Friday, July 01, 2011

Quotes for Friday from Kwame Nkrumah

To mark Ghana's Republic Day, which falls today, I present to you several quotes from the first president of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Voted as the African of the Century, Nkrumah wrote several books espousing patriotism, communalism, nationhood, and more. He believed in the black man and believed he alone has the right to decide his own destiny. Several years after his demise, we are still struggling with the very issue he raised that led to his overthrow in a supposed CIA-sponsored coup. Today, we are now beginning to fathom, to dissect, with little success and at several places with utter failure the imports of what this man was saying.

"Common territory, language and culture may in fact be present in a nation, but the existence of a nation does not necessarily imply the presence of all three. Common territory and language alone may form the basis of a nation. Similarly, common territory plus common culture may be the basis. In some cases, only one of the three applies. A state may exist on a multi-national basis. The community of economic life is the major feature within a nation, and it is the economy which holds together the people living in a territory. It is on this basis that the new Africans recognise themselves as potentially one nation, whose domination is the entire African continent." Class Struggle in Africa"

"In the very early days of the Christian era, long before England had assumed any importance, long even before her people had united into a nation, our ancestors had attained a great empire, which lasted until the eleventh century, when it fell before the attacks of the Moors of the North. At its height that empire stretched from Timbuktu to Bamako, and even as far as to the Atlantic. It is said that lawyers and scholars were much respected in that empire and that the inhabitants of Ghana wore garments of wool, cotton, silk and velvet. There was trade in copper, gold and textile fabrics, and jewels and weapons of gold and silver were carried." Autobiography

"Besides, political independence, though worth while in itself, is still only a means to the fuller redemption and realization of a people. When independence has been gained, positive action requires a new orientation away from the sheer destruction of colonialism and towards national reconstruction It is indeed in this address to national reconstruction that positive action faces its gravest dangers. The cajolement, the wheedlings, the seductions and the Trojan horses of neocolonialism must be stoutly resisted, for neocolonialism is a latter-day harpy, a monster which entices its victims with sweet music. In order to be able to carry out this resistance to neo-colonialism at every point, Positive action requires to be armed with an ideology, an ideology which, vitalizing it, and operating through a mass party with a regenerative concept of the world and life, forge for it a strong continuing link with our past and offer to it an assured bond with our future. Under the searchlight of an ideology, every fact affecting the life of a people can be assessed and judged, and neo-colonialism's detrimental aspirations and sleights of hand will constantly stand. In order that this ideology should be comprehensive, in order that it should light up every aspect of the life of our people, in order that it should affect the total interest of our society, establishing a continuity with our past, it must be socialist in form and in content and be embraced by a mass party."Consciencism - Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonisation

"If imperialists are faced with so many external and domestic difficulties, how then can they afford to step up their aggression in Africa? To answer this question, it is necessary to examine the internal factors which make our continent so vulnerable to attack, and particularly to look closely at the whole question of African unity. For this lies at the core of our problem. There are three conflicting conceptions of African unity which explain to a large extent, the present critical situation in Africa:"

"1. The mutual protection theory: that the OAU serves as a kind of insurance against any change in the status quo, membership providing a protection for heads of state and government against all forms of political action aimed at their overthrow. Since most of the leaders who adhere to this idea owe their position to imperialists and their agents, it is not surprising that this is the viewpoint which really serves the interests of imperialism. For the puppet states are being used both for short-term purposes of exploitation and as springboards of subversion against progressive African states."

"2. The functional conception: that African unity should be purely a matter of economic co-operation. Those who hold this view overlook the vital fact that African regional economic organizations will remain weak and subject to the same neo-colonialist pressures and domination, as long as they lack overall political cohesion. Without political unity, African states can never commit themselves to full economic integration, which is the only productive form of integration able to develop our great resources fully for the well-being of the African people as a whole. Furthermore, the lack of political unity places inter-African economic institutions at the mercy of powerful, foreign commercial interests, and sooner or later these will use such institutions as funnels through which to pour money for the continued exploitation of Africa."

"3. The political union conception: that a union government should be in charge of economic development, defence and foreign policy, while other government functions would continue to be discharged by the existing states grouped, in federal fashion, within a gigantic central political organization. Clearly, this is the strongest position Africa could adopt in its struggle against modern imperialism."


  1. Happy Republic Day! I somehow had forgotten that we shared our national holiday :) I am glad that I chose to include a quote by a Ghanaian scholar in my review now too, I'll pretend it was on purpose. Happy celebrating! Thanks for sharing these thoughtful quotes from such a remarkable man.

  2. @Amy... thanks for reading and for sharing - somewhat - in our

  3. Very apropriate post.
    I get emotional reading/hearing about him.

  4. Thanks bro. The man knew what we wanted, but we worked against it.


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