I really don't know exactly why Ghana's Vice-President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, felt it that necessary to personally respond to the invitation by Col. Lansana Conte to partake of activities marking the 50th anniversary of Guinea's declaration of sovereignty from French colonialism. For, other than its theoretical and ethical implications, the independence of Guinea, almost exactly like that of Ghana, has brought absolutely nothing meaningful in its wake, particularly during the last two decades that the now-President Conte has had his stranglehold on Conakry. In fact, one would be apt to suggest that independence has morbidly converted almost each and every subject country into a breeding ground for military dictatorship, until during the past decade or so.
And so why would any Ghanaian leader presume to encourage the sort of political tyranny and moral regression being unpardonably endured by the people of Guinea? The answer, of course, lies in President Nkrumah's intimate and personal friendship and alliance forged between the former Ghanaian leader and President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea.
Still, whatever fond memories Ghanaians may have about Nkrumah's wild-eyed Union of African States, the so-called Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union, that is, this is the twenty-first century and a full half-century later; and what is even more troubling, the people of the two countries have a piddling little to be proud of, besides the faux emotional high of being “pragmatic pioneers” of African unification. And to be certain, the latter did not prevent Guinea, during most of the 1980s, from serving as a dumping ground for toxic nuclear waste generated by the same Western imperialists that both Guinea and Ghana claim to have expelled from our two sister countries in 1958 and 1957, respectively.
On this occasion, though, perhaps the only edifying knowledge gained by Mr. Aliu Mahama on his Guinea trip was to hear Hajia Andre Toure, widow of President Ahmed Sekou Toure, personally and wistfully recount the excruciating pains that the deposed Life-President Kwame Nkrumah apparently felt over the supposed economic plight of his compatriots while exiled in Conakry. But whether such first-hand knowledge was worth the price of the air-ticket and official time expended by Mr. Mahama, on his Guinea trip, is a question to be answered in a future article. For now, suffice it to say that the deposed late Ghanaian premier left more than ample evidentiary literature on his thoughts and feelings in the wake of his auspicious ouster and Guinea exile to necessitate any expensive trip to Conakry in a bid to unearthing the same. For not only had Nkrumah authored his ironically titled Dark Days in Ghana, as well as other tracts and booklets, the self-styled “Osagyefo” had also resorted to intemperate and, some experts have even suggested, clinically addled weekly broadcasts to the people of Ghana, urging these supposed captives and hostages of the National Liberation Council (NLC) to break their neocolonialist bonds. The grim reality, however, is that either his Ghanaian audience was too stolid to heed, or even appreciate, the deviously calibrated counsel of their runaway “Osagyefo,” or they had simply deemed themselves to be too smart to welcome back their self-appointed Life-President, who found continental African affairs to be much too seductive and iconically expansive and rewarding to fritter his time taking care of the patently petty and ridiculous affairs of the very people who offered him the leadership mandate that had enable him to readily forge and mount his pan-Africanist platform.
And so it was quite refreshing to hear Mrs. Sekou Toure heavy-heartedly regale Vice-President Aliu Mahama and his retinue, as well as Nana Kodjo Jehu-Appiah, the Special Ghana News Agency Correspondent to Guinea, with the sad-ass story of Kwame Nkrumah getting “upset whenever he heard the news that Ghanaians were suffering and could not even buy bread to eat” (Ghanaweb.com 10/4/08). The stark reality of the matter is that by 1965 and even a little before, those who were old enough to remember tell us that a remarkable portion of the general Ghanaian population could not even buy bread to eat, as beginning with the “Tighten Your Belt” campaign of 1961, President Nkrumah had proceeded without permission or popular support to deduct considerable sums from the paychecks, or wages, of civil servants to meet his fast-ballooning grandiose “development programs,” even as members of his own cabinet as well as the top-echelon members of his Convention People's Party (CPP) continued to feed fat and belt-breaking blind on the collective national dole.
And if she had bothered to learn the painful truth for herself, Mrs. Sekou Toure would have discovered to her horror and utter disbelief that as early as 1961, or 1962, the Deputy-Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Mr. Frempong-Ansah, had alerted the spendthrift “Osagyefo” that all that remained in our national coffers amounted to a piddling $100,000 (One-Hundred Thousand American Dollars!).
And so, where is the moral justification for Nkrumah's alleged fury at the yeoman's work undertaken by the Kotoka-led National Liberation Council? Your guess, needless to say, my dear reader, is as good as mine.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: [email protected]
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