12
MenuWallOpinions
Articles

Dr. Kofi Dompere On Nkrumah’s Scientific Thinking 3

Wed, 18 Jun 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

“It is Nkrumah the theoretician and practitioner of Pan-Africanism who continues to provide interest and respect (Kofi Hadjor).”

The above quote is undeniably a statement of fact. Several international scholars, scientists, historians, postcolonial theorists, political scientists, economists, and critical race theorists interested in the African world, human dignity, globalization, as well as human and race relations have come to the same conclusion as Kofi Hadjor’s. Indeed, Nkrumah’s unquestionable erudition, academic credentials, professional associations, politico-economic prudence, and analytic sophistication, otherwise represented by such thoughtfully creative works as “Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization,” “Africa Must Unite,” and “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism,” are part of his magnetic appeal to the world. No Ghanaian or African, dead or living, for that matter, remotely comes close measuring by the standards of his achievements. Once again we cannot overemphasize this indispensable point.

This defines the intellectual intersection where the unparalleled scientific scholarship of Dr. Kofi Kissi Dompere, a formidable US-based Ghanaian mathematician, statistician, economist, cultural theorist, philosopher, historian, cultural theorist, logician, operations researcher, business analyst, and prolific writer, reigns supreme. Among other notable achievements, Dr. Dompere has been acknowledged as one of the central thinkers in the American Academy known for blending the “rigid” frontiers of the humanities/liberal arts and science. Then, having said that, scholarship on Nkrumah and his signal contributions to human civilization transcends the emotional particularities of race, ethnicity, geography, ideology, language, and culture. In fact, the sublime example of Nkrumah is exactly what the youth of today should emulate while still acknowledging his salient foibles and shortcomings, granted that no true, genuine, influential, patriotic, outstanding, productive, and progressive leader is perfect. No human being is, can, or must.

Certainly, great and exceedingly gifted, intelligent leaders like Nkrumah should not be uncritically apotheosized, as it were, but rather should be constructively criticized within the proper contexts. Namely, from the holistic perspectives bordering on the circumstances of his rich, varied education, of the intellectual and political inferiority of some of his detractors and enemies, as well as of history, global station among exceptional leaders and strategic thinkers, force of personality, time and place, intellectual brilliance, spirituality, prescience, friendships, local and international politics (Cold War, etc), moral and political strengths and weaknesses, among others. Thus, a critical integral approach to an unemotional or non-partisan assessment of his legacy is certainly bound to turn out more credits than debits in the balance sheet of his political and intellectual bequests.

Yet we cannot also avoid the rich backgrounds of those who have been influenced by or constructively commented on Nkrumah’s legacy, politics, economic policies, and scholarly works, particularly. However, this is to implicitly say Nkrumah was not influenced by others, as his mentors are proverbially known. In fact, a new book by Dr. Belete Belachew Yihun, “Black Ethiopia: A Glimpse into African Diplomacy, 1956-1991,” for instance, sheds new light on the diplomacy Haile Selassie exerted on fractious elements within Africa’s Founding Fathers to sign up in respect of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). In other words, Selassie’s collaborative role in actualizing the official founding of the OAU by diplomatically bringing everyone onboard is not an extraneous fact of Africa’s political history. This singular statement of fact can neither be ignored nor its historical import minimized.

Once again, as we cursorily mentioned before in “Dr. Kofi Dompere On Nkrumah’s Scientific Thinking 2,” we shall chip in here that, most of those who have either come under the direct influence of Nkrumah’s innovative ideas or have exerted commentarial critiques on Nkrumah’s scholarly works as well as expatiated upon his ideas, represent some of the world’s notable thinkers, though some of us may not necessarily have to agree with their controversial views. We have already mentioned Ali Mazrui, Edward W. Said, Ama Mazama, Kofi Kissi Dompere, Martin Luther King, Jr., Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Paulin Hountondji, Jean-Paul Satre, David Birmingham, Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, Noam Chomsky, John H. McClendon, Molefi Kete Asante, Nelson Mandela, Kwame Anthony Appiah, among others.

For instance, Paulin Hountondji and Jean-Paul Satre are products of École Normale Supérieure, one of France’s elite research universities as well as the pre-eminent seat of her so-called French Mathematical School and French Physics. This educational institution has produced Nobel Laureates, Fields Medalists (“Field Medal” is the Nobel equivalent in mathematics”), numerous Prime Ministers and several other French ministers outside the office of premiership. It also has produced some of the world’s best pre-eminent thinkers in the human sciences, especially, scholars such as Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser, Alain Badiou, and Pierre Bourdieu. Finally, École Normale Supérieure has been ranked “the best higher-education institution in Continental Europe in 2006 and 2007, and has remained among the top three in the same category since then.”

What's more, Jean-Paul Satre’s was a nephew of Albert Schweitzer, his maternal uncle, and a thinker whose philosophical masterpiece “Reverence for Life,” an influential ethical invention, would win him a Nobel Prize in 1952. Jean-Paul Satre was a heavyweight in the fields of existentialism and phenomenology as well. We have already noted that Nkrumah is generally associated with the conceptual neology of “neocolonialism” in 1963, which he further theoretically developed in his influential 1965 text, “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism,” with Noam Chomsky and Jean-Pau Satre contributing to its theoretical development, as in “The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism,” 1979, and “Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism,” 1964, respectively. Noam Chomsky is a global phenomenon. Therefore, we shall not belabor his legacy here. On the other hand, Jean-Paul Satre, like Kwame Nkrumah, stood tall as one of Frantz Fanon’s important colleagues and friends.

Yet again, the Afro-Martinician psychiatrist, revolutionary, and philosopher, Dr. Frantz Fanon, one of 20th-Century’s celebrated thinkers as well as one of the intellectual and strategic pillars behind the Algerian Revolution (also a member of Algeria’s National Liberation Front), authored influential works such as “The Wretched of the Earth,” “A Dying Colonialism,” “Black Skin, White Masks,” and “Toward the African Revolution.” Dr. Fanon’s scholarly, scientific, and philosophical treatises gave moral and revolutionary voice to national liberation and anti-colonial movements around the world. His powerful ideas helped shape the moral and political direction of America’s Civil Rights Movement, for instance. Most importantly, Dr. Fanon sought Nkrumah’s wisdom by consulting with him on strategic and tactical questions with reference to Africa and the world when the Provisional Algerian Government (GPRA) made him an Ambassador to Ghana.

The world cannot gloss over Dr. Fanon’s progressive legacy to the world and his ideological connection to Nkrumah. His humanism was only matched by a few great men and women, like Desmond Tutu, Martin Luther King, Jr., Bob Marley, Gustavo Gutiérrez, Mother Teresa, Leonardo Boff, Nelson Mandela, Juan J. Segundo, Kwame Nkrumah, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Oscar Romero, WEB Du Bois, Rita Marley, and Malcolm X. Scholars around the world regard him as a leading thinker on the psychotherapy of colonization. In fact, an essay, “Frantz Fanon (1925-1961),” authored by Lewis University Dr. Tracey Nicholls, and published in “Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Source,” says of Dr. Fanon: “Frantz Fanon was one of a few extraordinary thinkers supporting the decolonization struggles occurring after World War ll, and he remains among the most widely read and influential of these voices. His brief life was notable both for his whole-hearted engagement in the independence struggle the Algerian people waged against France and for his astute, passionate analyses of the human impulse towards freedom in the colonial context…”

Dr. Nicholls adds this important point, however: “Fanon’s first work ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ was his first effort to articulate a radical anti-racist humanism that adhered neither to assimilation to a white-supremacist mainstream nor to reactionary philosophies of black supremacy…His later works, notably ‘A Dying Colonialism’ and the much more well-known ‘The Wretched of the Earth,’ go beyond a preoccupation with Europe’s pretensions to being a ‘universal standard of culture and civilization,’ in order to take on the struggles and take up the consciousness of the colonized ‘natives’ as they rise up and reclaim simultaneously their lands and their human dignity” (middle parenthetic emphasis ours). She concludes: “It is Fanon’s expansive conception of humanity and his decision to craft the moral core of decolonization theory as a commitment to the individual human dignity of each member of populations typically dismissed as ‘the masses’ that stands as his enduring legacy…At the request of the FLN, his body was returned to Tunisia, where it was subsequently transported across the border and buried in the soil of the Algerian nation for which he fought so single-hardly during the last five years of his life (See also David Macey’s “Frantz Fanon: A Biography”).” These admirable historical recollections are equally evocative of theoretical Nkrumahism, even of Nkrumah.

On the contrary, Dr. Hountondji’s classic scholarly work, “Endogenous Knowledge: Research Trails,” supplements the research work of Dr. Ron Eglash, an expert on the History of Consciousness and one of America’s important mathematicians, cyberneticists, and systems engineering, which is represented by “African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design” (See also Hountondji’s “Struggle for Meaning: Reflections on Philosophy, Culture, and Democracy in Africa”). Dr. Eglash has painstakingly shown how modern computer came into being via the cultural exportation of “African Fractals” to Europe several centuries ago, which Gottfried Leibniz, so-called co-discoverer of calculus, George Boole, and Jon von Newmann, directly or indirectly worked on. Finally, Dr. Hountondji was once a member of Harvard University’s W.E.B Du Bois Fellows Program (Fall 2009).

In addition, according to the website of Harvard University: “The Fellows Program, the oldest of the Institute’s activities, invites up to twenty scholars to be in residence each year, reflecting the interdisciplinary breadth of African and African American Studies. The Institute has appointed Fellows since its inception in 1975 and supports research at both the predoctoral and postdoctorial levels…Du Bois Fellows include scholars from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. The Institute’s Mandela Fellows Program is sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon in collaboration with the University of Cape Coast.” This extensive quote is meant to underscore the multidimensional facet of African and African American Studies, of whose theoretical founding and institutional makeup Nkrumahism have greatly impacted, a salient point made known by Dr. Zizwe Poe, one of America’s leading Nkrumah scholars, has acknowledged.

Again, according to the website, the Fellows Program has benefited no less than 300 alumni, including, but not limited to, Wole Soyinka (a Noble Laureate), Brent Edwards (Columbia University), Gloria W. Gayles (Spellman College), David W. Blight (Yale University), Evelyn B. Higginbotham (Harvard University), Claude Steele (Columbia University), Arnold Rampersad (Stanford University), Cornel West (Princeton University), among others (See Harvard University’s Annual Report 2010). That aside, Drs. Molefi Kete Asante and Ama Mazama do not need elaborate introduction here. Both have single-handedly transformed Western Academy, particularly America’s, as it relates to historiography, critical theory, history, Egyptology, linguistics, etc. The “Utne Reader” says particularly of Asante: “One of the 100 Leading Thinkers in America.” In effect, Nkrumah’s influence on both Mazama and Asante is part of this radical transformation of Western scholarship on Africa, especially America’s. Dr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah’s friend Dr. Maulana Karenga, a holder of two doctorates and one of America’s leading moral philosophers, has equally greatly been influenced by Kwame Nkrumah. Ali Mazrui is a product of Manchester University (B.A.), Columbia University (M.A.), and Oxford University (PhD).

Pointedly, other non-African intellectuals and researchers have written extensively about Nkrumah and his legacy as well. Let us look at a few. The British-Swiss historian Prof. David Birmingham, a biographer of Kwame Nkrumah, held the Chair of Modern History at the University of Kent (Canterbury, England), from 1980 to 2001 (See his books “Kwame Nkrumah: The Father of African Nationalism,” “Kwame Nkrumah: Makers of the Twentieth Century,” and “The Decolonization of Africa”). Other Europeans who have written about Nkrumah include the French scholar Cecile Laronce (See “Nkrumah: Le Panafricanisme Et Les Etats-Unis”); the British scholar David Rooney (See “Kwame Nkrumah: Vision and Tragedy”); the British biographer June Milne (See “Forward Ever: Kwame Nkrumah: A Biography” and “Kwame Nkrumah: The Conakry Years: His Life and Letters”); the British historian, Africanist, and prolific author Basil Davidson (See “Black Star: A View of the Life and Times of Kwame Nkrumah”).

Another important British scholar and researcher Prof. Richard Rathbone, an ex-Chairman of the University of London’s Center for African Studies, Dean of Postgraduate Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, SOAS, has written another influential scholarly work on Nkrumah (See Prof. Rathbone’s “Nkrumah & Chiefs: Politics of Chieftaincy in Ghana, 1951-1960”), recalling what the website of the University of London has to say about SOAS: “SOAS, University of London, is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.” Among other things, Prof. Rathbone’s research work has taken him to several universities including the University of Ghana, Bordeaux, Toronto, South Africa (Cape Town, Johannesburg), Lesotho, Harvard, Princeton, and Aberystwyth University (Wales). Importantly, he has served on the Council of the Royal Historical Society as well as been one of its Vice-Presidents (See www.richardrathbone.org).

Last but not least, the Asian scholar Dr. Hakim Adi has also discussed Nkrumah and others (See “Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787,” a book co-written with Marika Sherwood, a Jewish-Hungurian-born British historian, educator, researcher. She is also a honorary senior research fellow at the University of London’s Institute of Commonwealth Studies, as well as a co-founder of the Black and Asian Studies Association). Marika Sherwood’s the author of the book “Kwame Nkrumah: The Years Abroad 1935-1947” and the essays “Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism: 1942-1958,” “George Padmore and Kwame Nkrumah: A Tentative Outline of Their Relationship,” “The Pan-African Conference, Kumasi, 1953,” “Nkrumah: The Student Years in London, 1945-1947,” and “Pan-African Conferences, 1900-1953: What did Pan-Africanism Mean.”

Phillip M. Parker (PhD, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School), Nkrumah’s alma mater), a White-American intellectual and the INSEAD Chair Professorship of Management Science (France), is another Nkrumah biographer. INSEAD is “Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires,” French for “European Institute of Business Administration.” Dr. Parker has advanced degrees in banking, finance, business/managerial economies, with undergraduate degrees in biology, mathematics, and economics. He too has authored a book on Nkrumah, titled “Nkrumah: Webster’s Timeline History, 1909-2007.” Yet Again, this is not to say every single book in the corpus of Nkrumah biographies we have mentioned is critical. It is merely to demonstrate Nkrumah’s global appeal to the world.

Finally, the late Columbia University professor Edward W. Said’s alma maters include Princeton University (B.A) and Harvard University (PhD). Dr. Said was awarded nearly 20 honorary degrees “in the course of his professional life as an academic, critic, and Man of Letters.” He also received Harvard University’s Bowdoin Prize, the Lionel Trilling Book Award (twice), the American Comparative Literature Association’s Wellek Prize, the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award (literature), the Sultan Owais Prize (first American citizen to receive this award), the Lannan Literary Award (Lifetime Achievement), the 2000 Anisfield-Wolf Award (non-fiction), etc. This assembly of facts amply demonstrates another salient fact, that commentators on Nkrumah have the intellectual wherewithal to make authoritative statements about his ideas and legacy. There are more important names, however, but we hope this short list suffices.

Now, regarding the political weight and spiritual strength of his legacy, the world unanimously regards Nkrumah as one of the greatest human beings to ever walk the face of the earth. Amilcar Cabral said of him: “the strategist of genius in the struggle against classic colonialism”; Kofi Hadjor: “Nkrumah is a reminder not of what Africa is, but of what Africa must become”; Amara Essy, an Interim Chairman of the AU Commission: “When we mention Kwame Nkrumah, we have summed up in one name the appeal of all our heroes and precursors who, from the embryonic stage of Pan-Africanism to the doors of our present situation, have embodied our thrust for justice and dignity”; Bill Mahoney, US Ambassador to Ghana (1962-1965): “Nkrumah was everything?psychologically, politically, statism, or culturally, and economically…he absolutely dominated the scene.” Put differently, Ambassador Mahoney primarily saw Nkrumah as the unrivaled powerhouse of Africa. However, that critical observation of his constitutes an intellectual linchpin within the crowded scaffold of a sociological verity, that of Nkrumah’s intellectual and political pre-eminence.

Thus, Nkrumah was, to say the least, not merely a presential singularity in the convulsive history of man, but, pointedly, inseverably part of the flowing continuum of that same history of man. The man was undeniably the creative embodiment of the noble aspirations of the downtrodden of the world, as Amara Essy maintains. Putting everything we have said aside, it should be pointed out that Nkrumah’s “Consciencism,” a philosophical text upon which we have only distantly touched, is pregnant with critical corollary and collateral questions, which, again, as we have noted elsewhere, may come as part of a systematized cartilage of political, psychological, mathematical, economic, ethical, cultural, and scientific covariates. Many important questions do remain as to the correct interpretation of the philosophical text, however. Arguably, it depends on one’s reading of the text, which, again, as we have noted before, is open to multiple (mis)interpretations, probably a testament to Nkrumah’s restless genius, to his dialectical sophistication, that is to say.

But, as is often the case, the corpus of written works by great thinkers and writers have undergone ambiguous interpretation due to their methodological sophistication, readers’ cultural-philosophical (dis)location, writer’s ideological station, and readers’ general lack of appreciation of critical theory, history of science, history of scholarship, anthropology, chronology, sociology of knowledge, history of philosophy, and history of knowledge, for no writer’s written work(s) does say it all. That is, without critically considering the exegetical particularities of a book’s plot context of culture, psychogeography, history, behavioral psychology, etc., beyond the ideological particularity of a writer’s unique auctorial personality. Dr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah has systematically explained this to us in a series of private conversations.

Relatedly, Nkrumah and his scholarly works have faced these afore-cited challenges one way or the other. What is important here is that world authorities, including Ngugi wa Thiong’o (“Moving the Center: The Struggle for Cultural Freedoms”), Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (“The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism”), Toni Morrison (“Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination”), Kofi Kissi Dompere (“Polyrhythmicity: Foundations of African Philosophy”), Wole Soyinka (“Myth, Literature, and the African World”), Kwame Botwe-Asamoah (“Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought and Politics”), Chinua Achebe (“Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays, 1965-1987”), Molefi Kete Asante (“The Global Intercultural Communication Reader”), Edward W. Said (“Culture and Imperialism”), among others, have in diverse ways theoretically reinforced Dr. Botwe-Asamoah’s position on the relevance of literary theory and criticism to exegesis.

Over all, on the subject of Nkrumah, the American philosopher Dr. John H. McClendon has suggested to researchers, scientists, philosophers, and historians around the world to critically read “Consciencism” in the general context of Nkrumah’s speeches and books, the dialectics of extratextuality, if you will, where, he believes, the book’s seeming ambiguities, internal contradictions, and irreconcilable differences have a diagnostic legroom of confirmatory resolution. This multidisciplinary approach is precisely what Dr. Dompere brings to the academic altar of Nkrumahism. In effect, Dr. Dompere pushes the analytic calculus of his curious mind way beyond the exhortatory upper-limit of Dr. McClendon’s recommendation. For instance, he has atomistically looked at the weldment of Nkrumah’s ideas from the logical depths of African “traditional” wisdom, such as “the Dogon system of thought,” “adinkralogy or the adinkramatics of the Akan conceptual system,” and “Pharaohnic conceptual system,” which he brings to bear on the scientific and mathematical mind of Nkrumah.

In fine, the summary ideas explored in this present installment and those in the other two before it provide the requisite background to the mathematical and scientific exposition of “Consciencism” and “categorical conversion,” which we hypothetically address in “Dr. Kofi Dompere On Nkrumah’s Scientific 4,” both of which have been jointly submitted to Ghanaweb the same day.

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis