Dr. Kwame Nkrumah – Pioneer For African Indepencence
Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah was born at Nkroful in Nzima- Ghana, on September 18, 1909. He was his mother's only child although the father, a goldsmith, and well-to-do man with several wives and other children.
After 8 years of elementary education, Kwame became a pupil teacher and showed enough promise to be sent to the teacher training college at Achimota. Achimota was to become his political training grounds, beginning with his activity in the debating club.
His first position was a school-master at the primary school in Elmina and Axim from 1931 to 1934. he was first introduced to politics. He was at Roman Catholic Seminary at Amisano for a year. In 1935, he left for the United States to begin a ten-year period study at Lincoln and Pennsylvania Universities where he received B.A; and MSc. Degrees. Graduating from Lincoln in 1939, he was elected “most interesting” in his class.
His fist political action in the U.S. was to organise the African Students Association of America and Canada. This was the first expression of his strong feelings for West African unity, he received stimulus by reading the Philosophy and Opinions of the late Marcus Garvey, a Negro leader in the U.S. who attracted great interest by his Back to Africa movement but now little is remembered by the white population.
In 1945, Nkrumah left the U.S. for England. Shortly after his arrival in England, he began work at the London School of Economics and started his fist ovett poltical activity, becoming an active organizer and leader in the West African and Pan-African movements in London during his two-and-half year stay.
Finally, the time came for his return; Kwame lost no time in involving himself in political matters. Within a few months after his arrival in Accra he was General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention Movement Leading the “Self-Government Now” movement, Nkrumah broke away from the U.G.C.C. formed the Convention People's Party (C.P.P). Within a few months he organized a program of “positive action” for self-government. When he was imprisoned by British authorities for inciting illegal strikes and sedition in 1950, he had already become the leader of a people determined to acquire independence in the immediate future. His popularity grew while he was in prison. In the first general election held in February 1951, he was elected to the legislative Assembly as the municipal member for Accra. When he was released from prison, Dr Nkrumah was received by the wildly excited Ghanaians who swept their newly freed leader to the area of Accra for the C.P.P. Celebration. Many regard this as Nkrumah's most triumphal moment for here he was baptized by his followers as their national leader. In this dramatic event, the people of Ghana openly committed their political future to Kwame Nkrumah. Thousands repeated the chant the only seemed to have one word. FREEDOM. It was a word that would soon be heard over most of Africa.
The self-government die was cast at the momentous evening in 1951 in Accra and Nkrumah immediately set about to hammer out the political destiny of the Gold Coast Six years later, 1957, it became officially independent and assumed the name of Ghana. The new nation now joined the world community of independent states. In 1960, it becomes a Republic.
In the first few years of his country's independence, Nkrumah can stand on his record. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Ghana has been the establishment of a national unity in lieu of the former tribal loyalties. The development of a national soul took place despite the predictions of the various experts in 1951 and 1957 that tribalism would destroy Ghana. Tribalism certainly has roved to be President Nkrumah's greatest challenge but it has been successfully met.
Nkrumah's successful tours of North Africa and the U.S. and his leadership at the two Accra Conferences have admitted his within a relatively short period of time into the strata of international leaders. He has served the international community as well as his own people. His proposal for a solution of the Middle East Crisis and his negotiations with Guinea's President Toured reflect constructive man to give way compulsorily, international diplomacy. He had a dynamic policy towards Africa unity. He hoped union with Guinea would be the “nucleus of a union of West Africa states.” Internationally he wished to remain in the Commonwealth as a republic to “preserve the African character and mentality.”
The prime need of all Africa is education and community development and Ghana is no exception. She has inherited the best primary and secondary system in tropical Africa from the British. Under Nkrumah's administration the school system has been greatly expanded and better adapted to the national needs. He opened many primary schools, technical, vocational, teachers training and secondary schools. The University of Ghana, which was always regarded as a strong academic institution, has now gained international acceptance, Kwame Nkrumah was also concerned with development and he felt socialism is the best way for speedy, economic results.
The first few years or Dr. Nkrumah's administration have had their difficulties. Perhaps the best know is the “growing pains” of democracy. In this regard, Ghana has been criticized for official actions as banning of the United Party meetings and for permitting acts of hooliganism; also for lacking a strong, stable opposition.
The “Prevention Detention Act” had aroused a storm of protest in liberal circles, principally outside of Ghana. The act was used to place men under detention, which served to confirm the reservations that some had about the act which denied recourse to the courts and empowered the government to detain persons without trial up to five years. Opposition was against the personality cult which was built around the president.
In order to understand this situation, one must realize that Nkrumah's popularity in Ghana rose to the point where he was a national institution – the influence of the opposition had diminished greatly. Effective opposition in Ghana after the dismiss of strongly committed to capitalism, others to socialism. This brought division into party.
The Government of Nkrumah was toppled in 1966 while on his was to Hanoi via China.