Every Pan-Africanist, African Academic and most African/Black activists know of or have studied about the great Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Some of these great folks may have been around during the time when Dr. Nkrumah was working to achieve Pan-Africanism. Many in my generation were either barely thought of or an infant when he made his transition to the ancestors, which means that we must live though his work, texts and his example of a selfless Pan-Africanist. To be fair there is a contingent of Africans who think that he was a dictator and that he was on the wrong path. Perhaps those individuals are the descendants of his colleagues who conspired with the CIA to have him overthrown when he was on his way to Vietnam to broker a peace deal. I don’t want to start a fight or anything but I can never understand why coup makers wait until someone is out of the country to try to spring a takeover? (I diverged)
Anyhow, my piece is not about the coup makers of 1966, but rather the seemingly non-existent presence of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana on Founders Day. What does this say about one of the liberators of this great nation? On Monday, September 21st the 106th Birthday of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the community I say very little indication that it was founders day. As I rode to campus in a taxi (because I was late-I would have taken a trotro if I was one time) I did not see one picture of Kwame Nkrumah, I did not see anyone shouting Viva Kwame, I didn’t get one propaganda piece discussing the multitude of great things that Kwame Nkrumah did for Ghana and Africa. I did however receive a coupon for 45GHC sandals at MRP for a founders day sale? Is this what the impact of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah has come to 45GHC sandals? It was business as usual until I got to the University of Ghana, Legon when I went to a program at Commonwealth Hall specifically supporting Founders Day.
However, as I ascended the 150 stairs (I am not exaggerating about the stairs-I was out of breath when I got up the stairs and sweating-I had to breath in and out to make it-clearly I need to work out-sorry another divergence) it was also business as usual for the students residents of the hall. Many were washing clothes, studying, a group was practicing their musical selection all seemingly oblivious to the fact that we were invading their residence for a program to celebrate the founder of the Nation who transformed their very University from a College attached to former colonizers to a full University.
While some government offices were closed along with the banks for the holiday, most folks in the informal sector were still employed. For example the many construction workers who are building an international school down the street from my house were all at work as were most folks selling goods on the side of the road. What does this say about the level of consciousness around Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in his very own country? I did not pass the Flagstaff house on Monday so perhaps there was a big celebration but it was not evident from my movement around town. This is not a slight on the informal sector because I understand that every minute at work means the possibility of making your quota for the day and taking off for holiday’s may mean a lot of lost income.
I may be slighted biased since in 2007, I spent May Day in Cuba and witnessed the outpouring of support from the Cuban People who celebrated workers and their role in the revolution. I stayed at about 45 minutes outside of Havana and as we drove into town for May Day at Freedom Square we saw pictures of Fidel Castro, propaganda billboards, Cubans celebrating their history and future. I also saw no police except the ones escorting our bus-I also did not see much homelessness-I also did not see African men being shot in the back and left on the pavement (again another divergence). We were dropped off about a mile from Freedom Plaza and walked the rest of the way with thousands and thousands of Cubans who were excited about May Day. As we took our seats at Freedom Plaza I looked over my shoulder and Raul Castro was sitting close enough to me that I could see him clearly. The parade had over 500, 000 workers and students all pushing the same voice of liberation and freedom. Check out this picture of May Day below:
Even in “good ole” America on independence day Africans who are one of most oppressed groups of people are waving the American flag so high one would forget that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade devastated their ancestors lives. Independence day is celebrated by so many Africans in the U.S. that we may forget that our youth are shot to death, incarcerated at disproportionate rates if compared to the percent of Africans in the population. Folks not only wave the flags high but they spend their last dine to cookout to celebrate this “holiday” and then the next day it is back to oppression.
So with my experiences in the U.S. and Cuba I was sure that on Founders Day in Ghana, the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence and the epicenter of Pan-Africanism Nkrumah would be everywhere. To be fair there were several programs or events that celebrated Dr. Kwame Nkrumah including a Founders Day Program Sponsored by the Socialist Forum of Ghana, a Youth Program at Community Wealth Hall sponsored by the African Youth Improvement Foundation and other organizations, a program that was organized by the CPP to feed children in a local community called Agbogbloshie. All of these programs were widely successful with standing room only, great participation from the Pan-African and conscious community but one has to wonder how do we get Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism on the lips of the masses of people? I don’t pretend to have the solution to the challenges that we face economically, politically, ideologically and socially as a people but I know that something has to change in order for us to move forward. We must embrace not only Dr. Kwame Nkrumah but his ideals of the “New African Personality” and his selfless approach to achieving Pan-Africanism!! What will you do to change the trajectory of the African world and humanity?
Until next time………………………………………….