Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

The Character of Kwame Nkrumah's United Africa Vision

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

The Character of Kwame Nkrumah's United Africa Vision

Article excerpt

Structure for Peace

The structure for peace as a doctrine in world affairs has largely been left to European thinkers and politicians, with little attention paid to ideas from Africans. Yet it is clear that while Africans have looked to more practical examples of peace; the absence of war and the massaging of dignity, there have been political philosophers who have proposed enterprises that could create the conditions for world peace. Kwame Nkrumah was one of such philosophers. He was, in fact, from a long line of such philosophers dating back to Imhotep, whose name means, "He who comes in peace." I will seek to demonstrate that the prospects for and possibilities of world peace were inherent in Nkrumah's vision of a United States of Africa. He is among the first to call for an Afrocentric reality for Africans. This is the meaning of Nkrumah's proposals for a new African personality, one loosed from an attachment to European and American cultural entanglements. He advocated a personality that is not in lock-step with that of the oppressors of Africa as the only method for an assertion of this new reality. It is possible to demonstrate how the contest for the resources of Africa are best preserved by a common external policy and an integrated continental market. It is necessary for us to view Nkrumah, neither as a local politician, nor as a Ghanaian politician, but as an African political philosopher whose approach to governance was based on his 'big heart' theory of the black world.

Dickson Mungazi was correct about one thing in his book; The Mind of Black Africa, when he said that Nkrumah seemed to wrestle with the idea of returning to the Gold Coast to accept the invitation from the lawyers and businessmen who wanted him to be the secretary to their political party. (1) Nkrumah had to decide if he wanted to remain his own person or wanted to function in a political party that would, in some ways, be seen as a creature of the colonial administration. It was only when he felt that he could return to Ghana as a free man, his own man, that he assumed work in the United Gold Coast Convention on December 28, 1947. (2) Nkrumah believed that it was possible to work with the liberal whites in the colonial administration in order to establish a platform for the launching of his own political party. He felt that the masses were much more important than catering to the middle-class businesspeople. At the same time he was a realist, he knew what the conditions were during the colonial time in the Gold Coast. (3) What he saw, however, as one who stood at the top of the mast of his generation and surveyed the political horizon for the future with the keenest prophetic insights of any of his peers, was that transformation was unthinkable without a change in the mental condition of the people. Yes, in a real sense he was a materialist, but he was different from Marx because the circumstances that confronted him were different from those that confronted many of the European societies. He was charged up about the abusive conditions that greeted the African troops returning to Kumasi from fighting in England's wars. He was disturbed by the meek, timid, responses of the black middle-class to the general terror of the colonial class. They were afraid to risk their class status and consequently would be able, with ease, to sell out their brothers and sisters. Nkrumah identified that change would call for a new personality.

Of course, all objective evaluations told Nkrumah what the conditions were, not just in the Gold Coast, but also in the rest of the continent. Egypt became the first nation on the continent to gain its independence and five years later Ghana would gain its freedom from the same British colonial administration. Nothing would be able to hold back the tide of strong African response to political, economic and social exploitation. Cheikh Anta Diop, the greatest African intellectual of the modern era, would ask in Presence Africaine, a year after Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast; "When shall we be able to speak of an African Renaissance? …

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