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

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

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  • 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 http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Nkrumah, 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. 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. 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. 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