By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
I read Mr. Ekow Nelson’s all-too-predictable and vapid rejoinder to my article titled “Ghana and Africa: Founder’s Joke” and found it to be both absolutely devoid of merit and comically edifying. That the writer would journey from calling Dr. J. B. Danquah a CIA agent and a poisonous retardant to Ghana’s independence, to characterizing the undisputed Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics as a giant on whose shoulders Mr. Kwame Nkrumah stood to advance the cause of our country’s sovereignty from British imperialism, is rather laudable, albeit decidedly rascally in tenor (See “Comment: Ghana and Africa: Nkrumah the Undisputed ‘Motivating Force’” MyJoyOnline.com 10/7/11).
Needless to say, his insistence on mendaciously crediting Mr. Nkrumah with being the sole and overriding force behind Ghana’s independence struggle, brazenly affirms the clinically lunatic myth that, somehow, the leaders of the seminal United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) had, in 1947, invited the African Show Boy into joining their ranks in order to hermetically advance the unholy cause of British imperialism. No arrant untruth could be more flagrantly sacrilegious.
It is also rather risible for the Nkrumaist junkie to blame the relatively more resourceful familial background of Dr. Danquah for being squarely responsible for Mr. Nkrumah’s epic failure to obtain the Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Pennsylvania. No accusation could be more criminal. Indeed, it is this kind of “politics of envy,” inherited from Mr. Nkrumah by former President Jerry John Rawlings, that has been largely responsible for the extremely slow-paced development of Ghana.
Anyway, briefly and succinctly put, as the popular African-American saying goes: “You either got it, or you don’t got it.” Even Mr. C. L. R. James, the famous Trinidadian-British autodidact scholar who introduced Mr. Nkrumah to Mr. George Padmore ( aka Malcolm Nurse), did not think any highly of his younger exuberant and wild-eyed Ghanaian friend. In the letter that Mr. James wrote for Mr. Nkrumah, introducing the latter to Mr. Padmore, this is what the great Marxist scholar had to say about the future Prime Minister and President of independent Ghana: “He [Nkrumah] is not very bright, but he will learn with time.”
And on the latter score, I hasten to add that it has never been quite clear to me whether, indeed, Mr. Nkrumah ever learned whatever it was that Mr. James had expected his former protégé to learn. At any rate, I prefer to reserve this judgment to posterity.
On the question of whether it is an egregious act of disrespect on my part to refer to the former and late President Nkrumah as “Mr./Mister” Nkrumah, suffice it to say that there is absolutely nothing disrespectful about the afore-referenced title of legitimate social recognition! To be certain, I am rather surprised and disappointed that somebody resident in the very heart of polite English society, such as Mr. Nelson, would presume to take umbrage at the fact of my titular reference of postcolonial Ghana’s first premier as “Mr.” Nkrumah. Needless to say, I routinely use the title of Dr./Doctor in reference to J. B. Danquah because the latter actually earned that title through systematic and deliberate scholarship, and was actually the first continental African to have done so in the twentieth century, Dr. J. E. K. Aggrey having had his doctorate posthumously conferred.
The sad reality, though, is that anybody who has had the opportunity to “guidedly” tour the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Central Accra, has likely had the misfortune of being shown a black-bound manuscript and being rapturously hoodwinked by the tourist guide into believing that it is, indeed, the largely unknown dissertation written by Mr. Nkrumah and approved by the University of London! Needless to say, it is partly this sort of canonized mendacity which I seek to both definitively dispel and protect my own children and their innocent generation against.
I must also hasten to add that contrary to what Mr. Nelson would have his readers believe, it was highly unlikely for Mr. Ebenezer Ako-Adjei to have been conferred with an honorary doctorate in 1962, when the man who introduced the future President Nkrumah to Dr. Danquah and the mainstream of modern Ghanaian politics was in prison facing the death penalty, having been charged for a dubious role in the Kulungugu assassination attempt on the life of the African Show Boy. Mr. Ako-Adjei was then President Nkrumah’s own Foreign Affairs Minister! Talk of pathological paranoia!
Now, let me regale Mr. Nelson and his fellow Nkrumah fanatics with the real state of affairs vis-à-vis Lincoln University’s awarding of the honorary doctorate to its most famous African alumnus. And it is simply as follows: In 1952, Messrs. Kwame Nkrumah, Kojo Botsio and Ebenezer Ako-Adjei were all conferred with the honorary doctorate by Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University. It is also a matter of public record – personally attested by Mr. Cameron Duodu, the paternal uncle of mine who has categorically warned me at least twice by E-mail, not to publicly refer to him as such – that both Messrs. Ako-Adjei and Botsio had been expressly forbidden by the clinically megalomaniacal Mr. Nkrumah not to officially respond to their honorary doctoral degrees, as doing so would untowardly diminish the “Nkrumah Phenomenon” in the eyes of a largely unsuspecting Ghanaian populace. In other words, by capricious decree, Nkrumah ravenously craved to be envisaged as sui generis among his peers!
Mr. Nelson knows full-well that scholastically compared to Dr. Danquah, Nkrumah is an indisputable Lilliputian. It is this ineluctable fact that the Nkrumah fanatics and junkies refuse to abide. The objective reality of history, however, points to the fact that both the African Show Boy and his minions cannot have it both ways, as it were.
PS: By the way, Mr. William Gwira Sekyi (Kobina Sekyi?), the widely acknowledged Danquah mentor, was a bona fide member of the UGCC at the time of his death in 1956. So what is all this bunkum from Mr. Nelson to the effect that Dr. Danquah had, upon his political accession, summarily swept his revered mentor off the scene?
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ###
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