1. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana. He was a visionary, and influential Ghanaian politician who led Gold Coast now Ghana into independence from British colony in 6th March, 1957. He contributed immensely together with other leaders into bringing on board Pan-Africanism and a founding member of the Organization of African Unity. Nkrumah was the 3rd chairperson of Organization of African Unity. He won Lenin Peace Prize in 1962.
He was born at Nkroful,in the Western Region of Ghana on the 21st day of September,1909 to Opanyin Kofi Nwiana Ngolomah and Elizabeth Nyanibah. Traditionally, the name Nkrumah was given to the ninth child and it is believed he was the ninth child of his polygamous father and the only child of his mother. The parent of Nkrumah originally named him as Francis Nwia Kofi. Nkrumah, however, in 1945 during his studies in the United States changed his name to Kwame Nkrumah because he was born on Saturday. Nkrumah’s father was a goldsmith at Tarkwa-Nsuaem who never lived with him, but lived with his mother and some of his extended family members. The father of Nkrumah came from Nkroful and belonged to Akan tribe of the Asona clan and was a goldsmith. Nkrumah’s mother came from Nsuem and belonged to Agona family, was a fishmonger and petty trader.
Nkrumah successfully had completed his elementary education at Roman Catholic School in eight years instead of usual ten years because he was over promoted by two years. This was due to his exceptional intelligence Nkrumah practically exhibited.
He then proceeded to Government Training College, Achimota in Accra. By 1925 he had become student-teacher in the school. The headmaster of Government Training College, Reverend Alec Garden Fraser arranged for Nkrumah to be train as teacher at Prince of Wales’ College at Achimota having released the teaching spirit in him at his school. He then obtained his teacher’s certificate in 1930 at Prince of Wales and was given teaching appointment at Roman Catholic Primary School in Elmina in 1931.Nkrumah’s childhood mentor was Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey, Assistant Vice Principal and first African member of, staff at the then Prince of Wales College. He headed a Catholic primary school at Axim after a year at Elmina for some years. He then had teaching appointment at the Catholic Seminary at Amisano, Central Region in 1933 and he liked it because of his Catholic background.
He went to Lincoln University, Pennsylvania in the United States of America having received tuition fees scholarship but had to fend for himself and did struggle to take care for his upkeeps and eventually completed with Bachelor in Arts in Economics and Sociology in 1939. He was a teaching assistant at the University for some time and he then did Bachelor of Theology degree with the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and completed in 1942 as the best student of the course in his year’s group. He then proceeded to do a Master of Arts in Sociology and a Master of Science in education in 1943.
He did his PhD in Philosophy in a University College, London after he withdrew from London School of Economics. Nkrumah stayed at 60 Burghley Road, Kentish Town when he was living in London between 1945-1947. Being Pan-Africanist starting from the days in the United States of America, it was obvious and others like George Padmore, etc., were highly in the spirit of unionizing Africa so that African countries would be free from colonization and so organized the fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester from 15th-19th October, 1945 and in attendance were W. E. B. Dubois, Hastings Banda of Nyasaland (now Malawi), Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya and Obafemi Awolowo of Nigeria.
Some of the things agreed upon at the Congress were the formation of federal states of Africa, the establishment of African activism in Britain in collaboration with the West African National Secretariat (WANS) to work towards the decolonization of Africa countries in non-violence manner.
Kwame Nkrumah’s Return To Gold Coast
Nkrumah and Padmore established a group called The Circle with the intent to fight for and gain West African independence and unity and to create a Union of African Socialist Republics. A document which stipulates the objectives of the Circle was found on Nkrumah and upon that was arrested by the British authourities in Accra in 1948.
Before his arrest the leading members of United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) which was founded in August,1947 had invited him to run the party at the proposal of Ebenezer Ako-Adjei and he had accepted and came to Ghana in November,1947. He began to work at UGCC as the General Secretary at its headquarters in Saltpond, 29th December,1947 even though he saw the leading members as conservative, but wanted political opportunity to unearth his good long-planned objectives for Gold Coast and Africa. Nkrumah established new branches of UGCC even though this idea did not go down well with the committee led by J.B. Danquah after seeking for donations for their establishments.
Gold Coasters were going through economic crises like cocoa farmers seeing swollen-shoot disease,ex-servicemen had trouble obtaining employment, but it did seem that the British authourities turned deaf ears to their plights and so the ex-servicemen Union had a meeting in Accra led by Nkrumah and J.B. Danquah in 20th January,1948 to help them petition the then governor. The demonstration was staged in 28th January,1948, but ended in riots where there was gun shoots from the British.
Nkrumah was not the only person arrested in 1948 but the other founding members of the UGCC, J.B. Danquah, Ebeneze Ako-Adjei, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey,William Ofori Atta and Edward Akufo-Addo. As stipulated earlier a document of the objectives of the Cirle was found on Nkrumah which sought to gain Independence and Unity for West Africa nations when he was arrested and the other members of UGCC were arrested because the British government in Ghana blamed the demonstration on the UGCC members, the Big Six. The Big Six were imprisoned in Kumasi, but were separated because of the facts that the followers of the Big Six had planned to break the prison to rescue them for their freedom amid demonstration by teachers and students after the British learned that, but were freed in April 1948. Nkrumah personally funded the establishment of Ghana National College, Cape Coast and this did not please the committee members of UGCC because Nkrumah did not make them aware and was done in the party’s name. His position in UGCC was changed from general Secretary to Treasurer and this represented demotion. Nkrumah also established Accra Evening News and founded the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO) without using the umbrella of UGCC and this made him popular. CYO brought together students, ex-servicemen, and market women. It soon broke away and adopted the motto “Self-Government Now”.
The Formation of Convention People’s Party
On 12th June 1949, Kwame Nkrumah made public awareness of the formation of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), with the word “convention” chosen, according to Nkrumah, “to carry the
masses with us”. The CPP flag contains red cockerel symbol which meant leadership, alertness, and masculinity.The colours of CPP were red,white, and green. The supporters of CPP would dress in CPP paraphernalia when they went for public rallies across the country including rural dwellers unlike UGCC which focused their activities on urban centres and intelligentsia. However, in July 1949 attempts were made to bring back Nkrumah into UGCC as the General Secretary again, but to no avail.The supporters would not allow Nkrumah to go back and they rallied behind him for the success of CPP.
The British formed a commission which included the other five members of UGCC, J.B. Danquah, Ebeneze Ako-Adjei, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey,William Ofori Atta and Edward Akufo-Addo to draft constitution to help Gold Coast gain self governance.The report of the draft was more conservative and lacked potency for influence and self governance and this Nkrumah saw and initiated a A Positive Action Campaign. In the Positive Action Campaign Nkrumah demanded constituent assembly to write constitution and this did not go down well with the then governor ,Charles Arden Clarke. The refusal of Charles Arden Clarke to succumb to that demand sparkled a strike action by Nkrumah with the unions members and other CPP leaders which led to violence on 8th January,1950. However, Nkrumah and other CPP leaders were arrested as a result of the strike and violence on 22nd January,1950. Nkrumah was indeed a radical, focus, selfless and enthusiastic leader.Evening News had been banned and Nkrumah was sentenced to three(3) years in imprisonment and put at James Fort, Accra.
In the absence of Nkrumah his assistant, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah was took the helm of affairs of CPP. The imprisonment did not stop Nkrumah to communicate with his party workers especially his assistant, he was surreptitiously sending notes to organise very important events for CPP.The British wanted to follow the new constitution and so sought to organise elections and in fact Nkrumah admonished that CPP contest all seat nationwide and Nkrumah himself contested a seat in Accra. In fact, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah was a good assistant because he was able to organise CPP campaigns nationwide to contest the elections aside his collaborations and cooperation with the British authourities. The UGCC were unable to set up nationwide structure and campaign and so in February,1951 the first general elections took place. The CCP won majority seats of 34 out of 38, UGCC won 3 seats and independent candidate won a seat.This means that Nkrumah won the seat he contested for in Accra.
On 12 February,1951 Nkrumah was released from prison following enthusiastic welcome and reception by supporters and majority of Gold Coasters. On the 13th February, 1951 the governor Arden-Clarke asked him to form a government.