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Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah

Dr Kwame Nkrumah, one of the greatest leaders of the African continent was born in a small village in western part of Ghana on the 21st September 1909. He trained as a teacher at Achimota School in the then Gold Coast (now Ghana). After teaching for a while he left the shores of the Ghana to study in the USA and Britain in 1935.

Whiles studying in the USA, he did menial jobs to survive. He experienced racism and oppression against black people both on the African continent and in the Diaspora. He decided to do something about this. He formed and joined various associations whose aims were to eliminate these evils from society.

In 1947 he was invited to be the General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). UGCC was the political party that was formed by some Gold Coast leaders to fight for the independence from British colonial rule. Nkrumah did not find the party radical enough and therefore resigned to form the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) in June 1949.

The CPP campaigned and won elections in 1951 and Nkrumah was asked to form the first black lead government of the Gold Coast. When the CPP again won the national elections in 1954, the call for independence from Britain became stronger. The British granted Ghana independence on 6th March 1957 becoming the first country to do so south of the Sahara with Nkrumah as its first Prime Minister. In 1960, Ghana became a republic an again Nkrumah was elected its first President.

Nkrumah’s vision was to liberate the Blackman from oppression. He also wanted to liberate the African continent from colonial rule. He helped other African leaders to fight for the independence of their countries. During his 15-year rule, Accra the capital of Ghana became the "Mecca of the Africa liberation struggle". He wanted a United States of Africa fashioned on the lines of the United States of America. He was therefore instrumental in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in May 1963.

He was a Pan Africanist par excellence and worked with other black leaders like W.E.B Du Bois, George Padomre, Marcus Garvey and others in the liberation struggle.

At home he sought the improvement in the living conditions of Ghanaians by building schools, hospitals, industries, colleges band universities. According to him, he wanted to prove to the whole world that the Blackman when given the chance could manage his own affairs.

Some political analyst and ordinary Ghanaians think that getting to the latter part of his rule, Nkrumah became a dictator. This lead to his being removed from office by the Army and the Police aided by some western powers who saw him as a threat, whiles he was away on a peace making trip to Vietnam. He died in exile in Romania on the 27th of April 1972.

Though he died almost 3 decades ago, his good works of liberating oppressed of the world still inspires people. It was therefore not surprising that he was voted by the British Broadcasting Corporation as Africa’s Man of the Millennium, ahead of the likes of the legendary Nelson Mandela.

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Last update: 3 December 2001

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