Wednesday, September 21, 2022 marked the 113th anniversary of the birth of Ghanaian nationalist leader, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Founder and First President of Ghana. Born, Francis Nwie Nkrumah in the village of Nkroful, he led the Gold Coast’s push for independence from Britain and presided over its emergence as the new nation of Ghana after attaining independence on March 6, 1957. He led the country from independence in 1957 until he was overthrown by a coup in 1966. Nkrumah was highly revered in Ghana for his role in liberating the country from colonial rule. This earned him the title “osagyefo” which is a Twi word that translates to “redeemer” in English because he was viewed by many in Ghana as their saviour. Many Ghanaians also admired him for his pan-African beliefs and policies.
It is no secret that Nkrumah was greatly influenced by Marcus Garvey. He, himself, stated that he would never forget his own humble beginnings and the intellectual debt he owed to Marcus Garvey. He also credited Garvey for some of his political views. At the closing session of the All-African People’s Conference in Accra, Ghana, December 13, 1958, Nkrumah said, “Long before many of us were even conscious of our own degradation. Marcus Garvey fought for African national and racial equality”. Nkrumah also said, “I think that of all the literature I studied, the book that did more than any other to fire my enthusiasm was the Philosophy [and Opinions] of Marcus Garvey published by his wife”.
Garvey’s impact on Nkrumah was manifested in several ways. One such way is the fact that Nkrumah adopted Garvey’s ideology of a united Africa, not just on the continent but also in the Diaspora. John Henrik Clarke posited that Garvey’s “Back to Africa” teaching was consistent with Nkrumah’s call for the creation of an independent African nation. Both recognized that the lack of racial unity would significantly hamper the growth of the race. So, both were relentless in forging this unity amongst all Africans. Other evidence of Garvey’s impact on Nkrumah was in the design of the flag for Ghana; Nkrumah ensured that a Black Star was featured in its centre. He also established Ghana’s Black Star Shipping Line in 1958 “…to break the hold which the monopoly interests, including foreign shippers, have upon our trade”. Both initiatives were in tribute to Garvey.
So, in recognition of the 113th birthday of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Liberty Hall: The Legacy of Marcus Garvey acknowledges the indelible contribution of this great son of Ghana to the Pan-African movement. Below is a poem which encapsulates the essence of this great leader, written by G. McLean Amissah, journalist, writer, poet and author from Cape Coast, on the first anniversary of Nkrumah’s death, April 27, 1973.
Kwame Nkrumah: Founder & First President of Ghana
Kwame Nkrumah, First President of Ghana
Who that won Ghana’s Independence and Sovereignty
And stirred the Spirit of Freedom in All Africa
Made Ghana great, a nation proud, one in Unity
Enthused Ghanaians with pride in their African Ancestry
Nkrumah, Creator of African Personality
Keen fighter for Freedom, Independence and Unity
Resolute foe of imperialism and racism
Undoubted great Leader of Pan-Africanism
Monarch of Fame, rest peacefully in eternity
And, thank God, your Life and work what priceless heritage
Hail, KWAME, your name fonder shall grow from age to age