Founder’s day: The philosophical approach

By Arhin Otoo
Article Founders day: The philosophical approach
SEP 21, 2023 LISTEN

Kwame Nkrumah is known by many Ghanaians for his political and economic visions, but little is heard about his philosophical contributions. I believe that if he were alive today, he would not be as sad that he is discredited today for his founding role in Ghana as he would be about the disregard of his philosophy among the political and intellectual community in Ghana.

Kwame Nkrumah understood the African problem as a philosophical one and did not waste efforts to entrench himself in Ghanaian politics. If he did want to limit and cement his rule in Ghana, he would have been among the many freedom fighters who ruled their state for decades. Instead of just seeking Ghana’s political independence, his philosophical stance required more, and this got him enemies among global powers. The philosophy that underpins his ideology was not grasped by his foes in the UGCC, not even enough stalwart in the CPP. And the Western intellectuals who understood a snippet of it took it to be very dangerous. Nkrumah’s philosophy seeks to undo the damages that centuries of slavery and colonialism have implanted in the minds of Africans and not just Ghanaians.

While he vehemently opposed the Western school of thought and liberalist ideas, he was neither an apologist nor a dogmatic practitioner of the Marxist conceptions. Simply put, Kwame Nkrumah was not in the rightist camp or the Marxist-leftist camp. When you read Nkrumah’s autobiography, you come across his Marxist-Christian position. This seemingly contradictory position was a paradox. When he properly presented his philosophy in consciencism, it became clear that there was no contradiction at all. It was in fact, the traditional African position before we were raptured by cannons of imperialism. Conceptions such as the co-extensiveness of matter, the primary reality of matter, and categorial conversion, plausibly rationalize African traditional philosophical position.

To sum up Nkrumah’s philosophy; philosophical Consciencism (PC), is the Scientific endorsement or rationalization of African concepts. The eminence of conscience, morality, good spirit, and humanism in African societies were justified in Nkrumah’s philosophical account. He demonstrate with logic and scientific models such as the wave-particle duality to show how immaterial beings exist. With a better position on matter; as a plenum of forces in tension, he shows how consciousness, energy, and other immaterial categories of being can emerge from matter through the process of categorial conversion.

Nkrumah then uses this conception of matter as perpetual tension to conceive societies as a body of tension between forces of negative action and forces of positive action. Forces advancing the exploitation of men versus forces against the exploitation of men respectively. By this philosophical position, he first, undo the Eurocentric intellectual repression which makes Africans wannabes of European concepts. Secondly, Nkrumah urges the need to revisit our African traditional principles and to start our worldview from these traditions that are centered on humanist attitude towards fellow humans. He urges the need to embrace and hold on to this foundation as the starting point for socialist systems. This view of him will assert our independence of thought as a people who are not dogmatic followers of European revolutionary ideas but revolutionaries based on African personality and identity.

Thirdly, his philosophy urges Africans to make religious differences secondary to African identity and development. Philosophical consciencism seeks unity in thought among Africans such that any elements or practices within Euro-Christian traditions and Islam that undermine our African personality will be repressed. We are by this philosophy emboldened to repress idealist, white supremacist, and wahabist conceptions that place Arabs, Europeans, and irrational dogmas above Africans' humanity and development.

Nkrumah’s legacy is epitomized by his philosophical ingenuity. His ability to present a coherent body of thought that reinforced our uniqueness, humanity, and intergrity as an independent people made him the philosophical founder of Ghana. Nkrumah did not just find our nation but also the idea to be an independent people with an independent world outlook. We are a unique people with right to govern ourselves in our ways. In his popular words, “the black man is capable of managing his own affairs” we see the consistency in his thinking and action. His literature before, during, and after attaining independence in Ghana continuously emphasized his philosophical foundation on African traditional principles. This spirited every material and immaterial action towards Ghana’s formation. It was these compelling ideas that spirited the masses to back the motions against British colonialism. The prior attempts of others to weaken British colonialism in the Gold Coast failed because they lacked this philosophical drive.

Remarkably, it is at a point in time that Ghana has lost its credibility as the shining example of Africa, indebted, poor, and dependent on foreign aid and foreign supplies that miseducation on the founder of Ghana has intensified. When the spirit of the nation is lost, it creates the conditions for forgetting the founding father. We have lost the core values and substance of nationhood; this explains why anyone who whispered even just a word on independence is credited as a founder of Ghana. Ask yourself, who has the literature and body of ideas for the formation of Ghana? Remember, You can destroy every infrastructure in this nation, you can even take us back to colonialism, but you cannot destroy the ideas for independence lighted in our hearts by Kwame Nkrumah. Ask again, Who passed the motion of destiny? And who declared Ghana as a state?