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What Amiri Baraka Said About Kwame Nkrumah Part 4

Sun, 9 Feb 2014 Source: Kwarteng, Francis

Ideally, it is important to acknowledge Kwame Nkrumah’s signal contribution to the theoretical birthing of Afrocentricity, though from an intellectual point of ideational awayness. In fact, we did unbury this topic, however briefly, first in Part ll of our series, through an invocation of Amiri Baraka’s eulogistic poetic archeology, where we categorically emphasized an otherwise little-known historical link between Nkrumah and Amiri Baraka, then, later, through our generalized conceptualization of “Afrocentric humanism.” Appropriately, contemporary history also shows Asante singlehandedly gave the concept its ideological shine of solemnized theoretical muscularity in addition to underwriting its global spread via social, intellectual momentum as well as via prolific publications. Yet the modest Asante refuses to arrogate all the credit to himself. Thus, he acknowledges Mazama, Diop, the late South African scholar Tsehloane C. Keto, and several others for their contributions.

We raise this subject matter here because some readers wanted to know the precise intellectual relationship between Nkrumah and the theoretical evolution of Afrocentricity. Though this epistemological sniffing may have sophisticated layers of scientific and historiographic accompaniments, probably originating from pheromonal interest in distending one’s horizon, merely for the sake of intellection, if we may add, we shall avoid all attempts at elucidatory elaboration and head for generalities instead, particularly, more so, because, among other reasons, we have given the subject of Afrocentricity a discursive massage in many of our prior essays published on Ghanaweb as well as elsewhere. That said, Asante writes: “Although the word existed before Asante’s book and had been used by many people, including Asante in the 1970s, and Kwame Nkrumah in the 1960s, the intellectual idea did not have substance as a philosophical concept until 1980 (See also Asante’s two essays “Afrocentricity” and “Africology: Naming An Intellectual Enterprise In Our Field”).

Moreover, in reference to the above quote, the “word” refers to “Afrocentricity” and the Asante’s book in question is “Afrocentricity: The Theory of Social Change.” Asante also shares these facts with us: “Nkrumah was one of the first to use the term ‘Afro-centric’ in the speech that he did at Legon in either 1961 or 62 when he called for ‘Afro-centric education.’” He continues: “Zizwe Poe has written these ideas: ‘A synthesis of Afrocentric paradigm constructed by Asante, and commented on by Keto, can provide an academic structure to evaluate Nkrumahism. Briefly stated, this paradigm involves the utilization of the following concepts: 1). Individual and organizational agency in the intellectual and social landscape, 2). Psychological, political, and philosophical location, 3). Historicity and hermeneutics, 4). Critique and delinking, 5). Denunciation of Eurocentric and Sinocentric hegemony, and 6). Assertion of an African culture, personality, and genius.”

In other words, though Nkrumah was one of the first to use the word, Asante’s theoretical institutionalization of the concept, however elaborately constructed, made it possible for scholars to apply the analytic brush of Nkrumahism, technically retroactively, to the castor oil of epistemological expatiation. In fact, the evolutionary relationship is a subtle one, of course, that of grandfatherly articulation and pupillary substantiation. Finally, Asante concludes: “Furthermore, anyone who knows anything about Nkrumah knows that he rejected the domination of the Eurocentric view and worked to create what might now be viewed as a concept, consciencism, that depends upon African agency just as we do with Afrocentricity.” This is what we call intellectual modesty and honesty. Pointedly, though our great scholar, Molefi Kete Asante, essentially developed most of these groundbreaking concepts, yet, he allows others, Zizwe Poe, in our case, to do all the talking, by proxy, on his behalf.

That is to say, sincerely acknowledging and crediting others with ideational co-origination of a transformative concept, a virtue our newly-proposed educational format should inculcate in students, children and adults, though it’s incumbent upon us not to leave out Diop and his major scientific contributions to the theory (See Asante’s “Cheikh Anta Diop: An Intellectual Portrait”; we thoroughly reviewed this book, go to “amazon.com” for details). Then again, Dr. Zizwe Poe, one of America’s distinguished authorities on Nkrumah, is the author of “Kwame Nkrumah’s Contribution to Pan-African Agency: An Afrocentric Analysis” (See also his essay “Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, A Lincoln University Alumnus: His Profound Impact On Pan-African Agency”). Yet again, Dr. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah’s classical work on Nkrumah, titled “Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought And Policies,” is a must-read, if we may add. Both authoritative literarized accounts, heavy on facts, simultaneously include and continue the theoretical project, Nkrumahism and Afrocentricity, where Asante’s theorizing left off.

