“I believe strongly and sincerely that with the deep-rooted wisdom and dignity, the innate respect and dignity, the innate respect for human lives, the intense humanity that is our heritage, the African race, united under one federal government, will emerge not as just another world bloc to flaunt its wealth and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is indestructible because it is built not on fear, envy and suspicion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all mankind (See “The Legacy of Africa’s Greatest Hero,” “All-People’s Revolutionary Party,” Sep. 21, 2010).”
Indeed, President John Mahama’s and Vice-President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur’s declaration to reach out to the public for practical solutions to address Ghana’s rising and widening economic problems is welcome news. But why now? Why is Ghana’s leadership calling for an anachronistic national conference to execute a brainstorming exercise aimed at locating innovative solutions, when, in fact, the problems, among others, are perceptibly bad leadership, lack of patriotism on the part of Ghanaians, widespread corruption, institutional incompetence, neocolonial-induced mental laziness, Fanonian dependency complex, failure of leadership to create enabling environments for scientific and technological innovativeness? Need we add more? Probably! But where exactly do we begin searching for innovative solutions? Nkrumahism! How? Simple. “Nkrumah’s legacy is a ‘blueprint’ of how to organize for revolutionary Pan-Africanism,” notes the website of the All-People’s Revolutionary Party,” adding: “to liberate Africa and ourselves from oppression, making the final step to true freedom.” This defines the first step for national and continental self-actualization.
And here is how the website describes the second stage: “We not only have detail of his practice, he also left us many books setting out a clear strategy for learning and action.” Why, then, we ask again, are we helplessly confused and hopelessly clueless? In effect, this national conference, called for by the president and his vice, should have taken place long ago, right after the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, to assess how best to continue Nkrumah’s progressive project of weaning Ghana and Africa from their deepening dependence on the outside world on the fluttering wings of his grand nationalist philosophy, industrialization and infrastructuralization schemes, as well as, theoretically, through his push for political and economic continentalization of Africa. Instead, Ghana’s immediate post-Nkrumah leadership, led by a political paedarchist KA Busia, uncritically, liberalized the economy by dismantling Nkrumah’s progressive project and turning over the economy entirely to the colonial masters, Busia’s long-armed collaborators in the overthrow of Nkrumah. How exactly do you become “independent” without an industrial or technological economy?
Next, the government of Busia haphazardly pursued a vicious enterprise of political and economic revenge on Nkrumah, a process that probably derived from factors having to do with Busia’s emotional deficits, political neophytism, or intellectual antiquarianism, in which case he sold off the industries and companies Nkrumah built for Ghana’s industrial sustenance to friends, cronies, and Africa’s external enemies, his friends. In the meantime, subsequent Ghanaian leadership would vigorously pursue Busia’s callous precedent. (See Kweku Dadzie’s “Sale of Government Assets,” “Center for Conscientist Studies and Analyses,” Nov. 28, 2012). These capitalistic activities reversed the course of “true” self-autonomy. Admittedly, these events constituted our first and major failure as a people. Yet, the barefaced truth is that we have never critically looked deep inside ourselves to re-discover the dancing soul of innovativeness, the tonic ocean of self-empowerment, and the romantic epiphany of self-love and, thus, behave as we do in the shadow of cluelessness!
In fact, our leaders have come to accept the exclusivity of the external world, of the non-African world, as it were, as ready suppliers of solutions applicable to African problems, which is probably why they do not innovate. Of course, there is nothing uniquely questionable about this position, as long as leaders make conscious efforts, even if wobbly, to pursue African solutions with an “independent” collective mindset. After all, originality and critical imitation represent two major pathways to developmental mobility, although the social vehicles of cosmopolitanism and globalization drive this contention. Yet, a conscious people ensure that the moral, intellectual, and spiritual deficits of cosmopolitanism and globalization do not preempt their sense of moral goodness, of community, and of patriotism. This forms part of the cultural philosophy of Nkrumahism. On the other hand, Ghanaians and Africans, especially the post-Nkrumah leadership of Africa, we strongly believe, have not fully availed themselves of the instruments of intellectual resourcefulness inhumed in the inner recesses of the “African Personality.”
What do we mean? We mean exactly what Kwegyir Aggrey once told Nkrumah, which is: “You are eagles, not chickens. Therefore arise and claim your birthright among the high heavens in the sky. Only the best is good for Africa…(See Kwesi Quartey’s “Kwame Nkrumah and the Roots of Ghana’s Pan-African Policy”). Evidently, the educationist-cum-philosopher was being figurative with the young Nkrumah. But Aggrey’s figurative statements perch on a cushioned subtext of human creativity. That is, we believe Aggrey is implicitly referring to the potential of the human for great things. But, that aside, the statements are also carefully attired in a starched philosophical poncho of layered conundrum, for he simultaneously pluralizes and singularizes “you.” Therefore, is he referring to Nkrumah as a singular ontology or as a collectivity, as Africans? Likewise, the psalmic and Garveyite rhetorical attestation of “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God,” though may pursue a divergently interpretive pathway from Aggrey’s at face value, still identifies with the philosophical subtext of the latter’s statement, already quoted.
However, to plumb the philosophical minds of Aggrey and Garvey further, may we ask this simple question: Are eagles, as opposed to chickens, ordinarily edible? That we do not know for sure! Ideally, we may want to feed our soul and body on chickens, but fly on the intellectual strength of eagles’ aviation prowess, more so because the eagle’s range of vision and wing power are proverbial, aside being physically powerful. It is why the eagle is a popular cultural motif in many a society, ancient and modern. Further, the eagle forms part of Ghana’s and several other countries’ coats of arms. Ironically, Nazi Germany as well as Australia, to name but two, included a black eagle in their coats of arms! Nevertheless, the Australian black eagle holds a sickle and a hammer, probably recalling the extinctive brutality which Europeans meted out to the Black Aborigines of the land! That said, we may also have to acknowledge the fact that the eagle has a heavy head, the seat of consciousness. A combination of consciousness, vision, and physical power should make for creativity, if we can substitute physical power for resilience.
Interestingly, it is the combined interplay of the eagle’s powerful range of vision, fluttering wing mechanics, and heavy head, its seat of consciousnesses, that captures our attention, granted that the chicken cannot fly or see beyond the purview of an eagle’s. It is equally worth acknowledging that Aggrey uses another sentential or phrasal device “the high heavens in the sky” to connote the limitless possibilities against or within which the human mind can operate. Put another way, Aggrey is preoccupied with the boundless reach of the human mind. Then, there is also the phrase “claim your birthright among,” with the preposition “among” taking on a philosophical investiture of African singularity in the moral universe of racial or cultural plurality. Also, here, as elsewhere, there patently exists a subtextual overlap between Garvey’s “stretch” and Aggrey’s “claim.” As well, Garvey’s “God” and Aggrey’s “heavens” or “sky” are merely figurative Siamese twins. Indeed, these four pregnant words are useful for appropriation as well as for explaining how to decouple the ossified Eurocentric mentality of Africa’s post-Nkrumah ruling class from the contorted empire of psychological paleontology.
Admittedly, converting the trapped psychological resources of the human mind into tonic springs of productivity, creativity, and social upliftment of a downtrodden people for the overall betterment of humanity is the foundational message of Aggrey’s and Garvey’s moral philosophizing. That is, turning the abject living conditions of humanity is the long and the short of Garvey’s and Aggrey’s moral statements. Simply, the human mind is the “universe,” for the laws of physics cease to exist without affirmation from the human mind. The five senses, culture, language, afterlife, history, superstition, future, dwarfs, sexual appetite, doppelgangers, present, life, human behavior, deities, witches, death, angels, institutions, knowledge, wizards, natural law, devils, habits, intelligence, foreign meddling in Africa’s internal affairs, superstition, universe, and the like cease to exist without the human mind. Thus, externalities are merely internalized fixtures of the human mind. That is why we underrate the potential of the human mind to impose its will on us at our own peril, for it is simultaneously the exclusive source of man’s problems and solutions.
