Kwame Nkrumah

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The independence of Ghana is meaningless until it is linked to the total liberation of Africa.
Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you.

Kwame Nkrumah (21 September 1909 – 27 April 1972) was a Ghanaian politician, political theorist, and revolutionary. He was the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, having led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain in 1957. An influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and winner of the Lenin Peace Prize from the Soviet Union in 1962.

Quotes[edit]

  • For centuries, Europeans dominated the African continent. The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to "civilize" Africa. Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people.For centuries, Europeans dominated the African continent. The white man arrogated to himself the right to rule and to be obeyed by the non-white; his mission, he claimed, was to "civilize" Africa. Under this cloak, the Europeans robbed the continent of vast riches and inflicted unimaginable suffering on the African people.
  • Capitalism is too complicated a system for a newly independent nation. Hence the need for a socialistic society.
    • The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (1957), p. x.
    • We face neither East nor West: we face forward. [1]
  • Togehter as one*
  • Just as in the days of the Egyptians, so today God had ordained that certain among the African race should journey westwards to equip themselves with knowledge and experience for the day when they would be called upon to return to their motherland and to use the learning they had acquired to help improve the lot of their brethren. ...I had not realized at the time that I would contribute so much towards the fulfillment of this prophecy.
    • The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah (1957). As quoted by George P. Hagan in Nkrumah's Leadership Style—An Assessment from a Cultural Perspective, in Arhin (1992), The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah.
  • We cannot tell our peoples that material benefits in growth and modern progress are not for them. If we do, they will throw us out and seek other leaders who promise more … We have to modernize. Either we shall do so with the interest and support of the West or we shall be compelled to turn elsewhere. This is not a warning or a threat, but a straight statement of political reality.
    • Quoted in Canadian Institute of International Affairs International Journal, Volumes 13-14 (1957), p. 160.
  • To the true African journalist, his newspaper is a collective organizer, a collective instrument of mobilization and a collective educator—a weapon, first and foremost, to overthrow colonialism and imperialism and to assist total African independence and unity.
    • At the Second Conference of African Journalists; Accra, November 11, 1963. [1]
  • We in Ghana, are committed to the building of an industrialized socialist society. We cannot afford to sit still and be mere passive onlookers. We must ourselves take part in the pursuit of scientific and technological research as a means of providing the basis for our socialist society, Socialism without science is void. …
    We need also to reach out to the mass of the people who have not had the opportunities of formal education.  We must use every means of mass communication – the press, the radio, television and films – to carry science to the whole population – to the people. ...
    It is most important that our people should not only be instructed in science but that they should take part in it, apply it themselves in their own ways. For science is not just a subject to be learned out of a book or form a teacher. It is a way of life, a way of tackling any problem which one can only master by using it for oneself. We must have science clubs in which our people can develop their own talents for discovery and invention.
    • "Speech delivered by Osagyefo the President at the Laying of the Foundation Stone of Ghana's Atomic Reactor at Kwabenya on 25th November, 1964". As quoted ny E. A. Haizel in Education in Ghana, 1951 – 1966, in Arhin (1992), The Life and Work of Kwame Nkrumah.
  • We know that the traditional African society was founded on principles of egalitarianism. In its actual workings, however, it had various shortcomings. Its humanist impulse, nevertheless, is something that continues to urge us towards our all-African socialist reconstruction. We postulate each man to be an end in himself, not merely a means; and we accept the necessity of guaranteeing each man equal opportunities for his development. The implications of this for socio-political practice have to be worked out scientifically, and the necessary social and economic policies pursued with resolution. Any meaningful humanism must begin from egalitarianism and must lead to objectively chosen policies for safeguarding and sustaining egalitarianism. Hence, socialism. Hence, also, scientific socialism.
  • Capitalism is a development by refinement from feudalism just as feudalism is a development by refinement from slavery. Capitalism is but the gentleman's method of slavery.
    • Quoted in The Jewel of Africa, Vol. 1 (1968), p. 22.
  • The difference between myself and Castro is that I am not aligned and he is; I am a socialist and he is a communist.
    • Quoted in Asiaweek, Vol. 5 (1979), p. 28.
  • I am not African because I was born in Africa but because Africa was born in me.
    • Quoted in ''Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism'', 1965. [2]


  • As long as we are ruled by others we shall lay our mistakes at their door, and our sense of responsibility will remain dulled. Freedom brings responsibilities, and our experience can be enriched only by the acceptance of these responsibilities.
    • The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah
  • Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you.
    • The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah
  • Never in the history of the world has an alien ruler granted self-rule to a people on a silver platter.
    • The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah

Consciencism (1964)[edit]

Consciencism. New York University Press. 1970. ISBN 0853451362. Retrieved on 14 March 2018. 