It’s equally appropriate to reprise a special event which took place in April 27, 2012, at Philadelphia’s African-American Museum. This eventful convocation celebrated the reclamation of Nkrumah’s stolen diary. As well, Drs. Molefi Kete Asante, Vincent Abukuse Mbirika, and Zizwe Poe made a momentous appearance at the ceremonious briefing. Also, Ms. Samia Nkrumah, Nkrumah’s political-activist daughter, gave an impressive presentation on her father’s recovered diary, ending her talk with an ornate peroration driven around her father’s major contributions to decolonizing Africa. However, it was Dr. Mbirika’s succinct yet electrifying presentation that would probably constitute the most innovatively informative offering. Among other explosive revelations, Dr. Mbirika alluded to a little-known conspiracy which transpired many years ago between certain powerful elements, scrupulous as well, in Ghana, namely, professors, government officials, lawyers, judges, and business people, and Swiss banking authorities, to hand over money meant for Africa’s development via unified continentalism, money which Nkrumah had received from friendly governments.

These scrupulous elements fabricated several important documents, stole Nkrumah’s passport (# 065), and duplicated it. Again, according to Dr. Mbirika, those diabolical elements then handed over the duplicated passport to a non-family of Kwame Nkrumah. Ironically, the Swiss banking authorities even advised them to raise the age of the supposed “family member” of Nkrumah, a fraudulent invention. The fraud would later present himself officially to Swiss authorities claiming to be the sole beneficiary and heir to Dr. Nkrumah’s possessions. But, the alleged heir to Nkrumah, who was in Philadelphia at the time of Nkrumah’s death, then at age seventeen, had his age upped to forty-three to make it possible for him to retrieve the said amount of money. However, fortunately for us and for posterity, Dr. Mbirika has laid hands on some of these important Swiss documents and is presently writing a book about the failed collusion between those scrupulous Ghanaians, Nkrumah’s enemies, and Swiss banking officials.

Meanwhile, according to Dr. Mbirika, some friendly countries had given Nkrumah this money after the West and former friendly allies turned their backs on him, tossing him here and there on the political seesaw of economic uncertainty. Therefore, upon receiving it, Nkrumah left the money in Swiss banks after his CIA-instigated overthrow. Dr. Mbirika has since gone on to say he is at the stage of assembling a team of good lawyers to retrieve this money from the Swiss and have it repatriated to Africa for her development. “This money is huge enough to feed millions of African children,” he told the audience. Again, he’s working on this in another book. But a few suspiciously pertinent questions still remain unresolved. Drs. Asante and Poe wondered how Nkrumah’s diary had mysteriously ended up in America while the man lived in Guinea and died in Bucharest! Anyway, let’s leave the diabolical enemies of Nkrumah to die in shame even as his name soars higher and higher in death.

Ironically, this whole story, which closely takes after a foliated unfolding of a Sydney Sheldon corporate mystery novel, interestingly, is laughably similar to what happened to Bob Marley’s family and his estate right after his passing. Men and women older than Bob Marley came forward claiming ownership of part of his estate by virtue of being his legitimate children. Other women also came forward claiming their children were Bob Marley’s. In fact, some of these women had claimed, quite courageously, that Bob Marley had actually asked them to abort their pregnancies, but, somehow, the aborted fetuses had managed to survive well into adulthood, and, therefore, they believed it was within their children’s right to assert a claim on his estate. Still, paternity test would expose most of them as greedy and unconscionable frauds (See Rita Marley’s autobiography “No Woman No Cry: My Life With Bob Marley,” a beautiful piece co-written with Hettie Jones, ex-wife of the late Amiri Baraka).

Now back to the matter at hand. At this juncture, it’s important to stress the point that Amiri Baraka’s critical assessment of Marable’s biography, “Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention,” directly feeds into the contextual playground of this essay, because part of the legacy of Nkrumah also directly ties into the architectural textuality of Marable’s scandalous, if revisionist, reinterpretation of Malcolm X’s life, recalling that Marable categorically had said Nkrumah ignored Malcolm X. Relatedly, the eulogia of Michael Eric Dyson, Cornel West, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. appear on the book’s dust jacket, that of Marable’s, we mean. Elsewhere, Dyson’s “I May Not Get There With You,” an unauthorized biography of King, is merely a deconstructionist brothel replete with syphilitic orthography rooted in groundless allegations. The racial cloudiness of Gates is probably public knowledge and therefore requires no elaboration, though, somehow, Cornel West’s intellectualism defines him as an intellectual in-betweener across the ideological, if nuanced, polarities represented by Gates and Dyson.

Further, Gates, like Appiah, are supreme masters of the creative craft of postmodernism and revisionism. Particularly, Gates is notoriously adept at weaving the basketry of Eurocentrism by subordinating Africa to the cultural majesty of Europe. In the main, there appears to be fluid shadows of revisionist and postmodernist rumors flying all over the place. There has been cumulative attempts, conscious ones, or course, to distort or undermine the legacy and continuing influence of Marcus Garvey in the American body politic (See Asante’s “Marcus Garvey Look For Me In The Whirlwind”). Incidentally, Marable also tries consciously to minimize the historical impact of Marcus Garvey on the world, particularly America (Belatedly, the late Dr. Tony Martin’s influential work, “Race First,” unclothes Marable’s clueless and ideological waltzing, succeeding in dismantling his arguments against Garvey. Dr. Martin was one of the world’s leading authorities on Garvey and UNIA). At this point let’s also remind ourselves that Garvey was one of the greatest influences on Nkrumah and Mandela.

Why have Appiah, Gates, Marable, and Dyson carved successful careers out of the ideological pastry of revisionism and postmodernism? Well, let’s try to look at conscious attempts to deconstruct positive African role models at another angle. It is disarmingly comical to read commentaries by Western observers who tend to mischaracterize Frantz Fanon as “violent,” an evaluative observation made on the basis that he proposed “violence” as a political antidote to the brutalization which the West, particularly Europe, visited upon Africa, this, despite the fact that all the violence came from Europe. Why should violent Europe misconstrue Fanonian “self-defense” philosophy as “violence”? How is one expected to remain “non-violent” when drizzles of bombs are released upon one’s head? This misguided rewriting of Fanonian history is very much Marablean in their dubious political intentions. As well, the very fact that Marable sidestepped the peer-review process is itself cause for alarm (See Dr. John Morrow’s essay “The Second Assassination Of Malcolm X: Critical Review Of Manning Marable’s Biography,” published in the “Journal of Pan African Studies,” Vol. 5, No. 1, March 2012).

Having said that, a repertoire of revisionist books now mushrooming out of South Africa, mostly authored by white scholars, puts Nelson Mandela, the leadership of the ANC, and the tireless struggles of the ANC to divest South Africa of Apartheid outside the immediate gravesite of Apartheid history itself. Curiously, some of these corpora of works exclusively attribute international boycott, rather than a combination of factors, to the political extinction of Apartheid. Principally, the historical roles of Mandela, Fidel Castro, Muammar Kaddafi, Africa, and the ANC are de-emphasized in some of these major scholarly works. Moreover, across the Atlantic the dinosaurian wings of unfounded allegations continue to fly that Jesse Jackson was part of a clandestine machinery, conspiratorially created by the FBI, to assassinate Martin Luther King, Jr.

Further, the failed attempt to trap controversial Civil Rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton with a bag of drugs, possibly cocaine, an incident secretly caught on hidden camera and, consequently, broadcast on American television, just to discredit his activist politics skewed toward pursuit of social and racial justice for African Americans, is probably well known. Yet the alleged betrayal of the Black Panthers by Richard Aoki, a Japanese-American and a former member of the Black Panther Party, is not even treated with all the moral seriousness it deserves in the black community (See Seth Rosenfeld’s “Subversives”; Bobby Seale’s autobiography “A Lonely Rage” names Richard Aoki as an arm supplier to the Black Panthers). Yet, contrary to what some of our readers may think, Black Nationalism contributed to America’s and Africa’s greatness (See Wilson’s “Classical Black Nationalism: From The American Revolution To Marcus Garvey” and Asante’s essay “Toward An African State”).

The point is that progressive Black Nationalism harms Western interests regarding questions of economic exploitation. But, Black Nationalism, in other words, black self-determination, raises the racial, economic, cultural, and political threshold of equality with corporate and racial whiteness, an exercise which potentially neutralizes hiccups of economic exploitation on the part of the West. Accordingly, there is a conscious attempt by the West and their agents in the black world to underwrite any corrective projects meant to undermine progressive nationalism in the African world. That is, late harbingers of Black Nationalism must be destroyed just as new ones must be buried before they are born, because, that way, the West and their elitist black androids guarantee their economic interests. Manning Marable, for one, believes socialism, not Black Nationalism, is the answer to black exploitation, though, the West, the world’s major exploiter, is more nationalistic than any society on earth. In fact, White America exploits Black America via nationalistic capitalism. Nkrumah saw it firsthand and read about it while in America.

Furthermore, Western nationalistic capitalism may have caused more enduring harm to humanity, animal ecology, stability of nation-states, and the environment than communism, socialism, and fascism combined. No wonder capitalism is crumbling right before our eyes. This should be particularly the case because the objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff is partly to blame for the failure of American nationalistic capitalism. The package inserts of lies hidden in Western nationalistic capitalism are closely similar to a handful of incredible historical anecdotes where, first, in 1637, Madeleine d’Auvermont, a French woman, conceived a “miracle child” through telegony; second, a “virgin” Italian nun gave birth recently to a baby boy through “virgin birth” or “sexless pregnancy”; finally, the case of Hippocrates, the so-called father of modern medicine, whose “expert” defense of a woman who had given birth to a black child, subsequently described as “black as a Moor,” though she and her husband had been pale-skinned, would result in her exculpation as an adulterer.

Moss Candida writes: “Hippocrates testified that in the throes of passion the woman had looked at the portrait and the skin color and the form of the man in the picture had been seared on her child at the moment of conception (See “The Strange Science Behind Virgin Births”). Unfortunately, these are the kinds of chokeable instructional morsels Eurocentrism feeds to our gullible children. Actually, the revisionism and postmodernism of Profs. Ocquaye, Marable, Appiah, Dyson, Gates, and lawyer Ayikoi Otoo trail similar distorted trajectories of ideological prevarication. That said, how does Nkrumah fit in all these? “As a radical democrat, what are your thoughts about Kwame Nkrumah as a great Pan-Africanist and ‘philosopher king’ of Africa,” said Kwame, a viewer who called into a C-SPAN interview involving Randall Robinson (See “In Depth With Randall Robinson,” Feb 3, 2013), adding: “Because he faced a situation in Ghana that he declared himself ‘president for life’ after a necessity against Western imperialist efforts to do anything to remove him via his adversaries in Ghana?”

“Nkrumah wasn’t perfect,” began Robinson, adding: “Although I thought he was a marvelous scholar. And I read a great deal of his work very closely and was impressed by it. He had a special connection to the United States as you know. He was a graduate of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and Ghana was the first country in 1957 to accomplish independence, which gave the black community in the United States great deal of pride. I felt the pride and I remember watching the coverage of it on American television.” These epochal incidents overlap with Amiri Baraka’s powerful poetic eulogium to Nkrumah. Robinson continues cautiously: “But when too much power is concentrated anywhere, generally, we see evidence of situations of those who came to do good but stay to do well…”

Then, Robinson briefly discusses Nkrumah’s overthrow while he was away in China, adding the following: “Of course, that was the end of the story of Kwame Nkrumah. And not that I think he had so much to say about Africa, but because he was saying things about a United States of Africa and sort of prioritizing the interests of Africa above the interests of those who would want to make use of Africa. He probably collected enemies.” He concludes: “I found in my experience that those people who vigorously tried to do anything for their own populations to lift people up in their own way collect enemies in the powerful West very quickly. And that I think was the case with Haiti…” Elsewhere, Robinson gave an overview of the events leading up to the demise of Apartheid, recalling in no uncertain terms: “The Assistant Secretary for African Affairs said the best way to go was constructive engagement…simply talk to South Africa to be nicer,” to which Robinson replied: “Constructive engagement has not worked and you have tried it for a long time. Let’s try something new.”

That had been Nkrumah’s, Mandela’s, and the ANC’s positions as well. Moreover, Randall Robinson, an African-American lawyer, activist, and founder of TransAfrica, America’s oldest and largest human rights organization with major research interests—educational, political, legal, and economic—centered on the African world—the Caribbean, Africa, and Latin America—the same man who would go on a hunger strike, almost to the point of death, thereby forcing the Clinton administration to restore Jean Bertrand-Aristide to the Haitian presidency, a happening following an American-backed coup that toppled him, worked with the Black Congressional Caucus to enact and consequently pass punishing sanctions which eventually forced the Nationalist government to initiate a negotiated settlement with Mandela and the ANC. The political success which gave way to the passing of this crushing bill would come on the heels of Ronald Reagan’s outright rejection of such a bill brought on the Senate floor for deliberation.

In other words, the historical role of Robinson, a friend of Prof. Nii Akuetteh and an ex-Editor at Robinson’s TransAfrica, in freeing Mandela and his friends, crushing Apartheid, and setting South Africa free is unquestionable. This great man, this great man called Randall Robinson, an intellectual supremely conversant with the political dynamics of Apartheid than most self-appointed noise-making minstrelized griots of Apartheid, speaks with an authoritative voice about Nkrumah. This Randall Robinson, like Amiri Baraka, has great respect for Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Sadly, the Obama administration has rejected calls from the National Association of Black Journalists to investigate the assassination of Malcolm X citing a lack of resources. Who killed Malcolm X? Who killed Patrice Lumumba? Who killed Martin Luther King, Jr? Who killed Paul Bogle? Who killed Toussaint L’Ouverture? And who nearly killed Kwame Nkrumah, Marcus Garvey, and Nelson Mandela?

Could it be possible that the descendants of those who actually crucified Jesus Christ and Osama bin Laden may have been behind these assassinations and attempted assassinations? Well, we don’t know but time does! In other words, who has been killing all our progressive Black Nationalists?

We shall return…

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis