“Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African.”

By | October 24, 2011 at 1:13 am | No comments | Africa, Ghana, International Solidarity, Libya, News, Situational Awareness, Tanzania, The Pan-Africanist Imperatives

“Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African.”

This reaction focuses exclusively on the references to Nkrumah in the Opinion section of al-Jazeera, “What does Gaddafi’s fall mean for Africa?” by Mahmood Mamdani Last Modified: 30 Aug 2011 11:12.

As global powers become more interested in Africa, interventions in the continent will likely become more common.” – Mahmood Mamdani

The ABC of post-independent Pan-Africanism in Ghana begins with Nkrumah’s words on the eve of Ghana’s independence: “The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the whole continent of Africa!” In a glowing tribute, former President Julius Nyerere would belatedly say of Nkrumah that he was so much ahead of his times in his urgent and strident calls for African Unity that he was misunderstood.

Whilst building a state may be relatively easier than liberating and unifying a continent, Nkrumah built more secondary schools in the first nine years of coming into power than all the secondary schools in Africa put together. Never mind the population ratio! The achievement of nation-building under Nkrumah have been acknowledged by some of his most incorrigibly biased critics who would rather lie to defame Nkrumah.

The very fact that people like Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., – a more rabid anti-Nkrumahist than this man has not yet been born – could attribute the peace and sense of nationhood among Ghanaians to Kwame Nkrumah, the effects of the policy of the boarding school system and of the Young Pioneer Movement that brought Ghanaians irrespective of ethnic background, into a one big family. An explanation for the relatively inclusive and national character of Ghanaian politics is due radically to Nkrumah’s efforts.

Professor Mamdani is a very respected academic. I am yet to come across an analysis of the Darfour conflict that surpasses his very cogent and succinct incisions to untangle the knot and expose the problem effectively.  It is a very highly recommended work, and I encourage the reader who is finding it hard to understand what is going on in Darfour to read his famous work “The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency”, by Mahmood Mamdani.

However, his sweeping comment comparing Nyerere who, as President, could ride a bicycle to the market, with Nkrumah whose baptism of a series of bombings took place when he was at home with his mother, as early as 10 November, 1955, entails more tedious work than such superficial analysis. Nkrumah had been overwhelmingly and democratically elected under the supervision of the colonialists themselves. He won in 1951, 1954, not satisfied with the results another elections were called in 1956, a year before the independence. A desperate move to get their puppets in office in time for the independence, Nkrumah won. A marginalized opposition wanted to take power at all cost because they “started the struggle” for independence!

Prof. Mandani writes:

‘Both in the longevity of his rule and in his style of governance, Gaddafi may have been extreme. But he was not exceptional. The longer they stay in power, the more African presidents seek to personalize power. Their success erodes the institutional basis of the state. The Carribean thinker C L R James once remarked on the contrast between Nyerere and Nkrumah, analyzing why the former survived until he resigned but the latter did not: “Dr Julius Nyerere in theory and practice laid the basis of an African state, which Nkrumah failed to do.”‘

My idea of a good President includes a President who is able to maintain law and order and to punish and imprison terrorists and generally defend the constitution. Whilst Nyerere was not stoned on his bicycle, in Ghana there were people busy looking for Nkrumah with grenades in their pockets. Nkrumah became a target of attack because the political energy and the direction he took alarmed the greedy imperialists, colonialists, and neo-colonialists.

“YOU CANNOT JUDGE A PEOPLE BY THE HEIGHTS WHICH THEY HAVE ATTAINED, BUT THE DEPTHS FROM WHICH THEY COME” – Kwame Nkrumah would quote this in a preface to his autobiography. Professor Mamdani needs to bear that heavily in mind, that the political terrain and level of political violence and a sense of desperation to remove Nkrumah was not the same in Tanzania. Attempt to find meaning via a juxtaposition of Nkrumah and Nyerere obfuscates the role of the imperialists directly responsible for the geopolitics of the region, and what that produces.

The nation building record which include a one-party state, and a long period of rule on both sides, make the alternatives meaningless, irrelevant, and a mere exercise in arbitrary name-calling, and diversionary. Far more than nation-building, Nkrumah ought to be appreciated from the standpoint of what he himself described as “the entrenched forces dividing our continent”:

“We in Africa who are pressing now for unity are deeply conscious of the validity of our purpose. We need the strength of our combined numbers and resources to protect ourselves from the very positive dangers of returning to colonialism in disguised forms. We need it to combat the entrenched forces dividing our continent and still holding back millions of our brothers. We need it to secure total African liberation. We need it to carry forward our construction of a socio-economic system that will support the great mass of our steadily rising population at levels of life which will compare with those in the most advanced countries” – Kwame Nkrumah, “Africa Must Unite!”, 1960.

A good reason why Nkrumah was considered dangerous. It is easy to imagine the imperialists throw their hands up in the air in panic, “A free, independent, rich, and prosperous Africa? What are we going to do? How are we going to get the raw materials and natural resources? The cheap labour? OMG! We must do something!” They have done it so well that even decades after the crime, the buzz words are still “personalization of politics”, “economic mismanagement”, even though Ghana’s economic difficulties originated more from orchestrated and deliberate economic and political sabotage!

As Paul Lee writes in “Documents Expose U.S. Role in Nkrumah Overthrow ” (By Paul Lee, Special to SeeingBlack.co). Declassified National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency documents provide compelling, new evidence of United States government involvement in the 1966 overthrow of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah:

“The plotters are keeping us briefed,” he noted, “and the State Department thinks we’re more on the inside than the British. While we’re not directly involved (I’m told), we and other Western countries (including France) have been helping to set up the situation by ignoring Nkrumah’s pleas for economic aid. All in all, it looks good.”

Komer’s reference to not being told if the U.S. was directly involved in the coup plot is revealing and quite likely a wry nod to his CIA past.

Among the most deeply ingrained aspects of intelligence tradecraft and culture is plausible deniability, the habit of mind and practice designed to insulate the U.S., and particularly the president, from responsibility for particularly sensitive covert operations.

Komer would have known that orders such as the overthrow of Nkrumah would have been communicated in a deliberately vague, opaque, allusive, and indirect fashion, as Thomas Powers noted in The Man Who Kept the Secrets: Richard Helms and the CIA.

It would be unreasonable to argue that the U.S. was not directly involved when it created or exacerbated the conditions that favored a coup, and did so for the express purpose of bringing one about.

As it turned out, the coup did not occur for another nine months. After it did, Komer, now acting special assistant for national security affairs, wrote a congratulatory assessment to the President on March 12, 1966 (Document 260). His assessment of Nkrumah and his successors was telling.

“The coup in Ghana,” he crowed, “is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African. In reaction to his strongly pro-Communist leanings, the new military regime is almost pathetically pro-Western.”

Nkrumah’s tremendous nation-building efforts were not won without struggle. It is obvious that had he not been sabotaged, he could have achieved far greater heights for Ghana and Africa than he was able to do under those circumstances. Nkrumah was sabotaged from the very beginning. Instead of allowing him to go out and campaign, they imprisoned him and allowed his opponents a free range to campaign for votes. Nkrumah won the elections from prison. Despite the odds, he made his mark. It is a compliment to hear the imperialists say, “Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African.”

“Where the more subtle methods of economic pressure and political subversion have failed to achieve the desired result,” Nkrumah wrote from exile in Guinea three years later, “there has been resort to violence in order to promote a change of regime and prepare the way for the establishment of a puppet government.”

This is why we are having problems with nation-building. It has nothing to do with Kwame Nkrumah, Nyerere, Gaddafi, Gbagbo, or Mubarak, it is the same old naked economic interests that saw us as slaves, then as colonies, then as neo-colonies, and now as war-zones for a scramble between China and the Industrialized West. How long shall they kill our prophets whilst we stand aside and look? At least, no one can say that I did not try to defend Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah here and now!

One event at the UN that did not attract the level of attention the invocation of the famous R2P on the sovereignty of Libya did, was a call from the Ambassador of Bolivia on the UN to uphold the right to water as a fundamental human right. Ambassador Pablo Solón of Bolivia, put forward around the issue of water and sanitation. Incidentally, those countries that are currently championing the responsibility to protect civilians by bombing cities, abstained.

Here is a part of his appeal to the UN, from “Bolivian UN Ambassador: Despite Extreme Weather, US and Other Developed Countries Failing to Make Serious Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions” Democracy Now! August 10, 2010:

PABLO SOLÓN: [translated] At the global level, approximately one out of every eight people do not have drinking water. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of the time used by women is spent collecting and transporting water for their homes. The lack of sanitation is even worse, because it affects 2.6 billion people, which represents 40 percent of the global population. According to the report of the World Health Organization and of UNICEF of 2009, which is titled “Diarrhoea: Why Children Are [Still] Dying and What We Can Do,” every day 24,000 children die in developing countries due to causes that can be prevented, such as diarrhea, which is caused by contaminated water. This means that a child dies every three-and-a-half seconds. One, two, three. As they say in my village, the time is now.”

PABLO SOLÓN: Well, in the UN, we have recognized the right to food, the human right to education, the right to work, the right to social security. But for sixty years, we haven’t recognized the human right to water. So it’s the first time in history that the UN recognizes the human right to water and sanitation.

AMY GOODMAN: Who supported it, and who didn’t?

PABLO SOLÓN: We had forty-two countries that co-sponsored the resolution. That day, 122 countries voted in favor, and forty-two countries abstained.

AMY GOODMAN: Abstained?

PABLO SOLÓN: Abstained. So that means that 75 percent of the countries that were present voted in favor, and 25 percent abstained. Nobody voted against, but many made speeches expressing that they didn’t support the resolution, but that they were not going to vote against it.

AMY GOODMAN: And the US being one of the abstainers?

PABLO SOLÓN: Yes, the US was one of them.

AMY GOODMAN: Why? What would it bind them to? What are the forces that say no to a people’s right to water?

PABLO SOLÓN: I always have asked that question. For me, it’s something that I can’t understand, because you cannot put in first place privatization or corporate interests or transboundary issues related to water in front of the necessity of recognizing the human right to water. But I would say that behind these abstentions, there were this kind of concerns. But the vast majority was so strong that they couldn’t say, “No, we’re going to vote against.” They just had to abstain. And that was, at the end, very important, because if a resolution passed without any vote against, in reality, the resolution has been approved by consensus under the UN rules.”

So much for the responsibility to protect!

Hoping that this helps to clarify what Gaddafi means to Africa.

Nana Akyea Mensah, The Odikro

International Solidarity Committee

Pan-Africanist International – a grammar of Pan-Africanism and its manners of articulation!


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