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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 


  • 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.

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

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