Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972)


Action without thought is empty. Thought without action is blind”


He was born in Nkroful, -then known as- Gold Coast, to a modest family in the Nzema area. His early education, like most countries colonized, was with the Catholic missionaries. In 1930, he obtained his Teacher’s Certificate & was given a teaching post at a Catholic Primary School.

Here, Kwame Nkrumah got more involved in politics, founding the Nzima Literary Society. He was also introduced to the thoughts of intellectuals like Marcus Garvey & W.E.B. Du Bois (Fun-fact; they later became friends) by an acquaintance. A speech from Nnamdi Azikiwe; a young journalist, who later went on to become the President of Nigeria, however, increased Nkrumah’s interest in Black nationalism. With Azikiwe’s encouragement, Nkrumah embarked on a journey to the U.S to further his education.Nkrumah arrived in Harlem, NY in 1935. Virtually penniless, he sought shelter with some West Africans. The U.S was an eye-opener for Nkrumah, he found a different system from the British could exist.
Nkrumah plunged himself into the Black communities, attending Black churches. He was sometimes even requested to lead sermons. Through working menial & physically labor intensive jobs, & small scholarships he was able to put himself through Lincoln University. There he earned his B.A in sociology & economics. In 1943, he obtained his M.A in philosophy & education from the University of Pennsylvania. He is recognized as a prominent figure in the 20th century Pan-African movement. While in the U.S, Nkrumah formed an African Student’s Organization & became a huge voice advocating for the liberation of Africa from the snares of Colonialism.

He went to London in 1945 with hopes to study economics & law. This year he helped organize the 5th Pan-African Congress, in Manchester; with W. E. B. Du Bois & Kenya Jomo Kenyatta; Ghana’s president in-seat. Then he became V.P of the West African Students Union; a pro-independence organization.

Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast in 1947. Following an invite to be Secretary General of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC); an African nationalist party. Nkrumah gave multiple speeches, rallying support for the UGCC & independence. Setting up strikes to cripple the colony’s economy. In 1949, He founded Convention People’s Party. He was imprisoned twice by the British; 1948 & 1950. However, the strikes sent a message & independence was on the way. In 1951, albeit imprisoned, Kwame Nkrumah won Central Accra’s votes by a landslide. Nkrumah guided the Gold Coast to independence in 1957, under her name; Ghana. He referred to himself as a “scientific socialist & marxist”. He implemented initiatives to promote Pan-Africanism through the nation & was vehemently against tribalism. He expressed these sediments even through his attire. He wore a traditional northern robe, fugu, & Kente cloth; from the south, for ceremonies, in order to symbolise his identity as a representative of the whole country. He leveraged world prices of cocoa to fuel the Ghanian economy. In 1960 Ghana became a republic & Nkrumah was elected President. A hydroelectricity project on the Volta river, was the centerpiece of his economic program.
In February 1966, while on a state trip to North Vietnam & China, Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup d’état. He never returned to Ghana, living in exile in Guinea; there he spent most of the rest of this adult life, still advocating for black unity. Unfortunately, Kwame Nkrumah passed away at the age of 62.

Another hero stolen by cancer.

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