Dr. Kwame Nkrumah & Ghana's Independence
OSAGYEFO DR. KWAME NKRUMAH
(1909-72) Founder and
Father of the Nation Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first
Prime Minister and President of Ghana, stands out not only among the Big Six but
also among the greatest statesmen of history. It was he who canalized the discontent
of the people of the Gold Coast Colony into the highly organized movement of protest
against British rule, and within a relatively short period won political independence
for Ghana on March 6, 1957. With Ghana independent, Nkrumah worked to liberate the
whole of the African Continent. He supported and financed liberation struggles and
nationalist movements throughout the continent. His efforts soon yielded dividends
as the majority of countries on the continent gained independence. Then he turned
his efforts to forging a common union of African states.
He supported and financed liberation struggles and nationalist movements throughout
the continent. His efforts soon yielded dividends as the majority of countries on
the continent gained independence. Then he turned his efforts to forging a common
union of African states.
This he believed was the key to giving a strong voice to the whole continent and
pride of place to the Blackman. Indeed Nkrumah's contributions are legion Apart
from being a brilliant leader of the ordinary people and a great champion of their
cause, he is remembered as an outstanding statesman of Ghana and Africa who stands
shoulder to shoulder with such great leaders of the twentieth century as V.I. Lenin
of USSR, Mao Tse-tung (Zedong) of China, Fidel Castro of Cuba, J.F.K. Kennedy of
USA and Winston Churchill of Britain. Kwame Nkrumah was
born on September 21, 1909,
at Nkroful in the Western Region. His father had many wives and children but he
was his mother's only child. Throughout his life his mother, Elizabeth Nyaniba,
served as a tower of strength to him. "I never cared for any woman as much as I
cared for her. We are both alike in one thing. We seem to draw strength from each
In the same way I feel better for seeing her, she gets better if she is ill and
I visit her," Nkrumah wrote about his mother. When Nkrumah was about three years old his mother brought him to HalfAssini, where his father worked as a Goldsmith.
He began his schooling at the local Catholic School where he was also baptized and named Francis. On completing his course as a top student in his class, he was given
a pupil-teaching appointment at a Primary School in Half Assini. In 1926, the Rev. A.G. Fraser, an educationist, visited Nkrumah's school. So impressed was he about
Nkrumah's output that he recommended that he should go for further studies at the
Accra Government Training College. At that College, Nkrumah came under the influence
of Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey who helped him tremendously to come out of his depression
and financial crisis which had been commissioned by the death of his father in that
same al year. When in 1928, the Accra Training College was moved to Achimota and
made part of p the Prince of Wales College, Nkrumah was enrolled and began working
hard to catch up with his new mates most of whom had finished secondary school.
Among his favorite subjects c were history and psychology.
Outside the classroom, he was active in the Aggrey Students' Society (a debating
society). He was also very active in sports and ran for the College in I the 100
and 200 yards dashes. He graduated j from the College in 1930 and his career in
1 teaching began at the Roman Catholic Junior ! School in Elmina. ' As a teacher,
he was reckoned to have pedagogical gifts. Basil Davidson, a biographer of Nkrumah,
quotes a former school inspector who once
sat in a lesson given by the young Nkrumah
to prove that point: I have never forgotten our meeting since I was suddenly made
aware that here was no ordinary teacher.
Lincoln University Football Squad of 1939 -1941
Sitting: 2nd from Left Dr. Ebenezer Ako Adjei Standing:
1st from left Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Despite a frieze of noisy spectators at the open windows, the pupils reacted to
his calm, dignified and "magnetic" manner whole-heartedly. It was an unforgettable
inspectorial experience. While teaching at Elmina, Nkrumah used much of his spare
time to help found the Teachers' Association.
This Association aimed at improving the status of teachers, supplying them with
the means of airing some of their grievances and getting them remedied by the authorities.
After one year in Elmina, he was transferred to Axim and made the headmaster of
the local Roman Catholic Junior School. While there, he took a private course to
prepare himself for the
University of London Matriculation
. He, however, failed the Latin and Mathematics papers of that examination. In 1933 the Roman Catholic Mission in
opened a seminary at Amissano near Elmina to train its priests. As one of the brilliant
young teachers of the Church, he was invited to teach there. Amissano was to have
considerable influence on him as he regained his religious fervor, which he had
almost abandoned. He even formed the idea of joining the Jesuit Order and taking the vocation of priesthood.
This idea lingered on in him for a whole year but eventually it was replaced by
the old desire of furthering his education. For the place to go overseas, Nkrumah
. He had around that period come into contact with the views of a foremost African
nationalist, Nnamdi Azikiwe (Zik), who was then editor of The African Morning Post.
Zik's ideas greatly influenced him. So just like Azikiwe; who schooled in the USA,
he saw USA as an ideal place to go in order to get a first hand knowledge of liberty
and equality At the close of 1934, he applied for admission to Lincoln University,
the first institution of higher learning for blacks. His passage money was provided
by two relatives: the Chief of Nsuaem in the
(northwest ofTarkwa), and another who had moved to
Nkrumah arrived in
towards the end of October 1934 and began his studies in Economics and Sociology at the
. In 1939 he obtained his B.A. degree with major in Economics and Sociology, and
in 1942 qualified as Bachelor of Theology. He proceeded to the
where he obtained an M.Sc. degree in Education and an M.A. in Philosophy. While
University of Pennsylvania
, he helped to set up the African Studies section there. He also helped to organize
African students in
into an African Students Association
of America and
. At the first congress of the Association, he was , elected its president.
In the course of his organizational work, he met C.L.R. James, a historian of note
from Trinidad, then living in 'the
. Through James, he learned about political organizations and took deep interest
in the writings of Marxists and other revolutionary philosophers. He was particularly
inspired by the thoughts of Marcus Garvey, the charismatic Jamaican who initiated
a Back-to-Africa movement, and of Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois who in his capacity as one
of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was writing authoritatively on African Affaires.