Introduction[edit]

  • The evaluation of one's own social circumstance is part of the analysis of facts and events, and this kind of evaluation is, I feel, as good a starting point of the inquiry into the relations between philosophy and society as any other. Philosophy, in understanding human society, call for an analysis of facts and events, and an attempt to see how they fit into human life, and so how they make up human experience. In this way, philosophy, like history, can come to enrich, indeed to define, the experience of man.
    • p. 2.
  • A colonial student does not by origin belong to the intellectual history in which the university philosophers are such impressive landmarks. The colonial student can be so seduced by these attempts to give a philosophical account of the universe, that surrenders his whole personality to them. When he does this, he loses sight of the fundamental social fact that he is a colonial subject. In this way, he omits to draw from his education and from the concern displayed by the great philosophers for human problems, anything which he might relate to the very real problem of colonial domination, which, as it happens, conditions the immediate life of every colonized African.
  • With single-minded devotion, the colonial student meanders through the intricacies of the philosophical systems. And yet these systems did aim at providing a philosophical account of the world in the circumstances and conditions of their time. For even philosophical systems are facts of history. By the time, however, that they come to be accepted in the universities for exposition, they have lost the vital power which they had at their first statement, they have shed their dynamism and polemic reference. This is a result of the academic treatment which they are given. The academic treatment is the result of an attitude to philosophical systems as though there was nothing to them but statements standing in logical relation to one another.
  • This defective approach to scholarship was suffered by different categories of colonial student. Many of them had been handpicked and, so to say, carried certificates of worthiness with them. These were considered fit to become enlightened servants of the colonial administration. The process by which this category of student became fit usually started at an early age, for not infrequently they had lost contact early in life with their traditional background. By reason of their lack of contact with their own roots, they became prone to accept some theory of universalism, provided it was expressed in vague, mellifluous terms. Armed with their universalism, they carried away from their university courses an attitude entirely at variance with the concrete reality of their people and their struggle.
  • When they came across doctrines of a combative nature, like those of Marxism, they reduced them to arid abstractions, to common-room subtleties. In this way, through the good graces of their colonialist patrons, these students, now competent in the art of forming not a concrete environmental view of social political problems, but an abstract, 'liberal' outlook, began to fulfil the hopes and expectations of their guides and guardians.
  • There were the vast numbers of ordinary Africans, who, animated by a lively national consciousness, sought knowledge as an instrument of national emancipation and integrity. This is not to say that these Africans overlooked the purely cultural value of their studies. But in order that their cultural acquisition should be valuable, they needed to be capable of appreciating it as free men.
    • p. 4.

Philosophy In Retrospect[edit]

  • The critical study of the philosophies of the past should lead to the study of modern theories. For these latter, born of the fire of contemporary struggles, are militant and alive.
    • p. 5.
  • It is not only the study of philosophy which can become perverted. The study of history too can become warped. The colonized African student, whose roots in his own society are systematically starved of sustenance, is introduced to Greek and Roman history, the cradle history of modern Europe, and he is encouraged to treat this portion of the story of man together with the subsequent history of Europe as the only worthwhile portion. This history is anointed with a universalist flavouring which titillates the palate of certain African intellectuals so agreeably that they become alienated from their own immediate society.
    • p. 5.
  • I learnt to see philosophical systems in the context of the social milieu which produced them. I therefore learnt to look for social contention in philosophical systems. It is of course possible to see the history of philosophy in diverse ways, each way of seeing it being in fact an illumination of the type of problem dealt with in this branch of human thought. It is possible, for instance, to look upon philosophy as a series of abstract systems. When philosophy is so seen, even moral philosophers, with regrettable coyness, say that their preoccupation has nothing to do with life. They say that their concern is not to name moral principles or to improve anybody's character, but narrowly to elucidate the meaning of terms used in ethical discourse, and to determine the status of moral principles and ru1es, as regards the obligation which they impose upon us. When philosophy is regarded in the light of a series of abstract systems, it can be said to concern itself with two fundamental questions: first, the question 'what there is'; second, the question how 'what there is' may be explained. The answer to the first question has a number of aspects. It lays down a minimum number of general under which every item in the world can and must be brought. It does this without naming the items themselves, without furnishing us with an inventory, a roll-call of the items, the objects in the world. It specifies, not particu1ar objects, but the basic types of object. The answer further implies a certain reductionism; for in naming only a few basic types as exhausting all objects in the world, it brings object directly under one of the basic types.
    • pp. 5-6.

Neo-Colonialism, The Last Stage of Imperialism (1965)[edit]

