EDITORIAL: The tragedy of 24 February 1966
When the CPP government, led by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, was overthrown on 24 February 1966, Ghanaians were promised a new beginning that would give true meaning to the national motto: Freedom and Justice.
At the time, only a selected few knew the sordid truth: the whole affair had been orchestrated from Washington by the United States Central Intelligence Agency and that the main Ghanaian actors of the tragedy had been mere pawns in the bigger Cold War game.
The truth and its gory, shameful details became public knowledge when the CIA was compelled under the Freedom of Information Act to declassify its files covering the period. The strident apologists who did all they could to put a spin on the true story were put to shame, much to their chagrin.
As Ghanaians remember the events of that day 38 years ago, The Chronicle is wont to repeat one of its favourite maxims: the truth can never remain hidden! But more importantly, the real meaning of that coup d'etat is in the eventual harm it caused Ghana and her long-term interests. America, in pushing Nkrumah out of power, was promoting her own interest in pursuit of her global hegemony.
There is no doubt that in more ways than one, Kwame Nkrumah himself lost focus and made it much easier for his detractors to gain the upper hand. However, at the end of the day, history will be kinder to Nkrumah because he was selfless, incorruptible and a true nationalist.
Indeed, his character went deeper: he was a champion of Pan Africanism who saw the broader picture underlying the struggle of the black man to gain dignity in a world dominated by the racist white supremacism epitomised then by apartheid South Africa.
Closer home, he had a vision for Ghana and was promoting policies that would help us leap frog into an industrialised, middle-income earning society. Witness the Akosombo Hydro-electric project; the numerous factories spread all over the country, the schools and universities, the clinics and hospitals, Tema Harbour, the list is endless.
What saddens most Ghanaians is the manner in which the “liberators” of 1966 sold this country for a mess of pottage! To be brutally honest, these were the people who caused almost irreparable damage to our economy and the pioneers of “causing financial loss to the state.”
They simply stopped and truncated the numerous projects started by Nkrumah, as if they were the personal property of the man, not Ghana. Whatever their masters in Washington and London demanded, they gave — with alacrity!
One example alone will suffice in illustrating the gross abuse of our national interests. As a major producer of gold, Nkrumah saw the need for establishing our own gold refinery, which would give us the leverage to control this valuable resource for our long-term benefit.
He sought Russian aid and as at the time of the coup, the refinery, sited at Tarkwa-Aboso, was 95% complete. Machinery had been installed and were being fine-tuned, ready for initial test runs.
The tele-guided government of the National Liberation Council stopped the project – even though it was almost completed. No reason was given. We thus are still marking time in the gold sector. No matter the mergers and whatever arrangements we engage in, we still don't control our own most valuable resource.
Our hope for the future, however, is that this country now has a political inclination that portends a desire to rectify mistakes of the past. The various Presidential Special Initiatives (PSIs) could inject the necessary impetus to carry us forward into a brighter future. We must all come together and help President John Kufuor steer the ship of State to the land of true Freedom and Justice.