Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972) became
the first prime minister and later first president of Ghana. He was born on 21
September 1909 at Nkroful in what was then the British-ruled
Gold Coast, the son of a goldsmith. Trained as a teacher, he went to the United States in 1935 for advanced
studies and continued his schooling in England, where he helped organize
the Pan-African Congress in 1945. He returned to Ghana in 1947 and became general
secretary of the newly founded United Gold Coast Convention but split from it
in 1949 to form the Convention People's party (CPP).
his 'positive action' campaign created disturbances in 1950, Nkrumah was
jailed, but when the CPP swept the 1951 elections, he was freed to form a
government, and he led the colony to independence as Ghana in 1957. A firm believer
in African liberation, Nkrumah pursued a radical pan-African policy, playing a
key role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity in 1963. As head
of government, he was less successful however, and as time passed he was
accused of forming a dictatorship.
1964 he formed a one-party state, with himself as president for life, and was
accused of actively promoting a cult of his own personality. Overthrown by the
military in 1966, with the help of western backing, he spent his last years in
exile, dying in Bucharest, Romania, on 27 April 1972. His legacy and dream of a
"United States of Africa" still remains a goal among many.
Nkrumah was the motivating force behind the movement for independence of
Ghana, then British West Africa, and its first president
when it became independent in 1957. His numerous writings address Africa's political destiny.
photo shows the most important non-aligned leaders during the General Assembly session
in September 1961: prime minister Nehru (India), president Nkrumah (Ghana), president Nasser (Egypt), president Sukarno (Indonesia) and president Tito (Yugoslavia).
In the autumn of 1978 the
United Nations awarded Nkrumah a posthumous gold medal during a special session
of the UN Committee against the racist regime in South Africa. His widow, Fathia Nkrumah,
flew to New York to receive it at the United Nations headquarters.
"First of all, let me thank the General Assembly most sincerely for their
very kind decision to pay such a singular tribute to the memory of my late
husband, Osagyefo Dr Kwame
Nkrumah. He himself, I am sure, would have considered his contribution to the
international campaign against apartheid as a duty, without looking for international
approval or award. But alas, his untimely death has robbed us of his presence
and encouragement," she told the assembled world leaders.
letter from president Eisenhower to president
Nkrumah on the situation in the Congo, 2
Speech by Nkrumah to the General Assembly, 24 October 1960 (text and sound).
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 9 August 1989
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last revised: 28 March 2010