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Kwame Nkrumah, Barack Obama, John Mahama, IMANI(2)!

Fri, 26 Sep 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

Let us therefore give Nkrumah his due. Dr. Kwame Amuah, Nelson Mandela’s son-in-law, has had this to say about Nkrumah: “The time Nkrumah was recovering from a major assassination attempt on his life and therefore access to him was restricted. Mandela, though, met all the relevant cabinet and party officials and the ANC was accorded fulsome support. This bit of history is important here as there are some who attribute Mandela’s failure to meet Nkrumah as a snub. They claim the reason was that the ANC was open to all races and was losing its Pan-African identity, and that Nkrumah was leaning towards the Pan-African Congress. The idea that Nkrumah refused to meet Mandela because the ANC was opened to all South African races is far from the truth, and in fact it is not even a historical fact in the least. Nkrumah, while Pan-Africanist to boot, was equally non-racial.”

Elsewhere, nuclear physicist Dr. Amuah, a Mandela family insider and husband of Nelson Mandela’s seed Makaziwe Mandela, the former’s eldest child, has also said Mandela took Nkrumah as his hero. “Mr. Mandela visited Ghana around 1960 or thereabout, for over 10 days but unfortunately he could not meet Nkrumah personally for good reasons. No doubt he [Nelson Mandela] saw Nkrumah as a hero. He did travel to Ghana to meet him. The intermediary was Kofi Batsa, the then co-editor of the CPP-owned newspaper, The Spark. Mr. Batsa, whom my wife and I met on two occasions in the US, on authority provided the known reason why Mr. Mandela did not meet Nkrumah on his first visit to Ghana,” Dr. Amuah admits in an interview with London-based New African Magazine (see preceding paragraph; see also “’How Do You Write on Death When You Haven’t Experienced It?’ Nelson Mandela To His Son-In-Law’”, New African Magazine, December 2, 2013). Which of the leaders in Ghana’s and Africa’s entire political history has a legacy as enormous and rich as Nkrumah’s? Perhaps no one!

Is President John Mahama ready to emulate Nkrumah’s model legacy? Are our politicians willing to make good on Nkrumah’s standing gnomic declaration: “That new Africa is ready to fight his own battles and show that after all the black man is capable of managing his own affairs”? The overwhelming evidence points to the contrary. Has that “new Africa” become “old” already? Perhaps Nkrumah and his peers did fight all the battles leaving nothing in place for our politicians to live for, to fight for. This is a strange irony. Nkrumah’s impact on the international scene and the local arena is not what anyone in his or her right mind can deny, distort, or ignore, for historical truth is a priceless gift only a clear, sane conscience can deliver! As well, untainted historicism is the heart of clear thinking. Granted, Nkrumah was clear in his thinking as the intellectual clarity of Cheikh Anta Diop, WEB Du Bois, Benjamin Franklin, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Noam Chomsky, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Jefferson, unlike his detractors and enemies. Significantly Nkrumah’s rich story does not end with the mortal history of man. It is not even a static narrative. It is a mobile narrative fit for the realm of greatness and immortality.

Why then there are some grossly mis-formed personalities and misguided revisionists denying the historical link between Mandela and Nkrumah? One thing is certain: Nkrumah’s greatness and achievements appear to make some of his detractors and ideological enemies irrelevant in the scheme of things! On the other hand, it is a little known fact that the government of Nkrumah had secretly given Nelson Mandela (and some of the members of the ANC’s inner circle) a Ghanaian passport which he was to use to travel out to Ghana prior to the CIA’s setting up Mandela, a political and moral misdeed orchestrated through the American embassy in South Africa, and having him imprisoned for 27 years!

As a matter of fact, Mandela, dressed up in an impossible disguise, was heading in the direction of Ghana that day when South African security and intelligence nabbed him. Ayi Kwei Armah reminds of this happening in parts: “In a conversation with Ahmed Kathrada, an ANC comrade, Mandela is prodded to remember the moment of his betrayal and arrest. Mandela, disguised and underground, was driving to an appointment with a US embassy contact. The contact tipped off the apartheid security service, and Mandela was taken off to spend 27 years in jail (See “South Africa: Liberating Mandela’s Memory, New African Magazine, December 18, 2013). Let us add in equal measure that Senghor Leopold onetime gave Mandela and other members of the ANC Senegalese passports! Thus it is suspiciously childish and intellectually dishonest to claim Nkrumah never cared about Nelson Mandela, the ANC, freedom fighters, and the protracted struggle to free Africa, including Apartheid South Africa.

We make an additional moral claim that Nkrumah is what Ghana needs today as she was yesterday, ignoring aspects of Mr. Obama’s historic speech in Ghana. Mr. Obama’s NSA spy controversy is not a good example of making institutions stronger. His administration’s support for dictators concomitantly weakens institutions where these dictatorships thrive. We need to look at these contexts when comparing Mr. Obama and Nkrumah. Of course no one can question Nkrumah’s superb credentials, categorically one of a kind, on liberation ideology. Unbeknownst to Mr. Obama, Nkrumah’s radical views on liberation ideology hold the key to Ghana’s and Africa’s economic and political poor showing in the international community. Let us also put one other fact in perspective: Yes, the government of Nkrumah did in fact trade with the Apartheid government. But it was a policy his government inherited from the colonial government. Ironically, it was the same Nkrumah whose tireless efforts would ultimately bring this strange commercial arrangement to a closure after years of internal wrangling with local politicians and with external forces of imperialism.

Prof. Kwame Arhin, editor of "The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah," and Prof. Kwesi Jonah, author of "Nkrumah and the Decolonization of Ghana's External Trade Relations," an essay published in Prof. Arhin’s edited volume, put this serious matter in historical perspective. Perspective and context make the difference in matters of critical theory and historicism. Interestingly Nkrumah’s major contributions to the de-colonizing of Southern Africa and Africa in general and of Apartheid South Africa in particular is in no doubt. The 1978 UN Special Session’s posthumous “gold medal” award given to Nkrumah acknowledging his significant contributions to de-colonizing South Africa is a testament to his global importance in the de-colonizing effort. Also, the SATMA Awards, created in 2005, which the people and government of South Africa posthumously awarded to Nkrumah via Ingwe Mabalabala Holdings and the National Heritage Council of South Africa, speak directly to the world’s, Africa’s, and South Africa’s indebtedness to Nkrumah. No amount of dubious revisionism and historical distortions will erase these hard facts from the annals of human history. Or diminish his global impact on history and human freedom.

Again, no amount of historical revisionism or historical distortions can accommodate the entire gamut of his contributions to human civilization. Besides, unlike the international accolades and recognitions granted Kwame Nkrumah, K.A. Busia whose government accommodated the Apartheid Nationalist Government has never been honored, posthumously or when he was alive, for doing anything worthwhile for Africa, talk less of the brutal regime of the South Africa he fell in love with. As for the clueless, Machiavellian, and subversive J.B. Danquah the less said about him, the better. Danquah’s horizon was so disappointingly narrow in scope, limited to the stifling territoriality of Akyem, that he barely saw beyond the shoreline of the Gold Coast, let alone grasp the political complexity of South Africa to the extent of doing something radical about it by way of practical solutions. The fact of the matter is that Danquah was more preoccupied with his kingly or royal entitlement to the presidency of the Gold Coast than to the noble cause of de-colonization, of which his little Akyem, not to talk of the Gold Coast or Africa, comes to mind.

Danquah’s covert collaboration with the CIA to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Nkrumah is a well-known fact, requiring no further elaboration. Unlike Danquah, the proactive government led by J.J. Rawlings did not allow the CIA to destroy Ghana once again (See Philip Hager’s and Ronald J. Ostrow’s Los Angeles Times’ article “U.S. Swaps Spy for 8 Ghanaians Who Aided CIA”). Moreover, like K.A. Busia, Danquah too has not been recognized by the international community for doing anything meaningful for Africa in general and South Africa in particular. More significantly, though, K.A. Busia, Joseph A. Ankrah and their fifth column clique of saboteurs and terrorists shamelessly continued to honor Nkrumah’s commitments to Africa, the Organization of African Unity for instance, and the rest of the world away from the glare of mainstream Ghana, some of the very same reasons they had used to justify Nkrumah’s overthrow. The sad story of the coup plotters’ handing over Ghana’s atomic energy blueprint to their foreign backers in exchange for bribes and foreign aid is probably not very well known. However, we do know where atomic and nuclear energies have taken those who have them.

What is the point? Nkrumah’s functional atomic energy program could, theoretically, have supplemented energy from the Akosombo Hydroelectric Dam, an actuality that would at least have saved Franklin Cudjoe and IMANI from their self-originating vocal pollution and emotional outpourings. IMANI needs a powerful competitor to keep it on its toes. That is how democracies grow. IMANI is here today because Nkrumah was here. IMANI can make noise all it wants because Nkrumah went to prison on its behalf. Now, it looks as though the policy-making research turf is one-sided, tilted in favor of IMANI. This may explain why IMANI probably hates Nkrumah so much! But the question is: What wrongs did Nkrumah commit to warrant such acidic hatred from people and a country that benefited so much from his wisdom, courage, prescience, and industry? It is also shameful when the coup plotters put guns to the head of Elizabeth Nyanibah, Nkrumah’s mother, forcing her to deny being his mother under pain of death, of which she blatantly refused.

Now let us change lanes. Mr. Obama is partly right though. Unfortunately public institutions have become too patronizingly tainted by the corrupt brush of partisan politics to make them neutrally potent, operationally efficient. This is in spite of the company of another essential fact, which is that Ghanaians must surely allocate serious oversight to impartial assessment of likely social, economic, and human costs to revolutions of any kind, Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution being a prime example.

We should bear in mind that our constant prescriptive allusions to cultural, intellectual, and moral revolutions as tools to appropriate in direct association with the radical transformation of Ghana’s social and political landscape are not without serious costs. This calls for radical change in the leadership style of Ghana’s post-Nkrumah world among others. Ghana needs the radical formula of Nkrumah’s style of leadership more now than ever. Indeed Ghana is in dire need of help, moral, spiritual, economic, and political. If man lives on perpetually because he bequeaths his genetic essence to his progeny, why does every man not take it upon himself to make the world a better place prior to his passage out of it? Ghanaians wait anxiously in long queues every four years to pick one of two unprofessional thieving brigades, the NDC or the NPP, to hold them to ransom, to rob them with impunity. What a travesty of electoral politics! Certainly Ghanaians will have a hard time deciding between which of the following twos to rule them: Afghanistan or Somalia, Ronald Reagan or P.W. Botha, Idi Amin or Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush! Is it not time for change? This dilemma is beyond human grasp for the most part!

It looks as though Ghanaians were and are never born or created “free.” We are not saying “freedom” and “genetic longevity” are philosophically synonymous. The two are far from similar. We are simply saying that the militant gene that pushed Kwame Nkrumah and others drove out colonialism seems to have been totally lost in the streaming wonderment of social gullibility and institutional impotence. Though we have made a case for a third force to replace the NDC and the NPP, we still are of the opinion that Ghanaians should not overall be too optimistic about our controversial proposition, after all, the constitution of the third force is going to come from humanity, brothers and sisters who look and behave every way like the human members of the NPP and the NDC. That is not to say Ghanaians should not help President John Mahama to succeed. We want President Mahama to succeed against all the odds because his success will be a win for all, the nation. Ghanaians therefore need to rally around him as he deals with the many challenges confronting the nation. We merely desire of him to provide the strong, visionary leadership Nkrumah proffered the nascent nation as he rode the crest of de-colonization.

This is all we ask of President John Mahama, nothing more. More emphatically, though, the major theoretical advantage of “leading” and ‘following from behind” revolves around the notion of encouraging active synchronal collaboration between a leader and the people he leads, ensuring that vigorous floods of oversight are cast around the collective behavior of a people including the leader. There is no self-serving leadership elitism here. The leader is hardly distinguishable from the plight and collective aspirations of the masses with whom he proudly identifies. These assertions anticipate institutional independence and patriotism on the part of the people. But no democracy like Ghana’s has any sustained hope of longevity in the slithering shadows of the “winner-takes-all” syndrome, a sickly political dispensation where the fluid democratic profitability of “create, loot, and share” feeds the privilege of incumbent kleptomania.

The “winner-takes-all” syndrome does grossly distort the settled matrix of social equalization. Anomie, public stubbornness to institutional chaperonage, vicious circle of public kleptomania, inter-ethnic animosity, falling public health and quality of education, general hopelessness in Ghana’s political and economic future, individual and collective psychological anarchy, and mutual partisan political revenge are natural outcomes of the syndrome. Then again, a democratic imperialism of the kind associated with cronyism, nepotism, doublespeak, political ethnocentrism, and demagoguery are inimical to empirical realization of social democracy. Further, any country a section of whose electorate votes individuals into political office on the affective strength of candidates’ physique, physiognomy, gait, gestural mechanics, and English accent is not a serious democracy. Such a country is bound to have her development and growth stalled once these sentimental variables directly fail to translate into hard social currencies of growth and development. Ghana is more or less such a laughable democracy.

In these kinds of laughable democracies issues that should instead have received less attention in public space, issues ranging from political ethnocentrism, regionalism, ethnic nationalism, cheap gossip to general questions of environment pollution and corporate irresponsibility, have pre-empted popular considerations for serious matters, such as Ghana’s gross political failure, parties’ political philosophies, competence, patriotism, irresponsible journalism, candidates’ technocratic intelligence, pervasive kleptomania, social disregard for institutional authority, yet Ghanaians expect things to get better against the backcloth of widening national decay. Ghana is no doubt caught in the novelistic labyrinth of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22.” In theory, therefore, our assertive right to political formalization of social equity, or equalitarianism, call it anyhow you like it, arguably, is deserving of public consideration, as the primary philosophical thrust of our thesis focuses on voiding the continued incrustation of “doublethink” in public psychology due to open hypocrisies associated with the spectrum of Ghana’s mutually contradictory inter-partisan politics. For instance, Ghanaian politics should not be about ethnocracy or political ethnocentrism.

Wole Soyinka evokes a profound statement, a disconcerting remark he attributes to a former Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations. This statement indicts the emotional rhythm of political ethnocentrism, thus writing: “God in his infinite wisdom has provided different peoples with different talents. The Igbo have been provided the gift of entrepreneurship. The Yoruba make first-class administrators and educationists. The North is however singularly endowed with the gift of leadership.”

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis