RE: Nkrumah’s Socialism, Full of Ideas, But It Doesn’t Work

Tue, 30 Dec 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

It is with great pleasure we read Philip Kobina Baidoo, Jr.’s article “Nkrumah’s Socialism, Full of Ideas; But It Doesn’t Work,” a piece of work invested with elements of emotion and analytic one-sideness. On the other hand, heavy intellectual investment in political economy, history of philosophy, history of the development of capitalism and socialism, sociology and sociology of state formation, history of scholarship, history of science, history of knowledge, and history of scholarship would probably have produced a different set of conclusions within the narrow scope of Baidoo, Jr.’s essay.

Unfortunately, the essay suffers from serious or sustained analysis and holistic evidentiation because of its apparent misleading assumptions, a perception probably ascribable to the writer’s lack of holistic focus on the politics of globalization and historicism, generally, as well as to his intellectual dereliction stemming from exclusion of the comparative strengths and weaknesses of capitalism, in his essay. We believe the following disparate views undermine the superficial potency of his essay:

The essay failed to include data from the Human Development Index (DHI), a statistical formula devised by the Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq (with major contributions from the Indian economist, Amartya Sen, winner of the 1998 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science) to measure human development, represented by indices such as education, income distribution, and life expectancy. More importantly, the DHI is published by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Why is the DHI statistics that important? For instance, Cuba, a communist country, appears on the 2014 list of top 50 countries (with wealthy capitalist countries such as the US, Germany, etc). No African “free enterprise economy” or capitalist country appears among the top 50 countries. In fact, how many of such African “free enterprise economies” or capitalist countries have appeared among the top 50 countries since the 1990 advent of the Human Development Index (DHI)? Putting that aside, Cuba has a literacy rate of 99.8% (the 10th highest in the world); her life expectancy is around 78 years (the 37th in the world); her life expectancy is the 3rd in the Americas (after Canada and Chile; Note: It beats the US); and her infant mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world.

Further, Cuba’s graduation rate for high school students revolves around 94%. Cuba also gives scholarships to students from around the world to pursue medical training and medical degrees. Students from America, Europe, Asia, and Africa benefit from this progressive program. Lest we are not grossly misunderstood, we want to make it clear that Cuba is not a nirvana, yet, this question pops up: How is a tiny country like Cuba without the natural endowments of any of Africa’s “free enterprise economies” countries do so well on the DHI, even the weight of decades-old economic sanctions? Another irony is that Communist Cuba knows how to compile data and perform data analysis, an art our African “free enterprise economies” are only beginning to learn thanks in part to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the IMF/World Bank!

Then also Communist Cuba even does better than many African countries in the Olympic Games! Can these naturally endowed capitalist African countries learn anything from Communist Cuba? How do we adequately explain the fact that Cuban communism has nearly suppressed racism, making Cuba’s race relations far better than America’s according to Randall Robinson, a law professor, civil rights attorney, and founder of TransAfrica, America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization (See Robinson’s speeches and interviews and books), even while ethnocentrism tears Africans apart and destroy African nations? What is more, Communist Cuba’s signal contributions to Africa’s de-colonization, particularly the dismantling of Apartheid, is little known (See Mandela’s and Castro’s books “Cuba and Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Ours” and “How Far We Slaves Have Come: South Africa and Cuba in Today’s World”).

Further, neither has socialism nor communism completely disappeared from this planet. Socialism is integral to some of the greatest, major, or most powerful economies in the world, countries identified with the practice of social democracy or democratic socialism. Granted, how come socialist ideas have made Scandinavian, or Nordic, countries and their economies so great, so powerful, economies that count among the best anywhere in the world? How do we sufficiently explain the incomparable success of the system of mixed economy practiced by these Scandinavian economies (and other European countries like France), given that the system that Nkrumah’s government implemented in Ghana during his presidency was largely a mixed economy, not socialism or communism from a technical standpoint?

More interestingly, how do we explain the fact that most Scandinavian economies, if not all, have made it on the top 50 of the Human Development Index (DHI) list since its inception in 1990? Again, how do Nordic countries count among the happiest countries on the planet, from the station of their powerful economies, as opposed to free-market economies like America’s? The most important question to ask is: And how has socialism contributed to this interesting phenomenon?

We emphasize again that neither socialism nor communism is dead. And why are socialist and communist political parties springing up all over the place (Japan, India, France’s Socialist Party/Union for a Popular Movement, Socialist Party of Ireland, Communist Party of Greece, etc)? This is not a complex question, however. Yet we do also know that socialist and communist political parties are part of the ruling coalitions of several polities, such as Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Chile, etc. These countries have mixed economies firmly in place, thus begging the question: How has socialism or the mixed economy of Brazil, for instance, contributed to its meteoric rise as an economic and industrial power?

Why are Caribbean/Latin American countries shifting their political economies toward the system of mixed economy, social democracy, or socialism (See Oliver Stone’s documentary “South of the Border”)?

Why are capitalist countries like America afraid of these Caribbean and Latin American countries and their near-simultaneous gravitation toward social democracy, mixed economy, and “total” independence?

What is socialism? Communism? Social democracy? Democratic socialism? Mixed economy? Baidoo, Jr.’s article does not explicitly broach these questions, if at all. Yet, precise definitions of these terms could have added dialectic legitimacy to Baidoo, Jr.’s arguments and probably freed those who find themselves in a philosophical fix over the definitional conundrums of these constructs. The reason for this position is far-fetched. For instance, North Korea says it is a socialist state; the West on the other hand says it is a communist state. Which of these two countries is right? Does North Korea have a right to self-definition? Why have Western polities consistently refused to accept any descriptive labels North Korea has given them? Why has the West arrogated the power of giving self-serving descriptive designations to non-Western polities to itself, while at the same time refusing to entertain similar gestures from the latter or even from within?

However, those questions do not exhaust the reservations we have about socialism or communism and either’s contributions to human civilization, including possibilities for statecraft or state formation. Has the State of Israel ever practiced socialism as a state policy (See Zeev Sternhell’s book “The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State”; read this in tandem with Shlomo Sand’s books “The Invention of the Land of Israel: From Holy Land to Homeland,” “The Invention of the Jewish People,” and “How I Stopped Being a Jew”)? Apparently, there are so many people who have no idea what socialism and communism are, thereby justifying our proposition for precise definitional assessments on the part of Baidoo, Jr!

As a matter of fact, there are also those who mistakenly think social democracy (democratic democracy, mixed economy, etc), as practiced by the powerful polities of Nordic countries, for instance, is capitalism. However, we shall not go into this definitional business! Readers can look them up if they so happen to find themselves in a circle of definitional quandary! It is supremely important that readers understand what those terms mean.

Did Baidoo, Jr. ever bother to look at the “evils” of capitalism when he researched for his essay? What are we driving at? We have in mind the so-called Libor Scandal and the relationships between capitalism and the following: Apartheid, Slavery, Environmental Destruction, Racism, Insider Trading, Money Laundering, Organized Crime, Drug Cartels and Drug Trafficking, America’s Military-Industrial Complex and International Wars, International Terrorism, Pollution, Social Inequality, Dictatorship, Waste Accumulation, Colonialism, Monopoly and Oligarchy, Imperialism, Subprime Mortgage Crisis, Credit Crunch and Racism, etc. To answer some of these questions, nonetheless, we may recommend the following scholarly books for writer Baidoo, Jr.’s perusal (this is a summary list):

1) The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism (Edward E. Baptist)

2) Capitalism and Slavery (Eric Williams)

3) King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa (Adam Hochschild)

4) How Europe Undeveloped Africa (Walter Rodney)

5) How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society (Manning Marable)

6) Capitalism Versus Planet Earth: An Irreconcilable Conflict (Fawzi Ibrahim)

7) The End of Capitalism: Destructive Forces of an Economy Out of Control (Robert H. Parks)

8) The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism (John C. Bogle)

9) Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (Joseph A. Schumpeter)

10) The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America (David A. Stockman)

11) Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (Andre G. Frank)

12) The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (Naomi Klein)

13) Confessions of a Hit Man (John Perkins)

14) The Debt Trap: The International Monetary Fund and the Third World (Cheryl Payer)

15) Saga of African Underdevelopment: A Viable Approach for Africa’s Sustainable Development in the 21st Century (Tetteh A. Kofi & Asayehgn Desta)

16) Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order (Noam Chomsky)

17) On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare (Noam Chomsky)

18) Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies (Noam Chomsky)

19) Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (Noam Chomsky)

20) Who Rules America? Power, Politics, and Social Change (George W. Domhoff)

21) The Untold History of the United States (Oliver Stone & Peter Kuznick)

22) Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (Noam Chomsky)

23) How the West Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly?And the Stark Choices Ahead (Dambisa Moyo)

24) Drug War Capitalism (Dawn Paley)

