Education is the foundation of liberation. So to call yourself a Pan-Africanist, you must first know the most important Pan-Africans and what they stood for.
Ignorance, disinformation, and miseducation are powerful tactics used by white supremacy to disrupt Black progress.
To fight back, we need to dedicate ourselves to re-learning the philosophies and stories of our greatest Ancestors.
Chief among the names that every Pan-Africanist should know is that of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah – the first President of Ghana.
What Did Kwame Nkrumah Do For Pan-Africanism?
Once he was elected President of Ghana, Nkrumah had the opportunity to test and apply the principles of Pan-Africanism.
He began with the most visible representation of his nation – the flag. His administration adopted the red, black, green, and gold as an adaptation of Marcus Garvey’s RBG flag. In the center of the flag, a Black Star paid homage to the Black Star Line – the UNIA’s most ambitious attempt at creating a global trade route among Black nations.
He set about shaping the Pan-Africanist ideology based on indigenous values. These became what are now called the four pillars of Nkrumahism. They are:
1. state ownership of the means of production
2. a one-party democracy
3. a classless economic system, and
4. Pan-African unity
To the last point, Nkrumah argued that focusing on the economic system was only appropriate after achieving independence throughout Africa and that the political struggle was the first order in colonial and neocolonial contexts.
To achieve that, he created the Organization of African Unity, a precursor to the African Union of today. He made great efforts to build relationships with Pan-Africanists around the world, and inspired countless movements – including Malcolm X’s Organization of African American Unity and Stokely Carmichael’s All African Peoples Revolutionary Party.
Nkrumah’s methods to achieve these ends were not without controversy. Tribalism was deeply entrenched in the new nation, and stood in opposition to his objectives of Pan-African unity.
National unity – he asserted – was essential for the modernization and industrialization of the country. Above all else, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah wanted to ensure that the citizens of Ghana had a primary loyalty to the nation-state rather than to their local regions (Fuller 2014: 29-33).
So in 1958 and 1959, Nkrumah’s administration blasted local chiefs as undemocratic, and acts were passed to reduce their powers (Arhin, 1992). Tribal flags were banned and replaced by the new Ghanaian national flag. The very identity of the nation was reshaped to promote unity over tribalism.
We can judge the quality of an idea by its results, and Nkrumah’s Pan-Africanist ideologies led to an explosion of prosperity and stability in Ghana. Unfortunately, his achievements were cut short by a CIA overthrow that focused on the Volta Dam, a critical infrastructure project that would have powered the nation for a century.
“There was no doubt that Ghana would have been a nuclear power by now had the initiative Nkrumah took in the early 1960s with the institution of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission not been terminated with the collapse of his administration.” – Kofi Akordor; The Nkrumah Vision Lives
Paper Wars and Rumors of War
Long before the era of fake news, Nkrumah warned us against paper warfare – a tactic of white supremacy described as such:
“The paper war penetrates into every town and village, and into the remotest parts of the “bush”. It spreads in the form of free distributions of propaganda films praising the qualities of western civilization and culture These are some of the ways in which the psychological terrain is prepared. When the target, a certain country or continent, is sufficiently “softened”, then the invasion of evangelist brigades begins, thus perpetuating the centuries old tactic whereby missionaries prepare the way for guns. Peace Corps divisions stream in, and Moral Rearmament units, Jehovah witnesses, information agencies and international financial “aid” organizations. In this way, a territory or even an entire continent is besieged without a single [battleship] in sight. A sprinkling of political and little publicized murders…are used to assist the process.”
Nkrumah also warned us about the Hollywood style imperialist propaganda machinery which we see at center stage today. He goes on to write;
“The imperialists have made widespread and wily use of ideological and cultural weapons in the form of intrigues, manoeuvres and slander campaigns… while Hollywood takes care of fiction, the enormous monopoly press, together with the outflow of slick, clever, expensive magazines, attends to what it chooses to call ‘news’… thus far, all the methods of neo-colonialists have pointed in one direction, the ancient, accepted one of all minority ruling classes throughout history: divide and rule. Quite obviously, therefore, unity is the first requisite for destroying neo-colonialism.”
As one commentary stated; the goal of imperial media assault on the African mind is mainly to “Control individuals to the point that they would do our bidding against their will, even against such FUNDAMENTAL LAWS of nature as self-preservation”.
The Legacy of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah
On assumption of office in 2009, the new Government of Ghana set out to reintroduce policies and programs to increase awareness of Nkrumaism and put Nkrumah at the center of Ghanaian and African politics again.
1) The government set out to distribute free exercise books to all primary school children. “The 80-page exercise book whose covers were designed in the national colors has its front and back covers embossed with a portrait of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s First President and his biography”.
2) A new Ghana banknote was introduced embossed with Nkrumah pictures
3) The government launched Nkrumah’s centenary celebrations and set aside every 21st September, Nkrumah’s birthday as a national holiday known as Founder’s Day.
4) The AU unanimously accepted the Dr. Nkrumah’s centenary birthday and put it on the AU’s calendar of “Special Events”.
5) The government has launched a book under the auspices of National Youth Authority with the title “Kwame Nkrumah – The Greatest African Leader” aimed at teaching his values to the youth of the nation.
6) The Ghanaian Government engineered the decision of the AU to honor African Scientists with the “African Union Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards (AUKNSA) in recognition of Nkrumah’s role in launching the African version of the Scientific and Industrial Revolution on the day the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1964.
7) Finally, through the strong advocacy of the Ghanaian government, the African Union unanimously accepted to erect the statue of Kwame Nkrumah at the foreground of newly built AU complex at Addis Ababa. This endorsement by the AU was described by the continental body as the “automatic choice”
The aim of all these is to achieve Nkrumah’s ultimate goal of “a harmoniously organized free and independent Africa, possessed of its own unique personality which stands in equality before the rest of the world, accepted, honored and respected.”
Nkrumah once said, “The emancipation of the African continent and the Black man could be the emancipation of man”.
In his memory, we work to make his dream of a free and unified Africa our reality.