Kenneth Kaunda, former President of Zambia writes about the impact of Africa on the 1966 coup in Ghana. “I was a great admirer of Nkrumah. One of the most shocking incidents in Africa was the overthrow in February 1966 of that great man. I don't think we will ever recover from those events”.
I will always remember Kwame Nkrumah. He did a lot for Africa. He was a great Pan-Africanist. He inspired many people of Africa towards independence and was a great supporter of the liberation of Southern Africa from apartheid and racism. Truly, Nkrumah was Osagyefo, the victor.
Of course, Nkrumah who was born around 1909 was much older than me. But I was a very good friend of the old man. I first met him in London. That was in the mid 1950's, before Ghana's independence. I was then in London attending a local government course with support of the Labour Party in Britain. We greeted each other and did not have much discussion then. I don't think Nkrumah ever heard much about me at that time.
Later, I got on well with him. I remember one issue very well. This was before Zambia's independence; it was in 1957 when I was attending Ghana's independence celebrations. I used that visit to go around studying how Nkrumah and his friends had mobilized people for independence. Nkrumah had a lot of time for me.
There were also visitors from other parts of Africa. It was a fantastic time. You know that President Kamuzu Banda of Malawi moved from Britain and lived in Ghana. The country's independence inspired him to pack up his bags and go to Malawi to join the independence struggle there. Ghana's independence was a very great occasion, especially for those of us from British run territories.
I got on well with Nkrumah, but I remember one of his officials did not seem like me much. On one of my visits, that person did an article on me that I was not fair. I went to Nkrumah and wondered how people there could write such about me. Nkrumah said he was sorry that one of his officials had done that to me and asked me to go and discuss it with that person. I did meet that man and the issue was resolved.
In Zambia's struggle for independence, we had accepted and followed Nkrumah's thoughts on African liberation. We understood his statement that Ghana's independence was meaningless without the rest of Africa also becoming independent. We knew of course what that would mean.
My government supported the freedom movement in Southern Africa. In turn we were bombarded by the racist and colonial regimes. Infrastructure was destroyed and we had to rebuild. The effects of the wars of liberation have continued for a long period. Several times I pointed out to my beloved countrymen and women that there was a high price for supporting the liberation of Africa.
I was a great admirer of Nkrumah. One of the most shocking incidents in Africa was the overthrow, in February 1966, of that great man. Nkrumah had been to Beijing and Hanoi on a state visit to the Far East. After the criminals did that... I don't think we will ever recover from those events. Ghana was greatly shaken. Sadly, other coups in other parts of Africa followed.
But Sekou Toure of Guinea d id a great thing. A great patriot, Toure invited Nkrumah to Guinea and made him a co-president of that country. I think this was Toure's big reaction to an African tragedy, the overthrow of Nkrumah. He may have known it was not going to do much but it showed the anger and pain of the event.
It required a lot of courage for Sekou Toure to take that direction. It also took a lot of courage to plan to bring together three countries: Ghana, Guinea, and Mali. They saw it as the beginning of an African Union. It was a big vision. I was very saddened when Nkrumah died on 27th April 1972, which was a day before my birthday anniversary. Nkrumah was truly brave.
Culled from Public Agenda/New African