- Nkrumah drew inspiration from Marcus Garvey, and this was reflective in his pro-people policies.
- In his books, Nkrumah spoke highly on the possibility of a United States of Africa and its essence.
- A trade initiative for Africans, by the Africans towards development of Africa.
This year’s theme for Africa Day is coined: “Acceleration of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation.” The AfCFTA is a trade agreement that aims to further the continent’s economic integration by establishing a single market for products and services.
This year’s theme is premised on the understanding by the Africa Union, formerly the Organisation of African Unity that, for Africa to thrive, it must fraternize and ensure the smooth running of trade across the continent. At its best, AfCFTA seeks to foster a tax and embargo free trade environment, to cement trade relations and promote preference of African products by African markets.
In simple terms, it is a trade initiative for Africans, by the Africans towards development of Africa. It is like such initiatives anchored on the Ezulwini Declaration where African fathers made a pact to proffer African solutions to African problems. AfCFTA is yet to realize its full implementation having faced hurdles such as lack of cooperation amongst fellow African countries, political fragmentation (greediness amongst members) and lack of enabling infrastructure.
However, there seems to be an African father who knew better how to tackle the African development conundrum. He is the late former Ghanaian President and Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah.
The man who reimagined Africa.
The late Ghanaian founding father, Francis Kwame Nkrumah was a revolutionary who lived and breathed Africa. Born on September 21, 1909, in Nkroful, Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), Kwame is undoubtedly one of the most prominent African nationalist founding fathers with a distinct legacy. He led Ghana to its Independence from British colonial rule in 1957. Indeed, Ghana was the first African country to wade off the shackles of racist colonial domination. Its independence became a stimulus for the attainment of independence by the rest of the African countries.
After the attainment of independence by Ghana, Nkrumah really understood and foresaw the possibilities of neo-colonialism in a ‘sovereign Africa’. He had premonition that colonial domination was not going to fade just like that. It would, at some point in time, transmogrify into a new creature. This new creature is now a lived reality known as neo-colonialism. This method is characterized by overt and covert means of subduing former colonies to economic, political, and cultural pressures. The ultimate intention being disintegration, which is the reason why African leaders are usually divided when in attendance at politically decisive fora, a poison which Kwame knew an antidote.
Kwame Nkrumah was a student of Marxist-Leninist ideology. He drew inspiration from Marcus Garvey, and this was reflective in his pro-people policies. His people centred policies were deemed a threat to capitalism and the West’s primitive accumulation of African wealth. In advocating for a United States Africa, Kwame Nkrumah was an open threat and liable for censure.
Is the United States of Africa the ultimate solution?
Kwame’s vision of a United States of Africa, which was also shared by the late Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi was possible. That is the reason why Kwame could not last in power. The prospects of a ‘one Africa’ are quite intimidating to neo-colonial imperialist leaders since they signal an end to wars at the horn of Africa and the eradication of abject poverty and dead aid. For Kwame Nkrumah, African political freedom would be meaningless without economic independence.
In his books, Nkrumah spoke highly on the possibility of a United States of Africa and its essence. He imagined a united Africa with a single market, military, and a beautiful co-existence. He envisioned AfCFTA way before its introduction. This is the reason why, according to intelligence documents released by the U.S Department of State’s Office of the Historian, “Nkrumah was doing more to undermine [U.S. government] interests than any other black man”.
African heads of states should implement Kwame’s vision in AfCFTA.
The division that has been soiled in African by Western and Eastern waves are reflective of the dependency syndrome that Nkrumah sought to tame. He wanted to do so early but was hindered at the instance of the West. He became a victim of neo-colonial imperialism and died in its hands. The powers that be used his close comrades and the Ghanaian masses to topple him from power and headhunt him. In doing so, they made use of cheap propaganda and regime change narratives that largely portrayed Nkrumah as a dictator bend on consolidating Ghana and the whole of Africa to himself.
Kwame’s vision of Africa is still being fought from all angles, the chief explanation for the failure of African development-oriented schemes such as AfCFTA. It stands to be observed whether, with this year’s Africa Day’s theme, AfCFTA will be implemented from a purely Pan-African angle as envisioned by the late African Independence icon.
It is high time African heads of states and government get back to the drawing board and take this day seriously. True to writer Richard Mullin, with the vast potential, youthfulness and rich resource endowment, “the only person that can be envied is one who has not yet been to Africa for he or she has a lot to look forward to.”