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Profile: Kwame Nkrumah
Positions that Kwame Nkrumah has held:
Kwame Nkrumah was a participant or observer in the following events:
The Gold Coast and the British Togoland trust territory in Western Africa become the first black colonies in Africa to win their independence. The two British colonies become the independent state of Ghana with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as the country’s first prime minister. In leading the colonies to independence, Dr. Nkrumah becomes an international symbol of freedom, spearheading the struggle for independence in much of sub-Saharan Africa. [BBC, 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004] Celebrating the country’s independence, Nkrumah declares, “We are going to see that we create our own African personality and identity…. We again rededicate ourselves in the struggle to emancipate other countries in Africa; For our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the African continent.” [BBC, 11/4/1997]
The Ghanaian government, headed by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, embarks on numerous infrastructure projects. The government begins building and improving roads, the rail system, schools, hospitals and industrial facilities. Nkrumah’s popularity increases immensely as economic conditions begin to improve. [West Africa Review, 1999; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004]
Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah spends much of his time campaigning for the political unity of black Africa. In his 1961 book, I Speak of Freedom, Nkrumah writes of the need for a united black Africa. “Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world,” he writes. However, other African governments, burdened with their own problems, are reluctant to heed his call. [Nkrumah, 1961; BBC, 11/4/1997; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004]
Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah introduces his Soviet-inspired Seven-Year Plan to establish state-owned factories and public authorities. The projects are financed by foreign loans and taxes, saddling the country with debt and stifling certain sectors of the economy. Cocoa production in Ghana drops dramatically when farmers, whose income has been reduced by the government marketing board’s price controls, begin smuggling cocoa to neighboring countries or switch to other crops. As a result, Ghana ceases to be the world’s largest cocoa producer. Burdened with debt, the Ghanaian economy contracts, undermining the Nkrumah government’s popularity. The downturn brings widespread unrest which is exacerbated by criticisms that Nkrumah is focusing too much on the promotion of his vision of African-unity (see 1960-1966). [Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004]
Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah rejects IMF and World Bank recommendations to implement a economic development strategy based on non-inflationary borrowing and reduced government spending. Ghana’s refusal to implement these reforms makes it ineligible to receive loans from the two institutions. Nkrumah continues with a policy aimed at diversifying the Ghanaian economy through import substituting industrialization (ISI). [BBC, 11/4/1997; West Africa Review, 1999; Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2004]
In a telegraph to the US Department of State, US ambassador to Ghana William P. Mahoney recounts a meeting he had that morning with President Kwame Nkrumah. He says he told the president that the US government resented the anti-US statements he had made in his March 22 speech (see (3.00pm-3:30pm) March 22, 1965), in which he had laid blame on the US for many of Africa’s problems. “I said I would never have believed that [a] man of his sophistication and refinement would use language like that against my country, and it shock[ed] [me] to hear him do so.” Mahoney says that Nkrumah conceded that the rhetoric in his speech was “loaded and slanted throughout,” but insisted that “he had special purpose in mind.” After Mahoney further criticized Nkrumah’s speech, defending US policy in Africa, he saw that the president was crying. “I looked up and I saw he was crying. With difficulty he said I could not understand [the] ordeal he had been through during [the] last month. [He [r]ecalled that there had been seven attempts on his life…]” In comments listed at the end of his telegraph, Mahoney says that Nkrumah seems “convinced as ever [that the] US is out to get him” and “still suspects US involvement” in the recent assassination attempts. He explains that Nkrumah appears to be a “badly frightened man” whose “emotional resources seem [to] be running out” and predicts that there will be “more hysterical outbursts” from Nkrumah against the US. [US Department of State, 4/2/1965; SeeingBlack (.com), 6/7/2002]
Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah publishes his famous work, Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism, in which he predicts, quite accurately, that Africa will suffer persistent meddling by the intelligence agencies of foreign governments, particularly the CIA and KGB. He accuses American intelligence of being behind several of the crises being experienced by the Third World. His book introduces the term “neo-colonialism,” whereby a state is theoretically independent, but in reality, has its economic system and political policies directed from outside. He again calls on Africans to be united against imperialism and global capitalism. [Nkrumah, 1996; BBC, 11/4/1997; Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 10/2002] The US government quickly informs Nkrumah that it opposes the ideas presented in the book and cancels $35 million in aid to Ghana. [Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 10/2002]
The Ghanaian army stages a coup, overthrowing the pan-Africanist government of Kwame Nkrumah—who is in Burma at the start of a grand tour aimed at resolving the conflict in Vietnam. [Stockwell, 1978; BBC, 11/4/1997; Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998] A weak economy (see 1961-Early 1966), exacerbated by the deliberate actions of Western governments to destabilize the country (see (3.00pm-3:30pm) March 11, 1965)
(see March 27, 1965), had severely damaged the president’s popularity among the masses. Additionally, the military was upset with Nkrumah’s cuts to the defense budget and the declining real wage of army officers. The coup itself was supported by the CIA, which had maintained intimate contact with the plotters for at least a year (see (3.00pm-3:30pm) March 11, 1965). The CIA’s involvement in the plot was so close that it managed to recover some classified Soviet military equipment as the coup was happening. [Stockwell, 1978; New Yorker, 1980; SeeingBlack (.com), 6/7/2002 Sources: Howard T. Banes]
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