While feigning neutrality, as many a relatively sophisticated Nkrumaist sympathizer, or even an out-and-out Nkrumacrat is wont to doing, the late Professor P. A. V. Ansah deliberately ignored the centrality of Dr. J. B. Danquah to the development and utilization of the Ghanaian Press in furtherance of his political objectives by rather pathetically claiming in an article titled “Kwame Nkrumah and the Mass Media” that unlike the African Show Boy, virtually every one of the executive members of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) saw little or no use in the efficacious application of the mass media, the print media, to be precise: “After he left the UGCC[,] he founded his own party, the CPP, with its own newspaper, the Accra Evening News. He wrote: 'For the whole time that I was Secretary General of the movement (the UGCC), I had done my utmost to impress on the Working Committee the importance of establishing a newspaper as an organ of the movement. Personally[,] I failed to see how any liberation movement could possibly succeed without an effective means of broadcasting its policy to the rank and file of the people.' Nkrumah described the Accra Evening News[,] which appeared on September 3, 1948, with only one sheet as 'the vanguard of the movement and its chief propagandist, agitator, mobilizer and political educationist'” (Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah 5).
The implication here is that, somehow, the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics, whom the renowned media authority Professor Jones-Quartey described as far and away the greatest Ghanaian journalist between the 1930s and 1940s, knew little to nothing about the value of the very medium which had brought the Doyen into bitter conflict with the colonial authorities, more than a decade before the rhetorically flamboyant, albeit hardly felicitous, rabble-rousing Kwame Nkrumah emerged on the Ghanaian political landscape. And while his hard-hitting political journalism of personal destruction evidently won him a remarkable following, Professor Ansah would have been far more accurate to have asserted that Nkrumah's considerable following had been due more to his prior employment as a General-Secretary of the UGCC than his media output or savvy. For as the only paid executive member of the UGCC, Nkrumah had had all the resources of the seminal Ghanaian political party at his disposal to enable him to readily move about the various regions of the country agitating and organizing potential electors for the collective Ghanaian liberation struggle.
Ansah also hints at Nkrumah's apparent lack of economic common sense, in the manner in which “The Sun of Africa” extravagantly expended public funds – or the proverbial taxpayers' money – on his propaganda and purported counter-propaganda politics: “For all practical purposes, then, the GBC External Service became an instrument of foreign policy. On July 31, 1965, a television service was inaugurated as a non-commercial, public service station. It was also to be an ideological tool to 'assist in the socialist transformation of Ghana.' The service started with the aim of devoting itself completely to education, information and nation-building. Seeing the importance of professional training for media personnel, Nkrumah established the first institution for training journalists in Africa, the Ghana Institute of Journalism, in 1959, which attracted both Ghanaian[s] and other Africans. It was liberally endowed with funds and its courses included not only professional disciplines, but also ideological training” (Life and Work 87).
Interestingly also, Nkrumah, ironically, gives the lie to those of his ardent supporters and sympathizers who would falsely have the “Iron Boy” portrayed as a democrat in principle whose hand was forced by “trying circumstances” to reluctantly resort to autocratic policy measures. For Ansah, however, in the policy area of the media, Nkrumah was unabashedly dead-set against free-speech and competitive ownership of the media; and as the late media expert eloquently observes, such autocratic policy outlook considerably retarded the salutary development of the Ghanaian media, particularly in the sub-discipline of Print-Journalism: “The development in the electronic media was not matched by a corresponding development in the print media. If anything, the print media shrank under Nkrumah as a direct result of his policies. The political atmosphere created after the passing of the Preventive Detention Act in 1958[,] and other laws specifically designed to limit the freedom of expression and of the press[,] adversely affected the development of the press. While the state-owned or party press expanded, the private press shrank out of existence[,] with the result that at the time of Nkrumah's overthrow[,] the print media had become a state or party monopoly. Nkrumah had stated categorically on the ownership of the press: 'It is part of our revolutionary credo that within the competitive system of capitalism, the press cannot function in accordance with a strict regard for the sacredness of facts, and that the press, therefore, should not remain in private hands.' It was this type of thinking [which made absolutely no room for the healthy marketing of ideational diversity] which had led Nkrumah to acquire the private, foreign-owned Daily Graphic in 1962 from the London[-]based Mirror Group of newspapers, after he had established the Guinea Press Limited in 1958 to publish the Ghanaian Times to offer competition to the Daily Graphic. It was the same company that took over the printing of the Evening News. A few other papers were sponsored by the government, including six in local languages[,] to provide reading material for the new literates [sic] who had acquired literacy in their mother tongues from mass literacy classes. By far the most ambitious effort of Nkrumah in newspaper development in the early 1960s was the publication of The Spark, an ideological weekly of analysis, 'socialist in content and continental in outlook.'” By the time of Nkrumah's overthrow in February 1966, government control of the newspaper [establishment] was total. From about ten newspaper at the time of independence, with most of them privately owned by Ghanaian nationals, by 1966, the government or the party owned and controlled all the newspapers, the resilient Ashanti Pioneer having been subjected to consistent censorship from 1960 and eventually closed down in October 1962. With the passage of the Newspaper Licensing Act, 1963 (Act 189), which required a person to obtain a license before publishing a newspaper, it became virtually impossible for anyone outside [of] government or party circles to establish or continue to operate a newspaper” (Life and Work 87-88).
Thus, paradoxically, at the same time that he purported to be championing massive literacy programs among his countrymen and women, Nkrumah was making it extremely difficult for Ghanaians to acquire the civilized and democratic skill of critical thinking.
There can also be absolutely no gainsaying the fact that Nkrumah's neo-imperialist attitude towards ownership and operation of the Press ensured that the Show Boy's declaration of Ghana's sovereignty from British colonial rule would shortly be seen for the “Internal Black Imperialism,” in classic Garveyite terms, that it was and rapidly became: “In addition to his views on the role of the press throughout his numerous [voluminous?] writings, President Nkrumah gave the most comprehensive exposition of his views on the African press when he addressed the Second Conference of African Journalists in Accra in 1963. As far as ownership was concerned, Nkrumah expressed his opposition to the private ownership of newspapers, despite the fact that he had privately owned a press which he had used to criticize the colonial administration and [to] mobilize the people. Or perhaps it was his awareness of the powerful role that the press could play, in the light of his personal experience, that shaped his thinking on the matter. Commenting on the attitude of African leaders to the press, Dennis Wilcox writes: 'Many of them[,] especially those who used the press to garner political power, fear the press because they are familiar with its potential for changing current political elites. This might at least partly explain Nkrumah's morbid hatred of an opposition press” (Life and Work 91).
In a larger sense, this was hardly an accident, since Nkrumah himself once acknowledged that perhaps the greatest – or profoundest – individual influence on his political philosophy was the Afro-Caribbean nationalist leader and neo-pan-African imperialist Marcus Mosiah Garvey.
Indeed, so bleak was the Ghanaian media landscape under Kwame Nkrumah that, as Professor Ansah rightly observed, even foreign correspondents were required to undergo pre-publication censorship: “This law [i.e. Criminal Code Act 29, of 1960] was initially applicable only to the press in Ghana, but on the strength of the Act, an Executive Instrument (274) was signed by L. R. Abavana, Minister of Information and Broadcasting on September 28, 1962, requiring foreign correspondents to submit their material for vetting before publication” (Life and Work 97).
