KWAME NKRUMAH’S CENTENARY
SNARES AND PITFALLS OF KWAME NKRUMAH
BY: Kweku Tsen
OSAGYEFO Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, between 1945 and 1966, embarked on an exciting journey along the path determined by human options and by force of circumstances.
Undoubtedly, between those years, Nkrumah was the most dominant political figure who loomed largely on the political horizon of the country, dwarfing those in the echelon of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) who invited him to become the Secretary General of the organization.
The political terrain, which Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party (CPP), which he formed at Saltpond in June 1949, was uncharted. He took certain decisions which impacted negatively on the economy and the well- being of the people.
There were dangers inherent in every action and decision that Nkrumah took, and since he and his henchmen had buried themselves in securing political independence, giving scanty attention to the effect of their actions on the economy and the well- being of the broad masses of the people.
Nkrumah directed the affairs of the country without the benefit of any precedent, and for which reason he could have avoided a lot of pitfalls and the mistakes that generated public anger and disenchantment against his government, leading to his overthrow on February 24, 1966.
Even though we could temper with the decision that Nkrumah took to propel the economic and social development of the country with social understanding and sympathy, governments after he committed more unpardonable mistakes, which to a reasonable extent, stalled the development of the country.
The period in which Nkrumah decided to implement his socialist mode of production to advance the development of the country was not right for a number of reasons.
Even to this day, several African leaders still harbour the illusion that they could graft successfully certain alien ideologies and forms of social control onto the utterly different African circumstances dogged by peculiarities which differ from one country to another.
Nkrumah attempted to implement the whole gamut of the public owners in the means of production without examining the concomitant effects of such policies on productivity, the psyche and attitude of the broad masses of the people.
In a nutshell, the mass of the projects initiated and executed by Nkrumah might have been misconceived or insufficiently appraised ahead of the implementation.
Within a few years of the establishment of public enterprises across the country, diminishing returns set in their operations for the simple reason that such enterprises did not encounter any stiff competition from any other enterprises; apathy crept into the workforce who thought they would be paid whether the entities made profit or not.
So with the passage of which time, the public enterprises, some of which have survived up till now, provided a firm foundation for the country’s development; they found it extremely difficult to break even and pay workers who were employed in their numbers and who drained the coffers of such enterprises.
The fact is, science and technology can be transferred with some degree of success, but that cannot be said of philosophies regarding the state and the subjects. Africans could adapt themselves hand inventive blending of systems from the social experiences of other people taking into consideration their own national priorities.
Nkrumah’s shifting to the Eastern block was seen by certain political observers as the beginning of his fall from government. At the time that Nkrumah struck friendship with East, all the neighboring countries were the allies of the United State of America.
Countries such as the Cote d’ Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso were in those days heading towards open societies, whilst Ghana had become one party state, where Nkrumah equated his will to that of the people, but did not allow my platform for a free ventilation of ideas.
The results were that the US used such station as staging posts not only to incite such countries against the regime of Nkrumah, but also to plot his overthrow.
After urging the vast majority of the people to close their ranks, the people listened to him, rallied behind the CPP to wrest political authority from the British colonialist, but soon realized to their chagrin that liberties had been taken way from them by the African Statesman of the Millennium.
The people of Ghana were to learn later that too much consensus and too little dissent were to be the hallmark of the Nkrumah administration. Guided by the principles of democratic centralism, Nkrumah’s rule gradually became authoritative when Ghana finally became a one party state in 1964.
All opposition parties were banned and without any constitution right to form an opposition, there could be no effective check on malfeasance, which was committed by functionaries of Nkrumah. All powers were vested in Nkrumah and his surrogates, and this state of affairs spelt disaster for the country’s liberator from colonial rule.
The authoritarian rule of Nkrumah created so many problems for him. How could it be explained that the once amiable leader and man of the people became so much frightened of own people and his functionaries who became sycophants to save their positions.
When Krobo Edusei, a close confidant, testified before the assets committee which probe his regime, he told the committee, ministers of Nkrumah were all “gaping sycophants because power and authority were solely in the hands of Nkrumah and for which they had to do his bidding.
This minister who, out of the ordinary, was transformed into a powerful personality of candour before the committee that he brought two bottles of schnapps and poured libation to thank the gods that Nkrumah had been overthrown. So in effect, Nkrumah was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by his own men after he had placed them in comfortable positions in his government.
Truly, Nkrumah’s men betrayed him. While Nkrumah became more and more isolated, uncontrollable forces which included majority of his ministers waited for the kill, and this explains why leading members of his regime, the vocal adherents of the CPP government, testified in public to the relief they felt at his overthrow.
When news reached him in China, where he was on his way to Ho Chin Minh City, Vietnam, that he had been ousted from political power, some of his ministers, instead of comforting their leader, abandoned him, flew to London and then to Accra, declaring at the Kotoka International Airport that they had “breathed a whiff of fresh air,”
Nevertheless, Nkrumah was a complex character who understood the psychology of the contrasting characters he had to work with and was also able to harmonize claims and rivalries of work — mates and supporters. His gift for comprise, his capacity to wait for a chance and his uncanny sense of timing made him a unique personality
I crave the indulgence of Ghanaians to express my fervent nostalgia & towards Nkrumah, using the words of Mark Anthony, Here was a Caesar! When comes such another?
DAILY GRAPHIC PAGE 5 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2009.