The first leader of a newly independent Ghana
Faced many a challenge to visions of utopia;
The vision is based on science and agriculture;
Here come the vultures shitting like pigeons on a sculpture.
Nobody's perfect, yo! he's got faults you can list them... Dr. Nkrumah's intentions were the best
Why it's all a mess cause we still needed lots of help from the West...Kennedy and his foreign aid
During the cold war turning Ghana into economic slaves... Military coup after coup it's appaling
Seventh time a charm: enter Jerry Rawlings...There once lived a great man with a geat vision, great plan,
A great dreamer determined to realize what he'd seen for Africa
Things fell apart at the seams in Ghana...We salute ya, we salute ya,
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
—from "Nkrumah Salute" by King David
My cousin and sound producer extraordinaire released this clear-eyed tribute to the great man who spearheaded the African independence movements of the 50s, including that of Nigeria, whose independence came a few years after Ghana's. Nkrumah was the father among pan-African visionary leaders from Nyerere to Azikiwe who did succeed in the most visible successes of independence, but whose energy and charisma were not quite enough to counter the complex manipulations engineered by colonial powers within the field of influence of the globally influential cold war poles in Washington and Moscow.
What I like about this Nkrumah salute is that it doesn't shy away from calling out the disaster of Nkrumah's Volta river project, which also pioneered errors repeated across Africa where ambition for foreign exchange and rapid industrialization led governments into economic patterns that extended the hegemony of Western powers while decimating indigenous industries. These errors led to corruption, which led to erosion of the most important human resources and caused perilous internal strains. In Ghana the false gold was bauxite, which inspired the Volta river project. In Nigeria it was and still is petroleum. Such projects required strong central control, which bred autocracy, in which Nkrumah was also an unfortunate pioneer, and eventually this led to a wave of military coups across Africa, and made it easier for the CIA and KGB to conduct their proxy wears across the continent.
Despite all that we rightly salute Nkrumah. if these have been harsh lessons for Africans to learn, it has been essential that we learn them ourselves, and Nkrumah led the way to such self-determination. It is also for us to address the problems over time. We should be wary of quick fixes. Everyone salutes Mandela for his greatness, but I'm sure he paid careful attention to his African history, and learned the right lessons. Even Mandela had his elders, among whom Nkrumah was a leading light.
I've always personally enjoyed the fact that Nkrumah took his pan-Africanism even as far as matters of the heart, marrying an elagent Coptic Egyptian lady Fathia, whom he impressed as a fiery African nationalist in the spirit of Nasser. The marriage fell apart with the strains of Nkrumah's later years in power and Fathia returned to Cairo even before Nkrumah went into exile in Guinea, but after Fathia's death a few years ago she was flown according to her wishes to be buried beside her husband in Ghana.
We are the punch bag of fate
on whom the hands of destiny wearies
and the show of blows gradually lose
their viciousness on our patience
until they become caresses of admiration
and time that heals all wounds
comes with a balm and without tears,
soothes the bruises on our spirits.