25) Gross Domestic Problem: The Politics Behind the World’s Most Powerful Number (Lorenzo Fioramonti)

26) How Numbers Rule the World: The Use and Abuse of Statistics in Global Politics (Lorenzo Fioramonti)

27) Mein Kampf (Adolf Hitler)

28) The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Michelle Alexander)

29) What is Political Theory and Why Do We Need It? (Rajeev Bhargava)

30) The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (John Maynard Keynes)

31) The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (C.L.R. James)

32) Slavery By Another: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War 2 (Douglas A. Blackmon)

33) Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism (Kwame Nkrumah)

34) A People’s History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium (Chris Harman)

35) Marx and Engels on Trade Unions (edited by Kenneth Lapides)

36) Civilization and Capitalism (Three-volume set by Fernand Braudel)

On the other hand, since Baidoo, Jr. did not provide any empirical data or enumeration of Nkrumah’s “socialist” policies, their nature, and why and how they failed, we may also want him to rigorously study all the policy questions Nkrumah raised and analyzed via his numerous speeches and in his large body of writings. Baidoo, Jr., for example, can take a look at Samuel Obeng’s five-volume set each titled “Selected Speeches of Kwame Nkrumah,” all of which cover nearly 915 pages according to Prof. Zizwe Poe (See Prof. Poe’s book “Kwame Nkrumah’s Contributions to Pan-African: An Afrocentric Analysis”; see also Prof. Kwame Arhin’s edited volume “The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah: Papers of a Symposium by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon” for a broader discussion of Nkrumah’s work), for well-informed clues as to the intellectual and policy smorgasbord of Nkrumah’s wide range of technocratic, scientific, and philosophical ideas, some of which are capitalist, some socialist, others hybrid (Readers may also to see Robert Woode’s book “Third World to First World?By One Touch: Economic Repercussions of the Overthrow of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah”).

We also direct Baidoo, Jr. to read Prof. Kofi Kissi Dompere’s scientific works, including, but not limited to, 1) African Union: Pan African Analytic Foundations, 2) Polyrhythmicity: Foundations of African Philosophy, 3) Theory of Philosophical Consciencism, 4) The Theory of Categorical Conversion: Analytic Foundations of Nkrumahism, and 5) Africentricity and African Nationalism: Philosophy and Ideology for Africa’s Complete Emancipation.” Significantly, these scholarly works may reveal to Baidoo, Jr. many innovative ideas of Nkrumah that may not have anything to do with socialism, usual questions of interest to scholars and the lay public, humanity as a matter of fact. Simply put, what have the universities, teacher training colleges, secondary schools, research institutions, network of roads, industries, Akosombo Dam, honorary academic institutions such as the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Institute of African Studies (University of Ghana), to mention but a few, which Nkrumah established got to do with his failed “socialism”?

In other words, what has Nkrumah’s signal contributions to Africa’s decolonization, development, and industrialization got to do with socialism? Were America’s civil rights conflicts in the 1960s about socialism? Was the so-called American Revolutionary War about socialism? Was Mahatma Gandhi a socialist? Indeed if Kwame Nkrumah’s “socialism” failed as Baidoo, Jr. alleges without proof, why did the same Nkrumah’s failed socialism free Africa from the prehensile shackles of colonialism, gave education to millions, improved the welfare of women, made the youth patriotic and productive? In fact, why did Nkrumah’s failed “socialism” do so much for Ghanaians (and Africans) in a decade what the greed of British colonial capitalism could not do for Ghana in a century?

Has Nkrumah’s failed “socialism” not produced many great thinkers such as Profs. Kofi Kissi Dompere, Ama Ata Aidoo, Francis Allotey, Molefi Kete Asante, Kofi Awoonor, Kofi Anyidoho, Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, and other international and local greats too numerous to mention? Do we have any idea how Prof. Allotey’s work on soft x-ray spectroscopy has benefited the world of science and of humanity?

Then again, was Nkrumah not influenced by both socialist and capitalist thinkers? What about men like Nelson Mandela and other great politicians whom Nkrumah influenced around the world, men and women who have since contributed their quotas to making the world a better place (See Pusch Commey’s Dec. 2, 2013 New African Magazine article “’How Do You Write on Death When You Haven’t Experienced It?’ Nelson Mandela to His Son-In-Law”). Why would the same failed “socialism” earn Nkrumah a posthumous recognition, a gold medal, from a Special Session of the United Nations (UN Committee against Apartheid) in 1978?

Why would the South African government, through the National Heritage Council of South Africa and Ingwe Mabalabala Holdings, posthumously honor Nkrumah with her prestigious SATMA Awards for his signal contributions to the eventual dismantling of Apartheid, if as Baidoo, Jr. alleges Nkrumah’s “socialism” failed Ghana? Do we have any clues on how grateful the African world and the larger world are to Nkrumah, his selflessness, his vision, his personal sacrifices on behalf of the downtrodden everywhere, his analytic profundity, his masterful statecraft, and his superb scholarship, a great influential man Dr. Ama Biney describes in the following generous terms: “one of twentieth-century Africa’s most important nationalist leaders”? Dr. Biney maintains elsewhere: “Even General J.A. Ankrah, who headed the Supreme Military Council that took over Ghana after the February 24, 1966, coup d’etat that toppled Nkrumah, confirmed that his place in African history had been assured.”

What is Nkrumah’s socialism in the first (see his article “African Socialism” where he dissociates himself from the so-called African Socialism? Which part of Ghana or Africa did Nkrumah practice socialism? How? And when? Will Philip Kobina Baidoo, Jr. give us the answers? Having said that, do we have any idea what these prestigious awards say about what Nkrumah achieved for Black South Africa and White South Africa and the larger world and race relations (See David Rooney’s books “Kwame Nkrumah: Vision and Tragedy” and “Kwame Nkrumah: The Political Kingdom in the Third World”)?

It may as well be appropriate if we recall Dr. Ama Biney: “While Nkrumah was ideologically motivated, he was also a pragmatist who was not bound to ideological dogmatism…Therefore, it is essential to study Nkrumah’s ideological vision of the world and how he sought to transform Ghana and Africa if we seek to understand Nkrumah as a nationalist and Pan-Africanist (See also Peter O. Esedebe’s book “Pan-Africanism: The Idea and Movement, 1776-1991” and Marika Sherwood’s and Hakim Adi’s “Pan-African History: Political Figures from Africa and the Diaspora Since 1787”). Further still, Dr. Biney has this to say: “Mohan, Fitch, and Oppenheimer belong to the Marxian school of thought, which argues that Nkrumah’s CPP traveled the path of neocolonial accommodation by inheriting Western parliamentary institutions and permitting Ghana’s economic development to be inextricably tied to Western finance capital…At the time of the 1966 coup, the economy remained Western-orientated despite the intention of the Seven Year Plan (1964-1970) to increase economic trade with the Eastern bloc and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).”

“Despite the tendency of socialism to dominate ideological discourse, it was never in reality the most widespread guide to policy choice in the 1960s,” Dr. Biney writes quoting another scholar, adding elsewhere: “Before parliament in 1959, Nkrumah spelled out that the execution of ‘the great Plan’ was dependent on capital from two sources: internal domestic savings and foreign investment. He reiterated his invitation to foreign entrepreneurs to invest in Ghana. That Nkrumah had not departed from liberal market economics or a sense of pragmatism was reflected in his following statement: ‘We want industry in Ghana, and we are always ready to make reasonable arrangements with any Government, institution or individual who can bring a sound proposition to us. In short, we intend, as in the past, to follow a common-sense and practical approach to industrial development.’”

Dr. Biney also notes: “Yet at the beginning of the 1960s, Ghana’s industry and commerce still remained largely in foreign hands…,” pointedly adding elsewhere: “There are Marxist economists, such as Mohan and Fitch and Oppenheimer, who dismiss Nkrumah’s economic developments in the post-1960s period as having little to do with socialism. They characterize the Nkrumah period as the epitome of neocolonial engagement, whereas Genoud, a non-Marxist, characterizes Ghana under Nkrumah as a case study of ‘anti-colonial nationalism despite the fact that its leaders have made profuse use of the socialist terminology.”

No doubt Nkrumah’s legacy is what moves Ghana (and Africa) given that not much has been added to his legacy by administrations running the gamut of post-Nkrumah leadership from the National Liberation Council (NLC) to the present administration. No doubt Ghanaians and Africans pride themselves on Nkrumah’s magnificent achievements and glaring successes.

Putting everything aside, though, one would have wondered immediately after perusing Baidoo, Jr.’s piece why Deng Xiaoping’s reforms excluded strategic and tactical criminalization or banning of the Communist Party of China, why it was rather Mao Tse-Tung, not Xiaoping, who opened up China for reforms by Mao’s re-establishing relations with the US, when, in 1972, sitting American Pres. Richard Nixon and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger paid a state visit to China. What is more, like Nkrumah’s befitting designation as the “Founding Father of Ghana,” to borrow Ali Mazrui’s phrase, Mao united a divided country after decades of civil wars into the coherent unity we find today, the People’s Republic of China. There is also no question that Mao laid the foundation for China’s massive industrialization and modernity and for putting China on the exclusive map of world powers, however we should want to remind readers not to misconstrue our position as making self-serving excuses for Mao’s shortcomings, including the possible tens of millions who lost their lives while working towards the meteoric ascent of China as a global power..

Of course, Mao’s case is not an isolated one, we might want to add. America in particular and the West in general built their societies at the expense of the lives of enslaved Africans, Native Americans, Australian Aborigines, among others. In fact, China became a nuclear power under Mao when it first successfully exploded its first atomic bomb in 1964, after which China incurred the attention of the West necessitating Pres. Nixon’s and Kissinger’s state visit six years later. How could Mao’s socialist ideas have eventually succeeded in placing China among an elite club of global powers? Nevertheless, it should be recalled also that Deng Xiaoping, the immediate successor of Mao whose position was made possible via internal party politics wrangling and the seeming vacuum occasioned by Mao’s death, did not entirely reject Mao’s economic philosophy as he initiated reforms. Neither was Zhao Ziyang.

Regrettably, Xiaoping could not even protect his ally Ziyang, his closest reformer friend, over accusations leveled against the latter in connection with the 1989 Tiananmen Square controversy. Xiaoping, the leader of the People’s Republic of China at the time, did practically nothing for his friend as he was put under a 15-year term house arrest. Why did Xiaoping ignore his friend? What suddenly happened to Xiaoping’s reform-minded or progressive psychology? Also, what did Xiaoping the reformer, leader of government affairs, do to protect students from state arbitrariness and martial abuse? Baidoo, Jr. did not plumb these questions, let alone provide detailed answers. Nevertheless, it is on record that Xiaoping instead blamed Western powers for instigating the students to overthrow the Communist Party of China (CPC), charges similar to those leveled against the Falun Gong in the 1990s. What were Xiaoping’s reasons for suspecting the West of political sabotage against the Eight Elders? Were Xiaoping’s political and economic reforms not undertaken in the West’s interests?

On the other hand, why did Baidoo, Jr. fail to look into a set of well-known allegations where Mikhail Gorbachev has variously been accused of accepting bribes from the West, mainly from America, to institute radical reforms aimed at dismantling the former U.S.S.R and hence burying communism for good, for ever? Why had the West been bent on destroying the U.S.S.R and communism, while America (and other members of the West) had nearly annihilated Native Americans and held African Americans under bondage, gave material and intelligence support to the leadership of Apartheid South Africa, and masterminded coup d’états and targeted assassinations against African leaders who had refuse(d) to represent Western hegemony and capitalist interests (See Ludo De Witte’s book “The Assassination of Patrice Lumumba”)?

Why would America support Chiang Kai-shek against China’s destabilization?

Those notwithstanding, democratic centralism, a tactical policy leftover from Moaist and Leninist communism, remains a fixture of Chinese and Russian policy decision-making at the highest echelon of the leadership ladder. Again, one would have so wished that Baidoo, Jr. had closely interrogated Karl Marx’s “Das Kapital” and “The Communist Manifesto” (with Friedrich Engels) against other critical works such as Karl Popper’s “The Open Society and Its Enemies” and “The Poverty of Historicism,” of which the former, “The Open Society and Its Enemies,” takes a swipe at Plato, Engels, and Marx for their stilted dependencies on historicism to account for their philosophical worldviews. Why did Baidoo, Jr. skip the questionable activities of America’s Freedom House and George Soro’s Open Society, to mention but two, undertaken on behalf of Corporate America among others? Or the influence of socialism on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal?

Also, one would have hoped that Baidoo, Jr. had succinctly yet thoroughly discussed the works of the classical economists, mostly those of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, John Stuart Mill, and Jean-Baptist Say, set against those of John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Paul Krugman, Amartya Sen, or contrasted the controversial works of Ann Ryan with the merits and demerits of statism, state socialism, and so on.

In another context, using the failures of communism or socialism elsewhere to justify the undefined failures of Nkrumah’s socialism, whatever that is, is disingenuous at best, after all, did Jawaharlal Nehru’s important substitution industrialization, mixed economy, and non-alignment policy orientation lay the foundation for India’s industrial, economic, scientific, and technological development? If so, how then can anyone say Nkrumah’s industrialization project, mixed economy, and non-alignment policy orientation failed Ghana? Could we appropriate the failures of African capitalism to justify the failures of Western capitalism, say the Subprime Crisis or the Libor Scandal?

Was Nehru not a socialist, India a socialist state under his prime ministership? Should we then not look elsewhere for answers to Ghana’s post-Nkrumah’s undefined failures in Baidoo, Jr.’s estimation, rather than blaming them on his progressive policies and the solid foundation he laid for Ghana’s development and industrialization, as shadow boxers are wont to do? That is not to say he did not have his imperfections, foibles, or shortcomings as a leaders. He did, as every other human being. That said, what have all the aggregate capitalist administrations that came after Nkrumah done or achieved for Ghana? Lest we forget, we may want Philip Kobina Baidoo, Jr. to critically examine some of the major arguments which the Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto advances in one of his two major works: “The Mystery of Capitalism: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.” Perhaps this book may give him some hints as to why capitalism may not have been successful in Ghana.

Finally, what did Nkrumah have to say about human psychology and development economics? It is a point of fact that Nkrumah accepted the cultivation of the human mind for development, a view he described thusly: “acquiring knowledge to find truth,” “The Convention People’s Party is not impressed by the mere acquisition of knowledge. It is only impressed when the knowledge acquired is applied to achieve positive and practical results for the upliftment of the people,” and ‘I have always stressed the fact that our young men and women must exemplify the excellence of knowledge which academic eminence breathes. I have described as ‘intellectual pomposity’ that arrogance which is the hallmark of half-baked intellectuals. We are determined to take steps to ensure that that shall no longer be the capel-flower of the youth turned out from our national institutions of learning.” Dr. Biney writes: “The role of education was central to the success of Nkrumah’s economic policies.”

Thus, it is wrong and misleading for anyone to suggest that a capable educator and philosopher and thinker and sociologist like Nkrumah did not believe in cultivating the human mind for development, for collective growth and self-actualization and self-improvement, for he always demonstrated a keen interest in developmental psychology and pedagogy (See his essays “Primitive Education in West Africa” and “Education and Nationalism in Africa,” authored respectively in 1943 and 1943 and archived at the University of Pennsylvania, African American Studies, University Archives and Records Center). Moreover, Nkrumah, like his friend Nehru, believed in the power of education and cultivation of the human mind to transform society, to develop society, to fight superstition and disease and ignorance and ethnocentrism, to improve race relations, and to make society better for human habitation.

“The role of the university,” writes Nkrumah, “in a country like ours is to become the academic focus of national life, reflecting the social, economic, cultural and political aspirations of the people. It must kindle national interest in the youth and uplift our citizens and free them from ignorance, superstition and I may add, intolerance…A university is supported by society, and without the sustenance it receives, it will cease to exist.” It is for this very reason and others like it that the African Union African saw fit to posthumously institute the African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards, so-called, in Nkrumah’s honor.

Mandela’s hero Kwame Nkrumah, an incomparable leader of whom Amilcar Cabral once wrote “the strategist of genius in the struggle against classic colonialism,” as well as of whom Sam Nujoma, “the Founding Father of Namibia,” also wrote: “Ghana’s fight for freedom inspired and influenced us all, and the greatest contribution to our political awareness at that time came from the achievements of Ghana after independence. It was from Ghana that we got the idea that we must do more than just petition the UN [United Nations] to bring about our own independence,” writes himself: “Fundamentally, I do not believe in the great men of history, but I do think that so-called great men of history merely personify the synthesis of the tangled web of the material and historical forces at play, and, finally, of Kenneth Kaunda who wrote: “Nkrumah inspired many people of Africa towards independence and was a great supporter of the liberation of southern Africa from apartheid and racism (See Kwame Nkrumah’s private notes courtesy of Dr. Ama Biney; see her book “The Political Thought and Social Though of Kwame Nkrumah”).”

Lastly, could Philip Kobina Baidoo, Jr. have at least reminded us that the problems Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels associated with capitalism are still here with us today? How prescient these two intellectuals had been! And why does socialism work so well in social democracies or mixed economies as practiced in Scandinavian, or Nordic, countries, and places like Brazil, France, and China, and, unfortunately, not so well in the Caribbean or Latin America or Africa, say? Why have state interventions and state oversight of these Scandinavian countries made their economies so powerful and so productive? Does Hernando De Soto have all the answers?

Readers should know that this essay does not endorse socialism, capitalism, or communism.

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis