What Amiri Baraka Said About Kwame Nkrumah(7)

Wed, 5 Mar 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

Nana Ofori Atta Ayim writes of Dr. JB Danquah: “Dr. Danquah was a protégé of the celebrated and iconic God-father of West African nationalism and the pioneer Pan-Africanist, Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford. In his own words, it was at the feet of the eminent nationalist, ‘Ekra Ageman, otherwise known as Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford, that I was brought up…and it was from Ekra Agyeman that I learned selfless politics as the sacrificing of one’s self totally for one’s country. I sat under his feet from 1915 to his own death in 1930.”

“For centuries, Europeans dominated the African continent. The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to “civilize” Africa. Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people (“I Speak of Freedom: A Statement of African Ideology,” a speech Kwame Nkrumah gave to the African Freedom Fighters, 1961).”

“The incessant stream of bad news—make that ‘flood’—from the ‘dark continent’ gives the impression that Africa somehow missed out on the wonders of capitalist development which the West luckily reaped through some quirk of fate, though that underlying prejudice still survives, seemingly corroborated by World Bank—even holier-than-thou United Nations—statistics. So the words and works of Kwame Nkrumah, which inspired a generation, are well worth a second glance. In fact, the greatest African of the millennium, according to the 2000 BBC World Service listeners’ poll, is not Nelson Mandela or even Patrice Lumumba, but Kwame Nkrumah, the man who inspired the movement for African independence, but who has dropped out of Western discourse, for very good reasons (See Eric Walberg’s “Kwame Nkrumah: The Greatest African”).

Let’s begin with a few questions: Why does Kwame Nkrumah seem to tower over his contemporaries, his predecessors and descendants, a pantheon of great, visionary thinkers? Why does he refuse to die in death? Why are his name, ideas, and philosophy transcontinental and immortal? Why is he still alive in a glorious death, wide-eyed, even when his clueless, ephemeral opponents have disappeared from the collectivized wisdom of men? How could he have seen far beyond the acme of Mount Kilimanjaro, theoretically sitting down, where his shallow opponents, experientially standing tall, only got consumed by a holocaustic cecity of intellectual nanism? Why did the wise ancestors endow the ethereal Nkrumah with a pineal eye for proactive intellectualness and his eyeless opponents with intellectual cosmetology based in part on emotional alchemy and psychological illusionism? Then again, these are merely rhetorical questions. On another level, prior to his death, didn’t Julius Nyerere, one of Africa’s greatest nationalists, admit to not placing himself in ideological alignment with Nkrumah’s projected call for political and economic continentalization of Africa as one of his greatest political miscalculations, despite serious attempts at historical revisionism by Nyerere scholars (See Cham Chachage’s “African Unity: Feeling with Nkrumah, Thinking with Nyerere,” Pambazuka News, April 9, 2009).

Yet again, hasn’t the African-American scholar David Levering Lewis, a former professor of history at the University of Ghana and a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of WEB Du Bois, already told us how the American CIA pressured Haile Selassie to convince Nkrumah to agree to have the Organization of African Unity headquartered in Ethiopia in return for Selassie’s political approval of and commitment to Nkrumah’s unified continentalization of Africa, when, the actual motive, it turned out, was the West using Selassie to trim Nkrumah’s rising global popularity and influence in the world (See “WEB Du Bois: Biography of a Race, 1868-1919” and “WEB Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963”)? Why is it that many African leaders, such as the Duvaliers, Forbes Burnham, Akwasi Afrifa, Mobuto Sese Seko, Chief Mangosutho Buthelezi, JB Danquah, Charles Taylor, Idi Amin, KA Busia, Paul Kagame, Felix Houphouët-Boigny, Yoweri Museveni, Inocêncio Kani, Omar Bongo, Gnassingbé Eyadéma, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, Meles Zenawi, who readily jumped into a bed of ideological alignment with the West, then caught pants down, through emotional harlotry rather than through racialized intellectual parity, have come to be identified with egregious political and strategic miscalculus, which, certainly, more than anything else, have drowned Africa in the Red Sea of developmental deceleration?

Is it any wonder that America would send military men to Uganda under the guise of tracking down Joseph Kony, the pariah leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, when, in reality, we know, quite pointedly, they are there to protect, probably, even help, one of America’s strongest African allies, Yoweri Museveni, a man Milton Allimadi, one of Yoweri’s most ardent American-based critics whom he has consistently accused, along with Paul Kagame, of aiding the West, particularly America, to loot precious minerals in the Eastern Congo, consolidate power? Why were/are they, those afore-cited names, hopelessly corrupt, even going to the extent of selling off Africa’s natural wealth, Africa’s humanity, and Africa’s public properties to their former colonial masters as if the yesterday of tomorrow for Africa’s children has completely disappeared from the radar of existential realities (See Milton Allimad’s “Will Obama Side with Africa’s Enemies, the Corrupt Leaders?”)? And why are those like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Dedan Kimathi, Amilcar Cabral, Nelson Mandela, Marcus Garvey, Paul Bogle, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Steve Biko, great, conscientious leaders and thinkers who fought bravely on behalf of the African people, uncelebrated enemies of the West?

