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Ghana’s Second Revolution-Part l

Wed, 9 Apr 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

“China experimented in the past with various political systems, including multi-party democracy, but it did not work, warning that copying foreign political or development models could be catastrophic (China’s President Xi Jinping, “Xi Jinping Says Multi-Party System Didn’t Work for China,” April 2, 2014).”

How many times have we made this observation as Jinping’s? Must we always copy blindly? Is an idea always morally right because the West says so? Is democratic capitalism an exclusive answer to human suffering and sociopolitical inequality? Generally, why are Asians and Westerners, unlike Africans, inured to their cultural uniqueness, geographic personality, and independence of cultural psychology? Again, how come Asians, not Africans, apparently, have learned useful lessons from their checkered history with the West, even capitalizing on them to redirect their continued relationship with the West in their favor? What are Africans doing about their checkered history with the West—slavery, colonialism, neocolonialism, capitalist exploitation? Why has the Ghanaian leadership prematurely exposed its intention to sign up for Europe’s recolonization of Africa, via the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), to the world? Have there been plebiscitary consultations with the people as to how they feel about such arrangements? Why is African leadership always willing to sign away Africa’s future, her humanity, and wealth?

Clearly, affirmative answers to these questions are relevant to development economics, including Ghana’s. Of course, it should have been clear to all by now that Nkrumah’s progressive ideas anticipated this, namely, political and economic complexities associated with commercial packages such as the EPA. He simply referred to this process of recolonization as “neocolonialism” (See “Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”). Essentially, Walter Rodney’s influential work “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” aptly describes this phenomenon as well, by way of sound historical, economic, cultural, and political rationalism. How specifically would Nkrumah’s prescriptive formula for economic decolonization have dealt with this re-colonizing knock-out blow? Ideally Nkrumah saw a need for Africa’s infrastructuralization as an essential ingredient for industrialization. Yet, in the depths of his critical mind, infrastructuralization and industrialization lacked instrumentalist utility without the political actuality of African unification. The following, meanwhile, would have defined a string of his creative responses to the likely challenges posed by the EPA (See “The Ghana Coup of 24 February 1966,” published on the website of WSCSD, March 22, 2006):

• A commission to frame a constitution for a Union Government of Africa • A commission to work out a continent-wide plan for a unified or common economic and industrial programme for Africa; this should include proposals for setting up. —A common market for Africa —An African currency —An African monetary zone —A continental communication system. • A commission to draw up details for a common foreign policy and diplomacy • A commission to produce plans for a common system of defense • A commission to make proposals for a common African citizenship

Granted, going back to the foregoing queries, hasn’t a search for innovative responses been long overdue? Why have African leaders not established a common market for Africa in the 21st century? Why does Africa not have a unified or common economic industrial programme in the 21st century? Have African countries ever had strategic interests as China’s, Europe’s, Japan’s, or America’s? Why does the EU come to Africa as a unified bloc while African countries go to the EU in their individual weaknesses? Must we always trade with Europe if commercial conditionalities attached to trade agreements are skewed toward Europe? But, aren’t answers to these questions somewhat tied to the economic and political implications of the EPA? How so? Because a strong and viable intra-African trade, a strong common African currency and economy, an acquisition of relevant technologies, a strong and viable common system of defense (African High Command), a common African citizenship (de-politicalization of artificial national boundaries), and African cultural pride will go a long way to make legally binding agreements such as the EPA politically unnecessary.

Unfortunately, instead of revisiting these progressive ideas in line with the general outlines of Nkrumah’s Seven-Year Development Plan, our leaders are going about as lightheaded beheaded fowls, as crippled beggars, behaving like the greedy kings and chiefs in Ayi Kwei Armah’s “Two Thousand Seasons,” selling Africa piecemeal in exchange for the trinkets of Europe, as the EPA implicitly promises to be. And why do our leaders behave as if there are no practical solutions to our problems? Of course, there are! Those progressive ideas of Nkrumah we cited above implicitly harbor almost all the germane answers required for getting Ghana and Africa to the no man’s land of political and economic “independence.” Admittedly, we employ the much-abused and misunderstood concept “independence” to mean political and economic sovereignty waltzing under the philosophical umbrella of interdependence, which, in turn, is rooted in the moral silt of mutual respectability. In theory, by “interdependence” we also mean political and economic individualism in the arena of globalization.

However, the Guggisberg economic model has stood in the way of Ghana’s continued march toward full autonomy. The model itself was part of the framework of colonialism and now of neocolonialism. And what do we do in terms of neutralizing the Guggisberg economic model? Any positive response to this question should be expected to overlap with the intellectual matrix of the foregoing analyses. That is to say, the transformative idea of Nkrumahism could serve as a radical countervailing philosophy against the monopolizing proclivities of the Guggisberg economic model. On the other hand, Ghana has not critically evaluated the economic, cultural, and political impact of Nkrumah’s enduring legacy, if at all, on Africa’s negative development economics as an aftermath of his CIA-sanctioned overthrow. Stated differently, one of the possible abject failures of Ghanaian and African leaders is their evaluative exclusion of Nkrumah’s overthrow as an important explanatory factor in the political equation of Ghana’s economic downward spiral (See Robert Wood’s “Third World to First World—By One Touch: Economic Repercussions of the Overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah”).

Importantly, the website of WSCSD also records the following interesting facts about Nkrumah: “He initiated the process of industrializing Ghana in one generation as a guide for the continent, and by the time he was ousted in 1966 he had already established 68 state-owned factories, an achievement that was noted in the ‘Guinness Book of Records.’” The collective achievements of Ghanaian leaders following Nkrumah’s presidency pale in comparison. In fact, Ghana has survived because of the enduring strength of Nkrumah’s powerful mind and intellectual foresight. There are a few significant aberrations to the generalizations manufactured by Nkrumah’s detractors, however. Yoweri Museveni, for instance, has publicly alluded to evidence linking America and Britain to Nkrumah’s overthrow (See Museveni’s “Sowing the Mustard Seed”). Tanzania’s President Julius Nyerere apologized to Africa on behalf of his generation for failing to heed to Nkrumah’s call for continental unification. “Julius Nyerere was later gracious enough to apologize to Africans for the failure of their generation to attain continental unity, when he was delivering a speech on the occasion of Ghana’s 40th independence in 1997.”

Further, in acknowledging Nkrumah’s greatness Julius said: “Kwame Nkrumah was Ghana’s leader but he was our leader too, for he was an African leader. In expressing his admiration for Nkrumah, Nyerere declared: He [Nkrumah] did not have a Swiss bank account. He died poor (See the website of WSCSD).” Again, elsewhere the website of WSCSD notes: “Time has shown that Nkrumah’s dream of African unity was not an ideally romantic idea. Since then Europe via the EU has adopted his entire proposal apart from the one on a union of government. The current AU structure was modeled on his proposal.” All these go to show that Ghana has not taken full advantage of the political greatness and wisdom of Nkrumah. That is, his ideas are good for Europe but not for Africa! This is not to say Nkrumah bequeathed an unblemished political record to the world, far from it. It is to say America’s Founding Fathers, Mother Teresa, Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mao Tse-tung, Marcus Garvey, Mahatma Gandhi, and Julius Nyerere had their foibles, since human nature is intrinsically fallible.

The central idea here is to appraise the balance sheet of an individual’s legacy in the spirit of fairness, to see whether or not its slant favors society’s general progress or retrogression and, consequently, whether or not to appropriate it as a model for national development. For instance, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four-term consecutive tenure has never been seen as much of an indelible blemish on his long political career, though his authoritarian presidency instituted some of the progressive ideas that eventually helped free America from the tightening claws of recession. President Barack Obama has not ceased to fall back on President Roosevelt’s political legacy for transformative policy ideas and intellectual inspiration whenever he deems it socially expedient. That is not to say Mr. Obama’s presidency has not been without its moral shortcomings. For instance, President Obama has rejected calls to give Marcus Garvey a posthumous pardon. There is a general belief in the United States that J.E. Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), fearful of Garvey’s rising popularity among America’s oppressed black population, had him framed up via mail fraud, had him tried and imprisoned for two years and nine months, then, finally, had him deported to Jamaica(See Karyl Walker’s “No Pardon for Garvey”).

Understandably, the Obama administration cited a lack of resources and passage of time as reasons for rejecting proposals to investigate Malcolm X’s death. Yet Garvey was an important, powerful forebear of America’s Civil Rights Movement, an individual whose tireless political and social activism paved the way for men and women like Mr. Barack Obama to become a president in a racist society. Still, Garvey was also one of the important intellectual and cultural influences on Mr. Barack Obama’s political evolution. Mr. Barack Obama’s writings are infused with Garveyite wisdom. However, passage of time and a lack of resources did not prevent President Bill Clinton from launching a federal investigation into Martin Luther King, Jr.’s death and bringing closure to conspiratorial speculations, though not everyone has accepted the conclusions reached by the federal investigators involved in the forensic science of King’s assassination, but, at least, the national investigation brought emotional closure to the King family. A few unknown yet shocking facts came out of the birth canal of secrecy to public attention.

Likewise, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, though imperfect, brought closure to many a troubled family haunted by the lingering effects of psychological and emotional torture linked to a social continuum of inexplicable events that implicated the Apartheid government and the brutality of its security arm. The Catholic Church has formally apologized to Jews for canonizing anti-Jewish myths as part of its traditions. What this collection of examples connotes is that simple, sincere apology offers psychological palliation or total healing to aggrieved individuals or communities. Notably, part of the Garvey story reincarnates another clandestine interaction between Haile Selassie, Kwame Nkrumah, and the CIA, a little-known secret we have harped on variously elsewhere. Certainly, Nkrumah may not have been privy to this arrangement, though, arguably, hindsight may have provided him some useful clues in the aftermath of his CIA-directed overthrow. Arguably, hindsight, we believe, may sometimes come across as a functional potentiality of empiricism. Moral rationalism may follow suit!

But what is the basis of our contention? Prof. David Levering Lewis, New York University’s Julius Silver University Professor and Professor of History, has unraveled this triumvirate connection in his Pulitzer Award-winning biography of WEB Du Bois (See “WEB Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919” and “WEB Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963”). Importantly, he has shown how the CIA convinced Haile Selassie to have the headquarters of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) situated in Ethiopia as a condition for his acceptance of Nkrumah’s ideas on continental unification. And as Prof. Lewis further explains, the tacit motive behind the American agenda was to reduce Nkrumah’s widening influence and popularity in the world. In another important connection, Eric Holder, America’s first African-American Attorney General, told members of the National Association of Black Journalists in Philadelphia that there was no need to investigate the assassination of Malcolm X for lack of resources.

Holder’s remark was an unfortunate one, as Tony Norman affirmatively maintains: “In July, Attorney General Eric Holder told the National Association of Black Journalists that the Justice Department would not reopen the investigation of Malcolm X’’s assassination despite calls from activists and historians who insist only part of the story is known (See “Obama Shrugs off Old Race-Related Cases”). On the other hand, Norman regrettably wonders why President Obama’s administration has refused to prosecute requisionary investigation into Malcolm X’s death submitted by historians and activists, given that some white racists have publicly identified Malcolm X as Mr. Barack Obama’s biological father. “That’s cold when even the president of the United States isn’t interested in finding out who really murdered his ‘daddy,” Norman sarcastically continues, adding: “When it comes to revisiting the criminal cases of black historical figures, the Obama administration is nothing if not consistent...If a black president can’t fight for Jack Johnson even when white conservatives give him political cover, what will he fight for?”

As a matter of fact, Norman, like Walker, had been deeply troubled by the Obama administration’s lack of social, political, and historical consciousness in its refusal to redress past wrongs involving mistreated historical heroes like Marcus Garvey. These historical and contemporary inventories of social and historical injustices have serious ramifications for Ghana. “If a tiny toe is hurting, the whole body bends low to tend it, says an African proverb (“New African Magazine”).” Now, substituting “toe” for Witch Camps, trokosi, ritual murder, child slavery, ethnocentrism (ethic chauvinism or nationalism), child marriage, ethnic conflicts, and the like, what is the “whole body,” that is, civic society, national government, or the people doing to reverse these negative trends in the body politic? This is where, we believe, Ghana’s Second Revolution comes in! In other words, Nkrumah initiated Ghana’s First Revolution and it is the same Nkrumah who must lead Ghana’s Second Revolution. This exposes the moral flaws of Ghana’s National Reconciliation Commission.

Why was the terrorism of KA Busia’s NLM not morally assessed by the Commission? Why were KA Busia’s and JB Danquah’s clandestine dealings with foreign intelligence agencies (CIA, etc) not addressed by the Commission? Why did JB Danquah and KA Busia want Nkrumah dead when Nkrumah had made no collateral attempts on their lives? Why would they both want to overthrow the democratically elected government of Nkrumah? Why did the terrorism of Busia’s NLM force the progressive government of Nkrumah to introduce the foreign concept of “preventive detention” into Ghana, in order to free the national government from security entrapment as a condition for internal peace, then required for national development? Why did the opposition, of which Busia and Danquah dominated, unilaterally boycott parliamentary deliberations, hereby indirectly giving Nkrumah the go-ahead to establish a one-party state which they must believed was superior to multi-party democracy? How many times did Nkrumah (and British authorities) make overtures to Busia and Danquah about establishing a responsible and powerful opposition in parliament? And how many times did Busia and Danquah reject Nkrumah’s overtures?

These questions are important because they provide useful insights into the social forestallment of Ghana’s development and growth. That said, what do we have in mind as far as Ghana’s Second Revolutions is concerned? The theoretical pointers for Ghana’s Second Revolution, technically, includes, but not limited to, the following: 1). Cultivating a culture of scientific research within Africa, 2). Fighting ethnocracy and political polarization, 3). Resisting ethnocentrism (ethnic conflicts, etc) and corruption, 4). Introducing Afrocentric curriculum and building an infrastructure of patriotic citizens, 5). Developing “democratic” institutions within the context of progressive African cultural traditions, 6). Building relevant infrastructure and institutionalizing policy decisions on their regular maintenance 7). Teaching students how human geography renders ethnocentrism scientifically unnecessary, 8) Building an industrial economy with telecommunication (information technology) system in place, 9). Expanding and improving the service and energy (power) sectors 10). Diversifying the economy by, among other things, encouraging unemployed youth to go into agriculture, 11). Strengthening the private sector, 12). Fighting unhealthy superstition (witchcraft, dwarfs, etc.) and religiosity, 13). Resisting foreign meddling in Africa’s internal affairs, and 14). Encouraging government and private-sector investment in the creative arts (music and movie industries).

Probably, the most crucial component of Ghana’s Second Revolution is teaching Ghanaian children proper pre-Ghanaian history contextually attired in pre-colonial African human geography and migration demography, because, ostensibly, some of the ethnic tensions/conflicts and misunderstandings are rooted in history, pre-colonial and colonial. Ghana needs to work hard on improving public sanitation as well. Again, the Ghanaian leadership needs to acquire the moral and political heavy-handedness of Nkrumah. For example, Nkrumah’s incorruptibility, disciplinarian streak, and readiness to punish his ministers led to his political separation from Komla Gbedemah. Thus, Ghana needs to go back to the drawing table, that is, Afrocentric Nkrumahism, for moral and intellectual inspiration. It is a strange paradox to hear ideological enemies of Nkrumah say, quite ignorantly, that he was a political, not intellectual, genius. The man was both. Arguably, both Busia and Danquah are no intellectual match for Nkrumah by any evaluative standard.

A painstaking examination of Nkrumah’s lifework, intellectual, political, and literary, cements him as a political and intellectual genius. For instance, his revolutionary ideas on education anticipated the creative ideas of Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy, Frantz Fanon’s and Marcus Garvey’s mass mobilization and decolonization methods, Molefi Kete Asante’s Afrocentric theory and “The Asante Principles for the Afrocentric Curriculum,” Howard Gardner’s “Multiple Intelligences.” Finally, regarding the latter two, Nkrumah essentially saw mathematics, science, and technology as supremely important to the progressive evolution of the human mind as well as society as culture, primarily traditional dance, vernacular poetry, drumming, theatre, art and craft, music, geography (spatial reasoning), etc. (See Kwame Botwe-Asamoah’s “Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought and Politics” and Ama Biney’s “The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah”). For those who are intellectually blind to see anything good in Nkrumah, we say to you to look around you if you don’t see the intellectual fingerprints of his critical thinking all around you in the Ghana and Africa he built! In fact, one needs to be in full possession of the analytic instruments of critical thinking to appreciate the intellectual, moral, and political complexities of Nkrumah’s enduring legacy!

How do we end? Ghana’s Second Revolution should come after a second National Reconciliation Commission has evaluated the negative impact of the evils of ethnocentrism, the terrorism of Busia’s NLM, JB Danquah’s CIA dealings, and Nkrumah’s CIA-directed overthrow on Ghana’s development. In fact, passage of time, leadership cluelessness, continental fragmentation, political ethnocentrism, and the exploitative rise of capitalism in Africa probably make Nkrumahism more relevant today than yesterday. Let’s recall that no revolution in Africa has been more transformative and morally relevant than Nkrumah’s!

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis