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04.12.2007 Feature Article

Nkrumah’s Atheism And Materialism In Ghana

In the article “Kwame Nkrumah Misfounded Ghana” (Daily Graphic, October 25 and 29, 2007) we discussed Nkrumah's Consciencism, especially his theories on Matter as Causation, and Categorial Conversion.

From our discussions we learnt that Nkrumah's assertion that matter preceded spirit, or body came before mind, was unacceptable and contrary to both Biblical truth about creation, and discernment of scientists.

His belief in the conversion of matter to energy, and energy to matter, we also found, was strictly applicable only within the realm of material science.

The conclusion in that article was that Nkrumah was materialistic and atheistic. We shall proceed with our discussions.

It now remains for me to show how he applied his philosophical consciencism to the governance of Ghana, and how that affects us now, and its impact on the future of Ghana.

Nkrumah chose socialism as the ideological vehicle for Ghana's development for reasons Nkumah felt were germane and fundamental to Ghana's future. First, “production for private profit deprives a large section of the people of the goods and services produced.”

That is to say, capitalism, with its emphasis on private initiative and private wealth, was seen as working at cross purposes with the common good of the citizenry, and therefore unacceptable as a developmental model.

Second, Nkrumah saw socialism as akin to the communalism typical of an essentially feudalistic and agrarian society. Third, socialism was a higher form by which the “restitution of Africa's humanist and egalitarian principles” could take place.

Again and again, Nkrumah stresses his faith in materialism as the panacea for all problems, and sees it as the foundation of socialism.

“It is materialism that ensures the only effective transformation of nature, and socialism that derives the highest development from this transformation” (Consciencism, pg 77)

It is to socialism that Ghana owed her rapid socio-economic growth immediately after independence. Incidentally, failure was implicit in the socialist path, in as much as it stifled individual creativity, created a monopolistic state control, caused gross mismanagement and, politically, fostered a one-party dictatorship that engendered docility, sycophancy and intolerance.

Human as he was, Nkrumah lacked the prescience to foresee the collapse of socialism and communism, which had emerged from the materialist Marxist ideology.

The ignoble demise of communism in Eastern Europe, the dismemberment of the old Soviet Union, the break-up of Yugoslavia, and the discrediting of socialist governments show up Marxism as an ideological falsehood, contrary to the human spirit, and limited as a development model.

This underlies the reality that materialism cannot sustain the growth and perpetuity of a nation.
Nations are not mere entities of human aggregates mindlessly and independently pursuing their own goals.

They form part of the grand scheme of things under a Divine Intelligence. Thus it makes sense to expect nations to be in harmony with this Intelligence with the intent of working out their destinies with minimum frustration.

The admonition of Christ that “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33), must be understood as a divine prescription by which nations would realise their highest good.

Nkrumah scoffed at this statement, parodied it and said, “Seek ye first the political kingdom.” Of course, Ghana is now independent. But how free is Ghana?

How nearer are we to those aspirations that independence sought to achieve? It was the denial of the divine prescription in the body politic of the communist and socialist states that created the perversions in those states and led to the collapse of the USSR, and the overthrow of socialism in almost all the Eastern European countries.

In their place, the institutionalisation of democracies have begun in those countries. It is remarkable that Nkrumah as a philosopher did not advert his mind to the corpus of Ghanaian theological and philosophical thought that affirms the primacy of a spiritual monad from which life emerged.

In Ghanaian metaphysics, the cause of creation lies with Nyame, Mawu, Nyonmo (God). The material is a consequence of the creative act. JB Danquah's book, “The Akan Doctrine of God”, could be seen as an indictment of the materialist postulates of Nkrumah.

The world view of Ghanaians before the advent of colonialism reflects our cosmogony:
Onyankopon, oye Domankoma sunsum: “God is an Eternal Spirit.” Nsen nyina ne Nyame: “God is the justification of all things.”

Such a God-centered universe carries along with it a whole complex of humane and moral values which define the Ghanaian as spiritual minded, generous, creative, and freedom-loving.

In contrast, Nkrumah's philosophical consciencism is impersonal, materialistic, repressive, authoritarian, and conformist. It could then be said that Nkrumah's consciencism was alien and contrary to the Ghanaian and African world view and disposition.

By his miscomprehension and misinterpretation of Christ's ideology, and his belief in matter as the basis of life, Nkrumah committed another error. He affirmed the totality and independence of man as a being:

“The cardinal ethical principle of philosophical consciencism is to treat each and every man as an end in himself, and not merely a means” (ibid. pg 115).

Excluded from man's universe is any force or power external to him and determining his destiny. Man becomes a plenary being accountable to no one outside himself.

Such a philosophy fostered a spirit of invincibility in Nkrumah. He saw himself as all in all! The appellations of the Ghana Young Pioneers Movement reflect the deification of Nkrumah in line with his view of the finite autonomy of man: “Nkrumah is our Messiah”; “Nkrumah does no wrong”; “Nkrumah never dies.”

In spite of all these, Nkrumah was overthrown. Nkrumah was nonplussed when he was overthrown! In classical Greek metaphysics, we say Nkrumah committed hubris against the gods! He challenged them! How could it be said that a human being did no wrong?

Another tragic mistake of Nkrumah that remains uncorrected till date was the adoption of the Black Star in the national flag as the lodestar for the nation.

Theodosia Okoh designed the flag, and black symbolised the Black race. In Nkrumah's view, Ghana was to be the star of Africa. That was fine conceptually.

However, who says we must kill the light in the star, and make it black before the world could take notice of us?
Unfortunately, because of Nkrumah's materialistic outlook, he found nothing wrong with that. Symbolically, the Black Star depicts unenlightened materialism; the darkness that covered the face of the earth before God said: “Let there be light”, and there was light.

The Black Star symbolises death! It has no beneficial impact on Ghana. The star has cast a pall of darkness over Ghana, such that we seldom see far; our vision is blighted; our thinking is bereft of adequate light; we dwell in the darkness of moral compromise.

A nation living in darkness has no future, oil or no oil! The Black Star must go! Looking deeper into the Ghanaian society, we would discover some negative habits that have bedevilled us since independence but which, set against the body of Ghanaian theological and philosophical thought, would be found to be habits foreign to our intrinsic nature.

That is to say, we do things which afflict our conscience, and which we know are frowned upon in our society; it were as if there were a struggle in the Ghanaian psyche between an inner spirit of right, and a foreign, dominant spirit of wrong.

As of now, the high level of corruption, the pull-him-down syndrome, neglect of state property, demeaning the work of our predecessors, the penny-wise pound-foolish budgetary planning we do, lack of foresight in planning, and the overweening spirit of mediocrity that characterises several things we do in Ghana, and many more, are some of the negative characteristics of the Ghanaian, arising from the materialistic and alien ideology on which Nkrumah founded and nurtured Ghana.

A costly example of the penny-wise pound-foolish mentality of Ghana is that of the energy crisis that we are obviating by very expensive means.

The energy crisis was staring us in the face for at least ten years now: we did nothing about it, till it was too late!

A second example concerns the Spintex road. Planners knew the area had been zoned for light industries, and for residences.

Given the vast tract of land available then, they could not foresee the future and anticipate the human and vehicular traffic that should have informed the planning of a dual road for Spintex.

Today, look at the pathetic story!
A third example concerns circumambulation: Ghana once had the Border Guards.

This was disbanded under the PNDC, and General Utuka, its Commander, executed by firing squad. Today, the border guards are back again, this time under Immigration Service!
A fourth example is Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout.

Ghana changed the original plan for the project because we said it would be too costly. We thought we could save some millions of dollars with the present plan.

Are we any wiser? Have we gained anything? The present design is a CLASSIC NATIONAL FOLLY!

And this is how Ghana will continue into the future with the Black Star, and with Nkrumah's materialistic ideology. One costly mistake after another!

Nkrumah was human. He erred. Although Ghana has rehabilitated his image and name, and we proudly say he lives forever in the works he did for Ghana, the errors he committed have remained uncorrected, and Ghana is paying most dearly for it till this moment! Nkrumah mortgaged Ghana's future to materialism, and that spells doom for Ghana!

What must be done?

The solution to what could be described as a metaphysical aberration: affirming the material as the primary, causative power, and the spiritual as the secondary, consequential power, would only come about by reversing an obvious falsehood. We must affirm the primacy of the spiritual over that of the material.

In practical terms, Ghana, through her leadership, must publicly admit that Nkrumah erred in his materialist foundation of Ghana. We must recant on Nkrumah's behalf.

Secondly, for Ghana to align herself to Divine Intelligence, as embodied in Christ's statement, Ghana must use the vehicle of Christianity for the purpose of transformation.

Ghana must revert to her innate spirituality as evident in the rich store of proverbs and cosmological knowledge that we have in our various cultures. This is the means by which the nation will elevate its consciousness from the material to the spiritual, and establish alignment with Divine Intelligence.

Unless we do so, there will be no end to the unaccountable frustrations that will thwart our developmental efforts, with the possibility of something politically catastrophic occurring in the near future. Materialism is the very opposite of spirituality, and it is inherently self-destructive.

In this year of Jubilee, Ghana is at crossroads. Which path we choose will determine the fortunes of this nation for the next fifty years.

If Ghana chooses the path of materialism, Ghana will destroy itself prematurely. If Ghana chooses the path of spirituality, Ghana will preserve its integrity. The choice is ours to make, and the time is NOW!

Ahuman Ocansey
Ahuman Ocansey, © 2007

This author has authored 1 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: AhumanOcansey

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