Then, how can anyone confusedly compare Felix Houphouët-Boigny with Kwame Nkrumah? Actually, did Felix Houphouët-Boigny really feed his political opponents to crocodiles, man-eating reptiles poignantly described by and in VS Naipaul’s “The Crocodiles of Yamoussoukro” (See his essay collection “The Writer and the World: Essays”). More importantly, wasn’t Houphouët-Boigny sarcastically referred to as “Mao Tse Houphouët” and “the Stalinist billionaire”? Those aside, what is the actual legacy of Felix Houphouet-Boigny vis-à-vis Nkrumah’s? Stephen Smith writes of him: “However, though he made history, he did not make it into history, at least not as gloriously as Nkrumah, Nyerere, Sekou Toure or Patrice Lumumba. Houphouët-Boigny is generally overlooked, or else dismissed as a ‘lackey of the French” (See “Remembering Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Father of the Ivory Coast’s (In)dependence”). In other words, looking closely at Smith’s title, rather critically, did Felix Houphouët-Boigny, unlike Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, or Marcus Garvey, aim his psychological arrow at “dependence” or “independence” for the Ivory Coast?

We do know Houphouët-Boigny ran a rigid one-party state until his death, although along the way he groomed Konan Bédié, a fellow Akan, to succeed him upon his death. Did Felix Houphouët-Boigny intend the Ivorian political system to be purely based on ethnocracy or ethnic democracy? The legacy of his political characterology would seem to support this view. How? Let’s see. “Konan Bédié, a lackluster figure, received unstinting support from Houphouët-Boigny throughout his political career…Houphouët-Boigny assiduously smoothed his protégé’s path despite the scandals surrounding him and even amended the constitution more than once to that end,” notes Tiemoko Coulibaly (See “Cult of a Dead Dictator: Ivory Coast Deferred”). Why couldn’t he have allowed popular sovereignty, or public opinion, exercised via pubic balloting decide who his immediate successor should have been? Anyway, Coulibaly says elsewhere: “Yet Houphouët-Boigny’s legacy is a major tragedy for Ivory Coast. The triumphant resurgence of Houphouët-Boigny worship, accompanied by the rise of Ivorian power, signals the failure of a system that always relied on tribalism, xenophobia, corruption and prevarication.”

Yet, we also do know Nkrumah, for one, morally stood tall averse to ethnic politics and, consequently, moved to have partisan affiliations based exclusively on ethnocentrism and regionalism stifled via the narrow birth canal of constitutional deglutition. Let’s continue. Coulibaly writes further: “Another tragedy is the blind and vociferous celebration of that poisoned legacy by mediocre politicians devoid of critical spirit and incapable of comprehending that the roots of the present disaster surrounding Ivorian dominance lie in their past.” That so-called “Ivorian dominance,” a concept based on ethnic supremacy with its accompanying exclusionary ethnicized claims to entitlement, shallow-minded Ivorian politicians like Konan Bédié called “Ivoireté” (See also Anheier’s and Isar’s “Cultures and Globalization: Conflicts and Tensions”). In effect, this oppressive past traces its social footprint to the intellectual bankruptcy and political incompetence of Houphouet-Boigny, a man who, it turned out, had failed to sunder his ethnocentric biases from progressive politics, one based on a harmonized, if unitary, collectivization of ethnic variegation. Think of Nkrumah’s Avoidance of Discrimination Act!

Furthermore, the exclusion of Northern Ivoirians in national politics, the expulsion of Dahomeyans from Ivory Coast, presidential preferences for Ivory Coast’s Christian minority, and presidential slighting of Ivory Coast’s Moslem majority chaperoned the checkered contemporaneity of Houphouët-Boigny’s presidency. These xenophobic happenings recall Busia’s expulsion of productive Nigerians and other non-Native Ghanaians contrary to Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanism. Yet, these so-called northerners literally built Ivory Coast, a poignant reminder Wole Soyinka has recently brought to the world’s rapt attention, given their massive involvement in the active cultivation of Ivory Coast’s major cash crops. Still, the North, like Ghana’s, has largely been left underdeveloped and neglected for so many years. Relatedly, Northern Nigeria may share a similar fate of sad history, of negative development economics. In fact, the grievances of Boko Haram—while we concomitantly agree that Islamic fundamentalism or political Islam is generally inexcusably problematic—may not be morally far removed from the political equator of developmental pretermission. Ironically, Africa’s encounter with the “north,” that is, Europe, ushered in the gradualistic destruction of her age-old progressive civilizations, as well as the advent of her humanized devaluation, her enslavement, and her colonization!

Let’s leave those aside and press on. Again, according to Coulibaly, Laurent Gbagbo, of Bété ethnicity, strategically formed the Front Populaire Ivorien (FPI) “as the political expression of the frustrations of the Bété, who had long suffered under a government dominated by the Akan, the ethnic group to which President Houphouët-Boigny and Konan Bédié both belonged.” However, Gbagbo’s well-placed critique of the Ivorian political system under Houphouët-Boigny, a claustrophobically close one, of course, is becoming asymptotically typical of certain political parties in Ghana. Then again, in Ghana the terrorist camp of Busia’s National Liberation Movement and the groundbreaking case “Sallah vs. Attorney General,” “Apollo 568,” so-called, birthed ethnocracy, where the Akan assumed a false sense of political superiority in the body politic and, as a result, the stilted morality of political sjambocracy came to define the stately leadership of Busia. Busia came to power as a seriously bruised Julius Cesar or Machiavelli on a tired boat of ethnocratic vengeance! That said, contrast the tigerish jaw of Houphouët-Boigny’s political ethnocentrism with the pundic embrasure of Nkrumah’ Avoidance of Discrimination Act, enacted in 1957! However, that is not all. Houphouët–Boigny vigorously opposed Nkrumah’s call for a United States of Africa.

He did other questionable things as well. “Houphouët–Boigny recognized Biafra when it attempted secession from Nigeria in 1967, exchanged ambassadors with the Soviet Union, and advocated working with South Africa…One issue which threatened his government was the number of French nationals holding bureaucratic posts in his government—thousands had been invited into the country to help run things,” writes Alistair Boddy-Evans (See “Felix Houphouet-Boigny: From Independence of Cote d’Ivoire to his Death in Office”). Here, as elsewhere, there is another interesting historical parallel with Busia, his hypocritical accommodation of Apartheid South Africa! Ironically, it was Kwame Nkrumah, not Busia, whom the United Nations, namely, the world, formally acknowledged, posthumously, with a gold award, in 1978, for his tireless contributions to the dissolution of the political and economic superstructure of Apartheid (See Gamal Nkrumah’s “Fathia Nkrumah: Farewell to all That”). Yet the same American government that clandestinely worked with KA Busia, Akwaisi Afrifa, JB Danquah, and others to destabilize Ghana, and, possibly, overthrow Nkrumah and his government, among other policy strategies, also clandestinely supported Apartheid South Africa to brutalize Black South Africa!

Moreover, did Houphouët–Boigny and Omar Bongo, unlike Nkrumah who trained, harbored, and supported men and women, videlicet, African Freedom Fighters, solely for the purpose of overthrowing colonial regimes in Africa, have to blindly support the Biafran side of the Nigerian civil war simply because the French, their Machiavellian colonial master, supported Col. Chukwuemeka O. Ojukwu, with Houphouët–Boigny giving official sanctuary to Biafran military leaders favoring Biafran secession from a federalized teddy bear called “Nigeria”? In practice, we should point out, the French and the other Western players, probably unbeknownst to the strategic sightlessness of Houphouët–Boigny, had their eyes fixated on Nigeria’s oil, not on the humanity of Africans, and, subsequently, acted so, quite strictly, in accordance with their cannibalistic voracity and instinctual survival. Certainly, this is laughably comparable to the misplaced cosmic politics that transpired between the Devil and God in which humans, their innocent spectators, have to bear the unpardonable shortcomings traceable to their spiritual follies, yet, they, the Devil and God, much like their Western counterparts, made the rules of engagement, tacit and explicit, for Africans to battle each other in the glorious service of white supremacy and of Western market economy, a dubious system which Rudyard Kipling may want to wax poetic about in his “Law of the Jungle.”

Meanwhile, Boddy-Evans adds: “Educated Ivoirians believed they were being sidelined and Houphouët–Boigny had to institute changes, encouraging indigenous involvement in national development. Despite these changes, a major inequality remained between the elite and peasant classes. The effects of a booming economy were not tricking down from the rich to the poor.” Is this not what they call “capitalism,” an idea Houphouët–Boigny picked up from his dealing with the French who lent the phrase “laissez faire” to liberal market economy? Here is the saddest part of his legacy: “In his final days, Houphouët–Boigny had a massive basilica built…It cost an estimated $300m, which he claimed came from his own funds…At the same time as the fortune was spent on the basilica, Cote d’Ivoire was forced to suspend its debt payments and introduce austerity legislation. He had an estimated $10 million when he died, including several villas in France.” Take note: While Nkrumah was busy dotting Ghana with industries in apparent attempt to industrialize and technologize Ghana and thence Africa, Houphouët–Boigny, on the other hand, was putting up colossal structures to continue from where our colonizers exactly left off: Re-colonizing, constipating, or dousing the fire of the African mind. Wouldn’t cutting-edge research institutions and world-class universities have been better? Why would anyone in his right mind build a basilica, cited in the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest church, when children go to school under trees or fail to get potable water to drink?