Ultimately, Ansah sums up Nkrumah's unpardonably autocratic manipulation of the Ghanaian Press by corroboratively quoting from W. C. Rivers' treatise titled The Adversaries: Politics and the Press (1970): “A less fettered press might have demonstrated that many programs lacked public approval. But Nkrumah himself made a dissenting press forbidden in theory, criminal in law, and non-existent in practice. Like all rulers, he had to strike a balance between freedom and control, information and coercion. Nkrumah tipped the scales too much, and lost his own balance” (Life and Work 99).
While Professor Takyiwah Manuh, in her essay titled “Women and Their Organization during the Convention People's Party Period” lauds President Nkrumah for his purported “uterocentric” efforts at ensuring gender parity in education and the professions in general, nonetheless, the author also obliquely highlights the crass socioeconomic corruption fostered by the CPP, by the latter's brazen politicization of trade and commerce in postcolonial Ghana. In sum, to become economically prosperous, for example, necessitated one's inevitable membership in the ruling party and, even more importantly, one's massive financial backing of the CPP in the latter's propaganda and electioneering campaigns; and one can only fathom the logical moral decadence that such a crass national economic policy engendered among Ghanaian women, particularly with regard to conjugal fidelity and outright prostitution: “Petty trading was a different story, and market women formed some of the most enthusiastic supporters of the CPP, and could be seen at rallies dressed in party colors. They were an extremely vocal group and could be regarded as a temperature gauge of political and economic conditions. In almost all the markets across the country, CPP women were very strong, and emerged as the 'queens' in the various trades, and contributed vast sums of money to the party. Together with City and Town Councils, they controlled the allocation of stalls and space within the markets, as well as the commodities traded in, and some had strong contacts with the trading firms. The Abraham Commission of Enquiry into Trade Malpractices revealed the oligarchy which some of the women had formed and their manipulation of the passbook system. After the 1966 coup, much evidence was presented before Commissions of Enquiry of [on?] the roles of some CPP women in the allocation of import licenses and in the trade malpractices which ensued. Basil Davidson says of these women that 'business was what they understood to their fingertips and the interest[s] of business were the driving interests in their nationalism” (Life and Work 111-2).
Further, Takyiwah Manuh hints at the withering fact that Nkrumah's stentorian pronouncements on the uniqueness of the so-called African Personality hardly reflected the practical realities of postcolonial Ghanaian national life, especially among the country's womenfolk. And to be certain, observes Dr. Manuh, under CPP tutelage, Ghanaian women became even more Eurocentric in their esthetic outlook than ever before. And, needless to say, matters do not seem to have been helped by the fact that Nkrumah chose to showcase an Egyptian-Arab woman, Fathia, as his symbolic representation of the ideal, postcolonial Ghanaian woman: “A second matter affecting Ghanaian women in general concerned dress and aesthetics. It has been alleged that Nkrumah was very susceptible to beauty, vivacity and intelligence, and enjoyed to see women dress up colorfully. On one occasion, he stated that even though women were being asked to do men's jobs and to consider themselves equal to men, they should remain 'women.' For Nkrumah, women were 'still the mothers of the nation, the beauty that graced the homes and the gentleness that soothed men's tempers. It is ironic that while Nkrumah projected the concept of the African Personality and expected Ghanaian womanhood to reflect it, the period under review witnessed the mass[ive] importation of skin[-]lightening creams and wigs, often by the wives and mistresses of ministers and leading party officials. Marais has it that Nkrumah personally hated the wearing of wigs and even banned their use for a while, but to no avail. Allied with the issue of dress and aesthetics was the morality of Ghanaian women. After 1966, much criticism was leveled against Nkrumah and the CPP for the corruption of the morals of young people, especially women. It was during this period that the 'sugar-daddy' syndrome emerged. Young women were lavished with gifts, found jobs, and had apartments rented for them by older men. It would appear that Nkrumah at least was also concerned with the problem, and in a speech entitled Revive Our Virtues, he inveighed against the laziness and insolent attitude of many young men and women at work and in public places. He pronounced himself 'appalled' at the reports reaching him about the behavior of young women in the bars, dance halls and other public places, and called on them 'to maintain the highest standards of health, decency and morality in the society.' It may be noted as a response to the criticisms against Nkrumah and the CPP that the period of their rule must be situated within the context of a society in transition, in which the contradictions and discontent of previous epochs were coming to the fore. Women by virtue of their position as among the most oppressed and exploited in society were making their voices heard, and were reacting against their age-old oppression, as well as exploiting the avenues which became available to them” (Life and Work 112-3).
Ultimately, Takyiwah Manuh firmly believes that short of good intentions and stentorian rhetoric, the government of the Convention People's Party had little to offer women in terms of the effective enactment of “gynecocentric” policies. If anything at all, observes Dr. Manuh, the CPP was a neocolonialist and petty-bourgeois political apparatus that did little more than cosmetologize or titivate the patriarchal status quo ante: “As well, younger women were better placed to take advantage of these facilities and of changing attitudes towards women and their roles in society. Thus at the end of the period, female illiteracy rates were still high[,] especially in the 25-49 years range, and female participation rates in the economy still low, and were confined largely to the agricultural and saleswork/commerce sector. At the level of family life, the failure to enact the proposals of the Uniform Marriage, Divorce and Inheritance Bill into law meant that an issue of pressing importance to the majority of women was left unresolved. Even the Maintenance of Children's Act[,] which had been passed[,] was fraught with problems, and it was left to the courts to find solutions to the many cases of neglect, desertion, maintenance and property rights which found their way before them. And yet for every case that reached the courts, a hundred others did not, and it was left to the women to devise their own strategies to cope. This failure arose from the petty-bourgeois character of the CPP and the contradictions engendered. The National Council of Ghana Women, an integral wing of the CPP, and the umbrella organization of all Ghanaian women, also failed to mobilize around this issue and [instead] confined itself to calling for a law making a man responsible for all his children but not the women. This again reflected the petty-bourgeois character of its leadership and their desire to protect the 'Missuses'[,] as against the masses of women for whom polygamy was a reality of life. The Council, although notionally a women's organization, seemed to have considered its Party role [as being] more important and was more concerned with the monumental and nebulous task of 'nation-building.' It was in this connection that more educational and employment facilities were desired for women, to enable them to contribute their quota to national development. The provisions [sic] of daycare centers[,] for example[,] was to make for more efficient workers, and not to lessen women's domestic chores” (Life and Work 122-3).
