Kwame Ture on Kwame Nkrumah

By Ture, Kwame | The New Crisis, July 1998 | Go to article overview

Kwame Ture on Kwame Nkrumah


Ture, Kwame, The New Crisis


NKRUMAH WAS A TRUE VISIONARY: A GENUINE PAN-AFRICANIST

Kwame Nkrumah was born in 1909 in Nkroful, a middle village in what was then the British-ruled Gold Coast on the West Coast of Africa that we now know as Ghana. And thanks to the education he recieved from his people, he understood at an early age that he had a responsibility to help his people's movement toward freedom. The generations that came before him had already begun the political struggles for independence against colonialism.

Nkrumah did well in his academic studies and finished all levels of institutions in Ghana. Looking for further studies, he came to the United States. But even before leaving Ghana, he had demonstrated his concern for the liberation of his people. He gave untiringly of himself, his energies to help encourage all movements to uplift Ghana.

In the United States, where, if my memory serves me correctly, he would spendabout 10 years, he studied at Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. Nkrumah studied very carefully all aspects of our struggle. He fully engaged in it. He embedded himself in Harlem, where he was a part of all struggles there. And of course, he was at the forefront of all struggles concerning the emancipation of Africa.

Nkrumah never met the Honorable Marcus Garvey, who died in England in 1940. I think it was in 1942 that Nkrumah left America for England, where he was to continue his studies. C.L.R. James, an African born in Trinidad, who was living here in America had thankfully provided Nkrumah a contact. He introduced him to George Padmore, who was then in England. After their meeting, Padmore became Nkrumah's mentor. Probably at that time, Padmore was the leading African with practical and theoretical knowledge of the African struggle throughout the world.

It was with Padmore that Nkrumah would see the need for disciplined study.

As a revolutionary, Nkrumah was always a man given to study. But he would grow to see the necessity of disciplined study within the political field, and Padmore would help to train him in so many ways. And when the fifth Pan-African Congress (PAC) was called together in 1945, Nkrumah, Padmore, and W. E. B. Du Bois served as the coordinating secretaries.

This PAC made clear two very important aspects of the African struggle: One was that they knew the final confrontation with colonialism was coming; therefore, they called for mass confrontation against colonialism. And the second one was their willingness to use arms to arrive at independence. Some people do not look very carefully at history, which moves very fast sometimes.

In 1947, the bourgeoisie of Ghana called Nkrumah to do some political organizing work because they, too, could see that they needed political organization to arrive at independence. Nkrumah accepted, after seeking advice from Padmore. And having established a base in London, he immediately sailed for Ghana, where under the bourgeoisie he was given the job of organizing for political independence.

Of course, the people Nkrumah worked with were speaking not of organizing themasses, since they feared them more than they feared the British. They were speaking merely of using negotiations and tea parties to arrive at independence.

There arose inevitable conflict, political conflict, between the two, and they had to parted ways. Nkrumah immediately set up the Convention People's Party (CPP). The CPP wanted independence now, while others asked for independence as soon as possible. The CPP look to the masses of Africans as the major factor, the major motivating force and the major weapon in the anticolonial struggle. Thus we can see that Nkrumah clearly understood that the African struggle was mass in character and that there must be mass organization. Therefore, the CPP was a mass party.

This is one of the first points at which we want to stop and acknowledge Nkrumah's genius. If we look at all the struggles for independence prior to that time, what we see is that they were carried out at best by "vanguard" parties. …

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