On the other hand, why would Houphouët–Boigny raise the basilica in Yamoussoukro, his hometown, rather than in Abidjan, the then national capital, and christen the former as the country’s new capital, while, Nkrumah, a more niggardly, modest, and prudent politician, failed to replicate this Boygnyian architectural extravagance and cultish vanity in Nkroful? Was Wole Soyinka right in harshly subjecting Houphouët–Boigny to crimination, literarily summonsing him before the court of public opinion, his wide readership, where Houphouët–Boigny’s docket of stately “criminal” bequests included entries for defalcation and for the political economy of misplaced national priorities? Moreover, has the basilica improved the living standard and life expectancy of the average Ivorian? Alternatively, did he possibly put up that dinosaurian building, as a matter of gestural urgency, to oil the European God’s palm, Jesus Christ, in whose name individuals like him and his ancestors were enslaved or to merely atone for his political and economic portmanteaux of sins—to guarantee his smooth passage to the white man’s heaven?

Remarkably, though, Houphouët–Boigny’s antemortem uneconomic behavior invokes a series of serious moral questions: How did he personally erect a mountain of financial fortune from which he extracted $300 million to raise the basilica? How did he acquire the money to purchase his expensive private French villas? Why did the West, principally France, give him preferential deals for Ivorian cash crops than for those of independent-minded thinkers like Nkrumah? How many villas did Nkrumah have in Britain upon his death? How much money did Nkrumah have upon his passing? Why did Houphouët–Boigny support the French side in the Algerian Revolution and the Franco-British seizure of the Suez Canal in 1956? Why did Houphouët–Boigny turn down Nkrumah’s invitation to attend the ceremonious replacement of the Black Star with the Union Jack? Once again, these investigational scenarios may be taken to mean practical sniffings of political morality cast in a framework of rhetorical questions. In fact, Smith observes: “Houphouët–Boigny’s state was eviscerated by corruption abetted by the president himself (“When you’re roasting peanuts for others, no-one should look into your mouth”); land tenure was a mess he had created;...” The question again is, why do some commentators morally elevate Houphouët–Boigny above Nkrumah?

What's more, Explo N. Nani-Kofi, another commentator, observes: “Despite this, as early as 1959, Houphouët–Boigny expelled his deputy, Jean-Baptiste Mockey for leading a group of people within Boigny’s party and government to openly oppose the government’s Francophone policies. He was accused of plotting to kill Boigny through the use of voodoo. In 1993, there were more than 100 secret trials in which Mockey and others like Ernest Boka, head of the Supreme Court, were implicated.” Was the alleged attempt to kill Houphouët–Boigny via the spiritual medium of voodoo as closely, or even remotely, grave as the Al-Qaeda-style and Al-Shabab-like bombings and terrorism of the NLM? In our opinion, what Mockey and his co-conspirators allegedly attempted to do to Houphouët–Boigny merely symbolized a play of psychological musical chairs at best! Nani-Kofi continues: “Houphouët–Boigny had a poor relationship with governments in West Africa who were not the favorites of the West. Houphouët is alleged to have supported rebels and plotters against the regimes of Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Sekou Toure in Guinea and Patrice Lumumba in the present-day DCR (Democratic Republic of Congo).”

Yet, Nkrumah, as we conceded previously, supported psychological and military campaigns against colonial regimes! Nani-Kofi explains further: “He’s also associated with the coup against the pro-Soviet Mathieu in Benin in January 1977. He supported Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA when the ruling government in Angola was pro-Soviet and UNITA was the favorite of the USA in Angola. It’s believed that he worked closely with Blaise Compaore in the overthrow of Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso. He influenced French backing for Charles Taylor’s rebel forces in Liberia.” If these facts are true, is Houphouët–Boigny morally comparable to Nkrumah? He concludes: “Whilst friends of the West fraudulently present Ghana under Nkrumah as a tyranny, the presidential election in Ghana on 27 April 1960 had two candidates, who were Kwame Nkrumah and JB Danquah, Cote d’Ivoire, which was praised, had nobody contesting Houphouët–Boigny.” In fact, it would take a stretch of thirty years, measured from Ivory Coast’s 1960 independence to 1990, for the opposition, led by Laurent Gbagbo, to mount a formidable challenge to the Akanized ethnocracy of Houphouët–Boigny (See “Crisis in Cote d’Ivoire: History, Interests and Parallels”).

