From: The Black Scholar                                                                 Page 1 of 23(June 22, 2010)       ...
From: The Black Scholar                                                              Page 2 of 23(June 22, 2010)THIS ESSAY...
From: The Black Scholar                                                               Page 3 of 23(June 22, 2010)Nkrumah u...
From: The Black Scholar                                                               Page 4 of 23(June 22, 2010)NKRUMAHS ...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                 Page 5 of 23(June 22, 2010)of indi...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                Page 6 of 23(June 22, 2010)disturba...
From: The Black Scholar                                                             Page 7 of 23(June 22, 2010)Nkrumahs po...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                Page 8 of 23(June 22, 2010)the mid-...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                 Page 9 of 23(June 22, 2010)coloniz...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                 Page 10 of23(June 22, 2010)serious...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                Page 11 of23(June 22, 2010)this mat...
From: The Black Scholar                                                               Page 12 of23(June 22, 2010)mobility,...
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From: The Black Scholar                                                              Page 14 of23(June 22, 2010)footslogge...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                Page 15 of23(June 22, 2010)foreign ...
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From: The Black Scholar                                                                 Page 17 of23(June 22, 2010)could c...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                   Page 18 of23(June 22, 2010)"The ...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                Page 19 of23(June 22, 2010)THIS WAS...
From: The Black Scholar                                                                 Page 20 of23(June 22, 2010)of Afri...
From: The Black Scholar                                                               Page 21 of23(June 22, 2010)to the re...
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From: The Black Scholar                                                             Page 23 of23(June 22, 2010)Citizenship...
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Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumah awakened Black America


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Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumah awakened Black America

  1. 1. From: The Black Scholar Page 1 of 23(June 22, 2010) Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumah awakened Black America.Source: Nimako, Kwame. (2010, June 22). Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how BlackAmerica awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumah awakened Black America The Free Library. (2010). RetrievedAugust 11, 2011 from, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America...-a0233963294Pan-Africanism has its beginnings in the liberation struggle of African-Americans, expressingthe aspirations of Africans and peoples of African descent. From the first Pan-AfricanConference, held in London in 1900, until the fifth and last Pan-African Conference held inManchester in 1945, African-Americans provided the main driving power of the movement. Pan-Africanism then moved to Africa, its true home, with the holding of the First Conference ofIndependent African States in Aecra in April 1958, and the All-African Peoples Conference inDecember the same year.The work of the early pioneers of Pan-Africanism such as H. Sylvester Williams, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, and George Padmore, none of whom were born in Africa, has become atreasured part of Africas history. It is significant that two of them, Dr. Du Bois and GeorgePadmore, came to live in Ghana at my invitation. Dr. Du Bois died, as he wished, on Africansoil, while working on the Encyclopaedia Africana. George Padmore became my Adviser onAfrican Affairs, and spent the last years of his life in Ghana, helping in the revolutionary strugglefor African unity and socialism.--Kwame Nkrumah, Introduction to pamphlet, "The Spectre ofBlack Power," 1968 **********Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  2. 2. From: The Black Scholar Page 2 of 23(June 22, 2010)THIS ESSAY is about how conditions and politics in Black America influenced African politicsand how conditions and politics in Africa influenced Black American politics and culture. Agreat number of these influences were transmitted through, and symbolized by, KwameNkrumah (1909-1972), Prime Minister of Ghana from 1957 to 1966. The above quotationillustrates and sums up Nkrumahs indebtedness to Black America and how he sought toreciprocate. Consideration of the anniversary of Robert L. Allens important book--BlackAwakening in Capitalist America--provides us with the opportunity to reflect on the dynamics ofblack life in America (much more details of which are provided in the book); it enables us tohighlight many links between Africa and Black America, including the mutual exchanges of Pan-Africanism, and the central role of cultural and political symbols in the struggle for blackliberation. It also remphasizes the need to locate the struggle for black liberation in a broadnational and international context--the relationship between racial subordination and capitalismin the US; and between national subordination and independence in the post-colonial state. Inthis respect, we can review common aspects of the struggle for black liberation in both nations. Ihighlight these issues by providing detailed insights into the political struggles of Nkrumah togain and maintain political power in Ghana.NKRUMAH had left Ghana in his mid-twenties to study in the US at Lincoln University inPennsylvania in the 1930s, where he acquired degrees in Education, Sociology, Philosophy,Political Science, and Theology. Aside from this he had been president of the African StudentsOrganization of America and Canada, vice-president of the West African Students Union inBritain and co-secretary of the Fifth Pan-African Conference held in Manchester, England in1945. On the invitation of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), he returned to Ghana inDecember 1947, after twelve years absence. Nkrumah became the general-secretary of theUGCC and transformed it into a mass nationalist movement. Three months later Nkrumah foundhimself in jail, together with five other members of the leadership of the UGCC; they becameknown as the Big Six in Ghana. Their arrest by the colonial authorities was precipitated by riotsand looting in the big cities of European, Syrian and Lebanese shops. In turn, the looting wastriggered by the shooting of an ex-service man, Sergeant Adjetey, and the wounding of severalothers by a British police officer on 28 February, 1948 in a protest march to the Governorsresidence by ex-servicemen.LET US RECALL that Nkrumahs arrival coincided with the decline of the UK as an imperialpower and the continuing ascendancy of the US as a hegemonic power. Nkrumah was a pioneerin introducing the US to Africa.The first section of this essay deals with the rise of modern nationalism in Ghana. This isfollowed by symbols, concepts and strategies Nkrumah used to awaken Africa in Section Two.Some of the symbols, concepts and strategies were borrowed from the US in general and BlackAmerica in particular. As will be discussed below Nkrumah used the Red Rooster or Cock tosymbolize the African awakening and the Black Star as the arising and the forward movement ofAfrica. A third symbol of Nkrumahs African awakening was the Kente cloth; he elevated theKente cloth to the level of national cultural symbol. He also wore Kente for his official portraitas President of Ghana. Note that in the quotation above, Nkrumah used the concept of African-American before the term became common usage in Black America. Other concepts thatNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  3. 3. From: The Black Scholar Page 3 of 23(June 22, 2010)Nkrumah used frequently in the anti-colonial struggle between 1949 and 1957 were the conceptsof positive action and freedom. Though Nkrumah did not seem to be conscious of how he hadbeen shaped by America, he had become Americanized when he arrived back in Ghana. Forthose Ghanaians who were formed by local "tribal" culture and schooled in the British educationsystem and legal tradition, Nkrumah was a strange figure. I argue below that Nkrumah wasaware of these cultural differences but underestimated the resilience of British colonial cultureand sub-nationalism.The concept most associated with Nkrumah is "neo-colonialism." This is the issue we deal within the Third Section. How did he arrive at the concept of neocolonialism? Nkrumahs notion ofneo-colonialism had three components. The first is neocolonialism as a consequence of the statusof an underdeveloped country within the world trade system or in the periphery of the worldsystem. The second is neocolonialism as military force; the capacity of countries with imperialambitions to re-subjugate or overthrow less powerful governments. The third component isneocolonialism as a form of bribery of local populations such as "politicians"; especially soldiersand public servants who act as agents or stooges of imperial powers.In conclusion I pose and answer the question of what went wrong at three levels. What wentwrong with Nkrumah? What went with wrong with Ghana? What went wrong with the Pan-African project? The first question deals with the overthrow of Nkrumah in a military coup in1966 and how his overthrow has been explained. Nkrumah himself felt that his overthrow wasthe result of an imperialist plot and neo-colonialists in the country. Others have argued that hewas overthrown because he ran a one-party state. Others argue that he was not a true socialist. Ifound these explanations too simplistic, so two decades ago I introduced the concepts of holisticnationalism and sub-nationalism to explain the forces that worked against Nkrumahs project. Ithen turn to the implications of Nkrumahs overthrow to Ghana and the Pan-African project.This paper is only part of a story; the story of how Nkrumah was awakened by Black Americaand how he in turn awakened Black America. Let us unfold the story.Nkrumah and African Awakening: The Dual StruggleTHOSE WHO SEEK to end violent and oppressive systems and regimes have to contemplatesurvival, suicide, or genocide. Apparently Nkrumah had contemplated these scenarios when henoted in 1949 that:There are two ways to achieve Self-government: either by armed revolution and violentoverthrow of the existing regime, or by constitutional and legitimate non-violent methods. Inother words, either by armed might or by moral pressure. For instance, Britain prevented the twoGerman attempts to enslave her by armed might, while India liquidated British Imperialism thereby moral pressure. We believe that we can achieve Self-government even now by constitutionalmeans without resort to any violence. (Nkrumah 1973: 6)Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  4. 4. From: The Black Scholar Page 4 of 23(June 22, 2010)NKRUMAHS African awakening was a project with a dual struggle. On the one hand he had todeal with the internal Ghanaian/African political and cultural configurations to get his messageacross; but he needed to succeed in Ghana before he could succeed in Africa. On the other hand,in the absence of armed insurrection, he had to convey a message that could de-legitimize Britishand colonial rule. The dual struggle had to be dealt with simultaneously in the context ofGhanaian/African nationalism.With regard to Ghanaian political and cultural configuration it should be noted that modernGhanaian nationalism emerged after the collapse of primary resistance in the face of colonialonslaught. The collapse of primary resistance gave rise to the formal colonization of the coastalregion of Ghana at the end of the nineteenth century. The first modern nationalist "movement,"the Aborigines Rights Protection Society (ARPS), was formed in 1896 by a group of Ghanaianintelligentsia in coalition with native rulers in the coastal area of the country. The immediateobjective of the ARPS was to counter attempts by the British to expropriate Fante lands, throughthe introduction of a Lands Bill (1897), designed to transmute what the British colonialauthorities considered as "tribal or family holdings into individual ownership" (Nimako 1991:18).AFTER successfully preventing the British from expropriating Fante lands, and flowing fromthat, Ghanaian lands, the ARPS became conservative. By the 1930s the ARPS had becomedormant and was superseded by the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) in 1947. Like theformation of the ARPS, the force behind the formation of the UGCC was primarily economic,but its instruments were political. According to the initiator of the UGCC, George Grant, aGhanaian timber merchant, the formation of the UGCC was a consequence of the colonialpolitics of exclusion and discrimination. As Grant put it:We were not being treated right; we were not getting the licenses for import of goods.... At onetime we had the Aborigines Rights Protection Society who were taking care of the country. Lateron, they were pushed out and there was the Provincial Council of Chiefs ... The chiefs go to theCouncil and approve loans without submitting them to the merchants and tradesmen in thecountry. Thereby we keep on losing. (Watson Commission, Ibid.)To this effect, Grant gathered forty Ghanaians, mostly British-trained lawyers, who convergedon the coastal town of Saltpond in April 1947 to discuss how Britain could transfer self-government to them or other Ghanaians. This led to the formation of the UGCC in August 1947.The United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) pledged itself:To ensure that by all legitimate and constitutional means the direction and control of governmentshould pass into the hands of the people and their chiefs in the shortest possible time. (WatsonCommission 1948)For the record, this UGCC statement was a repudiation of the notion of indirect rule; the essenceNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  5. 5. From: The Black Scholar Page 5 of 23(June 22, 2010)of indirect rule was that the British colonial authorities ruled their colonies through local andtraditional rulers, be they Raj, Sultans, Kings or Chiefs. The problem was how to translate thosewishes into political outcome. The forty Ghanaians, however, realized that they did not possessadequate skills and strategies. Subsequently, the UGCC executive committee, on therecommendation of Ako Adjei, a UGCC member who had studied with Nkrumah in the USA,decided to invite Nkrumah, who had made a name for himself as an anti-colonialist/imperialistagitator in the US and Britain, to return to Ghana to help shape the social and political forces inthe country that were beyond the control of Ghanaian intelligentsia at that point in history.RECALL that Marx has made us understand that people make history but they do not do sosimply as they please or under conditions of their own creation. People make history underconditions they encounter. The conditions Nkrumah encountered in December 1947 were generaldiscontent in society occasioned by high inflation and post-World War II economic stress andshortages of commodities. However, whereas Grant, a businessman, viewed the social andeconomic conditions in the country in the context of racial discrimination, Nii Bonne, a sub-chiefin Accra (the capital city of Ghana), viewed the same in the context of economic exploitation.Thus, unlike Grant, who gathered Ghanaian intelligentsia to discuss transfer of power, Bonnearticulated his grievances through protests in the streets and a boycott campaign. Since colonialrule was also a racialized project, racially discriminatory practices, political and economicprotest also became a form of "racialized protest." This became apparent when Bonne was saidto have told a crowd in one of his boycott campaigns on 26 January 1948:"... This cloth [wax block print] sold by the white man at eighty-four shillings per piece and soldat the black market for six pounds per piece cost the white man about forty shillings landed herein these days. If the white man sells it at fifty shillings he would gain ten shillings he collects aprofit more than the print cost him. Is the white man not cunning taking away your money fornothing?"The people will reply, yes, the white man is stealing our money by tricks. Nii Bonne will thensay, Dont buy anything from the white mans stores and dont allow your fellow countrymen tobuy. If they do, swear the oath of the Omanhene [i.e., the paramount chief] on them....." (WatsonCommission, in Nimako 1991: 44)Recall that Bonnes boycott campaign took place one month after the arrival of Nkrumah inGhana. Though the disorder, disturbances and lootings that followed the boycott campaign werenot the making of the UGCC leadership, they were blamed for it and arrested by the colonialauthorities. The arrest of the UGCC leadership, who became known by Ghanaians as the Big Sixwhile in jail for two weeks, tested their resolve.Their arrest by the colonial authorities was precipitated by riots and looting in the big cities ofEuropean, Syrian and Lebanese shops. In turn, the looting was triggered by the shooting of anex-service man, Sergeant Adjetey, and the wounding of several others by a British police officeron 28 February, 1948 in a protest march to the Governors residence by ex-servicemen.THE WATSON COMMISSION, which was called into being to investigate the causes of theNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  6. 6. From: The Black Scholar Page 6 of 23(June 22, 2010)disturbances and recommend reforms in the colonial administration, also took the opportunity toassess the leadership of the UGCC, especially J.B. Danquah, the chairman, and Nkrumah, thesecretary-general, of UGCC. With regard to the former, the commission reported that:Dr. Danquah might be described as the doyen of Gold Coast [Ghana] politicians. He has foundedor has been connected with most political movements since his adolescence. He is a member ofthe Legislative Council and but for the accident of birth might have been a most notable chief.He is a man of great intelligence but suffers from a disease not unknown to politiciansthroughout the ages and recognized by the generic name of expediency." (Watson Commission,Ibid.)With regard to latter, the Watson Commission reported that Nkrumah:Appears while in Britain to have had Communist affiliations and to have become imbued with aCommunist ideology which only political expediency has blurred. In London he was identifiedparticularly with the West African National Secretariat, a body which still exists. It appears to bethe precursor of a Union of West African Soviet Socialist Republics. (Watson Commission,Ibid.)In plain language this implied that Danquah should not be taken seriously but the colonialauthorities ought to keep a watchful eye on Nkrumah. And they did.In the final analysis, the majority of the UGCC leadership kept distance from the agitation andactions of the masses, whereas Nkrumah supported it. Not only did the prison experience drive awedge in the UGCC leadership, but also, after their release from jail, Nkrumah transformed theUGCC into a mass movement and radicalized it. On this score, it is important to note that thefirst trade union organization, the Gold Coast Railway Union (GCRU), was registered in 1943and became active in 1947--the same year that the UGCC was formed. The radicalization of theUGCC went hand in hand with the radicalization of the trade union.THESE RADICAL developments contributed to a split in the leadership of the UGCC;subsequently Nkrumah resigned from the UGCC and formed a new movement or party, theConvention Peoples Party (CPP). The formation of the CPP brought Nkrumahs dual struggleinto sharp focus. On the one hand Nkrumahs resignation from the UGCC to form his ownpolitical party, the CPP, laid the foundations for party politics in Ghana. Viewed in this context,Nkrumah was the first person to form a political party in Ghana, as opposed to a nationalistmovement, and thus introduced democratic politics in the country, and perhaps in Africa.However by siding with the masses, Nkrumah committed what Amilcar Cabral later referred toas class suicide. Class suicide constitutes the betrayal of ones class and the embracing of lesscomfort and sacrifice in the name of anti-colonial struggle. Of the six members of the UGCCexecutive committee, only one, Ako Adjei, joined Nkrumahs party, the CPP.On the other hand, the formation of the CPP also meant that political and social discontent insociety could be channeled through the CPP. In other words, the masses sought leadership andfound it in Nkrumah. From there on, the rest of the UGCC executive members becameNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  7. 7. From: The Black Scholar Page 7 of 23(June 22, 2010)Nkrumahs political opponents throughout his life; this in turn has clouded Ghanaian politicalculture ever since. However, viewed in the context of modern Ghanaian nationalism, the ARPSwas overtaken by the UGCC. When the UGCC became radicalized and was overtaken two yearslater by Kwame Nkrumahs CPP in 1949, the labor movement also became radicalized (Nimako2002).IT SHOULD BE mentioned that the remaining UGCC leadership viewed Nkrumahs move asreckless, a betrayal, and opportunistic. Reckless because of the fear and awareness that theBritish colonial authorities had the capacity to unleash violence, or even genocide on Ghanaiansin the context of colonial adage; when persuasion fails, force must apply. Thus the UGCCleadership felt vindicated when Nkrumah was arrested, for the second time, in 1950 and jailedfor nine months for engineering a general strike.The remaining UGCC leadership alleged betrayal because Nkrumah decided to commit classsuicide and thus disturbed the cohesion of the intelligentsia, which assumed the British colonialauthorities would hand over power to them because they had asked for it. Nkrumah was alsoaccused of opportunism because their understanding had been that he was invited to help them togain political power but not to take political power himself, as later happened.This was compounded by the fact that though the leadership of the UGCC remained coherent, itscapacity to appeal to voters remained marginal. This was all the more so since Nkrumah won alandslide election victory in 1951 against the UGCC when he was in jail. To be precise, of thethirty-eight seats made available by the colonial authorities for political contest, the CPP wonthirty-four seats; the UGCC won two seats and Togoland Congress (TC) two seats. Nkrumahwas subsequently released from jail in to form”self-government," that is, to share theadministration of the country with the British colonial authorities to prepare the grounds forformal political independence.AFTER THE DEFEAT of the UGCC in the 1951 election, the UGCC disintegrated, and re-emerged as the Ghana Congress Party (GCP) under new leadership. Kofi Busia, who had justearned a doctorate degree in sociology, became the leader of the GCP. Like the old members ofthe UGCC, Busia assumed that the GCP was morally and intellectually superior to the CPP.Thus, in announcing the formation of the GCP, Busia stated:"Congress [GCP] will show the country the right way. It will meet the CPP squarely and defeat it... We cannot sit down and allow our country to be so run and ruined by men who think ofthemselves only and who compromise principles without the least compunction ... Of course theCongress means business. We cannot allow this fooling and thieving to go on any longer or elsewe are all doomed. The great array of intellectual giants behind the party, the response of thechiefs and farmers and the joy and support of the thinking man at the birth of Congress giveevidence to the strength of the new party. This Ghana must be saved from a one, arty evil, theevil of dictatorship." (Emphasis added, quoted from Austin 1964: in Nimako 2002: 54-55)Not only did Busia imply that there was only one political party (CPP) in Ghana at that point intime but also in response to the success of the CPP, other political groupings emerged. On thisscore the CPP had a demonstration effect on how political parties should be formed in Ghana; byNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  8. 8. From: The Black Scholar Page 8 of 23(June 22, 2010)the mid-1950s there were five variants of Ghanaian nationalism. The remaining members of theUGCC became members of the political groupings that emerged to oppose the CPP.FOR THE RECORD, the process of British colonization shaped and conditioned the pattern ofnationalism(s). In a span of fifty years four areas (i.e., coastal, central, northern, and eastern)were colonized successively; these regions became administratively known as the Colony(coastal) Ashanti (central) Northern Territories (northern) and Trans-Volta Togoland (eastern).This historical process gave rise to regional social formations, which in turn became newpolitical and cultural configurations. Thus, in response to colonization, five nationalismsemerged. We have classified Nkrumahs version of nationalism as "holistic," because it was theonly truly national party and the other four regionally-based groupings we classify as "sub-nationalism" (Nimako 1991). What was the ideological divide between holistic nationalism andsub-nationalism? For the sake of conserving space, let us present the ideological divide betweenholistic nationalism and sub-nationalism in a typology as follows:Major Structural Features of Holistic Nationalists andSub-nationalistsHOLISTIC NATIONALISTS SUB-NATIONALISTS1. British colonial rule as 1. Holistic nationalist rule as the object of opposition the object of opposition2. Strong belief in equal 2. Strong belief in social opportunity and social stratification and social transformation and reform social transformation3. Strong belief in Pan- 3. Non-belief in Pan-Africanism Africanism and solidarity and solidarity between between colonized and colonized and oppressed oppressed peoples peoples4. Mass politicization and 4. Primordial relations as education as the basis the basis of political of political mobilization mobilizationSub-nationalism became the internal component of Nkrumahs dual struggle, whereas colonialrule and domination became the external component. Nkrumah was viewed by both UGCC andthe colonial authorities as someone who was disturbing the tranquillity of colonial society, towhich he replied: "we prefer freedom in danger to servitude in tranquillity."At the broader level of political culture, sub-nationalism followed the pattern of BritishNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  9. 9. From: The Black Scholar Page 9 of 23(June 22, 2010)colonization, and holistic nationalism followed the construction and development of the colonialstate. The colonial state, which was the outcome of complex world trade and political relations aswell as (British) military occupation of the country, became the thread that held the(geographical) regions together. In a similar vein, holistic nationalism became the thread thatheld Ghanaians together by uniting them in their resistance and opposition to British rule,irrespective of class and ethnic background. Unlike holistic nationalists (whose focus ofopposition was British colonial rule), the primary target for the opposition of the subnationalistswas actually the holistic nationalists. Just as the emergence of holistic nationalism presupposedthe existence of British domination, so did the existence of subnationalism presuppose Britishdomination and the spectre or even the very existence of holistic nationalism.THE EXISTENCE of various nationalisms also gave rise to a relative diffusion of politicalpower in society. Thus, around 1950, the probability that any of the three organized politicalforces in question (i.e., the colonial authorities, holistic nationalists and subnationalists) couldcarry out its own wishes in isolation was relatively low. The ability of any one of the politicalactors to dominate the political arena depended on a conscious and/or unconscious alliance oftwo of the forces, in opposition to a third party. The power of the colonial authorities dependedon their control of the colonial state machinery, namely, the civil service, the police service, thejudiciary, and the armed forces. The power of the holistic nationalists was based on their abilityto galvanize the masses (including organized labor) into action, thereby making the countryungovernable by the colonial authorities.The power of the holistic nationalists was not only constrained by the colonial state, but also bysub-nationalism. The power of the sub-nationalists rested on an alliance between a large sectionof the intelligentsia and the native rulers, and their subsequent non-cooperation with holisticnationalists, which in turn undermined the legitimacy of the holistic nationalists rule. A case inpoint is the refusal to accept election results, as the statement of Busia above demonstrates.But in concrete terms, how did Nkrumah awaken, galvanize and mobilized Ghanaians to endBritish colonial rule? Let us answer this question in the following section.Symbols and Concepts of Nkrumahs African AwakeningPOLITICS requires symbols. All political parties use symbols to distinguish themselves fromother political parties. Nkrumah was a man of symbolism and concepts and chose his symbolsand concepts consciously and carefully. Three symbols and three concepts defined NkrumahsAfrican awakening in the early period of his political life, especially from the formation of hispolitical party, the CPP in 1949, and the attainment of Ghanas independence in 1957. The threesymbols were the Red Rooster or Cock, the Black Star, and the Kente cloth. The three conceptswere Positive Action, Freedom, and Self-determination.It is necessary to place the symbolisms in their proper political context because the first symbol,a red rooster or cock, which became the symbol of his political party, was meant to signify awake-up call. Though Ghanaians knew of red rooster or cock symbolism, Nkrumah gave a newmeaning to it. The red of the cock had a double meaning; one meaning for Ghanaians, anothermeaning for international politics and solidarity. For the average Ghanaian red symbolizesNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  10. 10. From: The Black Scholar Page 10 of23(June 22, 2010)seriousness, a danger, a fire, or hotness. For international solidarity red symbolized leftwingpolitics and international socialism and communism.Nkrumahs message varied, depending on the circumstances, but the element of a wake-up callremained. A case in point is a speech he gave at a rally in the north of the country on 5 March1949 in which he stated:"This country is ours. This land is ours. It belongs to our chiefs and people. It does not belong toforeigners, but we dont say that all foreigners should pack up and go. They can stay as traders,and work with us not us masters and rulers....."The age of politics of words is gone. This is the age of politics of action. We dont have guns.We dont have ammunition to fight anybody. We have a great spirit, a great national soul whichis manifest in our unity."If we get s.g. [self-government] well transform the Gold Coast [Ghana] into a paradise in tenyears. Why should some people in the NTs [Northern Territories] go naked? I can find no reasonfor it. We can improve our native looms up here in the NTs in five years under a government ofthe people, by the people and for the people...."Wherefore my advice is Seek ye first the political kingdom, and all things will be added untoyou ..." (Ashanti Pioneer, March, 1949, quoted here from Fitch and Oppenheimer: 25)This speech has three elements of the holistic nationalist typology presented above, namely,British colonial rule as object of opposition, strong belief in equal opportunity and socialtransformation, and mass education as the basis of political mobilization.EQUALLY IMPORTANT to note is that Nkrumah informed his followers that "[T]he age ofpolitics of words is gone. This is the age of politics of action." To this effect Nkrumah introducedthe concept of Positive Action. By Positive Action Nkrumah meant "the adoption of alllegitimate and constitutional means by which we can cripple the forces of imperialism in thiscountry."He went on to lay out the strategies of Positive Action in the following terms:The Weapons of Positive Action are:1). Legitimate political agitation2). Newspaper and educational campaigns; and3). As a last resort, the constitutional application of strikes, boycotts, and non-co-operation basedon the principle of absolute non-violence. (Emphasis added; Nkrumah 1973: 7)Recall that those who seek to end a violent and oppressive system and regime have tocontemplate survival, suicide or genocide. We have emphasized absolute non-violence to pressNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  11. 11. From: The Black Scholar Page 11 of23(June 22, 2010)this matter home; Nkrumah was aware of the capacity of the colonial authorities to unleashviolence to quell an uprising and use such an incident to prolong colonial rule.It is also important to mention that the power of the holistic nationalists was not only constrainedby the colonial state, but also by sub-nationalists. The power of the sub-nationalists rested on analliance between a large section of the intelligentsia and native rulers, and their subsequent non-cooperation with holistic nationalists; this in turn undermined the legitimacy of the holisticnationalists rule. Whereas the CPP or holistic nationalists challenged the legitimacy of colonialrule, some of the former UGCC members, now organized around regional groupings as sub-nationalists and challenged the legitimacy of Nkrumah and CPP-led government. Asindependence came close, sub-nationalists became more militant and violent and sought to delaythe process. This brings us to the second symbol, the Black Star.If the Red Rooster or Cock symbolized a wake-up call, the Black Star symbolized rise-up orAfrican arising and the forward movement of black people and economic development. It is anacknowledged fact that the concept of the Black Star and the symbolism around it originatesfrom Marcus Garvey. Garvey gave a radical twist to a Black American tradition of his time. InAllens formulation:Garvey took [Booker T.] Washingtons economic program, clothed it in militant nationalistrhetoric, and built an organisation which in its heyday enjoyed the active support of millions ofblack people. Garvey, a Jamaican by birth, identified the problem of American Negroes with theproblem of colonialism in Africa. He believed that until Africa was liberated, there was no hopefor black people anywhere. He founded his Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1914in Jamaica with the motto: "One God! One Aim! One Destiny!" But it was not until Garveyestablished his group in New Yorks Harlem in 1917 that it began to assume notable proportions.(Allen 1970: 100)LIKE BOOKER T. WASHINGTON, "Garvey believed that economic power through ownershipof business could lay a solid foundation for eventual black salvation" (Allen, Ibid. 101). To thiseffect, among other things, he established the Negro Factory Corporation and the Black StarSteamship Corporation.Nkrumah used the Black Star in four ways. First he used it in the national flag. The Ghanaiannational flag of red, gold, green strips and a black star in the gold became the official symbol ofGhana as an independent state and a member of the United Nations. Second, Nkrumah used theBlack Star as part of Ghanas Coat of Arms. There are three black stars, two eagles and aninscription, "Freedom and Justice" in the coat of arms. Not only was the Black Star borrowedfrom Black America but the eagle was also borrowed from America. Thirdly, Nkrumah namedthe Ghanaian national shipping line, the Black Star Line; and he used it as the name of thenational football club, the Black Star Football Club/Association. Not only did the Black Starbecome prevalent as a symbol for Africa but also many African countries adopted the symbol ofblack star in their national flags. The Black Star thus became one of the major symbols of howBlack America awakened Nkrumah.The Black Star, as a symbol of African arising, also became a symbol of progress, socialNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  12. 12. From: The Black Scholar Page 12 of23(June 22, 2010)mobility, and economic development. Through self-government, the CPP government was notonly able to improve the physical and social infrastructure of the country but also social mobilitywas enhanced. Between 1951 and 1961, primary schools enrolment grew by 212 percent; middleschools by 142 percent; secondary schools by 438 percent; teacher training by 138 percent anduniversity enrolment by 479 percent. Similar developments had taken place in the areas of healthcare, clean water, sanitation, and employment. However, these developments were dependent onthe prices of primary commodities on the world market; these were in turn dependent on demandfrom Europe and North America.By creating the space to administer the country with the colonial authorities, the CPP formed ade facto alliance with the colonial authorities against the sub-nationalists. This was not onlyviewed by sub-nationalists as compromise of "principles without the least compunction," it alsoobliged the subnationalists to swallow contempt for the masses and appeal directly to them.Thus, in one of its appeals, the anti-CPP Newspaper, the Ashanti Pioneer (of 8 January 1954)reported that:[T]he masses should be reminded that the CPP entered the Legislative Assembly [in 1951] astramps in [Northern Territories] smocks. Today, within barely three years, they are riding not inbuses, not even in taxis, but in luxurious American saloon cars. A good number of them havebuilt mansions and go about in tails and toppers. (Quoted in Austin 1964:212 in Nimako 2002:60)The political irony should not be overlooked; the "men of substance," who viewed members ofthe CPP as "the flotsam and jetsam and the popinjays of the country" started to appeal directly tothe masses. More importantly, they were also reminding the masses that Nkrumah had not onlyintroduced American style politics in Ghana but also he had introduced American consumptionpatterns, including luxurious American saloon cars into the country. Viewed in this context, theissue of legitimacy became the basis of political instability. Colonial rule was consideredillegitimate by both the colonizer and the colonized, hence the need to transfer power to alegitimate nationalist government. Sub-nationalists considered the CPP government illegitimatebecause they viewed members of the CPP as "the flotsam and jetsam and the popinjays of thecountry." In those days this implied that they were not educated in British universities.THIS BRINGS US to the concept of freedom. During the campaigns for independence, Nkrumahtended to open and end his speech by shouting the word, Freedom! to which the crowdresponded, Freedom! The concept of freedom was also taken from Black America. For nowhereis the concept of freedom used more than Black American intellectual and cultural tradition.The opponents did not use the word freedom. Recall that colonial rule was justified by thecolonizers as a "civilizing mission." Thus in 1954, in arguing his case for Independence in hismotion for constitutional reform in the parliament, Nkrumah argued:The right of a people to decide their own destiny, to make their way in freedom, is not to bemeasured by the yardstick of color or degree of social development. It is an inalienable right ofpeoples, which they are powerless to exercise when forces, stronger than they themselves, bywhatever means, for whatever reasons, take this right away from them. If there is to be a criterionNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  13. 13. From: The Black Scholar Page 13 of23(June 22, 2010)of a peoples preparedness for Self-Government, then I say it is their readiness to assume theresponsibilities of ruling themselves..... never in the history of the world has an alien rulergranted self-rule to a people on a silver platter. (Emphasis added, quoted from Timothy 1981:122-123, in Nimako, 1991: 62)Constitutional reform that followed this motion gave rise to an election based on UniversalSuffrage in 1954 and an expansion of electoral seats to 104, of which the CPP won seventy-two;the sub-nationalists won only nineteen seats distributed as follows: Northern Peoples Party(NPP) fifteen, Togoland Congress (TC) three and Ghana Congress Party (GCP) one; the rest ofthirteen seats went to independent candidates (eleven) and one each to two religious parties(Nimako, Ibid: 65). It should be mentioned that Busia, the leader of the GCP won the one seatfor his party. Just as the 1951 election led to the disintegration of the UGCC, so did the electionof 1954 lead to the disintegration of the GCP. Busia joined a new regional formation, theNational Liberation Movement (NLM), based in the Ashanti region, and became its leader.DEMANDS from the sub-nationalists groupings, led by Busia, for a federal constitution, asopposed to the existing unitary constitution, to minimize the power of the CPP, backed byviolence, led the colonial authorities to organize another election in 1956. However, it did notchange the results; the CPP won seventy-two seats out of 104; three sub-nationalists groupingswon in total thirty seats and distributed as follows: Northern Peoples Party (NPP) fifteen,National Liberation Movement (NLM) twelve, Togoland Congress (TC) three and one seat eachfor two religious parties. Thus two years after the above Nkrumah motion, and nine years afterhis return to Ghana, Britain decided to end her colonial rule in Ghana and handed over the affairsof the country to the CPP government. It was this state of affairs that led the then BritishGovernor, Sir Arden-Clarke, to conclude at a given historical juncture:Nkrumah and his party had the mass of the people behind them and there was no other party withappreciable public support to which one could turn. Without Nkrumah, the Constitution wouldbe stillborn and if nothing came of all the hopes, aspirations and concrete proposals for a greatermeasure of self-government, there would no longer be any faith in the good intentions of theBritish Government and the Gold Coast [i.e., Ghana] would be plunged into disorders, violenceand bloodshed. (quoted from Austin 1964, 150, in Nimako, 1991: 79)What the governors statement implied was that Ghana was a de facto "one-party state" in 1956.The CPP had won successive elections in 1951, 1954 and 1956 to prepare the grounds for thecountrys independence on 6 March 1957.In response to the observations of the British Governor, at a ceremonial banquet on the eve of thedeparture of Sir Arden-Clarke, Nkrumah stated that:"Much credit has quite properly been accorded to [the Governor] in the press and elsewhere forthe attainment of our independence. I am happy that this is so for without him our struggle wouldhave been a far more bitter one, a more violent one, and one calling for even greater sacrifices onthe parts of us all. But I know that Sir Charles as an honest man himself will agreewholeheartedly with me when I say that when honors are handed out, those who should rank firstand foremost are the members of the Convention Peoples Party, the pioneers and theNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  14. 14. From: The Black Scholar Page 14 of23(June 22, 2010)footsloggers of the National Independence Movement. And I say with all emphasis that withoutthe Convention Peoples Party there could not have been any independence for this country. Forlet it never be imagined for a moment that our independence was given to us for the mere asking.Every hour, every precious minute of this our glorious freedom was fought for relentlessly anduntiringly by them. We have won independence and founded a modern state. The end we havereached has been attained at the price of suffering self-denial and patient work." (Emphasisadded, quoted from James 1977: 153, in Nimako, 1991: 80)LET US give practical meaning to the polemics between Nkrumah and Arden-Clarke. What arethe practical meanings of the following statement by Arden-Clarke? "Nkrumah and his party hadthe mass of the people behind them and there was no other party with appreciable public supportto which one could turn." Ghana was a de facto one-party state at the time of independence in1957. Recall that both the UGCC and the GCP disintegrated after the 1951 and 1954 electionsrespectively. In a similar vein the three sub-nationalists groupings, NPP, NLM and TC merged toform the United Party (UP), with Busia as its leader, after the 1956 election in opposition to theCPP. But like its predecessors, the UP also suffered from defections. Thus by 1960, seventeen ofthe thirty-two opposition members of the parliament had "crossed carpet" to join the ruling party,the CPP; this brought the majority of the CPP to eighty-nine and the opposition to fifteenparliamentary seats. It was against this background that in 1958 Busia, now the leader of thenewly formed United Party (UP), abandoned his party and parliamentary seat and went into serf-imposed exile to seek support to overthrow the Nkrumah government. As we shall see below,since one-party states were then associated with the Soviet bloc, Nkrumahs regime became apawn in the Cold War politics.Nkrumah, Self-determination and Neo-colonialismNKRUMAHS dual struggle was part of a broader Pan-African movement; thus it did not endwith the achievement of Ghanas political independence on 6 March 1957. What it implied,however, was that he needed to succeed in Ghana before he could succeed in Africa and itsDiaspora. It was against this background that in his inaugural address on Ghanas independence,he proclaimed in his now famous statement that "the independence of Ghana is meaninglessunless it links with the total liberation of Africa."We noted in his formulation above that:[U]ntil the fifth and last Pan-African Conference held in Manchester in 1945, African-Americansprovided the main driving power of the [Pan-African] movement. Pan-Africanism then moved toAfrica, its true home, with the holding of the First Conference of Independent African States inAccra in April 1958, and the All-African Peoples Conference in December the same year.(Nkrumah 1973)The purpose of these two conferences was to galvanize African states to support nationalistmovements and peoples to achieve political independence. To this effect, the concept of self-determination, stated in the United Nations Charter, became the equivalent of Positive Action.The notion of self-determination places emphasis on collective freedom, namely, freedom fromNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  15. 15. From: The Black Scholar Page 15 of23(June 22, 2010)foreign control. Until Ghanas independence, most African countries had been defined andrepresented as property of certain European countries. The new dual struggle thus implied thecreation of new cultural and political configurations in Africa and ensuring that Africansrepresent themselves outside Africa. Thus the process of national liberation and solidarity alsorequired the re-definition of Africa. To this effect Nkrumah noted that:With true independence regained ... a new harmony needs to be forged, a harmony that willallow the combined presences of traditional Africa, Islamic Africa and Euro-Christian Africa, sothat this presence is in tune with the original humanist principles underlying African society. Oursociety is not the old society, but a new society enlarged by Islamic and Euro-Christianinfluences. A new emergent ideology is therefore required, an ideology which can solidify in aphilosophical statement, but at the same time an ideology which will not abandon the originalhumanist principle of Africa ... Such a philosophical statement I propose to name philosophicalconsciencism. (Nkrumah: 1964)BY RE-DEFINING Africa and demanding African representation of Africa, it made it possibleto extend solidarity and speak on behalf of those still living under colonial control. A case inpoint was Nkrumahs statement on the anti-colonial struggles in Algeria:The flower of French youth is being wasted in an attempt to maintain an impossible fiction thatAlgeria is part of France, while at the same time the youth of Algeria are forced to give up theirlives in a conflict which could be settled tomorrow by the application of the principles of theUnited Nations.... France cannot win a military victory in Algeria. If she hopes to do so, then herhopes are false and unrelated to the realities of the situation.... From whatever angle yon viewthis problem you cannot escape from the fact that Algeria is African and will always remain so,in the same manner that France is French. No accident of history, such as has occurred in Algeriacan ever succeed in turning an inch of African soil into an extension of any other continent.Colonialism and imperialism cannot change this basic geographical fact..... Let France and theother colonial powers face this fact and be guided accordingly. (Nkrumah, quoted from Mazrui1977: 52)It was certainly true that the Algerian conflict "could be settled tomorrow by the application ofthe principles of the United Nations." However, the colonial and imperial powers did not alwaysadhere to the principles of the United Nations which they constructed themselves. Thus thegalvanization of Africans was matched by solidarity between European states and the US.Underneath the notions of freedom and self-determination was economic and socialdevelopment. On this score one of the major obstacles to the Pan-African project was, and stillis, neo-colonialism. According to Nkrumah:[T]he essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independentand has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system andits political policy is directed from outside. (Nkrumah 1967: 90)NKRUMAHS notion of neo-colonialism had three components. The first is neocolonialism as aconsequence of the status of an underdeveloped country within the world trade system or in theNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  16. 16. From: The Black Scholar Page 16 of23(June 22, 2010)periphery of the world system. The second is neocolonialism as military force; the capacity ofcountries with imperial ambitions to re-subjugate or overthrow less powerful governmentsdirectly. The third component is neocolonialism as a form of bribery of local populations such as"politicians"; especially soldiers and public servants, who act as agents or stooges of imperialpowers.The implications of the first, that is peripheral status in the world system, is that it restrained orplaced limitations on the capacity of a country like Ghana to generate enough resources for itsphysical and social infrastructure development; it also restrained the capacity for a country likeGhana to help other countries in need. The reverse is true for imperial powers. Powerfulcountries can place trade sanctions on weak countries; they can also use "development aid" toblackmail weak countries.Though major developments in the social sectors had been made, the economy of Ghanaremained fragile. Thus having attempted to attract foreign investment from the West for almost adecade without success and stimulated local groups to become capitalist without tangible results,a Ghana Government Minister lamented in 1960 that the CPP government has help "Ghanaianbusinessmen over the last few years with loans for their capitalist development. Very large sumstoo. And nearly all of it has been wasted" (Nimako 1991: 89). After these experiences the CPPgovernment embarked on a state-led capital accumulation and industrialization project. Informulating this project a Government document entitled "Work and Happiness" pronounced:Imperialism-colonialism left Ghana without the accumulation of capital in private hands whichassisted the Western World to make its industrial revolution. Only Government can thereforefind the means to promote those basic services [i.e. education, health, water and sanitation] andindustries [i.e. employment] which are essential prerequisites to intensive, diversified agriculture,speedy industrialization and increased economic productivity. (Nimako, 1991: 97)Coming, as it were, against the background of the Cold War and intensified armed struggle inAfrica, the confrontation between Nkrumahs politics and the interest of the Western worldbecame stark. The above statement constituted a communist conspiracy in the eyes of Westernpowers, especially the US. Which bring us to the second component of neo-colonialism, namely,the re-subjugation of former colonies by old and new imperial powers.THE IMPLICATIONS of the second component are that weak countries could be invaded bypowerful countries and reverse the achievement of independence and thus undermine self-determination and collective freedom. Examples abound to support this position, includinginterventions in Egypt on the Suez Canal by Britain, France and Israel; and interventions in Iran,Guatemala and Vietnam by the US (Chomsky 1993).Where direct intervention is not an option, a third option is invoked, namely, neo-colonialism asa form of bribery of local populations such as "politicians"; especially soldiers and publicservants who act as agents or stooges of imperial powers became the most effective instrumentagainst the Pan-African project. We speak here of a project because a project has a beginningand an end. We have noted that around 1950, the probability that any of the three organizedpolitical forces in question (i.e. the colonial authorities, holistic nationalists and sub-nationalists)Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  17. 17. From: The Black Scholar Page 17 of23(June 22, 2010)could carry out its own wishes in isolation was relatively low. The ability of any one of thepolitical actors to dominate the political arena depended on a conscious and/or unconsciousalliance of two of the forces, in opposition to a third party.Not only did Busia advocate against the granting of independence by the British, he also calledon the US government to "impose sanctions" against Ghana in order to bring down the Nkrumahregime. Thus after wandering through Europe for support in vain, Busia found people to listen tohim in the US. On 3 December 1962 Busia appeared before a Congressional Committee to pleadfor the overthrow of Nkrumah.To this effect Senator Thomas J. Dodd led off by stating that Ghana had become "the mortalenemy of true freedom and independence for the peoples of Africa and the mortal enemy ofAfrican peace." As Basil Davidson put it:Dr. Busia could only agree with him. "I should say," he told the Senator, "that politics isnt mycareer, but what made me go into politics is the fact that I saw right at the beginning, as far backas Nkrumahs return, .... That we had there all the makings, all the ingredients of revolutionarycommunism." (Davidson 1973: 173)Here was a crooked logic. The African who was fighting for the freedom and independence ofAfrica was being accused by an American of being "the mortal enemy of African peace."IT WOULD BE FOOLISH to infer that Busia could tell the US government what to do.Nevertheless, with the support of the US, Nkrumah was overthrown in a bloody militaryoperation by some Ghanaian soldiers on 24 February 1966 in the name of the restoration offreedom and democracy. The problem, however, was that the architects of the coup did not seemto know why they became involved in the coup. According to one of the coup makers, MajorA.A. Afrifa:"One of the reasons for my bitterness against Kwame Nkrumahs rule was that he paid lip-serviceto our membership of the [British] Commonwealth ... African Unity ... is impossible to achievewithin our life-time. Organization of African Unity or no Organization of African Unity, I willclaim my citizenship of Ghana and of the [British] Commonwealth in any part of the world. Ihave been trained in the United Kingdom as a soldier, and I am ever prepared to fight alongsidemy friends in the United Kingdom in the same way as Canadians and Australians do." (Afrifa inNimako, 1991: 112-113)In other words, Major Afrifa thought he was fighting for the British whereas he was actuallyfighting for the Americans. Another planner of the coup, Colonel A.K. Ocran, claimed to resentthe fact that Nkrumah had terminated the appointment of the former British Army Chief of Staff,Major General Alexander, after the latter had expressed his reservations on Ghanas role in theCongo crisis and opposed the training of Ghanaian military officers in the Soviet Union. MajorGeneral Alexander also admitted later that he "often found it very difficult to act on Nkrumahsorders without feeling the [he] might be hurting British interests" (Alexander in Nimako:119).What about freedom and democracy? In the words of Major Afrifa:Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  18. 18. From: The Black Scholar Page 18 of23(June 22, 2010)"The irony of the present situation in Ghana is that it is quite probable that President Nkrumahand the CPP would command the support of a majority of the electorate, even in genuinely freeelections. It is a pity that it is not possible to test this hypothesis." (Afrifa, in Nimako, 1991:118)SINCE BUSIA wanted to be the leader of Ghana, let us bring him into the equation. Busiareturned to Ghana and became an advisor to the military junta; he persuaded military rulers tohand over government to him, but through election. Through the logic of Major Afrifa, the CPPwas banned from participating in the 1969 general election; this made it possible for Busia andhis newly formed Progress Party (PP) the win the election. Busia thus formed or became theleader of four political parties at various times (GCP-1952, NLM-1954, UP-1958, and PP-1969)before he could win an election, but this was only possible under the condition that the CPPwould be prevented from contesting the election. However, twenty-seven months after Busiaformed his government, another group of soldiers overthrew the Busia government in January1972. Busia was not protected by the US.In justifying the military takeover, Colonel Acheampong, the leader of the coup, made his ownbalance of Nkrumah and Busia in his first radio speech to announce the coup as follows:"The first people Busia put his eye on were the armed forces and police. Some army and policeofficers were dismissed under the pretext of retirement. Some officers were put in certainpositions to suit the whim of Busia and his colleagues. Then he started taking from us the fewamenities and facilities which we in the armed forces and the police enjoyed even under theNkrumah regime. Having lowered morale in the armed forces and the police to the extent thatofficers could not exert any meaningful influence over their men, so that by this strategy comingtogether to overthrow his government was to him impossible, he turned his eyes on thecivilians." (quoted from Bennet 1975: 308, in Nimako, 1991: 144)HERE ARE STRUCTURE and agency at work. Busia focused on the agency of Nkrumah but heunderestimated the structure Nkrumah put in place in his attempt to build a post-colonial state.Both Nkrumah and Busia spent the rest of the lives in exile; Nkrumah in Guinea, and Busia inBritain.The response of the British lawyer, Geoffrey Bing, to these political developments in Ghana atthat point in time was instructive. Bing defended Nkrumah in 1951 against the British colonialauthorities. When Nkrumah became Prime Minister he invited Bing to Ghana and appointed himAttorney General. Like Nkrumah, Bing became a subject of abuse, insults and ridicule insections of the Western media. In that regard Bing summed up the attitudes of Westerngovernments and media towards Nkrumah and the African and African Diaspora struggles in thefollowing words:For NINE years, from its independence in 1957 to 1966, Ghana was illuminated by the glare ofworld publicity. Every figure who appeared on its stage magnified and distorted, almost beyondrecognition. Then suddenly in February 1966, as a result of a military rebellion, this little countrywas, so it seemed, cut down to size. Overnight it was converted into what in fact it had alwaysbeen, a small state on the West Coast of Africa in no way historically, strategically oreconomically important to the world. (Bing: 11 in Nimako 1991: 125)Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  19. 19. From: The Black Scholar Page 19 of23(June 22, 2010)THIS WAS THE SITUATION Ghana found herself and continued to find herself, after theoverthrow of Nkrumah. Though the institutions which emerged as a result of Nkrumahsstruggle, such as the African Union, and the social cohesion in Ghana remained, the role ofGhana as an innovator of ideas diminished after the overthrow of Nkrumah.Here was another irony. Let us recall that Nkrumahs arrival coincided with the decline of theUK as an imperial power and the rise of the US as a new hegemonic power. Nkrumah was apioneer in introducing the US to Africa. Equally ironic, if we can call it ironic, is that Nkrumahachieved political independence for Ghana through moral pressure but was himself overthrownthrough an armed revolt on the instigation of the US and the tacit approval of Britain. However,just as Nkrumah considered neocolonialism as the last stage of imperialism, so did he considerhis overthrow as part of attempts to reverse the gains of the anti-colonial and anti-racismstruggles in the 1950s by former colonial powers. This is all the more so since the non-violentstruggles by black Americans in the US of America and that of Africans in Africa, fromAlabama to Sharpeville, have been met with state violence. In Nkrumahs words, "The samepower structure which is blocking the efforts of African-Americans in the US is also nowthrowing road-blocks in Africas way. Imperialism, neo-colonialism, settler domination andracialism seek to bring us down and re-subjugate us" (Nkrumah 1973: 42).In response, to and in symbiotic relation to these developments, armed struggle intensified inAfrica just as Black Power raged in America. Thus, according to Nkrumah:Black Power is part of the world rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, of theexploited against the exploiter. It operates throughout the African continent, in North and SouthAmerica, the Caribbean, where ever Africans and people of African descent live. It is linked withthe Pan-African struggle for unity on the African continent, and with all those who strive toestablish a socialist society. (Nkrumah 1973: 40)Viewed in this context, theoretically the time line of organized and co-ordinated Africanstruggles for liberation is the first Pan-African conference in London in 1900 through Ghanasindependence in 1957 to the end of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994.LET US CONCLUDE this section by introducing the third symbol that Nkrumah introduced toGhanaians and the international stage: the Kente cloth. The achievement of independencerelegated the Red Rooster to the background and brought the Black Star, which we have alreadydiscussed, and the Kente cloth to the fore. Though known and used in Ghana as luxuriousclothing worn on special occasions by sections of the country, Nkrumah used the Kente cloth inhis official portrait and thus elevated it to the level of a national dress code; he also encouragedparliamentarians to wear the Kente cloth on the opening of parliament. Since then the Kentecloth has also been adopted by many Ghanaians as a national dress; the Kente cloth has also beenadopted and adapted by many black Americans as an expression of black American Africanity.Thus, via Nkrumah, not only has the Black Star and Pan-Africanism become a permanent featureof Black American awakening in Africa, but also the Kente cloth and the concepts of positiveaction and neocolonialism entered the lexicon of Black America and the African Diaspora as partNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  20. 20. From: The Black Scholar Page 20 of23(June 22, 2010)of African awakening in Black America.Conclusion: Three Things that Went WrongNKRUMAH has played a major role in forging Pan-African identity and solidarity. During hisrule many Africans and people of African descent found refuge in Ghana. For these reasons theoverthrow of Nkrumah should not be taken lightly because anyone who embarked on such aproject, as Nkrumah did, should contemplate survival, suicide and genocide.Survival in this context refers to strategies to ensure that one can carry ones project through andlive to see the fruits of ones project. Those who planned the overthrow of Nkrumah were awarethat his overthrow would have negative implications for the Pan-African project.The second, suicide, refers to the sacrifices one has to make to achieve success. Nkrumahsoverthrow constituted suicide because he sacrificed too much to keep Pan-Africanism alive. As aresistance and de-colonization project, Pan-Africanism is one of the most successful socialmovements (awareness raising and mobilization) in the twentieth century.But as a transformative and state development project (consolidation and development), theresults are mixed, because African states still depend on "development aid" and thus live underneo-colonialism.The third, genocide, refers to assassination of the leader or mass murder of the fop lowers by thedominant group. There were several assassination attempts on the life of Nkrumah within Ghanaduring his presidency; strangely the assassination attempts were not resolved. It appeared thatNkrumah was better protected under British-led police force than under his leadership.HOWEVER the three problems that Nkrumah failed to resolve are still unresolved in Africa.This of course poses the problem of what went wrong.The first problem is that of the transition from nationalist (liberation) movement to politicalparties. This is tied to the contradictions between collective freedom and individual freedom orhuman fights. Generally the transition from nationalist movement to political party has beenmisunderstood and mismanaged in Africa. This is partly because individual freedom has beensubsumed under collective freedom. This has been a fertile ground for foreign intervention inAfrica.The second problem is related to consolidation of sovereignty and development; this in turn istied to security, both food and physical. Most African states have not succeeded in adequatelyfeeding their populations; this reinforces neocolonialism. With regard to physical security,Nkrumah himself felt that his overthrow was a result of an imperialist plot and neo-colonialistsin the country. Nkrumahs own reading about his overthrow can be summed up in this statement:Ghana, on the threshold of economic independence, and in the vanguard of the Africanrevolutionary struggle to achieve continental liberation and unity, was too dangerous an exampleNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  21. 21. From: The Black Scholar Page 21 of23(June 22, 2010)to the rest of Africa to be allowed to continue under a socialist-directed government. (Nkrumah1968: 47)This raises some questions: If imperialism is that strong, why bother to initiate change? Oneinitiates change out of the recognition that change is possible. But what change is possible?Others have argued that he was overthrown because he ran a one-party state. This is illogical andunrelated to the actual political developments that took place. Others argue that he was not a truesocialist, hence his ouster signalled the end of an illusion (Fitch & Oppenheimer 1966; Marable1987). This is also not based on evidence because the reason Nkrumahs regime did notnationalize anything was because there was nothing to nationalize. The issues of capitalism andsocialism were secondary to developments of the period. Of course, if by capitalism we meanEuropean colonization of Africa, then Africa has been capitalist for centuries; this in turn meansthat capitalism cannot be defended. With regard to socialism, nobody knows what it is, so it neednot detain us here. In sum I found these explanations too simplistic, so two decades ago Iintroduced the concepts of holistic nationalism and sub-nationalism to explain the forces thatworked against Nkrumahs project.The third problem is the relevance of institutionalized Pan-Africanism for the African Diasporabeyond memory and belonging. As a social movement and ideological expression of Africanidentity, Pan-Africanism is one of the most successful movements in modern history because itachieved its aim of freedom and self-determination of African peoples worldwide. People ofAfrica and African descent worldwide now recognize a shared history. However, African statesabandoned the African Diaspora after the overthrow of Nkrumah. Thus, as an institutionalizedproject to foster economic development in Africa, Pan-Africanism is less successful.Besides, the relatively weak status and position of the African Diaspora in the imperial countrieswhere they are citizens implied that they could not influence their countries or states in relationto positive developments in Africa. This was compounded by the death of George Padmore(1903-1959) and W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963) and the alienation of C.R.L. James. This waswhen Nkrumah realized that Ghana did not have the resources to act as a springboard for AfricanLiberation, given the counter-revolutionary forces from what he considered as the imperialistworld and led him to coin the term neo-colonialism. This does not imply that colonialism isbetter than neocolonialism.CAN AFRICA, as a continent, do more for its Diaspora? Here we should revisit our previouswork.The African Unions renewed interest in Pan-Africanism should be applauded, but thedeclaration of African Diaspora by the African Union as the latters sixth region is inadequate,deficient and contradictory; it is formulated in terms of what the Diaspora can do for Africa butnot what the African Union and the Diaspora can do for each other.There should be a better way to integrate institutionalized Pan-Africanism, which is what theAfrican Union is, and African Diaspora as civil society and social movement. As a start, themore than 100 million strong African Diaspora worldwide can be more useful to the AfricanUnion if the African Union considers the African Diaspora as a market for "Made in Africa"Nkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  22. 22. From: The Black Scholar Page 22 of23(June 22, 2010)products, rather than as a forum to appeal for development aid.Continental Africa has the land, the natural resources and the international legal framework toeffect the desired changes. Africans in the Diaspora may be separated by citizenship but they areunited by history, memory and "race"; market and cultural forces can transcend citizenship. Thisis all the more so since history, memory and culture without production or material base areempty (Nimako and Small 2009).WHAT CONSIDERATION of Pan-Africanism n the context of the fortieth anniversary ofAllens important book--Black Awakening in Capitalist America--tells us is the following. Weare reminded of the complex links beween black subordination and the broader political terrainon which struggle must be waged, a terrain that is extensive in both its national and internationaldimensions. It reminds us of the complex matrix of variables that must be considered in efforts toattain black liberation. And a central feature of this concerns the power of cultural and politicalsymbols in the struggle for black liberation; it also remphasizes the importance andindispensability of international connections, cooperation and collaborations--of the need for acontinued emphasis on Pan-Africanism as social movement. In the twenty-first century, many ofthe protagonists have changed, but the struggle and the obstacles to be overcome remain verysimilar. By comparing Allens analysis with an analysis of the dyanmics of Nkrumahs struggleswe extract important lessons for our continuing struggles.Works CitedAllen, Robert L. (1970). Black Wakening in Capitalist America: An Analytic History (NewYork: Anchor Books).Arhin, K. (ed.). (1993). The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah (Trenton, NJ: Africa WorldPress).Chomsky, Noam. (1993). "World Orders, Old and New," in Facing the Challenge: Responses tothe Report of the South Commission (Geneva: South Centre) pp. 139-151.Davidson, Basil. (1973). Black Star: A View of the Life and Times of Kwame Nkrumah(London: Allen Lane).Fitch, Bob and Oppenheimer, Mary. (1966). Ghana: End of an Illusion (New York: MonthlyReview Press). James, C.L.R. (1977). Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (London: Allison andBusby).Marable, Manning. (1987). African & Caribbean Politics: From Nkrumah to Maurice Bishop(London: Verso).Mazrui, Ali A. (1977). Africas International Relations: The Diplomacy of Dependency andChange (London: Heinemann).Nimako, Kwame. (2009). "Theorizing Black Europe and African Diaspora: Implications forNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America
  23. 23. From: The Black Scholar Page 23 of23(June 22, 2010)Citizenship, Nativism and Xenophobia" (with Stephen Small), in Black Europe and the AfricanDiaspora: Blackness in Europe, (eds.) Darlene Clark Hine, Tricia Danielle Keaton and StephenSmall (Champaign: University of Illinois Press).--. (2007). "African Regional Groupings and Emerging Chinese Conglomerates," in Big Businessand Economic Development: Conglomerates and Economic Groups in Developing Countries andTransition Economies under Globalization, (eds.) Barbara Hogenboom and Alex E. FernandezJilberto (London: Routledge).--. (2002). "Labour and Ghanas Debt Burden: The Democratization of Dependence," in: LabourRelations in Development, (eds.) Alex E. Fernandez Jilberto et al. (London: Routledge).--. (1996). "Power Struggle and Liberalisation in Ghana," in Liberalization in the DevelopingWorld: Institutional and Economic Changes in Latin America, Africa and Asia, (eds.) Alex E.Fernandez Jilberto and Andre Mommen. (London: Routledge).--. (1991). Economic Change and Political Conflict in Ghana, 1600-1990 (Amsterdam: ThesisPublishers). Nkrumah, Kwame (1973). The Struggle Continues (Panaf Books: London).--. (1968). Dark Days in Ghana (New York: International Publishers).--. (1966). Challenge of the Congo (London: Panaf Books).--. (1964). Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization and Development withParticular Reference to the African Revolution (New York: Monthly Review Press).--. (1963). Africa Must Unite (London: Heinemann).--. (1962). Towards Colonial Freedom: Africa in the War against Imperialism (London:Heinemann).--. (1959). Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (Edinburgh: Nelson Thomas andSons).COPYRIGHT 2010 The Black ScholarNkrumah, African awakening and neo-colonialism: how Black America awakened Nkrumah and Nkrumahawakened Black America