The life and the work of the late Mr. Evander Mckay Milne, the publisher of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, has been celebrated in traditional Ghanaian style in London.
Van Milne, who died at 85 on 20th December, 2005 published fifteen books written by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah including his autobiography. He also founded the Heinemann African Writers Series through which he groomed several novelists like Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi (a Nobel Prize winner for literature), Wole Soyinka and Ngugi Wa Thiongo into writers of international repute.
The event which kicked-off with the pouring of libation by Nana Kusi Appiah Ababio, Benkumhene of Ojobi in the Central Region, was interspersed with the playing of dirges on 'Atentenben' and 'Atumpan' .
Dignitaries who attended the solemn event included Mr. Adolphus Arthur, Acting High Commissioner, Ghana High Commission, London, Mr. Mike Eghan, a leading Member of the Convention People's Party (CPP) and a special representative of the Government of Ghana, Mr. Martin Quansah, Minister of Consular Affairs of the Ghana High Commission; Samia Nkrumah, daughter of the first President of Ghana, Mrs June Milne, widow of Van and the Milne family.
Also present were Erica Powell, Secretary of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Mr. David Worlock, Chairman, Electronic Publishing Services Limited, members of the CPP family and Nkrumahists domiciled in the UK, Pan-Africanists and friends of the Milne family.
Reading a tribute on behalf of the Government of Ghana, Mr. Arthur commended the yeoman role played by the late publisher in propagating the ideas and teachings of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah which helped to establish him as 'Africa's foremost visionary and pan-Aficanist'.
“Through his work, Van Milne helped to galvanise the ordinary people of Ghana to struggle for the independence of Ghana and eventually led to the total liberation of Africa” said the Acting Head of Mission”
The Acting Head of the London Mission noted that President Kufuor commended Nkrumah's achievements and had also stressed that “you do not need to be an Nkrumahist to appreciate the great contribution Nkrumah made to Ghana and Africa”.
“If Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was one of the greatest Pan-Africanists of his time and the most prolific writers of his generation of African leaders, then this was made possible through the publishing prowess of Van Milne” added Mr. Arthur.
Ngugi Wa Thiongo, David Worlock, Keith Sambrook of the English Institute of the University of London and Explo Nana Kofi a friend of the Milne family also paid glowing tributes to the accomplished publisher.
On her part, Samia Nkrumah thanked the Milnes for their invaluable contribution to the propagation of the philosophy and concepts espoused by her father, adding “I personally got to know my father through the books compiled by the Milnes because I was too young when he died”.
She described Nkrumah's years in Conakry was the most productive of his literary career because he found time to devote himself to his passion of propagating Pan-Africanism once he was freed from the pressures of the Presidency.
Presenting the CPP's family tribute, Mr. Oduro Kwarteng of CPP UK and Ireland Branch lauded the immeasurable contribution of Van Milne to the spread of Nkrumahism and affirmed that the publisher will forever be remembered as a true and courageous comrade of the CPP fraternity.
“All Nkrumahists will always be grateful to the Milne family because the recognition of Dr Nkrumah as Africa's man of the millennium is inextricably linked to the contribution made by Van in publishing the vision, teachings and ideas of Nkrumah” said the CPP representative.
In keeping with Ghanaian tradition, the Government of Ghana presented a pair of native sandals, three pieces of cloth and two bottles of Schnapps to Jane Milne. The presentation was made by Mr. Mike Eghan.
Peter Milne, son of the publisher thanked the Government of Ghana for recognising the contribution of his father on behalf of the Milne family
PICTURE: Mrs June Milne flanked by Mr Mike Eghan (Right) Mr. Adolphus Arthur (Second Right) Mr. Addai-Sebo (Left) and Mrs Addai-Sebo (Second left)