Why then was Houphouët–Boigny apotheosized in the West while Nkrumah was demonized? Have Africans truly asked themselves what feeds this moral paradox? Dr. Kwesi Botchwey has written of Nkrumah: “But of course individuals do influence history, especially if they are leaders who, although molded by the age in which they live, are able to capture its spirit and provide the inspiration that helps galvanize a momentum for progressive change. And in both the national and the wider continent and diaspora African world, Nkrumah supremely epitomized such an individual.” He continues: “Of all the political leaders in the nation’s entire pre- and post-colonial history, Nkrumah stands out as the one leader whose legacy and influence has been most enduring and this, because he was, in many ways, ahead of his time. We see his legacy imprinted everywhere—in the macroeconomic and real sectors of our national economy, in the banking and insurance industries, in the country’s basic infrastructure—in the energy and power sector, we have added precious little to what he left us.” Again, if Dr. Botchwey’s frank assessment of Nkrumah’s legacy is anything to go by, why is he and his ideas not the focus of study in Ghana’s educational institutions where his quality leadership and his progressive views on development economics are introduced to students at all ages?

Elsewhere Dr. Botchwey has categorically established that there exists no confirmable evidence to corroborate unsubstantive claims on Nkrumah’s having allegedly deployed members of the Young Pioneers against their parents, ostensibly to spy on them, let alone report them to the authorities, although Ama Biney believes Nkrumah’s political investment in the social institutionalization of the Young Pioneers gravitated toward youth pedagogization, thus writing of Nkrumah: “He had a long-standing belief that the youth of society constituted an asset in national reconstruction…aimed at ‘training the mind, body and soul of the youth of Ghana to be up to their civic responsibilities so as to fulfill their patriotic duties.’” This is because history has consistently shown that Nkrumah did not have time on his hands to dabble in such anecdotal irrelevancies. National and continental development and growth, steeling the African mind against Western nihilistic encroachment and imperialistic cannibalism, making the African mind consciously healthy, and elevating Africa to technological, industrial, and scientific heights marked the intellectual and spiritual trademark of his life’s mission. That was why he accomplished so much for Ghana and Africa within the shortest permissible time, to the extent that many African countries have failed to measure up to his accomplishments measured across decades.

On a more philosophical note, we also believe Nkrumah should have introduced the curriculum he used for the Ideological Institute to members of Ghana’s military brass (as well as the police, navy, etc), making it a compulsory requirement of study but delivered in modules across the tenure of one’s soldierly service to the country. We know Nkrumah placed that demand on members of the security services, but why some managed to make a smooth psychological slippage through the net of conscientization, then turned against Nkrumah’s progressive policies is a question Nkrumahists should attempt to answer! This is not to make Nkrumah a saint and the institutional quality of his policies unquestionable. Why do we advance these moral arguments? We strongly believe, at least in theory, that its inclusionary pedagogization may have sufficiently conscientized street urchins like Akwaisi Africa and his seditious co-conspirators, endowing them with self-respect, a sense of self-love, moral responsibility, intellectual belongingness, and Afrocentric self-awareness! Indeed the transformative ideas of Nkrumah are what have made many of us what we are today.

Admittedly, the likes of Akwaisi Africa and his putschist co-conspirators did not share the cosmopolitan appreciation of the world as Nkrumah surely did, for, if they did, they would not have entertained, even remotely, the leprotic hand of the American CIA to waltz on their forked tongues. Just consider the self-righteous standoffishness at which the West rejected Mobuto Sese Seko, one of its most powerful Cold War African allies, as though he suffered from the political morality of terminal tuberculosis, leprosy, anthrax, and bubonic plague. Those in the West who propped up his government and harbored his stolen investments refused him entry into their countries when Laurent Kabila and the post-Cold War ghost of neocolonialism chased him away. Meanwhile, did the American government which contracted them to overthrow Nkrumah care about the human rights of Africans, including those of Afrifa and his seditious friends? No. Emphatically, the Preventive Detention Act (PDA), as we argued in “What Amiri Baraka Said About Kwame Nkrumah (VI),” is a pedestrian fixture of American jurisprudence. We did not even know Afrifa was such a cowardly droopy General until his secret letter to Acheampong, so-called “Afrifa’s Letter to Acheampong,” exposed him as a girlie fraud?

Further, JH Hoover’s clandestine association with McCarthyism, where the FBI viciously hounded suspected American-based communist sympathizers through a network of articulated trains powered by unsubstantiated indictments, through which the intelligence entity falsely tethered individuals to the ideological tree of communism is a historical fixture on the American public conscience as well. In fact, WEB Du Bois and Paul Robeson, to name but two, had their passports seized by the American government because of their communist sympathies. This explains why Du Bois could not attend Ghana’s independence celebration with Martin Luther King, Jr., Asa P. Randolph, Richard Nixon, and others. Finally, while the West, especially America, criticizes certain African countries for practicing one-party politics, it turns out, that America’s two-party system, if critically examined, relatively shares the ideological symptomatology of one-party politics. In other words, a minority bloc of powerful Americans, mostly white males and their representative corporations, rules America. Both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party parties are controlled by this powerful minority bloc.

It’s also a fact that the ideological gulf between America’s two leading parties is not that of an ideological ocean but an ideological drop of water. In fact, the American constitution makes third-party formation nearly impossible in the American body politic (See Rosenstone et al’s “Third Parties in America”). We bring this up to demonstrate a moral parallel between the Preventive Detention Act (PDA) and the clandestine activities of the FBI/CIA. In this context, Ama Biney quotes Geoffrey Bing, the then Attorney General, who said: “Preventive detention had been established in India before it was introduced in Ghana without resulting in any denunciation of the type which its establishment and use in Ghana had aroused.” The moral irony is that the West had and still has preventive detention laws on its books yet chose to criticize Ghana when it legally institutionalized one. Still, Ama Biney, though not morally supporting Nkrumah’s one-party state by dismissing it as a frivolous intellectual exercise, thinks it was Nkrumah’s hard-line response to the question of federalized balkanization advanced through the divisive ethnocracy of the NLM, as he viewed Ghana’s political and territorial integrity as necessary prerequisites to his progressive development economics for the neonatal state.

It was against this backdrop Nkrumah retorted to his opponents who branded him a dictator: “In this transitional period we had not got full control of defense. If the police and the army had been in the hands of my Government, the revolt, disobedience and disregard of law, order and justice in Ashanti would have never happened (See Ama Biney). This statement, which directly indicts the Asante Region for the NKM’s subversive kerfuffle should be contextually placed on the chronological template of Nkrumah’s prime ministership, that is, in the political womb of pre-republic constitutional constraints on the enforcement lid of his prime ministership. The relative absence of executive prerogatives on the plate of Nkrumah’s prime ministership may have given the NLM ample time to strategize and to cause more troubles for the new state. Clearly, our point is that Nkrumah should have been given some of the constitutional powers of the executive office to contain subversive elements in the new state, in which case the subversive volcanicity of the NLM would have been crashed in time! Elsewhere Ama Biney quotes Nkrumah again: “If I were a dictator, the opposition would have no place to stand to make the noise they’re making.”

Then again, it’s no secret that America used Agent Orange in Vietnam in which millions of Vietnamese still suffer from serious cancer-related sicknesses (See Griffiths’ “Agent Orange: Collateral Damage in Vietnam”). It’s probably public knowledge as well that America used banned chemical weapons in Iraq and, thus, their epidemiological links to birth defects, cancer, breathing problems, etc., in certain Iraqi localities, for instance, Fallujah, are beginning to surface (See Jamail’s “Iraq: War’s Legacy of Cancer” and “Fallujah Babies: Under a New Kind of Siege”; Koehler’s “The Suffering of Fallujah”; Dr. Al-Azzawi’s “Depleted Uranium Radioactive Contamination in Iraq: An Overview”; Hakim’s BBC World News “Born Under a Bad Sign”; “Cancer, Infant Mortality & Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,” published in the “International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; “Suppressed WHO Reports on Rise of Cancer and Birth Defects in Iraq: Cover-Up of War Crimes Committed Against the Iraqi People,” Global Research News, Sept. 14, 2013; and Stone’s and Kuznick’s “The Untold History of the United States”). Again, these are important topics that should be studied in our universities, but, unfortunately, are not.

As well, Saddam Hussein, a former close Middle Eastern ally of the West, particularly America, and thousands of innocent Iraqis suffered for crimes—terroristic dissolution of the World Trade Center and weapons of mass destruction—they knew absolutely nothing about (See Joyce Battle’s edited essay “Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The US Tilts Toward Iraq, 1980-1984,” published on the website of the National Security Archive; see also the “Iran-Contra Affair”). Then also Hiltermann writes: “Some of those who engineered the tilt today are back in power in the Bush administration. They have yet to account for their judgment that it was Iran, not Iraq, that posed the primary threat to the Gulf; for building up Iraq so that it thought it could invade Kuwait and get away with it; for encouraging Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs by giving the regime a de facto green light on chemical weapons use; and for turning a blind eye to Iraq’s worst atrocities, and then lying about it (See Hiltermann’s “Halaba: America Didn’t Seem to Mind Poison Gas;” Dobbs’ “US Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup: Trade in Chemical Weapons Allowed Despite Their Use on Iranians, Kurds”; Forsyth’s “The Fist of God”; “In Exiting Iraq, US Military Discards Trove of Found Documents on 2005 Haditha Massacre of Iraqis,” Democracy Now, Dec. 21, 2011).

Interestingly, George W. Bush and seven of his erstwhile cabinet members have been indicted for war crimes (See Ridley’s “Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia”; “Universal Jurisdiction: Accountability for US Torture,” published on the website of the Center for Constitutional Rights; and, finally, Gallagher’s “Universal Jurisdiction in Practice: Efforts to Hold Donald Rumsfeld and Other High-Level United States Officials Accountable for Torture,” also published in the “Journal of International Criminal Justice,” 2009 7: 1087-1116”; and Boston University’s Prof. Bacevish’s “The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism” and “The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War”). Then, pointedly, all over America there have been conscious attempts to disenfranchise American “minorities,” especially African Americans (See Seitz-Wald’s “Florida Republican: We Wanted to Suppress Black Votes,” Amy Goodman’s “African-Americans and the Vanishing Right to Vote,” and Green’s “Political Strategy Notes: Voter Suppression Edition”).

Even Eric Holder’s Justice Department threatened to sue the state of Texas over its attempts to disenfranchise some Texans, once again, mostly “minorities” (See “Justice Department to File New Lawsuit Against State of Texas Over Voter I.D. Law,” published on the website of the Department of Justice, United States of America; Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration of in the Age of Colorblindness” and Blackmon’s “Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War”; “Rockefeller Drug Laws,” published in “The New Times,” March 3, 2014; Morrison’s “Don’t Look Now, Americans, But Many of Your Elections are Rigged,” published in the “Los Angeles Times,” Jan. 31, 2014). It’s generally believed the American CIA created Al-Qaeda while others also suspect the American CIA created the Taliban with Pakistan’s assistance (See the article “CIA Worked with Pakistan to Create Taliban” and the book “Out of Afghanistan: The Inside Story of the Soviet Withdrawal”).

What sort of intellectual motivation underwrites the need for all of these exemplary diversions? We give this extensive background to illustrate the sort of unscrupulous and diabolical elements street urchins like Afrifa probably did not have any clue who they were actually dealing with. Interestingly, Paul Lee quotes Robert W. Komer, an American National Security Council Staffer, thus writing: “The coup in Ghana,” he crowed, “is another example of a fortuitous windfall. Nkrumah was doing more to undermine our interests than any other black African (See Lee’s brilliant essay for a detailed discussion of Nkrumah’s overthrow as well as of all the vital declassified documents related to the coup in “Documents Expose U.S. Role in Nkrumah’s Overthrow”). Did Komer say “our interests”? Yes, he did but the African world is obviously not part of the strategic orbit of Western interests. The word “our” refers to the West, chiefly America. In effect, the major problem with the African world is the Eurocentric parochialization of its goals. Nkrumah’s “consciencism” is an intellectual roadmap to get us out of the intellectual morass of parochiality.

This directly brings us to the question of propaganda and of the political construals of statistical realities. Reportedly, it has widely been alleged that Nkrumah’s overthrow garnered popular support, yet no reliable statistical data have been adduced to affirm the veracity, or otherwise, of this spurious claim. Propagandistically, statistics is malleable enough to transform itself into an emotional convenience of creative manipulation by bullying both public and private consciences into ejaculatory obeisance to the Aphrodite of partisan ideology. That is, allegations of popular anecdotes, exclusively contrived for propaganda purposes, cannot stand in for the moral testimony of statistical supremacy if the latter is submitted to the rigors of non-partisan interpretation. For instance, Dennis Austin never authoritatively declared the 1960 election was rigged or sabotaged, writing thus: “that the CPP almost certainly manipulated the vote. Thus deceit was added to force where both were probably unnecessary (See “Politics of Ghana: 1946-1960”; see also Dr. Ama Biney’s “The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah”).

What is “almost certainly” supposed to mean? Which electoral localities did the alleged manipulation(s) occur? Which corrupt officials were allegedly involved? Which individuals allegedly witnessed the so-called electoral malpractice? What are the names of the individuals who reported the alleged electoral manipulation(s)? To whom were the electoral manipulation(s) allegedly reported? Ironically, which electorally vanquished candidate in Ghana’s political history has not publicly attributed his/her stifled candidacy to claims of rigged or sabotaged elections? Didn’t the NLM/UGCC privately and publicly acknowledge the crushing electoral defeat of JB Danquah? Didn’t the UGCC go into institutionalized maudlin extinction right after Ghana’s 1951 election? “After the birth and popularity of the CPP, the Working Committee of the UGCC meeting in Saltpond in 1949 passed a vote of no confidence of Dr. JB Danquah’s leadership victory,” writes Dr, Kwame Botwe-Asamoah (See “The Fallacies of J.B. Danquah’s Heroic Legacy,” (l)-(V), and “K.A. Busia: His Politics of Demagoguery,” all published on Ghanaweb). Thus, in the absence of any dependable witness of statistical or evidential substantiation, as should be expected in practice and in principle, by principled scholars and lay readers, we may have to reject Dennis Austin’s speculatively, if playful, juvenility!

