“Nkrumah never dies”, “Forward ever, backwards never” and “Freedom” were some of the chants that reverberated when the Convention People’s Party (CPP) marked the 112th birthday of the country’s first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, yesterday.
The event was reminiscent of the good old days of the CPP regime as many Nkrumahists and admirers of the man who led Ghana to independence in 1957 recounted his deeds, vision, philosophy and the impact he had on the country, the African continent and the world at large.
The party marked the birthday with a symposium to drum home the relevance of Dr Nkrumah’s ideals to the socio-economic development of the country.
The symposium was on the theme: “Relevance of Nkrumahism in addressing the socio-economic challenges of Ghana today”.
It attracted members of the CPP fraternity, including its National Chairman, Nana Akosua Frimpomaa Sarpong-Kumankumah; the General Secretary, Nana Yaa Jantuah, and a former acting National Chairman, Hajia Hamdatu Ibrahim Haruna.
Also in attendance were representatives of the biggest opposition party – the National Democratic Congress (NDC), led by the Election 2020 Campaign Manager of the party, Professor Joshua Alabi; the Deputy Campaign Manager, Mr Alex Segbefia, and a leading member of the party, Ms Sherry Ayittey.
Speakers at the symposium were the Chairman of the Research Committee of the CPP, Mr Kosi Dedey; a leading member of the party, Mr Ekow Duncan, and a former Chairman of the PNC, Mr Bernard Mornah.
Nana Sarpong-Kumankumah said it was time for people not only to celebrate the good works of Dr Nkrumah but also embrace his ideals which propelled the country to greater heights.
She said the celebration of Dr Nkrumah’s legacy without putting his ideals into practice would not help the development of the country.
“The legacy will not put food on the table of the hungry youth or give them jobs. We need to readjust and ensure that the ideals that Nkrumah stood for are still being put to use,” she said.
According to her, just like Dr Nkrumah did, leaders must stand up and fight systems which inhibited the growth of the country.
“The spirit that was in Dr Nkrumah is within all of us. Let all of us, especially the leaders, ignite that spirit for the benefit of the country,” she said.
Questions to the CPP
Mr Dedey wondered if the CPP was ready to capture political power or just interested in riding on the back of Dr Nkrumah’s fame.
“Is the CPP a political party, a Kwame Nkrumah fan club or a ruse? Is the CPP ready for political power? Does the CPP of today understand the social and economic challenges of Ghana?” he queried.
He said in order to become a strong political force, it was imperative for the CPP to uphold discipline and integrity, as well as to be well organised.
According to him, the last elections in 2020 showed that members of the CPP ought to be more committed to the cause of the party.
“In the last elections, we had over 30,000 polling stations. Even if only the executives at the polling stations voted for the CPP, that should give us not less than 300,000 votes for the CPP; but let us ask ourselves the number of votes that we garnered,” he said.
Nana Jantuah described Dr Nkrumah as the most important personality in the country’s independence agenda.
“There is no doubt that he was the one who made sure that the road to independence was made shorter and faster, as he always advocated self-government now,” she said.
Mr Mornah said Dr Nkrumah’s policies were even more relevant to the country’s socio-economic development now than they were to his regime in the 1960s.
Describing him as a visionary leader, he said Dr Nkrumah understood the problems of the country, what was needed to fix those problems and even how to ensure that those problems did not rear their heads in the future.
For Mr Duncan, the country must adopt Dr Nkrumah’s economic principles and reject what he described as the policies of the Western world which colonised the country.
“The country will not develop on the whims of structural adjustment, liberalisation and privatisation,” he said.
Profile of Kwame Nkrumah
Former President John Evans Atta Mills’s government initiated legislation in Parliament to declare September 21 a holiday in memory of Dr Nkrumah.
Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah was born at Nkroful in the Western Region on September 21, 1909.
He attended Achimota School and also trained as a teacher. He went to the United States in 1935 for advanced studies, receiving a B.A. degree from the Lincoln University in 1939.
He was invited into the then Gold Coast to become the General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), but on June 12, 1949, Dr Nkrumah broke away and led the formation of the CPP at Arena in Accra before a crowd of some 60,000.
Dr Nkrumah was arrested on January 21, 1950, tried for inciting an illegal strike and sedition for an article in the Cape Coast Daily Mail and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
While in prison, Dr Nkrumah led the CPP to achieve a stunning victory in the February 1951 elections.
He was freed to form a government, and he led the colony to independence in 1957.
A firm believer in African liberation, Nkrumah pursued a radical pan-African policy, playing a key role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity in 1963.
At home, he led massive socio-economic development that saw the springing up of infrastructure across the country.
As time passed, he was accused of being a dictator and also forming a one-party state in 1964, with himself as President for life, as well as 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 April 27, 1972.
His legacy and dream of a "United States of Africa" still remains a goal among many.