Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Kwame Nkrumah saved Ghana
…From all-round religious confusion
By: T. KODJO-ABABIO NUBOUR
CONSCIENCISM is the object of attack in the articles Kwame Nkrumah Misfounded Ghana and Nkrumah’s Atheism and Materialism in Ghana. It is a book that lends itself to difficult reading for the philosophically untrained. That does not however grant licence to subject it to distortions as the said articles do.
Exhibiting a disintegrationist methodological mode of analysis, the articles turn everything upside down. In that event the author fails to see Kwame Nkrumah as the greatest thinker and socio-political activist that ever traversed twentieth century Africa.
The Daily Graphic issue of October 25, 2007 carries the first part of the first article. The decided mono-Christian thrust of the articles’ mode of analysis frontally collides with Nkrumah’s integrationist cast of mind.
Rather than taking the articles on along the path that they chose to tread, it is better to state briefly our understanding of what Kwame Nkrumah thinks and did. Only thence shall it become manifest the great intellectual harm that the articles represent in the Ghanaian conscience.
Foremost in Kwame Nkrumah’s mind is the integration of Ghana in particular and Africa in general. One the basis of this drive he formulates his ideology and philosophy. In itself this latter procedure coincides exactly with his position that ideology and philosophy are derived from the social interest that the philosopher pursues. Kwame Nkrumah, in his life, never separated ideology and philosophy from social praxis.
Proceeding from his social concerns he derives his philosophy; and on the basis of his philosophy he addressed his social concerns. The consistency with which he upholds this dialectic makes him a great mind and a great activist.
No doubt he always speaks with absolute and infectious conviction. He speaks with thought-inspired passion. No doubt, again, no political thinker or activist has ever equaled his feat of greatness whether in the twentieth or twenty-first century this far in Africa.
Given that Kwame Nkrumah was preoccupied with integrationist concerns about Ghana and Africa his philosophy could not but address this. Hence he concludes ideologically that we need to build a culture that integrates or harmonises our experiences of Christianity, Islam and African Traditional. These are religious cultures. Guided by this ideological stance Kwame Nkrumah pursued a cultural environment that integrated or harmonized these cultures.
And this was pursued in such a way, for instance, that no particular religion was exalted over the others by the State as our fundamentalist Christian critic of a writer wants for Ghana.
Government-established schools did not discriminate between the children were trained in government institutions where they, including the author of the offending articles, grew up to tolerate and make friends irrespective of their religious orientation.
Hence, today, even private universities established to promote particular religions or religious orientations have a problem of admitting publicly such disintegrationist concerns: Yes, thanks to the integrationist philosophy of Consciencism that informed the ideology. If such problems occasioned the articles’ attack on the foundation Nkrumah laid then we can only rejoice at their misery.
On the basis of his concerns with integrating the religious cultures could Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah have postulated an atheist theory that argues God, the central concept in every religion, out of existence? The offending articles say that is exactly what he does!
They make claims about Kwame Nkrumah’s founding “Ghana on the negative polarity of materialism” and his exclusion of the “positive polarity of spirituality”. No, Kwame Nkrumah, the dialectical materialist, could never have done this; hence, his quotation from F. Engels at the head of his Introduction to Conscienceism.
Indeed, an encounter with the late Kofi Batsa is most instructive in this respect. Kofi Batsa, a Christian Marxist and a member of Nkrumah’s Philosophy Club that debated Conscienceism before it was published, informed us at the Hotel du Golf in Lome about Nkrumah’s position on this issue of materiality and spirituality. According to him, at one of the sessions of the Philosophy Club the issue of materiality and spirituality was hotly debated.
Whereas Kwame “Nkrumah held that matter and spirit both existed, others asserted the non-existence of spirit. At a junction, he offered to illustrate his point. He stood up by the next wall, took his white handkerchief and held its northern ends against the wall. He then murmured a few words. The handkerchief struck to the wall without support. He later murmured a few more words and the handkerchief fell off but he caught it in midair. That was the power of the word and the word is spirit. His opponents were silenced.
Is the author of the articles listening at all?
But if Kwame Nkrumah asserts the existence of both matter and spirit he does not stop there. He also asserts the primary existence of matter over spirit. In opposition to those who hold the concept of the sole reality of matter, listen to what he says himself.
Strictly speaking, the assertion of the sole reality of matter is atheistic, for pantheism, too, is a species of atheism. Philosophical consciencism, even though deeply rooted in materialism, is not necessarily atheistic. Consciencism page 84.
The reader is invited to the book itself for the argument Kwame Nkrumah puts forth in elaboration of the position quoted above. The fundamentalist Christian critic refused to see and address this quote.
If this position is understood then the articles’ statement that declared Kwame Nkrumah an atheist cannot be derived from what he says or did but from a basis outside the book. That is why the author does not address statements from the book but rests on “declarations by scientist”. The first article says that these declarations “serve to define Nkrumah as an atheist”.
Lest our attention is called to that article’s reference to its quotation from page 9 of Consciencesm we make great haste to point out that a certain position held on the question of the extent of cosmic raw material is what Kwame Nkrumah is debating. He holds that the existence of God cannot be inferred from the position.
In fact, it is clear to us that, apart from the position of faith, the existence of God can be philosophically inferred consistently only from the position taken by Consciencism. (As John H. McClendon puts it in some other context, “Nkrumah’s dialectical materialism does not deny the universal; it comprehends it in its interconnection with the particular”). A forthcoming review of the book expands on this statement.
Let it, however, be sufficient here, before, then to refer the offending author to the appropriate portion of Consciencism that states Kwame Nkrumah’s position clearly at page 13 where he says that.
It is essential to emphasise in the historical condition of Africa that the state must be secular… Insistence on the secular nature of the state is not to be interpreted as a declaration of war on religion, for religion is a social fact … To declare war on religion is to treat it as an ideal phenomenon, to suppose that it might be wished away, or at worst sacred out of existence. (Emphases supplied).
This is at once a statement on the dynamism of religion and a refutation of certain materialist positions that assert the impossibility of materialism being consistent with religion. Tsoooooboi!!
For sure Kwame Nkrumah, a student of theology, does not think of nor tried to impose a particular religion on even the young nose of the author of the offending articles. If that author thinks that Nkrumah should have founded Ghana from the premises of some fundamentalist cast of mind and as such impose a Christian clerical state on this country within the given historical circumstances then we thank God that he was too young at Independence to influence an ant to take to his disintegrationist schemes…Nkrumah’s sublime, discernment has saved Ghana all-round religious confusion.
Philosophical arguments aside, Kwame Nkrumah’s own life and influence suggest nothing of an atheist. It is instructive here to observe that he was married to Fathia by a Greek Orthodox priest.
Fathia was herself a Coptic Christian. The closet of his ideological and philosophical collaborates like Kofi Batsa, a Marxist, were committed Christians or Moslems or other. God had a meaning for them.
Consciencism is certainly a difficult book to read with the grand author’s assumption that the reader is already in grasp with certain formal principles of Philosophy and Logic. Many read the first few pages and give up.
The disturbing issue here is that having given up reading the entire book some of such readers pronounce themselves qualified to pass judgements on it – basing themselves on the pseudo-interpretations of distortionists like the one we have at hand. Do you realize that the first article confesses its inability to understand a crucial passage in the book? For sure, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4-6).
Daily Graphic - Tuesday, December 4, 2007 Page: 9