That is not to say Africans are unintelligent. The science is simply not there to substantiate the latter contention. If that were truly the case, the international experts who worked on the Human Genome Project (HGP) would have told us explicitly so by now. What then is the cause of the lackluster performance of Africa’s Eurocentric leadership? If the source of the problem is not mistakably genetic, then what is it and where do we look for answers? How about the outcome between the interactive socialization of the human mind and the environment? Is the environment itself not a physiological incarnation of the human mind? In that case, we may have to look at the impact of slavery, colonialism, culture, neocolonialism, globalization, international law, belief systems (religion), educational systems, economic models, institutions, multiparty democracy, habits, etc. Again, where exactly do we look? Could it be the fault of our educational system since education nourishes the human brain? If that is possibly, even remotely, the case, how do we explain the moral contradiction that, it is our very educated leaders who are destroying Africa, and, among other things, attributing their abysmal performance to dwarfs?
Who are these dwarfs? These witches? These wizards? These mallams? These pastors, evangelists, and priests? Who are these dwarfs, the superstitious source of Ghana’s free-falling cedi? Have we become so numbed by ignorance that dwarfs have taken the holy place of gravity? Where do these dwarfs live? Do they work for the World Bank/IMF or Bank of Ghana? Or own forex bureaus or Ghana Stock Exchange? Are they shadow members of Ghana’s Finance Ministry? Have they been arrested yet? And have the authorities filed charges against these dwarfs? If they already had, when is the formal prosecution against these dwarfs in a court of law commencing? What has the state in store for the lady politician who made these outrageous claims against these dwarfs? What kind of anti-gravity verdict does the yet-to-be-named judge have in mind? What if the lady politician is a spokesperson for the gravity-friendly dwarfs? And what if the dwarfs are innocent? What then becomes of the lady politician? Importantly, we should point out that the social intersection of politics, superstition, and dereliction of official responsibilities is not an exclusive trademark of black thinking.
What is the point then? Both Reverend Pat Robertson and Reverend Jerry Falwell, two of America’s most powerful Christian evangelical fundamentalists, blamed September 11, the terrorist attacks on America, not on American foreign policy but on widespread immorality and anti-Christian sentiments in the American body politic, with Falwell specifically laying the blame on American homosexuality. Yet, the Frankenstein Al-Qaeda is one of America’s priceless, possibly, greatest, political creations, a direct strategic calculus purely based on America’s foreign policy designed to thwart Soviet political incrustation of Afghanistan. Besides, the late Reverend Falwell was a well-known segregationist, a Christian who stood firmly against the legal provisions of Brown v. Board of Education, handed down in 1954, which called for the desegregation of American public schools. On the other hand, the Brown v. Board of Education had been preceded by Plessy v. Ferguson, a legal instrument enacted in 1896, establishing the constitutionality of racial segregation in public facilities. More specifically, the question is, could America’s centuries-old mistreatment of Native Americans and African Americans not have been good candidates for the Al-Qaeda-directed apocalypse?
In the main, Reverend Falwell, like Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and author of the Book of Mormon, and Brigham Young, one of Smith’s controversial successors, believed that the God of the Bible, their deity, had sanctioned the slavishness of black people via the Curse of Cain, the latter associated mostly with Young. On another level, Reverend Pat Robertson, a Christian who publicly called for the assassination of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his sharp criticism of America’s foreign policy, lobbied on behalf of Charles Taylor, a former CIA mole in the Liberian government, and Mobuto Sese Seko in US Congress. Later, however, Hugo Chavez, would supply free heating oil to 100,000 needy household in the US, a generous program encompassing 25 states and the District of Columbia. This largesse would go on for eight straight years until Chavez’s death in 2013 (See Brett Wilkins’ “Venezuela Donates Free Heating Oil to 100k Needy US Households”; see also “Chavez Offers Cheap Gas to Poor In US,” published on the website of “Free Republic,” Aug. 26, 2005). In the end, before his passing, Chavez’s largesse had assisted at least 1.7 million poor Americans.
