Dr. Kofi Dompere On Nkrumah’s Scientific Thinking 12

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

KWAME NKRUMAH: “We must re-assess the glories and assert the glories and achievements of our African past and inspire our generation, and succeeding generations, with a vision of a better future…When I speak of the African genius, I mean something different from Negritude, something not apologetic, but dynamic…I DO NOT MEAN A VAGUE BROTHERHOOD BASED ON A CRITERION OF COLOR, OR ON THE IDEA THAT AFRICANS HAVE NO REASONING, BUT ONLY A SENSIVITY. BY THE AFRICAN GENIUS, I MEAN SOMETHING POSITIVE, OR SOCIALIST CONCEPTION OF SOCIETY, THE EFFICIENCY AND VALIDITY OF OUR TRADITIONAL STATECRAFT, OUR HIGHLY DEVELOPED CODE OF MORALS, OUR HOSPITALITY AND OUR PURPOSEFUL ENERGY” (our emphasis).

Following Mazama, Diop, Asante, Botwe-Asamoah, Ben-Jochannan, Karenga, Obenga, and their ilk, Prof. Dompere persuasively demonstrates how crucial it is for Africa to maintain deep ties to her progressive past against the backdrop of modernity and modernization (see “Polyrhythmicity: Foundations of African Philosophy”). The multifaceted scholar Diop saw Ancient Egypt, the source of Greco-Roman Civilization and hence Western Civilization, as a model for post-colonial African civilization. Frantz Fanon advanced similar arguments but strongly cautioned against romanticizing the past. We should, however, want to point out that the intellectual sympathy for the African past is not a controversial one, since Europe, the West in general, continually feeds on the model of the Greco-Roman past for intellectual and institutional direction as to the question of civilizational modernism. Asians do the same.

Finally, Prof. Botwe-Asamoah’s classic work on the cultural foundations of Nkrumahism, a seminal thesis of profound scholarship, also points to the same destination of intellectual chorus on the question of Africa’s critical allegiance to her progressive past (see “Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought and Policies”).

Yet all these renowned scholars, like Nkrumah before them, share the view that Africa’s progressive past and her post-colonial actualities be carefully managed so that they cohabit the space of scientific and technological modernism under threat of mutual antagonism. Taking full charge of her affairs, of her collective destiny, of her strategic foreign policy decisions, and of her development priorities formed part of the scientific thinking of Nkrumah. What is more, partisan politics and electoral politics (universal adult suffrage), of which Nkrumah’s social and political activism helped usher into the exclusive politics of colonial dictatorship, were to pave way for the scientific and technological revolution he planned for Ghana and Africa. That was cut off by a combined intelligence apparatuses from the West, including the CIA, and their local agents. This ushered in a long trajectory of alternate episodes of kakistocracy, democratic dictatorship, and khakistocracy. It is important stressing again that the so-called Edmund Burke’s political ideology, which made pre-ordained rulers and educated elites sole candidates qualified to fill the positions of a country’s premiership and presidency, pitted the likes of Danquah and Busia against the moral agency of popular sovereignty.

Danquah and Busia and their political did not believe in adult suffrage as a moral pathway to either the presidency or premiership of the Gold Coast, and later of Ghana. Both men will fight the executive dominance of the CPP government which represented the will of popular sovereignty. To men like Danquah who were not baptized in the fire of political sophistication and of the intellectual intrigue of mass mobilization, the will of popular sovereignty merely meant “a thing of the masses,” a bundle of emotions. Nkrumah had studied Classical Africa, Ancient Egypt specifically, which exposed him to the intellectual greatness of those ancient Africans in Egypt whose sought-after priest-professors (and temple-universities) had trained or instructed a number of the best minds in the ancient world, including Plato, Soros, Pythagoras, Thales, Homer, Democritus, Herodotus, Anaxamander (and many others), hence his [Nkrumah’s] “The African Genius” Speech from which our epigrammatic attribution, the first paragraph, derives.

Nkrumah knew what the African mind, which he referred to as “the African Genius,” was capable of accomplishing given the right environment and resources (see also Molefi Kete Asante’s “Race in Antiquity: Truly out of Africa” and “Nkrumah Celebration”; Cheikh Anta Diop’s “Barbarism or Civilization: An Authentic Anthropology” and “African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality”; and Theophile Obenga’s “Ancient Egypt and Black Africa”). Further, Nkrumah’s speech “The Academy of Sciences Dinner” and the “African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards” speak to the question of African creative gifts. There is no denying the fact that science is not for the exclusive use of any society’s elites and pre-ordained rulers. Rather, science is for the benefit of humanity and further, science requires the patronage of the masses for its existence. We will also point out that it was the context of Nkrumah’s investigational forays into the creative productions of the University of Timbuktu and of Ancient Egypt what gave him cause to fault Leopold Senghor’s Negritude, which assigned rationality and logic to Greek psychology and emotivity to African psychology, contrary to the verifiable facts of comparative historiography and of history, classical scholarship and science.

And far from what others might say or think, Nkrumah was right in his critique of Negritude because, unlike Nkrumahism, it lacks the scientific power of material actuation and transformative possibilities for improving race relations and easing human suffering! The wide-ranging scholarships of Profs. Botwe-Asamoah, Dompere, Diop, and Asante do not give much intellectual and philosophic weight to Negritude by way of critical expositions. Even Busia took issue with it. Wole Soyinka, contrariwise, has not explicitly demonstrated his reservations about Negritude. Rather he has always lauded Senghor for the maturity, ornateness and sophistication of his rhetorical prowess. So much for the commentary on Negritude and its unscientificness!

The crux of the matter is that the kind of scientific and technological revolution Nkrumah envisioned for Ghana and Africa required the active support of the masses, a fact Danquah’s elitist political philosophy and distaste for the masses would not have countenanced let alone appropriate for the execution of his political ambitions. The foregoing facts go to explain why Nkrumah may have brought the masses on board via adult suffrage and popular sovereignty, on a quest for popular actuation of that scientific and technological revolution. What of the present political dispensation and its links to the political architectonics of suffrage and development economics? Concerning the actualities and challenges of the modern dispensation for instance, Prof. Dompere has thoroughly examined the underlying factors feeding electorate seems general miscomprehension of the moral burden of elective politics and the political implications of the democratic process for development economics. This includes his investigational re-appraisal of such popular instruments as the role electoral franchise plays in development economics, civil protection of liberties, Ghana’s socio-political evolution, individual and collective responsibilities, and so forth. He offers a regimen of theoretical and practical solutions to address the problem of electoral miseducation, disinformation, and misinformation.

Prof. Dompere’s primary worry, though, regards African leadership’s continual destruction of the continent, a process he believes contributes to collateral blighting of the future of generations yet unborn. It is in this context that one wonders whether politicians accord any degree of respect to electoral franchise at all, particularly after election cycles. A corollary question is: Do the people themselves have any respect for their suffrage? If they do, why is it that they always seem to vote for incompetent politicians? But there is a tempting tendency to invoke Senghor’s Negritude as a possible explanation for the voting patterns of the electorate: Emotivity rather than logic and rationality as a determining factor for the voting patterns of Ghana’s and Africa’s electoral politics. Another question is: What are the reasons that seem to undermine the people’s ability to protect their electoral franchise and civic responsibilities from the human faces of gross political incompetence? Quality mass education based on scientific literacy; computer literacy; STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) pedagogy; critical thinking; information, media, and financial literacy; policy and political analysis; public science; critical pedagogy; Afrocentric theory; discourse analysis; critical theory; and technology literacy may situate citizens in a better position to critique electioneering and post-electioneering promises. In short, to critique public policy.

There is, however, some evidence that the political elite are not ready or willing to improve the quality of education for the masses because they [the political elite] can sponsor their children’s education abroad at public expense, via corruption and kleptomania among a range of choices, and because they [the political elite] fear quality mass education stand to jeopardize their privileged status in society. The survival and perpetuation of the political elite means that citizens must be kept in mass poverty and ignorance for their own social convenience. Overall, Nkrumah’s “developed code of morals” appears to have completely lost their place and corrective direction in post-Nkrumah neocolonial politics. The end result of this policy is the mushrooming of temples, churches, mosques, and shrines and charlatanic clergy, rather than of research institutions and cutting-edge scientific laboratories and scientists, on every street corner. However, for Nkrumah, science meant a social riposte to poverty, disease, ignorance, superstition, low quality of life and of standard of living, melancholy, and antagonism and beyond that, raising the profile of the masses’ socio-political consciousness. Prof. Dompere teases out the scientific foundation of Nkrumahism in all his major works on Nkrumah.

In fine, Nkrumah’s promotion and projection of public science encouraged the idea of giving children a shot at scientific education and scientific literacy and, in the words of E.A. Haizel, to be executed “from the earliest stages in education, and taught to realize that science is not just something which works in the laboratory, but is all around us in nature and in the things we see in our daily lives” (see E.A. Haizel’s “Education in Ghana, 1951-1966”). Nkrumah did in fact demonstrate his deep appreciation of developmental psychology, the art of teaching, child-rearing practices (parenting), psychology of learning, and education of children (pedagogy” in his 1941 essay “Primitive Education in Africa”). This may partly explain why he took the education of children and of the youth to heart!

Yet in another context ethnic, cultural, religious, and regional allegiances and alliances, as well as mass poverty and a misinformed, disinformed public are part of the dilemma of electoral politics across Africa. Nkrumah’s suggestion that Ghanaians (and by inference Africans) should not view themselves as Fantes, Gonjas, Ewes, Gas, Asantes, Nzemas, and so on but simply as a collectivity, “Ghanaians,” belonging to the nation-state Ghana was antithetical, if not rather strange, to Danquah and his thugs of ethnocentric, terrorist, and secessionist friends who advanced the political philosophy of ethno-regional balkanization over public objections. The radicalness of Nkrumah’s scientific thinking, on the contrary, drove him to push for the unitary state, with a responsible central government, where ethnic diversity coalesced into seeming nationalism, as a conceptual framework that exerted a blanket of moral superiority over Danquah’s divisive and exclusive politics, of ethnocracy. Danquah’s lack of scientific grasp of mass mobilization, of organizational intelligence, and of the intrigue of political sophistication betrayed him.

As well, his [Danquah’s] infatuation with the Edmund Burke’s political ideology, ethnocracy, political ethnocentrism, and overreliance on his royal pedigree to do his bidding did his political career in. In the first paragraph, for instance, Nkrumah made it clear that his idea of “brotherhood” did not depend on “a criterion of color,” for his scientific thinking had no room for ethnic nationalism and ethnocracy. He may have believed that colorism lacked scientific justification and that it should not be a barrier to race relations. It was as if he had the completed pages of the Human Genome Project right before him, from which he derived his scientific views on racial and ethnic equality.

It may have been probably why in all his major scholarly works and speeches he used “colonialism,” “imperialism,” “the West,” “neocolonialism” and “Western” rather than “Caucasians” or “Whites” as critiques of race relations with political overtones, although the former set of labels may have constituted subtle and nuanced references to the latter set of labels. Nkrumah’s marriage to Fathia solidified his credentials on ethnic- and race-blind political philosophy. Copts are not Arabs. The French savant F.C. Volney who visited Egypt in the 18th century inferentially classified Copts as “Negroes.” Volney writes: “All the Egyptians have a bloated face, puffed-up eyes, flat nose, thick lips…in a word, the true face of the MULATTO. I was tempted to attribute it to the climate, but when I visited the Sphinx, its appearance gave me the key to the riddle.”

He continues: “ON SEEING THAT HEAD, TYPICALLY NEGRO IN ALL ITS FEATURES, I remembered the remarkable passage where Herodotus says: ‘AS FOR ME, I JUDGE THE COLCHIANS TO BE A COLONY OF THE EGYPTIANS BECAUSE, LIKE THEM, THEY ARE BLACK WITH WOLLY HAIR’” (our emphasis; see Volney’s book “The Ruins of Empires”). Also Jean-Francois Champollion, the Father of Egyptology, who also visited Egypt in the 18th century, drew similar conclusions. Results from Diop’s blood typing analysis (on Egyptian mummies), melanin dosage test, as well as scientific and mathematical work on Ancient Egyptian physical anthropology produced similar conclusions. Mrs. Fathia Nkrumah, nee Ritz, was ethno-racially a Copt! It bears emphasizing that, according to the American Nkrumah scholar Dr. Zizwe Poe, Nkrumah the philosopher communicated with Diop the scientist on a number of questions related to the African world and that Nkrumah later impacted Diop internationally. Diop’s scientific work on the ancient world, comparative linguistics, anthropology, sociology, political economy, human geography, classical scholarship, Egyptology, and human biology led to a set of conclusions some of which Prof. Dompere makes good use of in his scientific valuation of Nkrumahism.

Also in 1966, the First World Black Festival of Arts and Culture honored Diop and Du Bois “as the scholars who exerted the greatest influence on African thought in the twentieth century.” In addition, the African-centered (Afrocentric) theory which Dr. Asante theoretically expanded upon and gave it a stamp of international character owes its origination to Nkrumah. Dr. Asante makes it clear that Diop provided the scientific tools for this theory (see “Cheikh Anta Diop: An Intellectual Portrait”). This theory, which critiques Eurocentrism, cultural imperialism, and intra-African ethnocentrism among others, has impacted the American Academy and international institutions in many meaningful ways. Therefore, Nkrumah’s impact on the American Academy (and the Civil Rights Movement) has contributed to enhancing the scientific understanding of the African world and its external relations, as well as of race relations, African psychology, and the African Personality. This scientific understanding of race relations and particularly of Africans’ aggregate awareness of their “new” station in human relations, strength and weaknesses, common aspirations for a new era of freedom and of civilizational development, is important because it was on that basis that Nkrumah’s grand vision for that new Africa found the moral high ground of intellectual, scientific, cultural, and philosophic empowerment, even refinement.

Nkrumah saw this common destiny as a unitary continentalization of strategic priorities in Africa’s interest. He said: “The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of Africa.” The philosophic and geopolitical basis of this statement has already been affirmed to a certain extent, although its scientific ramifications are yet to fully find empirical or material expression in Africa’s contemporary political economy. But we need to take what the phrase “a certain extent” means with some measure of analytic caution. The pursuit of development priorities or politico-economic independence is a process. Namely, a gradualist and not a catastrophic enterprise. Nkrumah essentially saw “development” as “the result of internal and external conflict relations” and went on to view it [development] as a “struggle of opposites which causes development leads, at a certain point, to a revolutionary break, and to the emergence of a new thing?a new culture, a new education, or a new national life” (see Nkrumah’s 1943 essay “Education and Nationalism in Africa”). It does happen that in the particular case of Africa neocolonialism, bad and visionless leadership, misplaced policy prioritization, kleptomania, partisan politics, and lack of policy focus on long-term planning and strategic planning militate against maturation of the political economy of self-determination. Nkrumah’s “Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization” provides a solid scientific riposte to the dilemma. Also the scientific works of Profs. Diop and Dompere expand upon these strategic inquests.

Finally, nuclear scientist and businessman Dr. Kwame Amuah, Nelson Mandela’s son-in-law and husband of Makaziwe Mandela-Amuah, has added his voice to the universal chorus that Nkrumah was “non-racial” (see “Do You Write on Death When You Haven’t Experienced It? Nelson Mandela to His Son-in-Law,” New African, Dec. 2, 2013). Dr. Amuah tells the world: “NKRUMAH, WHILE PAN-AFRICANIST TO BOOT, WAS EQUALLY NON-RACIAL” (our emphasis). Furthermore, Nkrumah’s historical consciousness which derived from a deep intellectual marriage with his cultural roots, extensive reading, cosmopolitan worldview, as well as intimate knowledge of the comparative historiographies of the Ancient Egypt and Greco-Roman worlds convinced him that intelligence, originality, intellectual prowess, and creativity were not the province of any particular race or ethnicity. Rather, he saw intelligence and creative productions primarily as a function of individual and collective drive, enabling environments with the right caliber of incentives, society’s needs and wants, healthy competition and collaboration, unity in diversity, curiosity, intellectual freedom, a healthy citizenry, freedom from politico-economic repression, etc. Dr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah’s scholarly work on Nkrumah handles these questions in greater detail (see “Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought and Policies”; see also Dominic Kofi Agyeman’s essay “Social and Political Outlook”).

There is no doubt that Nkrumah demonstrated a serious commitment to popular democracy where the will of popular sovereignty submerged isolated agitations for ethnocracy, ethno-regional identity politics, and ethnic nationalism. It takes more than politics to do this in many a situation. This is borne out by his scientific understanding of how society, human psychology, mass mobilization, ethnic-blind practices, and group dynamics work to advance the collective enterprise of human undertakings. A scientific appreciation of the facts of human complexity, evolution, and diversity plays a major role in the kind of inclusive politics Nkrumah pursued. In the meantime, Danquah’s open distaste for Nkrumah’s appointment of J.B. Braimah, a Northerner, to a cabinet position in the CPP government, when he [Danquah] said Nkrumah had brought “ntafo” into his government to rule the country, is antithetical to Nkrumah’s “scientific” conception of education in the special case of a unitary state. The fact still remains: If Nkrumah did not see any significant biological differences between Caucasians and himself as a matter of social critique, how then could he, an Nzema, have used biological markers to set himself apart from and above J.B. Danquah, an Akyem; Gamal A. Nasser, an Arab; Obetsebi-Lamptey, a Ga; Sekou Toure, a Mandinka; S.G. Antor, an Ewe; Jomo Kenyatta, a Kikuyu; June Milne, a British; R.R. Amponsah, an Asante; Patrice Lumumba, a Tetela; Jawaharlal Nehru, an Indian; J.A. Braimah, a Gonja; Richard Nixon, an America; Nnamdi Azikiwe, an Igbo; Sam Nujoma, an Ovambo; Chou En-Lai, a Chinese; and K.A. Busia, a Bono?

Perhaps more importantly, and in a twist of irony, is it not also true that the Nzema (Kwame Nkrumah) and the Bono (K.A. Busia) are ethno-cultural siblings? If this is truly so, whence cometh the political animosity between Busia and Nkrumah then? Profs. Botwe-Asamoah, Owusu-Ansah, Mcfarland, and other historians, experts on human geography, ethnologists and ethnographers believe that “the Brong and Nzema groups” were, conceivably, the earliest cluster of Akans to leave Ancient Ghana for their present milieus (see Dr. Botwe-Asamoah). Putting this aside, Nkrumah’s scientific thinking and the scientific concept of Nkrumahism both ensure that disharmonies of whatever kind, degree, or form find meaningful and practical expression in the unitary confines of ethnic, linguistic, racial, linguistic, ideological, cultural, religious, and political diversity. Cheikh Anta Diop explored these questions thoroughly from the standpoint of his comparative empirical methodology. Prof. Kofi Kissi Dompere takes them to another whole level of vigorous scientific, philosophical, and mathematical actuation.

Finally, and most significantly, like the newly discovered Nelson Mandela hand-written manuscripts which never made it to his best-selling memoir “Long Walk To Freedom” and consequently set to appear in a sequel next year to fill in some of the major gaps in the long political narrative on Mandela’s life, Prof. Dompere’s forthcoming books “The Theory of Categorical Conversion: Analytic Foundations of Nkrumahism” and “Theory of Philosophical Conversion” are also set to provide a deeper analytic vista into the labyrinth of Nkrumah’s scientific thinking and into what Nkrumahism still holds out for the African world in terms of getting her out of the quagmire of developmental toxicity!

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis