Kwame Nkrumah Tshirts
Kwame Nkrumah (September 21, 1909 - April 27, 1972), one of the most influential Pan-Africanists of the 20th century, was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1952 to 1966.------------------Madam Nyabina gave birth to Francis Nwia Kofi Ngonloma in Nkroful, Gold Coast. Nkrumah graduated from the Achimota School in Accra in 1930,later studying at the Roman Catholic Seminary and teaching at the Catholic school in Axim. In 1935 he left Ghana for the United States, receiving a BA from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania in 1939, where he pledged the Mu Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.and in 1942 received an STB (Bachelor of Sacred Theology). He also earned a Master of Science in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942 and a Master of Arts in philosophy the following year. While lecturing in political science at Lincoln he was elected president of the African Students Organization of America and Canada. As an undergraduate at Lincoln he participated in at least one student theater production and published an essay on European government in Africa in the student newspaper,The Lincolnian.------------------During his time in the United States, Nkrumah visited and preached in black Presbyterian Churches in Philadelphia and New York City. He read books about politics and divinity. He encountered the ideas of Marcus Garvey. He also tutored other students in philosophy. He also met the Trinidadian Marxist C.L.R. James in 1943, and later described how it was from James, then a Trotskyist, that he learnt 'how an underground movement worked'. He arrived in London in May 1945 intending to study at the LSE. However, after meeting with George Padmore he helped to organize the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England. After that he founded the West African National Secretariat to work for the decolonization of Africa. He also became Vice-President of the West African Students' Union (WASU). Nkrumah was later awarded honorary doctorates by Lincoln University, Moscow State University; Cairo University in Cairo, Egypt; Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland; Humboldt University in the former East Berlin; and other universities.------------In the autumn of 1947 Nkrumah was invited to serve as the General Secretary to the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) under Joseph B. Danquah. This political convention was exploring paths to independence. Nkrumah accepted the position and set sail for the Gold Coast. After brief stops in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Ivory Coast, he arrived in the Gold Coast in December 1947.------------------In February 1948 police fired upon a protest by African ex-servicemen who were protesting the rapidly rising cost of living. The shooting spurred a series of riots in Accra, Kumasi and elsewhere. The government suspected the UGCC was behind the protests and therefore arrested Nkrumah and other leading members of the party. Realizing their error, the British soon released the convention leaders. After his imprisonment by the colonial government, he emerged as the leader of the youth movement in 1948. --------------- After his release Nkrumah began to hitchhike around the countryside. In community after community he proclaimed that the Gold Coast needed "self-government now." He built a large power base. The cocoa farmers rallied to his cause because they disagreed with British policy concerning the containment of swollen shoot disease. He appealed to women to be a part of the political process at a time when women's suffrage was new to Western Democracy. The trade unions also allied with his movement. By 1949 he had organized these groups into a new political party: The Convention People's Party. -------------- Making moves towards self-government, the British called for the drafting of a New Constitution that gave some responsibility for policy decisions. Under the new Constitution, drawn up by a selected commission of middle class Africans, wage and property requirements were the basis for suffrage. Nkrumah brought together his own "People's Assembly" composed of representatives of party members, youth organizations, trade unions, farmers, and veterans. Their proposals called for a universal franchise without property qualifications, a separate house of chiefs, and self-governing status under the Statute of Westminster. These amendments, known as the Constitutional Proposals of October 1949, were rejected by the colonial administration. ---------- The colonial administration's rejection of the People's Assembly's recommendations led directly to Nkrumah’s call for "Positive Action" in January 1950. Positive Action included civil disobedience, non-cooperation, boycotts, and strikes. The colonial administration arrested Nkrumah and many of his supporters in the CPP. Nkrumah was sentenced to three years in prison. Facing international protests and internal resistance, the British decided to leave the Gold Coast. Britain organized the first general election to be held in Africa under universal franchise; it was held on 5-10 February 1951. Though in jail, Nkrumah won the election by a landslide, with the CPP taking 34 out of 38 elected seats in the Legislative Assembly. On 12 February Nkrumah was released from prison, and on the 13th was summoned by the British Governor Charles Arden-Clarke and asked to form a government. On 20 February the new Legislative Assembly met, with Nkrumah as Leader of Government Business and E.C. Quist as President of the Assembly. A year later, on 10 March 1952, the constitution was amended to provide for a Prime Minister, and on 21 March Nkrumah was elected to that post by a secret ballot in the Assembly, 45 to 31, with eight abstentions. On 10 July 1953 he presented his "Motion of Destiny" to the Assembly, which approved it, requesting independence within the British Commonwealth "as soon as the necessary constitutional arrangements are made".