We should add that statistics is not necessarily a useful incarnation of “truth” or “reality” since either is a relative phenomenological construct. Therefore, in the absence of any such reliable statistical or scientific verification for headless, self-serving fabrications, we, hereby, to say the least, vehemently reject propagandistic noisemaking as exclusionary instrumentality of tabloidized mudslinging. This is an indirect way of saying Nkrumah is such an important historical figure to the cultural psychology of the African world! If this assertion is theoretically permissible, why were “his monuments torn down, his books burnt, and references to him or his works proscribed in a shameful display of the abject national catharsis that gripped the nation on his overthrow,” Dr. Botchwey seems to imply rhetorically? We should also take complete inventory of the hiccups of economic and developmental problems which Nkrumah’s decisions occasioned by situating them in the proper contexts, not to explain away.

In fact, Nkrumah’s major economic decisions ran through the grinding concert of world-class economists like Prof. Arthur Lewis. JH Mensah, Dudley Seers, EN Omaboe, Nicolas Kaldor, Josef Bognar, Albert Hirshmann, and Tony Killick were the others. It is therefore unfortunate to see people who are wont to blame Nkrumah uncritically without adequate appreciation of the political psychology which dangled behind the interplay of his policy decisions and foibles, Cold War politics, international economics, the legacy of colonialism, local oppositional politics, and what have you. Again, Dr. Botchwey has said he relied on the advice of “world acclaimed and prominent members of the economic profession…A number of leading scholars of the period were on hand to discuss a Seven-Year Development Plan at an experts’ conference in 1963, and reportedly joined others in endorsing the Plan’s basic strategy (See ”The Relevance of Kwame Nkrumah’s Legacy in Ghana’s Contemporary Political Economy”; see also Adom Boateng’s “Political Legacy of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana”). A necessary caveat: It’s not as though we are calling for uncritical idolization and evaluation of Nkrumah and his legacy!

Having said that, is Dr. Botwe-Asamoah’s bold, affirmative assertion on Danquah’s elitist antipathy towards the masses morally and historically justified? An appropriate response may inevitably inform our opinion of JB Danquah as an experienced or unsophisticated politician! To answer this question we need to look elsewhere. Let’s recall a less-known conversation Richard Wright, author of “Native Son,” and JB Danquah had many years ago, courtesy of Dr. Ama Biney, one of Britain’s authorities on Kwame Nkrumah: “The African American Richard Wright’s meeting with Dr. JB Danquah in the early 1950s also sheds light on the attitude of the UGCC toward the semi-educated. Danquah was asked by Wright why he did not try to win this political constituency (CPP and its supporters) to the side of the UGCC. Danquah responded with a grimace saying: ‘I don’t like this thing of the masses. There are only individuals for me.’ Wright continued: ‘Every word that I had uttered clashed with his deep-set convictions.” Admittedly, the following solemn remark based on Danquah’s elitist arrogance informed Wright’s evaluative opinion of him: “And it suddenly flashed through me that this man was not a politician and would never be one.” In short, Nelson Mandela, Paulo Freire, Julius Nyerere, Marcus Garvey, and Frantz Fanon would have repeated the same apocalyptic words to Danquah. Ama Biney’s own take on the dialogue assumes a poignantly authoritative twist: “To Wright, Danquah was of the ‘old school,’ who could not speak for the masses but could tell them what to do.”

Let’s revisit the first epigram and try to see what it has for us. Importantly, Casely Hayford, author of “Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation,” one of the earliest novels in English by an African, stood tall as an exemplary blaze of nationalist mahatma to many a Ghanaian wannabe nationalists, this, including Kwame Nkrumah and JB Danquah. Yet, for all the noise of historical revisionists, Nkrumah’s greatest influences were Marcus Garvey, George Padmore, WEB Du Bois, Kwegyir Aggrey, SR Wood, Vladimir Lenin, ITA Wallace Johnson, Karl Marx, Nnamdi Azikwe, not JB Danquah. Pointedly, we can also understand and if pushed pardon Prof. George Ayittey for placing Nkrumah, Danquah, and Busia, in that order, in the same sentence, but what is unforgivable is his statement that they are great men! We firmly believe you cannot be a terrorist, be on the payroll of the CIA, betray and destabilize your country, and be a great man at the same time. Impossible. However, we are grateful to Prof. Ayittey for granting Nkrumah sentential preeminence in his evaluative profile on these three Ghanaians!

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis