Tanzaniaâ€™s Julius Nyerere once described Nkrumah as "the greatest African statesman whose every word was a prophecy." Africa without unity, without economic power and control over its resources is a disservice to the ideals of Nkrumah and other Pan African legends who shared his vision.
AFRICA turns back the hands of time this week to celebrate the legacy and vision of one of the greatest Pan-Africans, Kwame Nkrumah, who through his unbending determination to liberate Africans from the shackles of colonial rule guided Ghana to independence 50 years ago.
March 6, 1957 is a momentous occasion for Africa and remains one of the defining periods of African history. On this day, Ghana became the first country in Africa south of the Sahara to gain independence from colonial rule.
Nkrumah was in the frontline politics to liberate the black man from oppression and at a higher level the guiding light to the call for the need for Africans to unite.
Nkrumah was a forceful advocate for the total liberation of Africa. “Fighters of African freedom, I appeal to you in the sacred name of the Mother Africa to leave this conference resolved to the task of forming among the political parties in your respective countries a united front based upon one common fundamental aim and object –speedy liberation of your territories,” the Pan African legend said in December 1960 at All-African People’s Conference.
His message and writings still resonate powerfully across the continent inspiring many and re-awakening Africans to remain united in the fight for global justice.
“Nkrumah and Ghana are important for Africa in many ways,” said John Kodzo Gbenah, the Ghanaian ambassador to Zimbabwe in an interview. “First, Ghana was the first African country to achieve independence on March 6 1957. That independence set the tone for the total liberation of the African people. To show his commitment to the liberation of the African people, Nkrumah said ‘The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of the whole of the African continent.’ Nkrumah was the first person to call for African unity. And, 50 years of independence is an occasion to commemorate the liberation of our nation from colonial rule.”
Nkrumah played an instrumental role in motivating leaders such President Robert Mugabe, former Namibian president Sam Nujoma, and the late Samora Machel of Mozambique to take up arms and fight for independence while numerous other leaders of his time such as Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia and Julius Nyerere of Tanzania shared his vision of a united Africa.
President Mugabe was inspired by Nkrumah whom he met when he taught in Ghana in the late 1950s, led a 16 year-old long and bitter struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe together with the late veteran nationalist Joshua Nkomo. Mugabe says Nkrumah was his mentor and influenced him a great deal with his Pan African vision of a united Africa. Nyerere once described Nkrumah as “the greatest African statesman whose every word was a prophecy.”
Africa without unity, without economic power and control over its resources is a disservice to the ideals of Nkrumah and other Pan African legends who shared his vision. As Nkrumah rightly observed in his book, Africa Must unite: “Colonization and its attitudes die hard, like the attitudes of slavery, whose hangover still dominates behavior in certain parts of the Western hemisphere.”
Tsiko is The Black Star News’ Southern Africa correspondent based in Harare.
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