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Kwame Nkrumah and the panafrican vision: Between acceptance and rebuttal



This paper focuses on the pan-African vision of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana, and how this vision has been appreciated over time. Nkrumah was the greatest advocate of the political unity of Africa. This was to enable the continent to ward off exploitation by the West and then build a continent self-reliant. This paper examines the divergence in the acceptance and rebuttal of his vision for Africa through a content analysis of written works.
Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
e-ISSN 2238-6912 | ISSN 2238-6262| v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016 | p.141-164
Henry Kam Kah1
The Pan-African vision of a United of States of Africa was and is still
being expressed (dis)similarly by Africans on the continent and those of Afri-
can descent scattered all over the world. Its humble origins and spread is at-
tributed to several people based on their experiences over time. Among some
of the advocates were Henry Sylvester Williams, Marcus Garvey and George
Padmore of the diaspora and Peter Abrahams, Jomo Kenyatta, Sekou Toure,
Julius Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah of South Africa, Kenya, Guinea, Tanza-
nia and Ghana respectively. The different pan-African views on the African
continent notwithstanding, Kwame Nkrumah is arguably in a class of his own
and perhaps comparable only to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. Pan-Africanism
became the cornerstone of his struggle for the independence of Ghana, other
African countries and the political unity of the continent. To transform this
vision into reality, Nkrumah mobilised the Ghanaian masses through a pop-
ular appeal. Apart from his eloquent speeches, he also engaged in persuasive
writings. These writings have survived him and are as appealing today as they
were in the past. Kwame Nkrumah ceased every opportunity to persuasively
articulate for a Union Government for all of Africa. Due to his unswerving
vision for a Union Government for Africa, the visionary Kwame Nkrumah
created a microcosm of African Union through the Ghana-Guinea and then
Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union. In defending the need for a United States of Af-
rica, he made friends and foes alike. The impact of the vision of an African
Union vigorously defended by Nkrumah still finds relevance today among Af-
ricans even those who feel that Nkrumah was realistically idealistic. His ideas
1 Department of History of University of Buea, Cameroon. E-mail:
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
142 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
about a United States of Africa have placed him between acceptance and re-
buttal or denial. Those leaders who oppose these ideas have an egotistical dis-
position meant to benefit themselves and their supporters from the West. The
current onslaught on African people and resources still calls for a rethinking
of the concept of AU as propounded and defended by Kwame Nkrumah.
Pan-African Visions
There are several notions of pan-Africanism. This notion has evolved
over time, changing from one focus to another and broadening in definition
and practice. These diverse visions about continental Africa are all in attempt
to give Africa a visibility and importance even if in the negative sense. Some
notions of pan-Africanism have also stressed on greater collaboration and
union of African countries on certain issues such as climate change and ter-
rorism. Others views are at the centre of disunity and conflict within and
between some African countries like South Sudan, Somalia, Mali, Nigeria
among others. It has argued that pan-Africanism is a global movement to
unite Africa and its people against racial oppression and exploitation asso-
ciated with European hegemony. M’bayo and Okhonmina also opined that
pan-Africanism involved efforts to mobilise continental Africans against co-
lonialism and racism and was the philosophical grounding for the unity of
Africa through the AU (Kuman-Abiwu 2013, 124).
These two visions or definitions or explanations of pan-Africanism
seem to be similar but very different. In the first notion, Williams as cited
in Kuman-Abiwu (2013, 124) is more concerned with the unity of the black
people all over the world against what is hegemonic control of the Europeans
and today the United States. He is apparently calling on all people of black
descent in the Caribbean, Latin America, the United States and other parts
of the world to come together and articulate their common grievances as a
united group. These grievances are oppression and exploitation. M’bayo and
Okhonmina lay their emphasis on the need to mobilise Africans within the
continent against colonialism and racism. They view pan-Africanism essen-
tially as an affair of people resident in the continent and are seemingly blind
to or deliberately do not care about the plight of other black people in other
parts of the world notably Latin America. Their mention of racism however is
relevant to pan-Africanism beyond the people of Africa residing in the conti-
nent. Racism has been a common problem to the people in Africa as well as
their kith and kin in other parts of the world. Their vision of pan-Africanism
is also limited by their appeal only to colonialism. Today, pan-Africanism is
also used to fight against neo-colonialism in all its forms.
Henry Kam Kah
The AU has also clearly stated what its vision of pan-Africanism is.
According to this continental body which is successor to the OAU, Pan-Afri-
canism is:
An ideology and movement that encourages the solidarity of Africans world-
wide. It is based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social and
political progress and aims to ‘unify and uplift’ people of African descent.
The ideology asserts that the fates of all African peoples and countries are inter-
twined. At its core Pan-Africanism is a belief that African peoples, both as
the continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history, but
a common destiny (Kumah-Abiwu 2013, 124 - emphasis is mine).
This notion of pan-Africanism where socio-economic and political
progress is brought to the fore is shared by Kimaryo (2013, 16-17). He also
argues that pan-Africanism at its core is “a belief that African peoples, both
on the continent and in the Diaspora, share not merely a common history, but
a common destiny” (Kimaryo 2016, 16-17). Pan-Africanism according to the
AU highlights a number of issues meant to benefit all Africans wherever they
may find themselves. The AU argues that for pan-Africanism to be a success
the solidarity of Africans worldwide is necessary. This solidarity will lead to
socio-economic and political progress which will improve the lives of African
people. Again, the AU defines pan-Africanism taking into consideration the
Diaspora which consists of people of African descent and those who have
migrated and settled in other parts of the world. Although the fates of all Afri-
cans and their countries are intertwined, it is rather unfortunate some African
leaders have not gone beyond lip-service in their defence of pan-Africanism.
