Declassified National Security Council (NSC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents provide compelling, new evidence of United States government involvement in the 1966 overthrow of Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah.
The coup d’etat, organized by dissident army officers, toppled the Nkrumah government on February 24, 1966 and was promptly hailed by Western governments, including the U.S.
The documents appear in a collection of diplomatic and intelligence memos, telegrams, and reports on Africa in Foreign Relations of the United States, the government’s ongoing official history of American foreign policy.
Prepared by the State Department’s Office of the Historian, the latest volumes reflect the overt diplomacy and covert actions of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration from 1964-68. Though published in November 1999, what they reveal about U.S. complicity in the Ghana coup was only recently noted.
Allegations of American involvement in the putsche arose almost immediately because of the well-known hostility of the U.S. to Nkrumah’s socialist orientation and pan-African activism.
Nkrumah, himself, implicated the U.S. in his overthrow, and warned other African nations about what he saw as an emerging pattern.
“An all-out offensive is being waged against the progressive, independent states,” he wrote in Dark Days in Ghana, his 1969 account of the Ghana coup. “All that has been needed was a small force of disciplined men to seize the key points of the capital city and to arrest the existing political leadership.”
“It has been one of the tasks of the C.I.A. and other similar organizations, ” he noted, “to discover these potential quislings and traitors in our midst, and to encourage them, by bribery and the promise of political power, to destroy the constitutional government of their countries.”