----------As a leader of this government, Nkrumah faced three serious challenges. First, he needed to learn the art of government. Second, he needed to create a unified nation of Ghana from the four territories of the Gold Coast. Third, he needed to win his nation’s independence. Nkrumah was successful at all three goals. Within six years of his release from prison, he was the leader of an independent nation. At 12 a.m. on March 6, 1957, Nkrumah declares Ghana independent. Nkrumah was now hailed as "Osagyefo" - which means "the victorious one" in the Akan language. On 6 March 1960, Nkrumah announced plans for a new constitution which would make Ghana a republic. The draft included plans for an eventual surrender of Ghanaian soveriegnty to a union of African states. On 19, 23, and 27 April 1960 a presidential election and plebiscite on the constitution were held. The constitution was ratified and Nkrumah elected president, beating J. B. Danquah, the UP candidate, 1,016,076 to 124,623. In 1963, Nkrumah was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union. Ghana became a charter member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. Gold Coast was already one of the most wealthy and socially advanced territories in Africa, with schools, railways, hospitals, social security and an advanced economy. Under Nkrumah’s leadership, Ghana took steps towards a more socialist state. Nkrumah created a welfare system, started various community programs, and established schools. He ordered the construction of roads and bridges to further commerce and communication. In the interest of the nation’s health, he had tap water systems installed in the villages and ordered the construction of concrete drains for latrines. However, his programs must, in the end, be judged unsuccessful, since the country's fortunes declined under his administration.------------------He generally took a non-aligned Marxist perspective on economics, and believed capitalism's malign effects were going to stay with Africa for a long time. Although he was clear on distancing himself from the African socialism of many of his contemporaries; Nkrumah argued that socialism was the system that would best accommodate the changes that capitalism had brought, while still respecting African values.-------------Nkrumah attempted to move Ghana's economy toward a more industrial model. His reasoning was that moving Ghana out of the colonial trade system by reducing its dependence on foreign capital, technology, and material goods would allow it to become truly independent. Unfortunately, he moved to industrialization at the expense of his country’s cocoa growing sector, which had been a strong economic sector until then. In the end, the various economic projects that he undertook were generally unsuccessful and, especially in the case of the Akosombo Dam, hugely expensive. (However, even today, Ghana still relies on the hydroelectric power produced by the Akosombo Dam for most of its electricity). Nor did they remove Ghana from dependence on Western imports. By the time he was deposed in 1966, Ghana had gone from being one of the richest countries in Africa to one of the poorest.----------------The year 1954 was a pivotal year in the life of Kwame Nkrumah. In that year, he won the Independence Election with an astonishing (but quite legitimate) 80% of the vote. However, that same year saw the beginning of his ultimate political demise. In 1954 the world price of cocoa rose from £150 to £450 per ton. Rather than allowing cocoa farmers to use the benefit from this windfall themselves, Nkrumah decided to use the additional profit to national development. This new policy caused him to fall into disfavor with one of the major constituencies that had helped him originally come to power.---------Nkrumah's commitment to industrial development at any cost led to his decision to construct a hydroelectric power plant, the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River in eastern Ghana. American companies would build the dam for Nkrumah, but they would also place numerous restrictions on what could be produced using the power that it generated. It was a bad deal, but Nkrumah did not back away from it. He used borrowed money to build the dam, placing Ghana in serious debt. Financing the debt required higher taxation of the cocoa farmers in the south. This accentuated regional differences and jealousy. The dam project was completed and officially opened by Nkrumah amidst world publicity on January 22, 1966. Nkrumah appeared to be at the zenith of his power. In reality, the end of his regime was only days away. Nkrumah wanted Ghana to have modern armed forces. He acquired aircraft and ships and introduced conscription.---------------In February 1966 while Nkrumah was away on a state visit to Vietnam, his government was overthrown in a CIA backed military coup.Today, Nkrumah is still one of the most respected leaders in African history. In 2000 he was voted Africa's man of the millennium by listeners to the BBC World Service.