  • The neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and perhaps its most dangerous stage.
    • "Introduction," ix
  • The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.
    • "Introduction," ix
  • The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world.
    • "Introduction," x
  • Neo-colonialism is also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case.
    • "Introduction," xi
  • The post-war period inaugurated a very different colonial policy. A deliberate attempt was made to divert colonial earnings from the wealthy class and use them instead generally to finance the ‘Welfare State’. As will be seen from the examples given later, this was the method consciously adopted even by those working-class leaders who had before the war regarded the colonial peoples as their natural allies against their capitalist enemies at home.
    • "Introduction," xiii
  • Neo-colonialism is based upon the principle of breaking up former large united colonial territories into a number of small non-viable States which are incapable of independent development and must rely upon the former imperial power for defence and even internal security. Their economic and financial systems are linked, as in colonial days, with those of the former colonial ruler.
    • "Introduction," xiii
  • The introduction of neo-colonialism increases the rivalry between the great powers which was provoked by the old-style colonialism. However little real power the government of a neo-colonialist State may possess, it must have, from the very fact of its nominal independence, a certain area of manoeuvre. It may not be able to exist without a neo-colonialist master but it may still have the ability to change masters.
    • "Introduction," xiv
  • Once multilateral aid begins the neo-colonialist masters are f aced by the hostility of the vested interests in their own country. Their manufacturers naturally object to any attempt to raise the price of the raw materials which they obtain from the neo-colonialist territory in question, or to the establishment there of manufacturing industries which might compete directly or indirectly with their own exports to the territory. Even education is suspect as likely to produce a student movement and it is, of course, true that in many less developed countries the students have been in the vanguard of the fight against neo-colonialism.
    • "Introduction," xv
  • The less developed world will not become developed through the goodwill or generosity of the developed powers. It can only become developed through a struggle against the external forces which have a vested interest in keeping it undeveloped.
    • "Introduction," xix-xx
  • Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world.
    • "The Mechanisms of Neo-Colonialism," 239
  • Today the need both to maintain a welfare state, i.e. a parasite State at home, and to support a huge and ever-growing burden of armament cost makes it absolutely essential for developed capitalist countries to secure the maximum return in profit from such parts of the international financial complex as they control.
    • "Conclusion," 257
  • The only effective way to challenge this economic empire and to recover possession of our heritage, is for us to act on a Pan-African basis, through a Union Government.
    • "Conclusion," 259

Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare (1968)[edit]

  • Always be the servant of the people.
    • "Rules of Discipline," Rule #15
  • The guerrilla is the masses in arms.
  • The modifications introduced by imperialism in its strategy were expressed:
    (a) through the disappearance of the numerous old-fashioned "colonies" owing exclusive allegiance to a single metropolitan country.
    (b) through the replacement of "national" imperialisms by a "collective" imperialism in which the USA occupies a leading position.
    • "Collective imperialism," p. 6
  • The principle of mutual inter-imperialist assistance whereby American, British, French and West German monopoly capital extends joint control over the wealth of the non-liberated zones of Africa, Latin America and Asia, finds concrete expression in the formation of interlocked international financial institutions and bodies of credit.
    • p. 7
  • A state can be said to be a neo-colonialist or client state if it is independent de jure and dependent de facto. It is a state where political power lies in the conservative forces of the former colony and where economic power remains under the control of international finance capital.
    • "Sham independence," p. 8
  • The three essential components of neo-colonialism are:
    1. Economic exploitation
    2. Puppet governments and client states
    3. Military assistance
    4. Economic "aid."
  • p. 15

Quotes about Kwame Nkrumah[edit]

  • On the face of it, the sustained economic decline that soon set in in Ghana after independence from Britain was caused by ignorance. The British economist Tony Killick, then working as an adviser for the government of Kwame Nkrumah, recorded many of the problems in great detail. Nkrumah’s policies focused on developing state industry, which turned out to be very inefficient. Killick recalled: "The footwear factory … that would have linked the meat factory in the North through transportation of the hides to the South (for a distance of over 500 miles) to a tannery (now abandoned); the leather was to have been backhauled to the footwear factory in Kumasi, in the center of the country and about 200 miles north of the tannery. Since the major footwear market is in the Accra metropolitan area, the shoes would then have to be transported an additional 200 miles back to the South." Killick somewhat understatedly remarks that this was an enterprise “whose viability was undermined by poor siting.” The footwear factory was one of many such projects, joined by the mango canning plant situated in a part of Ghana which did not grow mangos and whose output was to be more than the entire world demand for the product. This endless stream of economically irrational developments was not caused by the fact that Nkrumah or his advisers were badly informed or ignorant of the right economic policies. They had people like Killick and had even been advised by Nobel laureate Sir Arthur Lewis, who knew the policies were not good. What drove the form the economic policies took was the fact that Nkrumah needed to use them to buy political support and sustain his undemocratic regime. Neither Ghana’s disappointing performance after independence nor the countless other cases of apparent economic mismanagement can simply be blamed on ignorance. After all, if ignorance were the problem, well-meaning leaders would quickly learn what types of policies increased their citizens’ incomes and welfare, and would gravitate toward those policies.
    • Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (2012)
  • I haven't dared go back to Ghana because my experience there was so precious that I don't want to risk spoiling it. I got so much health and stability from that country, and the people, the way it was with Kwame Nkrumah. He was deposed and subsequently killed, and I haven't wanted to go back.
  • big business in America, surprised by the success of the Ghana revolution set itself to influence Nkrumah. Nkrumah was invited to the United States in 1958, and treated as never a Negro had been treated by the government. Hershey, a great manufacturer of chocolate, sent a special plane to take him to his factories; and the New York Cocoa Board of Trade dined him at the Waldorf-Astoria.
    • The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life from the Last Decade of Its First Century (1968)

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