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Opinions Sat, 14 Dec 2013

Why Compare Nkrumah And Mandela?

The recent debates about who is considered to be the greatest African between Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. They lived in different times and played strategic roles in the African liberation struggle. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana is considered to be the first African leader to achieve freedom and independence for an African country south of the Sahara. This achievement motivated countless number of people including Nelson Mandela who sought to have audience with Nkrumah about the ANC’s struggle against the apartheid system in South Africa. In a way Nkrumah’s independence struggle and his Pan-African views helped create a positive image about the African in a time when the African was considered to be an inferior human species ever to live on the earth. Kwame Nkrumah was a pioneer and thus paid his dues to the realisation of total emancipation of the African continent. It is significant to note that although Nelson Mandela (Madiba) played key role in the total emancipation of the entire South African country, however there have been those who hold diverse opinions that the country is still divided along racial lines. Some of the white South Africans still have the thoughts of breaking away to form their independent country while some of the black folks also view the inequality of wealth as their basis for agitation. All in all, Nelson Mandela sacrificed his entire life to ensure that all races in South Africa live in harmony. It is also significant to note that Madiba was not consumed with hatred and vengeance but rather forgave and reconciled with his perpetrators despite the harsh and inhuman treatment. Madiba’s spirit was so strong that breaking rocks and stones, sewing post office bags during his 27 years in jail could not break him.

Kwame Nkrumah was the central figure for independence for most African states during the run up to the struggle for independence in 1950’s and the 1960’s. Nkrumah helped to fashion out guidelines for most pre-independent African states using Ghana as a model. In the domestic front, several educational facilities were built to facilitate large scale education for Ghanaians. In some instances, most people had their education for free. The industrial city of Tema was also built to transform the country as well as create wealth for the people. On the international front, Nkrumah provided material and financial support to several African freedom fighters. For example, President Mugabe of Zimbabwe resided in Ghana in the 1950’s and 1960’s as part of Kwame Nkrumah’s support for other African states to gain their independence.

It is fair to state that Madiba built on the African liberation movement blueprint provided by Kwame Nkrumah. They both complemented each other in the struggle to liberate the African from colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela both achieved a lot for the African race in particular and the world at large with their selfless desire to see their fellow kinsmen liberated from colonial regimes and systems. There are several lessons to be learned from the lives of both statesmen. The best we can do is to further the aspirations of both Nkrumah and Madiba by liberating Africa in economic terms to ensure that the entire African continent overflow with prosperity and wealth for all. Kwame Nkrumah lighted the torch for the African liberation movement; Madiba Mandela accomplished the final leg of the African liberation movement. God bless Africa!

Writer: Kofi Otabil

Columnist: Otabil, Kofi