Kwame Nkrumah is a name that rings a bell in the minds of many African people, almost everyone knows him. He was one of the most instrumental revolutionaries in the fight for independence and his impact is palpable in past and present times. His work for the liberation of Africa is indelible.
However, there have been two distinct sides to Kwame’s legacy. As much as he was an iconic revolutionary, Kwame was an authoritarian ruler. He ultimately reached a point where he was despised by the very same people who had expressed jubilation when the country became the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to get independence. He reached a point where he eventually got deposed off through a military coup while he was out of the country.
Despite such an unceremonious end to his leadership, Kwame Nkrumah set up solid foundations of Pan-Africanism. His history is well decorated and celebrated. He famously declared that the independence of Ghana did not have any meaning as long as the whole of Africa was still in the bondage of colonialists. He had envisioned a united Africa, with one parliament, one military system and one economic system. It is the same vision that Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi wanted to resuscitate but the attempts were futile.
Nkrumah’s administration funded far-reaching infrastructure and energy projects; chief of which was the Akosombo or Volta hydro-electric dam. However, spending on capital projects drove Ghana into debt - estimated as high as $1 billion USD by the time he was ousted in 1966.
Upon attaining independence, Nkrumah improved the lives of the poor and the underprivileged, and that contributed immensely to his popularity. He built schools, roads, hospitals and the largest dam in Ghana. He wanted a modern and industrialized Ghana. It is important to note that what eventually led to his political demise was the factor of endless ambitions, which were rolled into motion wrongly, against the basic economic principles. It was that touch of autocracy which orchestrated his downfall from grace.
When things took a wrong turn, he introduced draconian laws that were very dictatorial. Kwame desired a one-party state in which no opposition was supposed to exist. Insulting the president could land one in prison and people could be arrested and sentenced without trials. State-run companies were failing and he decided to raise the taxes, which subsequently increased the standard of living. The cumulative effect of this was growing resentment towards Kwame.
Nkrumah will always be remembered as the great crusader of African unity. He was a huge threat to the West because of his fierce and bold revolutionary ideas. He united disparate diasporic Pan-Africanists all over the world.
One can look at Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy through any side they want. But what is of importance to note is that his Pan-African ideals have had the profound impact on the history of Africa.
The success of Ghanaian industrialisation would have further cemented the fact that African countries did not necessarily need White rule to be succes…
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