Generally, what has been the nature of the relationship between corrupt African leaders and their corrupt Western counterparts? For his part, Antoiane R. Lokongo has eloquently written of one such relationship between Mobuto Sese Seko and Ronald Reagan. Among other researchers and writers, he quotes Muritha Mutiga to shore up his views, thus writing: “Mutiga (2004) states that Joseph Désiré Mobuto settled down into being ‘The United States of America’s Man’ in Zaire’—as President Ronald Reagan used to call him. Reagan also referred to Mobuto as a ‘friend of democracy and freedom’ and ‘a voice of good sense and good will.’ President George Bush senior for his part called Mobuto ‘one of our most valued friends on the entire continent of continent.’ This is according to a 1989 report in the US Department of State Bulletin (See the Nov. 16, 2011 edition of Pambazuka News piece “DRC: Democracy at a Crossroads”; see also Mutiga’s “The Ugly Side of Ronald Reagan”). Mobuto, “a friend of democracy and freedom” and “a voice of good sense and good will”?
Thus, in principle, we do acknowledge poor, timid, and clueless leadership as one of Ghana’s and Africa’s major problems. It is clear why the West has always loved African leaders like Idi Amin, KA Busia, Mobuto Sese Seko, JB Danquah, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, as opposed to decisive and progressive leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lumumba, Marcus Garvey, and Amilcar Cabral. The above examples go to illustrate our point. Allowing foreign interests a notch of material precedence over those of Africa’s has been the bane of Ghana’s and Africa’s development. The billions Mobuto stole went mostly to the West, not to the hardworking people of Zaire. Those powerful Ghanaian and African leaders with boundless foresight, with good moral character, and with good plans for Africa’s growth and development are always assassinated, overthrown, or forced into exile by the West and, sadly, with the compromising assistance of greedy locals, self-styled authoritarian democrats, as happened in the cases of Patrice Lumumba, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, and Amilcar Cabral, for a pittance of Western civilizational pie.
We also practically depend on others for everything though we gave birth to human civilization and humanity. We have all these wealth and still cannot even underwrite the outlay of the African Union. We have all these able-bodied men and women and still cannot constitute them into Nkrumah’s African High Command to defend the interests of Africa, even while the Lord Resistance Army, Al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Ansaru and other terrorist organizations threaten to tear Africa apart. We have all these intelligent and learned men and women and still cannot produce one good leadership after another. We have the sun trapped in our lap and still cannot produce a quantum of solar energy. Nkrumah built us chains of factories, industries, and companies and we sell them off to Ghana’s ex-colonizers for a pittance. Nkrumah got us “independence” and we barter it for neocolonialism, with Ghana’s ex-colonizers taking the lion’s share. We have had African fractals for centuries, but it would take their arrival in Europe, and then, later, the West to turn them into the invention of the computer. We have had baby slings for centuries but it would take an American’s visit to Ivory Coast to invent the backpack carrier.
Further, we have had “paper,” as papyrus in ancient Egypt (the Sudd of Southern Sudan, Egypt’s Nile Delta), yet are behind the rest of the world in paper production. Actually, what is there to explain the intellectual gridlock, supposedly blocking successful transmutations of creative but trapped theories, ideas, or concepts into materiality, a liberating praxis of humanism? Is it because today’s African leadership is not as action-oriented as Kwame Nkrumah and Marcus Garvey were? True, we have repeatedly demonstrated elsewhere that Nkrumah was indeed a genuine pragmatist, not a psychedelic doctrinaire, as his break-dancing detractors would have the world believe, though we cannot say the same of his chain of Eurocentric successors. Again, Adam Smith screamed “free market” and “rational self-interest” and there goes Africa, uncritically copying his words without considering their impact on African’s sense of community (Ubuntu), extended family system, or social collectivism. Exactly how pragmatic was Nkrumah? And exactly how actionable were Nkrumah’s revolutionary ideas?
