By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Over the past two days, two prominent members of the NPP (Prof. Mike Ocquaye and Nii Ayikwei Otoo) have taken the unwise step of slinging mud at Ghana’s Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the foremost leader who put Ghana on the world stage.
Indeed, Nkrumah’s singular pronouncement that the black man is capable of managing his own affairs sent shivers down the spine of the European and American Establishment. For once, the African Personality had its due share of world recognition.
Nkrumah’s development agenda for Ghana and his persistent efforts to prove that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was linked up with the total independence of the whole African continent materialized into monumental accomplishments for which he will remain a “dear” leader to those who value human mortality, mutability, and fallibility. He didn’t call himself OSAGYEFO; it was conferred on him by those who appreciated his sterling efforts toward national development. He feared nobody, especially the white folks who were still bent on dehumanizing the African, and he took the fight to them. His image has been looming large ever since he shot into the limelight in 1949; and his renown is unmatchable.
Certainly, not so for Nkrumah’s detractors in the camp of the NPP—a throwback to the pre-independence and immediate post-independence era “book politics” and terrorism when they did all they could to undermine Nkrumah’s authority even after he had roundly defeated them at the 1951 and 1954 general elections and gained independence for Ghana.
They conspired against him at all levels, concretizing their hatred through a spate of bomb-throwing (at Kulungugu in 1962) and the Accra Sports Stadium, all of which he escaped unscathed. They propagated all manner of vicious lies about him, including human sacrifice for his Kankan Nyame gods at the Flagstaff House; but at his overthrow, the truth emerged that he had no shrine or gods there to sustain his political and spiritual life.
They collaborated with his haters in foreign countries but he still loomed larger than life itself. They joined hands with the cowards heading the security apparatus and sought foreign aid through the US’s CIA and succeeded in overthrowing him, physically removing him from the country but unable to kill him or exterminate all about him.
He was rejected by the new leadership of the country and denounced as a Ghanaian only to be embraced wholeheartedly by Sekou Toure and the Guinean citizens and elevated to the position of Joint-President of Guinea, teaming up with Sekou Toure to rule Guinea until death laid its icy hands on him in 1972. Even then, while on his death bed in Bucharest, Romania, his detractors intensified their campaign of calumny against him, denying him the opportunity to return home and die.
Yes, he passed on and Guinea accepted responsibility to honour him with a decent burial. Thanks to a politically savvy move by then head of state, Gen. Kutu Acheampong (himself a product of the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute at Winneba), his body was brought back home for interment in his hometown, Nkroful in the Western Region.
We know the goings-on and the political chess that successive governments played with his stature and why the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum stands at the Polo Grounds in his memory, even if it is not being given the much-needed attention commensurate with his huge stature as the foremost African leader, someone acknowledged as the most prominent African leader of the 20th century.
Let it stated today that if the bombs hurled at him, or planted in the bouquet to be presented to him at Kulungugu could not kill him, the mud that Prof. Ocquaye, Nii Ayikwei Otoo, and all others banded together in this Danquah-Busia aberration are slinging against him today will not stick. It won’t because the Great Osagyefo’s body is too slippery for it. His image is too monumental to be damaged by such futile acts of calumny.
It is intriguing to note that the attacks are being launched on Nkrumah by these two Ga citizens (who seem to have propelled themselves into the high echelons of the NPP even if slighted in many ways for them to know where they are). In our time—and based on the scathing but futile attacks being launched on his reputation—these Nkrumah’s detractors seem not to know that what the NLM under Osei Yaw Akoto did with the “Action Troopers” recoiled on the perpetrators themselves, leaving Nkrumah all the more empowered to implement his development agenda for the country.
He did his best to put Ghana where he wanted it to be, even if he made serious mistakes. And as General Albert Kwesi Ocran put it in his Politics of the Sword (a book about why the military overthrew Nkrumah), at the time of his overthrow, Nkrumah had wanted Ghana to fly, “forgetting that Ghana hadn’t developed wings at that time.” Yes, the country hadn’t developed wings but Nkrumah made it fly to a large extent in pursuit of his laudable motive of making Ghana “the showcase of Africa”. What we hear our self-seeking contemporary leaders say that they would make Ghana “the gateway to Africa” is just an adulteration of Nkrumah’s agenda.
Nothing exists to the contrary that Nkrumah’s development agenda for Ghana was marvelous. Just take a quick glance at the phenomenal projects still existing many decades after he had constructed them. And, then, turn around to question the morality behind what his “mate me ho” detractors sought to do at the time he mooted the idea for such projects. Don’t be surprised that in the case of the Job 600 building, the Tema Motorway, and many others, his opponents saw them as nothing but “prestigious projects” to be pooh-poohed.
Don’t ask them any question about the Akosombo hydro-electricity project because they will throw dust into your eyes. When Nkrumah moved to have the project constructed, they sent a powerful delegation to the US White House to petition the Kennedy government not to allow Kaiser Aluminium to give Ghana the loan it was requesting for the project. If VALCO has been existence ever since and Ghana has survived on the Akosombo project all this while, the credit must go to Nkrumah. Is this the leader to bad-mouth today as an opportunist?
I don’t know how old Prof. Ocquaye and Ayikwei Otoo were at the time that the Great Osagyefo was in power; but if they were of the school-going age, then, they cannot wash away from their lives the benefits that Nkrumah’s policies on education provided them. If they did attend any of the institutions that profited from Nkrumah’s Ghana Education Trust Fund, then, they can’t avoid being labelled as the most treacherous ingrates ever lived!!
Nkrumah’s monumental contributions to world politics are beyond doubt. Can we forget how he provided the sanctuary for all freedom fighters in other parts of Africa, especially Southern Africa? He saw sense in unity and proclaimed so at several for a, the first of which was the 1958 All Africa Conference that he hosted and forged the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Alliance.
Nkrumah might be known for all that he stood for. His only problem was that he was far ahead of his time! The Julius Nyereres and Kaundas accused him of being over-ambitious in calling for a Continental Union Government and an African High Command (military wing to respond rapidly to crisis anywhere on the continent) because they didn’t understand him.
Those insulting him today too don’t understand him, but I don’t blame them because if they understand him, they will leave their current political comfort zones to see things beyond their noses. They prefer to remain in these calcified cocoons to spew out garbage against the Osagyefo. That is the only means to remain in contention in the murky waters of Ghanaian politics. But they are mistaken. They can’t dim the light that the Great Osagyefo lit many years ago.
We recall with pride that Nkrumah is on record as the only Ghanaian leader who died penniless, owning nothing anywhere in Ghana. Even his mother had to be relocated in one of the buildings at the Nyaniba Estates in Accra, long after his death. Nkrumah had no self-acquisitive spirit to goad him on. He is antithetical to all those who came after him and remains in our hearts as an exemplary selfless leader.
Tell me. Which of those entering politics can claim to be selfless? Even those working with Nkrumah failed the test. Komla Agbeli Gbedemah (then Finance Minister in 1961) had to flee from Nkrumah’s anger when exposed. How about Krobo Edusei and Kojo Botsio, not to mention all others who allowed their quest for material wealth to endanger Nkrumah’s agenda for Ghana?
Knowing very well the nature of the negative forces arrayed against him—and mindful of his desire to advance the cause of Ghana—Nkrumah ruled with remarkable selfless devotion. Yes, he qualifies in the political lexicon as a dictator, but his was a dictator guided by reasons other than what has motivated others in our own country or elsewhere.
Nkrumah’s dictatorship wasn’t for self-acquisition or self-aggrandizement, regardless of the accolade for him as the “Showboy of Africa” or “Nkrumah never dies”. I have been told how he was adored by many, especially women of the CPP wing who spread their cloth for him to walk on wherever he appeared on the political landscape. They did so, not because they were turning their “buttocks” into baits (as happened under Kutu Acheampong—“Fa wo to be gye Golf”) but because they knew what the Great Osagyefo meant to Ghana. And Nkrumah himself gave clear indications of what he could do for the country. And he did it too, deriving no material benefit therefrom.
Is this the man to be dismissed so petulantly as “an opportunist”? What in Nkrumah’s life projected him as an opportunist to be so insulted today by Ayikwei Otoo? And to imagine him saying that he would personally lead the campaign to divest Nkrumah of all the honour done him? How vicious can’t these NPP people be?
We must point it out to these NPP latter-day saints (whom I derisively have written off as the Pharisees of Ghanaian politics) that their Nkrumah-loathing will add more woes to what has been buffeting them since they lost the 2008 elections.
What they have begun doing is nothing strange. Their forebears did it to him and passed the baton on to them. They did it to Jerry Rawlings when he was in power and carried it further when he left office. They did it to Dr. Hilla Limann and Prof. Mills. It is their penchant and I don’t expect it to change.
Their tunnel-vision capabilities won’t allow them to see anything beyond their bulbous noses. They go all out to assassinate the character of those they cannot outdo in politics and stick to their own self-righteous and self-opinionated impressions about themselves even when it is clearly written on the wall that they are out of touch with reality and can’t expect to endear themselves to the hearts of the electorate at election time or even out of season.
They are wont to see nothing good in their political opponents even when the whole world recognizes their good works and see them as the cynosure. In their narrow-minded approach to politics, they consider themselves as the be-it-all-and-end-it-all even with their obnoxious “book politics”
We are proud to reiterate that for all that he did for Ghana, in particular, Africa and the whole world, in general, Nkrumah will continue to stand tall in the comity of world leaders. The wise crack that “Nkrumah Never Dies” will continue to haunt and pinch these NPP detractors till they fade off the scene in disgrace.
I shall return…
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