To be voted man of the millennium by listeners of the British Broadcasting Corporation four decades after death is an epitaph of the legendary feats a man could leave on earth. And so is the life of Kwame Nkrumah, the firebrand in Africa’s liberation crusade. Like the branch plucked off the tree by local traitors and Western insecurity, Nkrumah though dead remains the cut branch that refuses to wither as far as Africa’s liberation triumphs.
Born in September 21st, 1909 in a village called Nkroful in the then Gold Coast (now Ghana), Kwame Nkrumah shot through the educational corridors of Achimota School and then to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania only to return with a heart enraged and fired with a never dying spirit to see his black folks freed from slavery.
He had struck a stint in America, serving as the vice president of the West African Student Union, helping George Padmore organize the 5th Pan –African Congress in Manchester England and helped found the West African National Secretariat to engineer the freedom of his beloved continent.
In as much as Nkrumah believed in the genuine intent of the educated elite in securing independence for the Gold Coast, he believed the need was more urgent and pressing than the snail pace at which they worked, he formed the convention Peoples Party on 12th June 1949, decreeing “Independence Now!!”. The people rallied around the prophetic call as this tireless soldier labored in the company of other compatriots.
Having made the prisons his home, organized civil disobedience and positive action in defiance of White imperial rule, Nkrumah, the son of the land kept the heat of freedom on that colonial beast of slavery chanting “We face neither East nor West; We face forward!”
At last, Britain had to give in to Black power and on 6th March, 1957 at 12:00am the voice of Osagyefo (meaning Redeemer) declared “at long last the battle has ended and Ghana your beloved country is free forever!”
To Nkrumah independence was to prove the black man was capable of managing his own affairs, and though it is yet to manifest entirely, the dream lives on. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, the Nkrumah mausoleum and Park with his statue overlooking the visitor and the Africa Union’s Nkrumah day stand tall in his honour.
In 1966 on a journey to North Vietnam and China he was overthrown in a coup d’etat and exiled later making his home with Ahmed Sekou Toure in Guinea at the latter’s request. Sekou Toure, I honour your memory, you are the friend in deed.
In April 1972, he departed earth, having paid his dues and looking up to you to do your own too for the land of your birth just as he did; I lay my wreath.
Africa, Face Forward With Kwame Nkrumah
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