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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

We have to remember Kwame Nkrumah

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Dear editor,

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Following the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester, Kwame Nkrumah and some of his comrades in London launched the West African National Secretariat with him as the secretary. The secretariat had avowed to bring together the nationalist leaders of all the West African colonies to work out a program of action in the struggle for independence. As the momentum of Nkrumah’s activities heightened in London, he later became the president of the West African Students’ Union. He also commenced with the work of organising a movement that would serve “as the Revolutionary Vanguard of the struggle for West African Unity and National Independence,” and “to support the idea and claims of the All West African National Congress in its struggle to create and maintain a Union of African Socialist Republics.” His first step was to set up a small secret body that he named “The Circle”. The membership of this group was limited to “persons who are trained and engaged in political revolution as a profession.” 

Nkrumah and his colleagues worked tirelessly to unite African nationalist leaders for a collective struggle against colonialism. On a trip to Paris, he met with some French African deputies like Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast and Leopold Senghor of Senegal, who accepted his invitation to attend a West African Conference in London. But Nkrumah’s work in London was suddenly brought to a halt when he received an offer from a conservative and elitist group called the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). At that time, the UGCC whose ultimate aim was “independence in the shortest possible time” were not interested in any serious revolutionary action to fast-forward the struggle. So they limited themselves to urging for mere reforms of the colonial system. It was only when they realized that the colonial authorities would pay them more attention if they showed they were speaking for the entire people of the Gold Coast that they decided to look for a person who was willing to tour the country and recruit new members. On the recommendation of Ako Adjei, Nkrumah was offered the position of secretary general of the UGCC. 

Nkrumah accepted the offer and on November 15, 1947, he left for Ghana. But ideological differences with the conservative leaders of the UGCC later forced him to leave the organization. On June 12, 1949, at a rally that drew over sixty thousand people, in Accra, Nkrumah announced the birth of the Convention People’s Party (CPP). With their slogan of “Independence Now” and their campaign for “Positive Action”, the struggle for the independence of the Gold Coast had started in earnest. Though Nkrumah was soon thrown into jail for the “conflagration” he helped to fuel, it was not long before positive action began to yield dividends. Soon, the colonial authorities announced a new constitution, providing for a new Executive Council that would include eight Africans in addition to three Europeans nominated by the governor. It also provided that the Legislative Council would be replaced by a Legislative Assembly of 84 members, 75 elected and nine nominated by the governor. Of the 75, 38 would be elected directly by the people, while the other 37 members were to be selected by the Provincial Council of Chiefs. Despite the fact that Nkrumah was in prison, he won his seat for the Accra district, while his CPP party won 34 of the 38 elected seats in the Legislative Assembly. 

This was followed by Nkrumah’s release from prison, with an announcement that a mistake was made originally and that a Communist Party card found on him was unsigned. In response, Nkrumah said, “I come out of jail with hatred for nobody. We fight against systems not races. The places I know in Europe are London and Paris not Moscow and Prague. I am a Marxist socialist and a non-denominational Christian.” In 1951, Kwame Nkrumah became the prime minister of Gold Coast. He was the “Leader of Government Business” and ranked ahead of the European ministers in the Cabinet and only ranked next to the colonial governor. The Gold Coast had achieved internal self-government. The independence of Ghana lead the way for the independence of the rest of Africa which Kwame Nkruma made his business upon attainment of independence.

Long live Gambia.

 

Musa Jah,

Serrekunda

Ministry of Basic Education

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