Let us use the example of Nkrumah’s contributions to higher education to explore his pragmatism. We shall, however, use the University of Ghana (University College of the Gold Coast) as the primary exemplar. Let us revisit history: “In 1911, Casely-Hayford took up Dr. Africanus Horton’s proposals for a West African University, and rather campaigned for a university for the Gold Coast. Nine years later, the National Congress British Africa, led by Casely-Hayford, petitioned the British Government ‘to found a British West African University on such lines as would preserve in the students a sense of African nationality,” writes Dr, Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, adding: “This request yielded no positive response until 1945, when the Colonial Government finally embraced the idea of a university for the Gold Coast. This change of attitude was based on two separate reports submitted to the Colonial Government by Asquith and Elliot Commissions. Contained in the reports, the mission of the university was to train a new platonic African elite (See “Kwame Nkrumah’s Politico-Cultural Thought and Politics,” p. 150; see also Geoffrey Bing’s “Reap the Whirlwind,” p. 348-349).
Thus, J.E. Casely-Hayford did the groundwork for the establishment of a university in the then-Gold Coast. Of course, Dr. JB Danquah did his part, too, but, as history consciously informs the world, the seminal idea of establishing such a university in the Gold Coast is certainly not Danquah’s. Particularly, this view is not debatable because of an obscure historical link between the two, Casely-Hayford and Danquah, with a palpable degree of overbearing tutelage which the former exerted on the latter, a political novice. Nana Ofori Atta Ayim writes of this obscure relationship: “Dr. Danquah was a protégé of the celebrated and iconic God-father of West African nationalism and the pioneer Pan-Africanist, Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford. In his own words, it was at the feet of the eminent nationalist, ‘Ekra Agyemang,’ otherwise known as Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford, that I was brought up, like St Paul under Gamaliel, and it was from Ekra Agyeman that I learned selfless politics as the sacrificing of one’s self totality for one’s own country. I sat under his feet from 1915 to his own death in 1930.”
Sacrificing one’s self totality for one’s own country indeed! Selfless politics indeed! Selfless politics entailing clandestine collaborations with the CIA to overthrow the democratically elected government of Kwame Nkrumah! Yet this quotation generates many interesting rhetorical questions! How much did Danquah learn from Casely-Hayford when he understudied him for 15 solid years, including about the University College of the Gold Coast? Who should get the credit for this university? Kwame Botwe-Asamoah has this to say: “The call by the Okyehene to rename the premier university of Ghana after Dr. J.B. Danquah is the most absurd of public statements. In 1951, it was Danquah who vehemently and steadfastly opposed the 1951 Local Council Ordinance Bill and the establishment of Cocoa Marketing Board introduced by Nkrumah’s internal self-government.” He adds pointedly: “Thus, if Danquah had won the debate, the Kwame Nkrumah government would not have generated the requisite revenue for the first Five-Year Development Plan, containing the construction of the Volta River Project, Tema Harbor and City, Adomi Bridge, Okomfo Anokye Hospital, democratization of education, the Medical School and the planning and construction of the University of Ghana at Legon (See “Naming the University of Ghana after Danquah” under the essay “The Fallacies of JB Danquah’s Heroic Legacy: Introduction”).
If Danquah is not a noble candidate, then who should get the well-deserved credit? Kwame Botwe-Asamoah lists some names: 1) Nii Ayi Kushi, the founder of the Ga State (1500), 2). Nii Kwabena Bonne (by tradition the Oyokohene of Takyiman), 3). Sgt. Adjetey (a martyr and leader of the ex-Servicemen), 4). Nana Dr. Kobina Nketsia (the Omanehene of Asikado), 5). Nana Akumfi Ameyaw of Takyiman (leader of the Bono-Kyempem). Where is JB Danquah on the list? Yet, the University of Ghana owes its non-racist academic content, academic popularity, and physical existence (modern structure) to Nkrumah’s imaginative generosity, political diligence, Afrocentric consciousness, and intellectual power (See Chapter 7 of Kwame Botwe-Asamoah’s book). In fact, it was Nkrumah whose hard work led to the securement of the university’s independence from the University of London. Kwame Botwe-Asamoah notes: “To unbind the university from foreign control, Nkrumah appointed an International Commission in 1960, chaired by Kojo Botsio, the Minister of Agriculture, with Daniel Chapman as the Vice-Chairman.”
What was the purpose of the International Commission? Kwame Botwe-Asamoah answers: “The purpose of the Commission was to advise the government on the future development of the University College of the Gold Coast. One of the Commission’s terms of reference was about the conversion of the Kumasi College of Technology into a University of Science and Technology.” What constituted the International Commission? “Three scholars from England, two from United States of America, and one from the USSR and one African from Sierra Leon,” writes Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, quoting Eric Ashby (See Ashby’s “African Universities and Western Tradition,” p. 89, 169-170; see also Botwe-Asamoah, p. 151). He also writes: “In May 1961, the Commission submitted its report, which was enacted into law by Parliament on July 1, 1961 (Botwe-Asamoah, p. 151; see also Robert W. July’s “An African Voice,” p. 170).” Kwame Botwe-Asamoah, however, concludes: “In addition to these guidelines, the law created a new structure of government consisting of a Chancellor, the head of state, Vice-Chancellor, to be appointed by the president of the republic, and the University Council, as the governing body. The law also established a National Council for Higher Education and Research under the Ministry of Education ‘which would plan, coordinate and finance education and research throughout the country (Botwe-Asamoah, p. 151).”
Clearly, these hard facts pertaining to the university’s academic and infrastructural evolution inarguably revolved around the political, cultural, and intellectual personhood of Nkrumah. In the end, Nkrumah became the university’s first Chancellor and Nana Dr. Kwabena Nketsia its first interim Vice-Chancellor, though, initially, Nkrumah had wanted to give the Vice-Chancellorship to Nkrumah’s friend Dr. Conor Cruise O’Brien, an Irish academic, historian, writer, and politician. Nevertheless, Thomas L. Hodgkin, an English historian and promoter of African history in the United Kingdom, instead preferred an African to serve the university in that capacity and, consequently, unambiguously told Nkrumah so. Nkrumah, a liberal thinker, finally went along with Hodgkin’s decision! Interestingly, Hodgkin headed the newly created Institute of African Studies, founded by Nkrumah with the aid of his government and progressive elements of the intelligentsia. He also contributed to reforms of Ghana’s tertiary education in a capacity as secretary of the Commission.
Yet, after all is said and done, the University College of the Gold Coast had its roots in Achimota College, founded by Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey, Sir Frederick G. Guggisberg, and Rev. Alexander G. Fraser, with support from a coterie of distinguished Gold Coasters: Nene Emmanuel Mate Kole (Konor of Manya Krobo), Nana Amonoo V (Omanhene of Anomabo), and Nana Ofori Atta (Omanhene of Akyem Abuakwa). JE Casely-Hayford (Sekondi), Thomas Hutton-Mills (Accra), Sr., FV Nanka-Bruce (Accra), Dr. Benjamin W.Q.Q. Papafio (Accra), and EJP Brown (Cape Coast) also came on board. Where was Dr. JB Danquah during the unfolding of these events? At least, was Nkrumah not a product of Achimota College? Having said all that, what is the motivation for this write-up? That, like Nkrumah, we should learn to turn dreams into realities, as he successfully turned the dream of Dr. Africanus Horton and JE Casely-Hayford into a prestigious higher institution of learning, and stop working with the CIA and dwarfs to destabilize Ghana and Africa.
“Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy! Don’t bury your dreams; put your vision to reality, yeah!…Wake up and live. Rise ye mighty people. There’s work to be done. So let’s do it little by little. Rise from your sleepless slumber (Bob Marley, “Wake Up and Live”).”
We shall return…
By Francis Kwarteng