In an unarguably the most hermeneutically sophisticated analysis of the role and function of religion, particularly Christianity, as it pertained to CPP political culture, Professor K. A. Dickson, in a terse essay titled “Religion and Society: A Study in Church and State Relations in the First Republic,” notes that his meticulous research yielded no conclusive evidence regarding the existence of any definitive policy on religion by the Nkrumah regime. In the end, while the former head of both the University of Ghana's Institute of African Studies and the Department for the Study of Religions would have Nkrumah accorded the proverbial benefit of the doubt from grievous charges of God-Complex autocracy, nevertheless, Professor Dickson also emphasizes the devious and glaring fact of Nkrumah's apparently tacit acceptance of such divine glorification as patent evidence of implicit culpability: “Now I move on to a line of thought which poses considerable problems, and to which I referred at the start of this paper. For a theologian, the most intriguing thing about the use made of religious ideas in Nkrumah's time is that Nkrumah himself, who had received [a] theological education, and one who in his Autobiography described himself as having a 'longing for things supernatural,' did not once, as far as it is known, make public his attitude to this. One is tempted to say that it is an eloquent silence, but in what direction? Did he approve of this misuse of religious ideas? It seems to me that to say that he approved of this is to say something damaging. Thus he did not, as far as I know[,] restrain people from addressing all those traditional honorifics to him, but was he not aware that by accepting all those chieftaincy titles and then ruling dictatorially[,] he was giving the wrong impression of what chieftaincy was all about? A number of Chiefs know to their cost that Ghanaian society does not suffer dictatorial rule indefinitely. Nkrumah was a very intelligent person. He could have, I suspect, been amused by Idi Amin's words reportedly spoken on the eve of a celebration marking the fourth anniversary of the coup d'état that brought him to power: 'God is on my side. Even the most powerful witchcraft cannot hurt me.' Despite his own claim to have had a longing for things supernatural, I am strongly of the opinion that Nkrumah could not have overtly approved of the excesses which surfaced in the Party's adoption and application of religious ideas and concepts; he could not have directly encouraged it. That being so, one is led to conclude that Nkrumah did not restrain his followers in this matter because this application of religious concepts served a useful purpose. It did no harm to his personality buildup if people could be encouraged to see him in the company of Mohammed, Buddha and Christ; besides, since he had not gone on record as expressing any positively anti-religious sentiments himself, those who objected to the Party's misapplication of religious concepts would [could?] not readily accuse Nkrumah personally. However, to say that Nkrumah did not restrain the Party and its organs in this matter for reasons of the advantage it might give him to have such thoughts expressed[,] is to say what is equally damaging, particularly as Nkrumah was otherwise a discerning person” (Life and Work 142-3).
For his part, Dominic Kofi Agyeman, in a paper which purports to highlight the “Social and Political Outlook” of the African Show Boy, ends up being merely an earnest and discursively fanatical disquisition than providing any substantive perspective on its subject. For instance, regarding Nkrumah's landmark failure to enter law school in order to qualify to practice this globally respected trade, the author makes the following patently false observation: “It was his involvement in active political training in the form of political conferences, demonstrations and organizations that prevented Nkrumah from becoming a lawyer like most of his political predecessors, including J. E. Casely-Hayford and J. B. Danquah” (Life and Work 148-9).
Again, Dominic Kofi Agyeman makes the rather stunningly simplistic observation of envisaging the pathologically Eurocentric Nkrumah as an anti-colonial revolutionary, whereas such organic scholar-statesman as Dr. J. B. Danquah and some of his principal colleagues of the United Gold Coast Convention are stolidly case in the politically stultifying mold of vintage neocolonialists: “But this is not to argue that every political or social upheaval or movement organized by every African leader is qualified to be labeled as a 'revolutionary change.' Since the basic tenets of a revolutionary change, according to Rex Harper, are the rejection of the legally enforced values of a social order and the acceptance of new values, it follows that only movements and leaders who reject the status quo and seek to replace it can be revolutionary. It is in this context that Nkrumah qualifies to be called a revolutionary leader, whereas his contemporary political opponents do not qualify for the label. For whereas Nkrumah challenged the status quo of the colonial order and sought to replace it with a novel sociopolitical order, his opponents, such as J. B. Danquah, sought to uphold the status quo ante of the colonial order, their political aim was to replace the colonial personnel with an African personnel while maintaining the colonial social structure. Indeed[,] Danquah and his associates saw themselves as the natural or the legal successors to the colonial administration. For that reason[,] they adopted the British parliamentary system and guarded it against any injections from the [sic] Marxist ideology” (Life and Work 150-1).
And while one is aptly wont to doubting it, indeed, had the Cape Coast University sociologist thoroughly done his homework on his discursive subject, particularly regarding Nkrumah's apparently unslakeable urge to transforming Ghana into an African model of Western industrial culture, he would almost certainly have reconsidered his unpardonably irreverent and intemperate remarks. Then also, had the author read Professor Takyiwah Manuh's quite perspicuous presentation on the ambiguous role of Ghanaian women in the Convention People's Party, he would almost definitely have tempered his invidious remarks with a salutary modicum of humility. As it stands, Agyeman's paper exudes the kind of unreflective disquisition that one is wont to associate with a brazen Nkrumaist apparatchik, rather than that of a systematic thinker of postcolonial Ghanaian political culture.
Interestingly, Agyeman also contradicts his own thesis regarding Nkrumah's supposedly towering “revolutionary stature” by noting that once the Show Boy's stentorian and pontifical rhetoric on human rights is squarely contextualized, the CPP Chief Constable could not be objectively said to have remarkably transformed the British colonial institutions which the so-called Sun-of-Africa had inherited: “But it seems to me that Nkrumah did not have enough 'socialization' in a radical sociology and politics to push him to extremes, for even though he went on to observe that 'The aim of punishment should be that of understanding and correction,' there is hardly any evidence that when he became the Head of Government and State he revolutionized, or at least reformed, the prisons in Ghana to make them more civilized and humane. Again, Nkrumah had first[-]hand experience with racism in both America and Britain. He spoke with emotion about how the Black man in search of accommodation is [sic] degraded in both Britain and America. Yet he does not show any resentment against the White race. What he hates, he repeated often, is [sic] imperialism, the domination of one society by another; therefore he sought to fight against British imperialism and not against British racism. This fight was naturally and logically a political one, and for this he had a store of practical political training. His first book, Towards Colonial Freedom, which he wrote while still a student, was actually a political treatise” (Life and Work 152).
K. Afari-Gyan's essay, “Nkrumah's Ideology,” is one of the very few fascinating and insightful pieces that make up The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah. Here, the author squarely focuses his discussion on an impassive interpretation of the theories behind the political behavior of his subject. Afari-Gyan's conclusion is that Nkrumah's megalomaniacal and dictatorial temperament ensured that Ghana's independence would be practically rendered meaningless, because such behavior was unabashedly disconnected from modern democratic culture, being expediently Afrocentric in its banal pontification on African communalism as the basis of its ideological pursuit: “According to him, the party embraced 'all the progressive elements in our community' and was 'the uniting [unifying?] force that guides and pilots the nation…. It supremacy cannot be challenged.' He believed that Ghana's fortunes were irretrievably [inextricably?] bound up with those of the party: hence 'the Convention People's Party is Ghana and Ghana is the Convention People's Party.' Elsewhere[,] he writes that 'the aspirations of the people and the economic and social objectives of their government are synonymous' and that 'the true welfare of the people does not admit of [any] compromise.' On occasion[,] Nkrumah said [that] he believed in a strong and well[-]organized opposition party, and even suggested in 1955 that all the opposition parties should come together to form one such party. However, taken together[,] his views about [sic] centralized authority and about his party left virtually no room for an organized opposition party. In fact, Nkrumah conceived [of] sovereignty in Hobbesian fashion, to be indivisible. This, plus his conception of the ruling party as the embodiment of the national will, made opposition to the ruling party no less than opposition to the very essence of the nation. An opposition party is thus rendered illegitimate. It should not be surprising then that Nkrumah saw the political opposition as an irresponsible one seeking to add to the difficulties of the government instead of complementing its efforts. Elsewhere[,] Nkrumah described the members of the opposition as 'disgruntled and disappointed politicians who were against the common man and were determined to undermine the democratic process'; and [as] 'reactionaries' carrying out 'vicious and treacherous' activities. Nkrumah's position on national unity and the centralization of authority was at the basis of his objection to the Independence Constitution which sought to give a measure of autonomy to the regions. It conditioned his handling of the political opposition; and it finally culminated in the vesting of all power in the central government in the Republican Constitution (1960) and the declaration of the one[-]party state (1964)” (Life and Work 170).
Thus for those who envisage the landmark ouster of Nkrumah and the CPP regime in apocalyptic – or tragic – terms, Dr. Afari-Gyan can only offer cold comfort, by implicitly maintaining that the curious brand of one-party ideology doggedly and dogmatically pursued by the CPP, which left absolutely no room for healthy and constructive dissent, was bound to invalidate, or proscribe, itself in the foreseeable course of time.
Once more, George P. Hagan, the renowned Ghanaian cultural anthropologist and former director of the University of Ghana's Institute of African Studies, makes the rather pedestrian error of presuming the Danquah-led United Gold Coast Convention to have lacked a coherent program for Ghana's achievement of its sovereignty from British colonial rule on the eve of Nkrumah's induction as the UGCC's General-Secretary: “Nkrumah did not drop into a leadership vacuum. When he returned to the Gold Coast after twelve years of studies abroad (1935-1947), he came to join a nationalist movement which had evolved a leadership of its own. This leadership had a definite[ly] [or definitively] traditional, if not conservative, color. The most prominent figures in it were connected to chiefly houses and belonged to the professional class. The leadership had an objective [of] Self-Government for the Gold Coast, and was set to go. What it lacked was a program and a person with the organizational ability to mobilize all sections of the community to achieve its goal. Nkrumah was invited to come back to the Gold Coast to provide that program and fill that organizational vacuum” (Life and Work 178-9).
Indeed, as this author has amply documented elsewhere (see Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana), the UGCC possessed a coherent agenda going back to 1929, during Dr. Danquah's innovative activities with the Gold Coast Youth Conference. And, needless to say, the documents detailing these activities were familiar to Nkrumah; and to be certain, as Mr. George Alfred (Paa) Grant was to bitterly complain in the wake of Nkrumah's break with the UGCC (see Dennis Austin's Politics in Ghana: 1946-1964), the “Wonder Boy of Africa” literally stole some of the most salient aspects of this agenda, which Nkrumah successfully used to build up his so-called Convention People's Party. Indeed, about the only thing which the UGCC lacked was a paid, full-time staff to mobilize the masses of potential Ghanaian electors. And, of course, the ideational rationale behind such mobilization precedes the return of Nkrumah to Ghana at the close of 1947, as well as Nkrumah's membership among the executive ranks of the UGCC. Indeed, it is this persistent trucking of such tired historiographical falsehoods, such as the preceding of Professor Hagan's, that continues to woefully undermine any objective study and analysis of the landmark events that occurred during the period under discussion.
Interestingly, while Dr. J. B. Danquah has been credited, together with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, for raising twentieth-century Ghanaian journalism to unprecedented intellectual and ethical heights, qualities that also expedited the development of Ghanaian political consciousness (see K. A. B. Jones-Quartey's A Summary History of the Ghana Press), Nkrumah has singularly been known to have used the Ghanaian press to propagate ill-will and patent falsehoods without let or remorse. But even as the largely apologetic Professor Hagan observes, the sort of cannibalistic – to speak less of the outright barbarous – journalistic propaganda doggedly pursued by Nkrumah and his fanatical followers, was ultimately bound to backfire with dire consequences: “Sensational but libelous concoctions which could not be printed were custom-made and 'merged' under the label of confidential 'news flash.' Rumor became an institutional complement to printable material – it was uncensored; it needed no check on its source or veracity; and each peddler embroidered it according to his or her imagination and powers of rhetoric. Nkrumah himself eventually became a victim of this dangerous instrument which he took from [sic] the 'mouth-to-mouth' or 'hearsay' culture of the people and sharpened with an expert hand. And he bequeathed his style of political journalism and the use of rumor to Ghana's political culture; and, in some senses, these two broadcasting media have become sensational as the proper channels of communication have fallen under exclusive government control” (Life and Work 184).
It is also significant to observe herein that for a leader who has been profusely lauded for his purportedly nonesuch pan-Africanist zeal, Hagan adumbrates the fact that on the home-front, Nkrumah's CPP was indisputably the most divisive political machine: “Having given themselves an ethos and solidarity relations more or less like the Asafo or the Clan, complete with its songs and rituals and priests, the CPP unwittingly gave rise to two tendencies in the Gold Coast society as a whole. First, members of the same family had to belong to the same party. Where they did not, serious, even permanent divisions developed within families and lineages. The Mercers must have had a great deal of trouble. Lawyer Mercer, one of the twins, was in the CPP and became Ghana's High Commissioner to Great Britain. His twin brother was out of it. And a lot of people talked about this. Second, one could not socialize with members of other political persuasions, especially if they openly identified with opposed political camps. As a result[,] the CPP had become almost an endogamous organization; the sensational exception having been created by Nkrumah's own son [Dr. Francis Nkrumah, Jr.] who married the daughter of one of Nkrumah's stalwart opponents. By the [very] nature of the party he founded, Nkrumah had succeeded in creating a cohesive phalanx against imperialism; but he had also divided the national front and Gold Coast society at several levels, and permanently” (Life and Work 192-3).
As Kenya's Professor Ali A. Mazrui noted elsewhere in this volume, by the close of his checkered tenure, the only thing that seemed to be attractive – or appealing - about the proverbial “Iron Boy” was his feverish championing of pan-Africanist ideals. At home, Nkrumah was practically an AWOL soldier.
And on the sticky, albeit private, question of Nkrumah's decision to marry an Egyptian-Arab woman, Hagan concocts, perhaps, the most bizarre and outright scandalous theory by way of an apology: “This same attempt to avoid identifying with, or attaching himself to, any group must have been his motive for not marrying at all during the period of the nationalist movement – and marrying outside Ghana when he felt he had to. Nkrumah would only explain this in terms of his early fear of women: 'In those days my fear of women was beyond all understanding.' By the time he came back to the Gold Coast he had 'outgrown that feeling towards women.' And, yet, kept away from them. He did this 'for something deeper' as he wrote. As one can discern, Nkrumah would have been concerned not only with his personal freedom, but [also] with a desire to avoid the same structural problem [that] he identified with being a member of the Catholic Church. For, marriage would have tied him down to one ethnic group[,] thus alienating all other groups, or it would have multiplied his problems by alienating all women. Marrying from all ethnic groups was another way out of his predicament, but this would have taxed his energies. By marrying outside Ghana, Nkrumah avoided these problems and further succeeded in projecting his greater affection for Africa, and uniting Africa north and south of the Sahara” (Life and Work 194).
Indeed, Hagan's attempt to link the ethnicity of one's spouse – or wife, in this context – with political loyalties is untenably sophomoric, to say the least. Perhaps somebody ought to point out to Professor Hagan that marrying Ghanaian women of Ga-Sierra Leonean and Fante extraction did absolutely nothing to compromise the ideological purview and focus of Dr. Danquah and some of his associates of the United Gold Coast Convention. And, doubtlessly, even more significant must be observed the fact that being married to an Arab woman did not prevent Nkrumah from Nzema-centric tribalism, as well as Fante-centric tribalism, as rank-and-file members of the Ga-Shifimo Kpee were to later testify in a long list of resolutions presented by the association to the then-President (see Austin's Politics in Ghana), and had earlier been shockingly and embarrassingly revealed by the celebrated Jibowu Commission (see Ofosu-Appiah's Life and Times of J. B. Danquah).
But that in rendering the independence of Ghana meaningless unless it was linked up with the total liberation of the African continent became evident shortly after Nkrumah's accession to the helm of Ghana's affairs, is characteristically and apologetically rendered by Hagan in the following terms: “One impact that this ascent to international leadership made on Nkrumah's image at home was that it placed him far beyond the reach of the ordinary man in Ghana. For one thing, the ordinary man in the street could not have seen how his own interest would be served by his external ventures. Indeed[,] the opposition succeeded in demonstrating that the increasingly intractable economic conditions at home were the result not only of Nkrumah's reduced interest in the management of the nation's business, but also of his deliberate diversion of scarce financial resources to foster an ambition for international leadership which demonstrably created more enemies than friends among the leaders of African nations and among Ghana's traditional friends elsewhere” (Life and Work 195-6).
Needless to say, as Hagan himself adumbrates, ultimately, even continental Africa became too restrictive and domestic an area for Nkrumah's insatiably global political ambitions and ego. For not only would Nkrumah come to perceive himself and his image as being larger than Ghana and Africa, but increasingly he would also assume the persona of a major global player whose nationality and ethnicity as a Ghanaian and an African, respectively, were purely incidental to his personality as an immitigably, pathologically and irredeemably “vintage 'Universalist' who only happened to have been conceived and brought up on the African continent”: “Nkrumah, the great communicator, appeared now to speak over the people's heads to a wider audience – a world audience. Government business made less time available for party rallies. The people began to see less of him. In fact, Nkrumah appeared to have become so international that more often than not he spoke to the people of Ghana from airport gangways on his way to and from a foreign country. Members of organizations and school children could not see him except at airports or along the streets as he met and drove past with international [foreign?] dignitaries. And as the domestic scene became more disturbed, international visits appeared to be a [convenient] way of diverting attention from the burning issues at home and providing the people with a tension release valve. It had become difficult for ordinary Ghanaians to meet Nkrumah face-to-face. It is worth noting that the style of leadership which Nkrumah developed as an international statesman differed from the style of a traditional ruler. The traditional leader stayed at home. The simple practical reason behind this, though ritual[istic] ones are offered for this, is that in the absence of the cat the mice come out to play, and when beads break in front of an elder[,] none gets lost. Not to add [the fact] that the wandering child does not witness her mother's funeral. Nkrumah learnt the truth of this on his way to Hanoi” (Life and Work 196).
In fine, Nkrumah's exorbitant and seemingly endless global shuttle diplomacy, to cast matters in more charitable terms, became the essence of Ghana's foreign policy.
Hagan also amply demonstrates that Nkrumah appears to have been a leader who, in the words of Dr. J. B. Danquah (see Voice of Prophecy), was doomed to perpetually freeze, or stall, at the crossroads. For much of the sentiments, or ethos, which determined his political culture were almost wholly based on primitivist expediency, rather than emanating from a coherent or systematically reasoned political frame of reference: “Nkrumah's ideas were clearly of a greater significance for the outside world than for the world of Ghana. Yet Nkrumah could not neglect Ghana. Internally, the new idea [that] he put forward as a serious proposition was that Ghana needed to be conscious of its Africanness as far as political culture was concerned. And he postulated that since the Western type of democracy based on a multi-party system had no kinship with any political system in Ghana or elsewhere in Africa, it was bound to fail. Nkrumah avered [sic] that the Western parliamentary model was unsuited to the pace of development [that] African nations required. He proposed, therefore, that Ghana should be a one[-]party state. Not stopping to ask whether the one-party state was also African, Nkrumah proceeded to bring the one-party state into being. It is necessary to point out here that a clear manifestation of change in Nkrumah's leadership arose out of the use of more of the power of legislation than that of persuasion. And as aspect of this change was the use of the coercive forces of government – the police and the army to gain his ends. To introduce the one-party state[,] Nkrumah could have used persuasion to get all parties to agree. At least, he should have tried to call a national conference of all parties so as to be seen to be consulting all opinions on this issue. But he did not” (Life and Work 198).
But that sheer rhetoric devoid of intellectual and professional competence could not move the nation into modernity, is eloquently cast by Hagan in the following terms: “Nkrumah would have liked to have party men in top civil service posts. He did not have such men in the party, so he compelled the men at the post to receive party education. But this did not make for a happy state of mind. At the regional and district level[s], the District and Regional Commissioners were replaced by Party cadres most of whom had little or no education at all. Government business therefore suffered from incompetence and neglect. And there was[,] in some cases[,] uncontrolled interference of party men in government business” (Life and Work 201).
In essence, being more of a Messianic-minded opportunist than an astute, or reflective, and foresighted statesman on the order of J. B. Danquah, for example, Nkrumah had to fitfully content himself with the vacuous façade of “Verandah Rhetoric,” beyond which rhetorical superficiality brooded the stultifying political canker of withering incompetence. Thus, in fact, if the independence of Ghana were to be proclaimed meaningless, it would not have been because Nkrumah failed to link it up with the destiny of the rest of continental Africa, but largely and squarely because Nkrumah took it for granted and instead preferred to blindly and megalomaniacally focus on the protean and diffuse affairs of the continent at the woeful expense of the very domestic electorate that had awarded him the mandate and mantle of national leadership.
Kwame A. Ninsin's sophistic attempt to justify the CPP's one-party dictatorship (Arhin 227), seriously undermines the soundness of the author's logic, particularly when Ninsin, under the rather cynical subtitle of “Unity vs. Fragmentation,” facilely quotes Nkrumah to the patently ahistorical effect that: “A multi-party system introduced into Africa results in the perpetuation of feudalism, tribalism and regionalism and inordinate power struggle and rivalry” (Life and Work 227).
But that, needless to say, Nkrumah brooked no rivalry, had far less to do with the Show Boy's purported zeal to uniting the country than the sheer fact, as Austin demonstrably points out (see Politics in Ghana), of Nkrumah being pathologically and temperamentally averse to any ideology of power-sharing in the manner determined by a constitutional democracy, let's say. In any case, both Ninsin and Nkrumah's attempt to imperiously impose pre-colonial political homogeneity on Africa is one that reeks of immitigable absurdity, if only because such trend of special pleading – or argumentation – seeks, either wittingly or unwittingly, to deliberately, deviously and expediently relegate Nkrumah's so-called African Personality to a sociopolitical status that is barely above that of irredeemable savagery. On the question of “feudalism,” perhaps Ninsin would have done far better to highlight the fact of CPP neo-fascism having transformed Ghana, almost overnight, into a clannish and feudal clientelism under which regime protection from the so-called Unitary State was inevitably contingent upon one's unstinted loyalty to “The Party,” as the CPP became known.
Interestingly, Ninsin also attempts to justify CPP atrocities by vacuously claiming that political instruments like the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) and the Nationality and Citizenship Act, which were largely used by Nkrumah to deport second- and third-generation Ghanaians who supported Dr. Danquah and other legitimate opposition parties, found validity in their being appropriated under various guises by subsequent governments, without Ninsin telling his readers exactly which post-CPP regimes appropriated such edicts: “The consolidation process was advanced further by the enactment of the Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1957 (Act 1) and the Preventive Detention Act, 1958, (Act 17) (PDA). The first clearly defined Ghanaian citizenship and thereby provided the legal framework that enabled the government to deport aliens who were engaged in activities inimical to the unity, security and stability of the Ghanaian state. The PDA, on the other hand, made it possible for the government to imprison, without trial some Ghanaians whose activities were understood to threaten state security and stability. Though the PDA is still regarded with disdain, its value in safeguarding the interest of the state seems to have been appreciated and vindicated, as borne out by its repeated use under different titles, by successive governments after the fall of the CPP government on 24th February, 1966; and some of the regimes that have resorted to a revised version of the PDA have been the most devout and vehement critics of the CPP” (Life and Work 228).
Obviously, this is a classical example of the cultivated illogic of a half-baked intellectual possessed of little or absolutely no respect for the intelligence of the proverbial, average Ghanaian reader.
In an essay titled “Nkrumah's Foreign Policy: 1951-1966,” longtime Ghanaian foreign secretary Dr. Obed Asamoah highlights the Garveyite origins of the pan-Africanist movement: “However, although it was Garvey's idea of a United Africa which in time became the cardinal theme of the Pan-Africanist Movement, it was not until the Sixth Congress held in Manchester in 1945 that the various concepts of the Movement were crystalized [sic] into a concrete program of action. The historic Manchester Congress was attended by more than 200 delegates from all over the world and[,] for the first time, the necessity for well-organized [and] firmly-knit movements as a primary condition for the success of the national liberation struggle in Africa was stressed. Significantly, Dr. Nkrumah was joint Secretary of the Organizing Committee with George Padmore and it is a measure not only of the growing affinity of interest in the two traditions of protest, but also, of the role Nkrumah was destined to play that from the Manchester Conference onward, the Pan-African Movement became transformed into an expression of African nationalism” (Life and Work 233).
In reality, global African nationalism of the kind highlighted by Asamoah originated with the likes of Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden, the nineteenth-century African-Caribbean scholar who also minted the concept of the “African Personality,” a concept whose authorship Nkrumah was to assume without ample reference to the authentic, conceptual creator or originator. Even so, as a practical ideology, pan-Africanism was accorded its initial practical reality in the twentieth century by J. E. Casely-Hayford, the man who more than any twentieth-century Ghanaian scholar-statesman deserves the honor and accolade of “The Father of Continental African Nationalism” or “African Pan-Africanism.” And so it is glaringly disingenuous that, invariably, many an ardent student of Nkrumaism has tended to routinely deal with this critical period of African history almost as if J. E. Casely-Hayford never existed. This, of course, is no idle observation, for even as one of Nkrumah's own staunch lackeys, Mr. K. B. Asante, has insightfully observed, “He [Nkrumah, that is] had the talent for grasping new ideas and the weakness of giving them form and calling them his own” (Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah 260).
Interestingly, Asamoah is objective enough to recognize the embarrassing expediency of Nkrumah's foreign-policy agenda, particularly with reference to the imperative need to geopolitically integrate the West African sub-region, as a prelude to the total integration of the African continent. In sum, implies the author, Nkrumah might not, after all, have been ahead of his time, as it is routinely and invariably suggested by students, disciples and sympathizers of Nkrumaism. At best, it was squarely at the rhetorical level that the Show Boy might be envisaged to have been ahead of his contemporaries: “Nkrumah has been criticized for his decision to take Ghana out of such regional arrangements as the West African Airways Corporation, the West African Currency Board, the West Africa Cocoa Research Institute and the West African Court of Appeal[,] which had been created during the British colonial administration to foster cooperation among the British dependencies in West Africa. According to his critics, this was a serious contradiction of his policy of maximum inter-African cooperation[,] which only served to promote his personal political ambitions at home. However, if as Nkrumah argued at the time, these were colonial appendages which a sovereign, independent Ghana had to shed, there is no denying the fact that this policy [was] blamed [by] even some of his friends. This[,] taken [together] with [other] missed opportunities such as the creation of a common currency zone with Guinea[,] as advocated by Guinea[,] and his opposition to East African regional cooperation[,] reflected badly on the soundness of his tactics” (Life and Work 236).
Then also, Asamoah notes that Nkrumah's single-minded and self-centered approach to issues affecting Africa's socioeconomic and political sovereignty is to blame for the “Sun of Africa's” great difficulty in actualizing many of his most significant objectives: “That the rest of Africa did not seem to share Nkrumah's vision of a United States of Africa was only partially his fault. His opposition to Nyerere over the creation of an East African Community[,] and his dealings with political parties[,] some of whom [sic] were in opposition to the Governments of other African states[,] could not have been helpful in enhancing his prospects for a Union; and the opportunities missed in fostering unity with Togo[,] particularly under Olympio[,] did not do credit to his strategy. Whatever the tactical errors, Nkrumah's conviction was sincere and thanks largely to him, the concept of African Unity gained currency and his dream lives on the reality that without it Africa is incapable of escaping from its position of economic servitude and political impotence” (Life and Work 240).
And also, Asamoah poignantly observes: “In his determination to achieve African unity in his lifetime[,] he was impatient of [sic] others with dissimilar views and he assisted or dealt with opposition political groups in a number of states – Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Togo, Nigeria, The Gambia, etc., as to arouse allegations [sic] of subversion and interference in their internal affairs. By the time of the military coup of 1966[,] Nkrumah's influence in Africa was waning precisely because of this and other reasons, and Ghana was suffering from some degree of isolation” (Life and Work 245).
And on Nkrumah's profligate appropriation of Ghana's monetary and other capital resources, Asamoah observes: “Significantly, also, Pan-Africanism was brought to a state which at the time was well-endowed with natural and human wealth. Ghana supplied one-third of the world's cocoa as well as one-fifth of its gold. Our external reserves at independence were over half a billion dollars[,] which was more than India, for instance, had at a comparative time in her history. This degree of wealth meant that the Nkrumah administration had no pressing need to seek massive aid anywhere. It was against this background that Ghana under Nkrumah was transformed into the torch-bearer of African irredentism and unity, a matter of pride we still cherish to this day. Nkrumah became a symbol of what Africa could be and of necessity a foe of imperialist designs on Africa. This, among other things, sealed his doom” (Life and Work 241).
Needless to say, it is also within the preceding context that the Ghanaian Opposition's epic conflict with Nkrumah, particularly regarding the Busia-led National Liberation Movement's demand for a federation, in order to ensure the maximum use of the country's revenue for Ghana's internal or domestic development, is to be envisaged.
The preceding notwithstanding, Obed Asamoah's observation that: “Nkrumah certainly had his limitations and may have often misjudged the mood of the times, but he will go down in history as a pioneer without a peer” (Life and Work 246), remains to be seen. For this author, however, while the significance of Nkrumah in twentieth-century African history cannot be gainsaid, it may be rather presumptuous to make the sort of pleading for Nkrumah of which the likes of Blankson, Danquah, Casely-Hayford, Mensah-Sarbah, Aggrey, Ofori-Atta I, Sakyi, Osei-Tutu I, Grant and Busia may be more aptly deserving. Indeed, had he wanted to make any authentic model of sovereignty out of Ghana for the logical emulation of the other sub-Saharan African colonies, in the wake of Ghana's independence, that is, Nkrumah could have better harnessed the country's resources for its domestic development, and may well have transformed Ghana into an industrial lodestar by the eve of his overthrow in February 1966. Instead, Nkrumah chose the proverbial primrose path of God-Complex arrogance and ideological intransigence; and some forty-one long years later, Ghana has yet to appreciably recuperate.
In a quite fascinating article titled “Nkrumah and State Enterprises,” K. B. Asante details the abject state of incompetence and nepotism that characterized the Convention People's Party's approach to Ghana's industrial development. And here, it bears quoting a section of Asante's article at length in order to amply illustrate the thrust of our argument: “As Nkrumah himself put it, 'When the CPP came to power in 1951[,] the pace of development was so slow and confused that we decided to speed it up by attempting to implement in five years the program of reconstruction which was designed by the colonial administration to take place over a period of ten years. That program was not a development plan. It was a collection of various individual petty projects that had to be built in preparation for future planning. The CPP government therefore viewed the industrialization proposals of the colonial administration as inadequate but necessary. The proposals and projects of the Industrial Development Corporation were carried out with vigor. Soon difficulties arose with regard to the very nature of the instruments of implementation. The solutions evolved at this early stage are of crucial importance. They continue to bedevil state enterprises today. Inefficiency and mismanagement in state corporations became so pronounced that a bill was introduced in Parliament to deal with the problem. The CPP reaction to the situation, although faulty, appears to be essentially a Ghanaian approach, because it has been followed by all subsequent governments. We therefore quote the Minister of Trade and Labor, Kojo Botsio, at length: 'Following enquiry into the Cocoa Purchasing Company, legislation relating to all statutory Boards and Corporations had been examined with a view to securing closer governmental control of these bodies and their subsidiaries…. Provision has accordingly been made in the Bill to permit the Minister responsible for Trade to give specific directions to the Industrial Development Corporation and to its subsidiaries.' The Bill provided for the 'nomination of a General Manager by the Minister with the prior approval of the Cabinet….' 'Furthermore[,] it is proposed that the Minister should in future control the appointment of employees of the Corporations and any of the companies in which it has controlling interest where the respective basic salaries are £ 1,000 per annum and over.' In the debate which followed, [J. A.] Braimah questioned whether giving power to the Minister would solve the problem and he cited the Jibowu Report in support. Wireko blamed outside interference and nepotism. But most of the criticism was on the appointment of CPP supporters only, and on qualifications. Jatoe Kaleo set the tone by charging that 'the government has an unenviable reputation of filling most of these Boards with ex-convicts, people who have been imprisoned for dishonesty and improper conduct in the discharge of their public duties. Another is to fill these Boards with its party members who have been defeated.' Regional interests were stressed[,] meaning that industries should be fairly distributed in and among the regions rather than sited on economic considerations. And Wiafe, a CPP member, complained that the 'Head of the Corporation was a quartermaster in the army;' and concerning the establishment of a soap factory by UAC asked: 'Are we going to allow foreigners to set up industries which we have facilities to establish ourselves?' This and other debates reflected the trend in the country which accepted Ministerial control, laid emphasis on 'paper qualifications rather than on competence' and preferred 'industries to be established by Ghanaians.' It was also felt that 'Ghanaians should head state enterprises,' Nkrumah's government gave expression to these feelings and views before and after complete independence” (Life and Work 256-7).
Needless to say, Asante's cynical attempt to exonerate the CPP of substantive charges of incompetence by seeking to normalize it: “The CPP reaction to the situation, although faulty, appears to be essentially a Ghanaian approach, because it has been followed by all subsequent governments,” is rather disingenuous, albeit quite characteristic of much Nkrumah-leaning scholarship and propaganda.
But that K. B. Asante would broadly generalize Nkrumah and his CPP's administrative incompetence into one that is characteristically Ghanaian, knowing full well the remarkable protestations of Drs. Danquah and Busia, among a host of other astute Ghanaian statesmen, intellectuals and technocrats, while deeply troubling, is hardly surprising. For, having fungibly identified itself with the country itself, the CPP hierarchy curiously perceived itself to be the predestined ruling class of postcolonial Ghana. Thus what the CPP and the Nkrumah government lacked, by way of administrative competence, was broadly projected and transformed into a national deficiency: “And commercial viability was not of crucial importance to Parliament and perhaps the nation. The mode was to see Ghana as a nation with all the trappings of a modern state. Not surprisingly, therefore, even though Minister of Communications, Krobo Edusei, admitted that Ghana Airways Corporation was making deficits of about £G 200,000 to £G 300,000 yearly, Parliament on November 20, 1959, moved 'That this House record its appreciation of the magnificent progress which has been made by the Ghana Airways Corporation during its short existence” (Life and Work 259).
Again, in typical K. B. Asante fashion, the stereotypical Ghanaian administrative culture is cast as follows: “The typical Ghanaian way of dealing with inefficiency, abuse of authority or discretion, and even corruption, is not to improve or design better systems while vigorous action is taken in accordance with existing rules, but to concentrate authority in one person. Thus[,] we find Managing Directors and the like signing chits to authorize sales of scarce commodities and a routine process in organizations halted because the chief is absent. It is also taken for granted that authority should be concentrated in the hands of the Minister or the President; and arbitrary action by authority is generally accepted. It is to Nkrumah's credit that he endeavored to act within the [constraints of] the law. What is of interest and contemporary relevance is that the laws and structures he established to govern state enterprises have not been questioned by successive governments. Ministers, Commissioners and Secretaries still like to be in a position to dismiss heads of enterprises for any reason whatsoever and they also like to give directives to these organizations. The pettiness, arbitrariness, lack of discipline and disregard for procedures and the national interest of the political heads of Ministries are largely responsible for the failure of most of our state-owned enterprises” (Life and Work 267-8).
Of course, if you believe that Kwame Nkrumah is the ex-nihilo Creator, or Founder, of postcolonial Ghana, then, no doubt, the preceding may be your mantra as well.
And for those who make rhapsodic, facile and epic claims regarding Nkrumah's political and administrative genius, Joseph R. A. Ayee begs to differ. In an essay titled “Public Sector Manpower Development During the Nkrumah Period, 1951-1966,” Ayee notes the ironic outcome of Nkrumah's much-vaunted “Civil Service Africanization” policy, observing bitterly that not only was this Garveyite policy counterproductive, but that it ended up seriously undermining the strength and efficiency of the Ghanaian civil service, to the damnable extent of even summarily eviscerating many of our best indigenous administrators from the system: “At the time of independence, the number of British Civil Servants in Ghana had actually declined somewhat from preceding years. The rising expatriate figures since then could be attributed chiefly to the subsequent arrival of large numbers of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavs, Italians and United Nations personnel. Also military personnel from the Soviet Union and China were brought in to help train 'African Liberation Fighters' at several secret camps around the country[,] and although they were not included in official figures, their numbers were felt. Hence by the 1960s, it appeared to many Ghanaian public servants that the net effect of Ghanaianization had been to cede the 'managerial and technical heights' of the economy and the administration to foreigners. Certainly, the presence of hundreds of expatriates 'who often spoke different languages,' could only undermine Ghanaians' sense of efficacy and increase their sense of job insecurity. It is on record that in 1959, Dr. Nkrumah partially purged the senior public service by dismissing several key persons, including Dr. Robert Gardiner, the British-trained Ghanaian, who headed the Establishment Secretariat…. In the words of Elliot Berg: 'There were thirty-one ministries, and Statutory Corporations were scattered all over the place. It is not certain that at any one time, anybody knew just how many there were. Key operating ministries were cut up periodically, their functions divided, then shuttled back and forth. Agriculture was the best example: between the old ministry, the State Farms Corporation, the United Farmers' Council and the Agricultural Wing of the Workers' Brigade and twenty-five other agencies, lines of authority hopelessly tangled, coordination inexistent and personal access to political figures more important in decisions than technical or economic issues. By 1965, therefore, one is tempted to say that Ghana had become almost a 'classic example of an administrative system on the verge of collapse.' The large number of graduates produced by institutions of higher learning was not enough to meet the manpower requirements of the many public agencies created during the Nkrumah period” (Life and Work 284-5).
The preceding may be seen to strikingly corroborate Professor L. H. Ofosu-Appiah's assertion that Lt.-Gen. E. K. Kotoka, the man who led the charge for the landmark overthrow of the Convention People's Party, had intimated in the wake of his successful revolutionary putsch that had Kotoka, indeed, been privy to the near-irreparable damage visited on the Ghanaian economy by the deposed President, he, then-Colonel E. K. Kotoka, would rather have had the African Show Boy stew in his own brine (see The Life of Lt.-Gen. E. K. Kotoka). Ayee's essay should, therefore, put paid to any visceral attempt by Nkrumah sympathizers to falsify the history of the socioeconomic and political realities of the period under scrutiny.
For J. A. Dadson, Nkrumah's experimentation with “socialized agriculture” was an abysmal failure, primarily because the Show Boy sought to replace the time-tested Ghanaian traditional system of usufruct, whereby access to land was based on individual initiative within the equitable regime of familial ownership of the land. In sum, notes Dadson, the more organically evolved Ghanaian Land Tenure System offered a far superior alternative to Nkrumah's blindly imported Socialist System, which was squarely and callously predicated on the summary alienation of land from its traditional owners and, consequently, also the alienation of the rural farmers upon whose shoulders the success of Ghanaian agriculture squarely rested. Implicitly thus, for Dadson, Nkrumah's “Agricultural Development Strategy” appears to have been squarely predicated upon a gross misunderstanding of traditional Ghanaian culture. On this score, the author may be aptly envisaged to be in practical agreement with Dr. J. B. Danquah who, in 1948, having paid a working visit to the erstwhile Soviet Union, under the auspices of the British Commonwealth, prophetically concluded that “Socialized Agriculture,” while it appeared to be working for the Russians, nevertheless, could never be operable in Ghana (see Okoampa-Ahoofe's Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana). This is exactly how Dadson cast his observation regarding the abysmal failure of Nkrumah's agricultural policy: “There were two schools of thought on the value and effectiveness of the experience analyzed above. One school holds the view that the socialist experiment, while not successful, was certainly not a failure either, and that the rejection of socialized agriculture was premature and ill-advised. They [It?] argue[s] that the experiment had not had time to settle, and that the experience was too brief to permit conclusive appraisal. Major social programs such as this, the argument continues, have long gestation periods and can only proceed by trial and error. …. True, some attempts have been made to re-introduce 'command farming' in some form or other, notably certain phases of Acheampong's agricultural program code-named 'Operation Feed Yourself' (OFY), and more recently in the early period of the PNDC. Recall, for example, the following: the attempted entry of the military into commercial agriculture in the 1970s; the creation of the Ghana National Reconstruction Corps (which absorbed the Young Farmers' League) for youth agricultural and industrial production; the formalized nnoboa and crop association schemes of OFY; and the community, institutional and people's farms of 1982/83. One is talking of abortive programs; all failed. One hardly needs reminding that the state farms and Brigade (now Food Production Corporation) farms are still in operation; and that for all the policies of restructuring and rationalization, they are inefficient, deficit, unsuccessful producers. The record clearly does not support the viability of 'command farming' in Ghana. And that is the view of the other school of thought. In the opinion of this writer, socialized agriculture as a model, adopted as it was without study and without adaptation to suit local conditions and capabilities, was and is inappropriate and unsuited to Ghana. This view is based not simply on the fact that the system failed to achieve factor productivities above existing levels or to contribute to capital formation, among other factors; it is based on reasons that are fundamental and also derive from the experiences of other African and underdeveloped countries which have also tried it. For one thing, it involves replacing the existing land tenure system, which provides fairly equitable if imperfect access to farm land for all farm families, with a system which in equity is inferior. (Note that seizure of land was the method of acquisition used; and predictably[,] it alienated the rural people. See Report on the Brigade). For another, Ghana lacks the capabilities of planning and management as well as the discipline demanded for implementing the system, at least at this stage of our development. Also, the system does not provide adequate incentives to stimulate its operators [in]to sustained productive effort, in contrast with farming conditions. And it is notoriously slow in transmitting correct signals to producers on the one hand, while, on the other, it seems to tolerate tardy, distorted interpretation of signals, and inappropriate policies and responses” (Life and Work 314-5).
In his article on “Nkrumah and the Decolonization of Ghana's External Trade Relations, 1956-1965,” Kwesi Jonah remarks on how the African Show Boy consistently and steadily ran down Ghana's foreign exchange reserves by predicating the country's external trade policies on his pseudo-socialist ideology, rather than sound economic principles and judgments. In the end, Ghana, having politically liberated herself from Western imperialism, meekly submitted herself to brutal economic rape by her Eastern-European “Allies”: “Trade with the socialist bloc was a new development in Ghana's external economic relations and, as such, it presented its own problems some of which were soon to be overcome. Initially, some of the products from the socialist countries were not familiar to the Ghanaian consumers and so did not move fast enough. Added to this was the problem of delivery dates which suppliers did not keep, apparently due to the long distances involved. These two problems combined to exert a negative effect on demand. Therefore, while Ghana supplied her bilateral trade partners with the value of products agreed upon, she could not utilize her earnings with them. The end result was that at the end of 1962, Ghana had a credit balance of £ 1.7 million with her bilateral trade partners. This presented a ridiculous situation in which a poor underdeveloped country beset with intractable problems of balance of payments with the West was giving an interest-free loan to industrialized socialist countries. But it was hoped that it would not be long before this problem was eliminated. However, at the end of 1963, Ghana's surplus credit had not disappeared but increased to £ 1.8 million” (Life and Work 333).
But even more damning to learn, after all the tirade and vitriolic accusations against the Busia-led Progress Party government, is the fact that even as Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana made stentorian, political protestations against Apartheid South Africa, we are told that at least a full-half of postcolonial Ghana's external trade with other African countries was with Apartheid South Africa! (Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah 336-8).
But what is even more damning is when Kwesi Jonah, perhaps, having lost track of his discursive bent, brazenly forks his tongue in order to proffer the African Show Boy this fulsome kudos: “On the whole, Nkrumah's trade policy reflected an anti-neocolonialist, anti-racist and Pan-Africanist orientation. This is not surprising. These, after all, are some of the main themes in Nkrumah's political writings – Africa Must Unite and Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism – both before and after his overthrow. His struggle against neocolonialism, his quest for African unity – both of them had the primary purpose of building an economically prosperous and politically strong Africa” (Life and Work 339).
On the whole, Kwame Arhin's The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah offers a broad and rounded portrait of its subject, albeit in quite oblique and outright disingenuous ways, which thus necessitates a critical reading with the proverbial fine-toothed comb; which is just another diplomatic way of saying that the most balanced and definitive work on “The Osagyefo,” the pseudo-Socialist “Osagyefo,” that is, has yet to be penned and published.
*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 twelve books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]
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