In listening to the western press during this celebration of our golden jubilee independence year, there have been very confusing messages presented as if it had been unwise for us to have demanded and won our independence. Several western commentators referred to the dream of independence going sour so soon after independence. So as Ghana celebrates 50 years of political independence as a nation, we must recognize that the next fifty rears will present us with more complex challenges than those we faced in the fifty years before Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana and Africa to independence. More questions will be asked about our performance than ever before. How we deal with these issues will determine how well we are able to catch up with the rest of the world in development terms.
Coincidentally this commemoration happens at the same time as the celebration of the landmark decision of the British parliament to abolish slavery. So in a sense there is a double celebration for some of us, freedom from slavery and freedom from colonialisation.
At the countdown to independence, there were two distinct groups in our politics; those who because they could not inherit the mantle and therefore felt that we were not ready and those who felt that we were ready and had always been ready and were deserving to govern ourselves. There was no question however that all the major players wanted us to be rid of the colonial government and therefore the roles that all played must be recognized.
Several people were involved in the independence movement in Ghana and we must recognise some of the notable ones, Attoh Ahuma, Mensah Sarbah, Paa Grant, JB Danquah and others such as Sergeant Adjetey who became a symbol after he was killed during their march to the castle.
But one personality stood out head and shoulders above all who had campaigned for independence; he saw the promised land, so to speak, and he was able to take us there himself. This was Kwame Nkrumah; he was determined, he was resolute and above all he had the confidence to demand our independence. Nkrumah successfully continued the agitation for independence that had been started by others before him.
Though Nkrumah led the campaign with Ghanaians he knew that the main prize was independence for Ghana, Africa and the Caribbean so he allowed himself to be influenced by diverse people who he had met along the way, a coalition of Panafricanist without whom independence would not have been achieved.
Nkrumah extended that gains of the earlier agitators and led us to the first stage of our emancipation. Nkrumah proved that he was a thinker and visionary in his own right and easily the most important hero for Africa and the whole black world. He was ahead of his time.
The mass party that he formed the CPP won election victory after election victory because Nkrumah's concept of independence resonated with the common people and they also saw that he was prepared to include them in politics in place of the elitist politics that was going on in their time.
He stood for emancipation, for freedom from slavery and freedom from colonialisation, justice for all in Africa. He believed that we were capable of governing ourselves better than the colonial masters who were only interested in exploiting our goods and services.
Nkrumah believed that political freedom for Ghana was not enough; we needed to have economic freedom and eventually social freedom to carry on with our own culture. Nkrumah therefore fashioned for Ghana and Africa a method, a mechanism for ensuring that when the independence was accomplished in Ghana it would sweep not only the rest of Africa but also the Caribbean.
He worked with intellectuals, technocrats, activists, policy people and managers and he attracted the best from the whole of the black world.
The CPP that broke away from and terminally damaged the UGCC was about asserting the rights of the masses to participate in politics, an area that had been largely left to the elite intelligentsia and intellectuals. So the masses could also, with independence, take hold of their own destiny.
Where the west had been built on capitalism and Russia had been transformed from a peasant economy into a super power with 50 years using socialism and china with communism was laying the foundation for their resurgence with the Cultural Revolution and the great leap forward, Nkrumah gave us Nkrumaism, an African philosophy of development and governance. He insisted on the inculcation of the African personality into Ghanaians to replace the notions of colonial mentality that had taken root so he set up the African Personality for children who then graduated into the Young Pioneers to learn about citizenship, leadership and discipline to make them ready for the adult life of service to the country and the rest of Africa.
Nkrumah set up educational institutions, at the primary, middle, secondary and university level, he set up vocational, technical and professional institutions to train the people at all levels for jobs that would enable them to care for their families
He created jobs for the masses in commercial, financial and industrial sectors. Where in a hundred years of colonial rule the British had set up barely 100 schools in 100 years, Nkrumah provided 1,100 institutions in 10 years.
He believed in a programme of accelerated industrialization as the main driver for economic growth to finance our development. It was important for us in Ghana and Africa to add value to our raw materials through processing into finished goods and products. In every business sector where we there were no Ghanaian businesses to compete with the foreign owned ones he set up state industries most of which have survived till today, some of which though abandoned for the past 40 years are now being rehabilitated by the present government. Nkrumah built the industrial township of Tema but he also ensured that industries were set up in most districts and in all regions in Ghana. More jobs were created under the work and happiness programme, the workers brigade, the builder's brigade.
The 7 year development plan was formulated to transform Ghana into an industrial competitive country.
Sadly, foreign interests intervened to prevent Nkrumah from completing the job that he had started, to achieve his vision of a united and developed Africa.
The next fifty years is about the application of Nkrumah's vision, it is about fashioning our own alternative method and agenda for development that best serves our interest not just the interests of the rest of the world.
Applied Nkrumaism is about ensuring that we will no longer waste our country on military rulers, it is about resisting foreign ideolo gies and notions of development and growth so that we find our own best fit method to meet the unique challenges of poverty and underdevelopment. It is about cherishing our freedom and yet finding common cause with other black nations who may face similar problems.
It is about sustaining ourselves without the need for foreign hand outs and the unfavourable conditions attached to these whether from bilateral or multilateral, it is about ensuring that we can run our countries without the plethora of NGO's falling over each other to intervene in our daily lives breeding the same culture of dependence and subservience that we fought against at independence.
Ghana and Africa can rise up again and as we commemorate this jubilee year let us thank the founding fathers of our nation, from Attoh Ahuma to Mensah Sarbah, from Paa Grant to Danquah, let us also thank those in the Diaspora who assisted, from Garvey to Dubois, from Azikiwe to Padmore and CLR James, but above all let us thank the one person who made all this possible on 6 th march 1957, the date on which we are celebrating today. Let us thank Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Civitatis Ghaniensis Conditor'.
Nkrumah never dies!!!
Ade Sawyerr is an ex-chairperson of Ghana Union London, 1997- 2001 He partner in a management consultancy that provides consultancy, training and research that focuses on formulating strategies for black and ethnic minority, disadvantaged and socially excluded communities. He also comments on political, economic and social, and development issues. He can be contacted by email on [email protected] or through www.equinoxconsulting.net. He is also an active member of [email protected]
A time for 50
We were fashioned out of a vision
To achieve for our nation
What had never been done for our people
By those who ruled over us
We came from north east west and south
With different tongues and different cultures
To forge an identity of pride for our people
Others came from all over the world
To witness our birth and to also nurture us
The good at the beginning of our life was short lived
But we have survived
When others have been torn apart we are still united,
But we shall never die and will keep together
Though In the next fifty years we will grow older
Let us forge for the future what our forefathers did
To restore pride and join as one with all people black
As we live out our mission of independence
Copyright ©2007 Ade Sawyerr