacuous and strident attempt at faulting the supposed and perceived enemies of the African Show Boy with having, curiously, somehow, engineered Nkrumah's megalomaniacal Cult-of-Personality. In other words, to the author and former Young Pioneer Movement director of citizenship education (whatever that means), the pathological apotheosizing of Nkrumah was wholly and inexcusably the handicraft of the inveterate enemies of the CPP; in which latter case the avid student of postcolonial Ghanaian history is prompted to wonder exactly what author Tetteh makes of the likes of Kofi Baako and Tawia Adamafio, among a host of others, to whom Nkrumah appears to have conveniently ceded the dirty work of Messianic Adulation: “Nevertheless[,] those who were recruited into [sic] the administrative staff with specific instructions to gag the movement from within had quickly lit a sarcastic, vague adoration of the founder of the movement. Although there was nothing linguistically wrong [in/with?] referring to a political leader who had led his people to topple colonialism and imperialism from their lives as a Messiah, yet the very conspirators who planted agents into the movement to shout rhetoric praises [sic] on Kwame Nkrumah were the very ones from enemy quarters who first saw him being deified, and started to ululate over him being referred to as a MESSIAH, to earn him his first charge” (YPM 95; capital letters appear in the original).

And in what appears to be Tetteh's attempt to mitigate Nkrumah's gross and much-remarked human rights violations, particularly the violation of the human rights of his most formidable political opponents, the author of The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement, once again, attempts, rather sophomorically, to create convenient scapegoats in order to absolve his hero of such blatant abuse of elective power. This attempt, needless to say, ends up dramaturgically bathetic, if also inexcusably insulting to the intelligence of those who lived the dire consequences of Nkrumah's megalomania, as well as the intelligence of the descendants, relatives, friends, disciples and sympathizers of the former: “While efforts were being made to flush out the rumor bugs and foreign agents from the rank and file of the movement, yet another more sinister strategy was also put into operation. The conspirators within the national administrative set up and who were in charge of the operations of the security of the state had received instructions from their advisers abroad, to misuse the old Preventive Detention Act (PDA) which was promulgated soon after Ghana had achieved Independence [sic] from Britain, as a strategy. It would be recalled that attempts were allegedly made by some of the opponents to overthrow the government through violence. With foreign collaboration behind the plots, it was difficult for the new, all[-] black government in Africa, South of the Sahara, to detect all the facts for legal prosecution. In effect the PDA was promulgated to enable the government to deal with the intractable situation under emergency condition. To embarrass the President, the man charged with the nation's security and who was behind all the plots had used his delicate [sensitive?] position to detain some very important personalities in the country on the false pretense that they were plotting to overthrow the Kwame Nkrumah's [sic] government. Thus very respectable citizens were put into detention before Nkrumah could be informed of their detention. They knew very well that no Head of State or a[sic] President anywhere in the world could openly disagree with his security chief for detaining people who, according to the security chief, were in the act of plotting to overthrow him. For example even though Dr. J. B. Danquah later became an opponent to [sic] Kwame Nkrumah on matters of policy and method of political approach, Kwame Nkrumah and Dr. Danquah had great personal respect for each other, and as a Details Officer of [for?] Kwame Nkrumah, I am fully aware that he personally had no tendency and [or?] the ability to order the detention of Dr. Danquah. Yet by the strategy to make Kwame Nkrumah unpopular and isolated in order to overthrow him, Dr. Danquah was not only put in detention, in fact the security chief made sure that adequate reasons were given to justify the incessant and continuous detention of Dr. Danquah till he died in detention. The security chief himself, while declaring his loyalty to the President had his eyes on the seat of the Presidency and had Nkrumah attempted to openly doubt the sincerity of his security chief, when he told him that Dr. Danquah was detained on grounds of subversion, the world would have heard that Nkrumah trusted his 'Kankan Nyame' more than his security chief and would have gone to his grave alive earlier than had actually happened. Kwame Nkrumah had indeed broken down and wept bitterly and mourned for weeks on hearing the death of Dr. Danquah in detention. I am his witness. It must be well-noted here that Police Constable Ametewee was prepared to shoot Kwame Nkrumah in the face in order to justify the detention of important personalities” (YPM 99-100).

Tetteh's mischievous attempt at historiographical reconfiguration, or blatant re-writing of Ghana's postcolonial history, regarding President Nkrumah's brutal assassination of Dr. J. B. Danquah, is too painful for the present writer to remark, positively or negatively, upon, being that he is also the great-grandnephew of Dr. Danquah. Suffice it to observe herein, however, that Tetteh's graphic and apparently remorseful vindication of Dr. Danquah, albeit implicitly, from the much-touted Nkrumaist incrimination of the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics with subversive activities is more telling than any attempt at forensic defense could credibly achieve.

On the whole, M. N. Tetteh's The Ghana Young Pioneer Movement as a reliable historical document leaves much to be desired, being that it is far more of a maudlin Nkrumaist apology than any dispassionate, or objective, attempt at mainstream scholarship. Still, coming from a staunch lackey of the proverbial “Star of Africa” and “African Show Boy,” it offers another significant aperture – or psychological window – into the mind-set of those whose cynical and servile complicity with the neo-Nazi and outright fascist, Nkrumaist ideological agenda of unilaterally turning postcolonial Ghana into a Marxist-Leninist showpiece on the African continent and, in the process, wantonly causing the summary destruction of those formidable and democratically minded Ghanaian statesmen (and women) who would not be docilely herded into the Nkrumaist strait-jacket of pseudo-socialism.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]

Join our Newsletter