After several years of independence struggle, Nkrumah and the people of Ghana, with support from fellow Africans, at home and abroad, succeeded finally in liberating Ghana from colonial shackles – at least politically. That happened on 6 March 1957. There was a need, however, for the sustainable economic liberation of Ghanaians. That way their political independence would be rendered more meaningful.
As every economist would agree, Nkrumah saw Ghana, a nation with a little over six million people at the time, as economically unviable, as it could not possibly benefit from the kind of economies of scale needed to survive and compete fairly on the international market. Naturally, he sought to help Africa decolonize, using every means possible, so that through their collective power as a giant nation – the Nation of Africa- would pool their resources together and become competitive economically, have a voice on the international stage, and collectively push for the interests of Africa.
The West, however, realized that, a United Africa, with a socialist development agenda, together with its natural resources was a threat to its quest to world dominance. Besides, they imagined, Africa might drift towards the Soviet bloc and pose a mortal threat to capitalism. To avert that potential fate, the West reasoned that the overthrow of Nkrumah would mean a defeat to the prospect of a United Africa. Because they could no longer colonize Africa, the least they could was to keep it balkanized.
As per the normal operation, the CIA masterminded his overthrow eventually, using local political opponents and the military (the recent declassified CIA files say it all: http://www.seeingblack.com/x060702/nkrumah.shtml). The government that took over was a natural puppet of the West with capitalist leanings. To justify the coup, the West allegedly sponsored a conspiracy with local politicians to brainwash Ghanaians. School curricula were altered to indoctrinate students against Nkrumah and the Pan-Africanism. With the help and support from the West, the local politicians altered the history of Ghana to satisfy their political and ideological whims.
The past and current generation of Ghanaians, unfortunately, are victims of this conspiracy. This explains why Nkrumah’s recognition as Africa’s Man of the Millennium, yielded to the astonishment of many Ghanaians; young and old, lettered and the unlettered. By that singular feat, the prospect of African unity, together with its collective development was truncated. African leaders, who would not yield to the West and thus allow exploitation to continue in their countries, became targets. Many, including Patrice Lumumba of Congo, were assassinated.
Today many African youth are coming back to the realization that the only true way to real African economic and political emancipation, rests in a United Africa under one central government. With a common market, common currency and a continental bank, Africa would no longer need the poisonous IMF loans with its structural adjustment rhetoric to extract its resources. The current situation where, for example, Ghana stand s to gain only 10% (one billion annually) of its oil revenue, while close to 90% of the dividend is repatriated outside its shores to ‘develop’ the already developed countries is a living testimony of the neo-colonial trap that Nkrumah foresaw. The case is no different from Nigeria, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa and other African countries.
Until Africans reconcile with the inevitable reality that our true and sustainable economic and political development reside in our unity, the West with its agents, the IMF/World Bank and Transnational Corporations, would continue to buy our leaders with our own money and use them as instruments to further rob us! The recent underhand Vodafone deal and the Mabey & Johnson saga in Ghana are living attestations to this inconvenient reality. Let us resurrect our African consciousness and find African solutions to African challenges. If our leaders have traded our destiny, let us refuse to repeat it when the leadership mantle of Africa falls on us. When this generation of Africans, throughout the African continent and in the Diaspora, rise to that level of conscious awareness; Nkrumah’s independent declaration of Ghana in 1957 would become ever meaningful.
By Kwame E. Bidi