This explains the difficulties that the AU is facing to move Africa forward
through a Union Government.
Other articulations of this very broad concept of pan-Africanism in-
clude the Afrocentric interpretation. This interpretation traces the struggle of
Africans from self-assertion dating back to the era of 3200 BC. Meanwhile the
Eurocentric assumptions on the other hand lay emphasis on pan-Africanism
as African response to slavery and colonialism. The deep desire by Africans
that their brothers and sisters who were taken out of the continent should be
safely brought back was a manifestation of a pan-African spirit. It has also
been taken down to the nationalist struggles in individual African countries
like the spirited fight that Yaa Asantewaa of the Gold Coast and Shaka Zulu of
South Africa put up against European colonial domination and traders (Ku-
mah-Abiwu 2013, 125). These struggles like many others have been described
in some circles as the struggle for pan-Africanism because this was trying to
rid Africans of foreign domination. Afrocentricity in pan-Africanism is there-
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
144 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
fore seen to have started many years before the birth of Christ and not at the
time of the slave trade and then colonial rule. Today, African people and blacks
all over the world are not only united in their condemnation of the trans-Sa-
haran and Atlantic slave trade but also all forms of enslavement perpetuat-
ed by the developed countries against developing economies in Africa and
elsewhere. Colonial rule led to subjugation but today pan-Africanism is fo-
cusing on other forms of subjugation such as human-trafficking and wanton
exploitation of African resources including all the problems associated with it.
Furthermore, Motsoko Pheko argues that Pan-Africanism advocates
the use of the riches of for the benefit, upliftment, development and enjoy-
ment of the African people. It is a system of equitably sharing food, clothing,
homes, education, health care, wealth, land, work, security of life and happi-
ness. It also means the privilege of African people to love themselves and to
give themselves and their way of life respect and preference (Nyangena 2003,
5). This perception of pan-Africanism is quite appealing to the people in the
streets who see the looting of the riches of Africa like oil, agricultural prod-
ucts, and forest resources among others to develop the North. There is very
little of any development like hospitals, good roads, and electricity to benefit
the areas providing these resources. There has not been any equitable sharing
of these and other resources and accounting for the civil unrest in several
African countries.
Pontificating on pan-Africanism Bujra (2002, 108-9) traces its roots
to the 1800s. He argues that from 1900 when pan-African conferences start-
ed, this was no longer simply a protest movement by people of African de-
scent in the Caribbean and the United States of America. Beginning in 1900,
pan-Africanism became a weapon with which African nationalists fought co-
lonial rule. Another slightly different perspective of pan-Africanism is that
of Che-Mponda (1987, 53) who argues that African unity is a genuine desire
of African peoples on the continent itself and the surrounding islands. He
explains that it is in opposition to self-determination of African peoples by co-
lonialism and imperialism. With the struggles against subjugation came the
perception that the totality of Africa had a common front. This historical root
of pan-Africanism differs from the Afrocentric interpretation which traces the
origins of pan-Africanism to 3200BC instead of the 1800s. In spite of the dif-
ferences in tracing the roots of pan-Africanism, there is however agreement
that pan-Africanism began before the 20th century. The new dimension of
the African peoples’ willingness to unite by Che-Mponda is the surrounding
islands joining in the unity drive. Although there is genuine desires to see
Africa united from the base or bottom, at the top there is still a hide and seek
game by those who holds of realms of power in different African countries.
Henry Kam Kah
The notion of Pan-Africanism as presented by Ratcliff (2009, vi) is
similar to that of other authors. According to him pan-Africanism has a po-
litical, social and cultural ideology but is also a complex movement which
attempts to ameliorate the dehumanising effects of “the global Eurocentric
colonial/modern capitalist model of power.” Pan-Africanism therefore is a
response to racist and sexist oppression and economic exploitation of Afro-de-
scendants. The element of racism surfaces again as a core issue in defining
pan-Africanism. In the midst of racism, pan-Africanism is seen more or less
as a revolt against this and a projection of the African personality as digni-
fying. Radcliffe observes that through political, social and cultural actions,
African countries were able to challenge the colonial and neo-colonial antics
of Europe which was and has remained steeped in the exercise of power over
other people. African people must therefore fight against this sexist and eco-
nomic exploitation through pan-Africanism that is built on unity rather than
In addition, Nyamnjoh offers yet another definition or notion of
Pan-Africanism. This notion is built around multiple identities. He contends
that Pan-Africanism is about offering a mental space for disparate identities
to co-exist in freedom and dignity. It is a flexible, inclusive, dynamic and com-
plex aspiration in identity making and belonging in the global community.
Pan-Africanism is also defined by Adi and Sherwood (2003) as the perception
by people of African origins and descent that they have interests in common
and this has been a by-product of colonialism and the enslavement of African
peoples by Europeans. While Sherwood’s notion is shared by many others,
the one of Nyamnjoh lends credence to the differences in opinions as to what
best form of pan-Africanism should be. He examines the disparate identities
that co-exist with one another as Africa tries to position and or reposition
itself in the so called global community. This notion is more academic and
does not necessarily boil down to what Kwame Nkrumah had prescribed for
Africa. He was aware of other versions of what pan-Africanism should be but
argued that for Africans to rise up to the challenge of the West they needed
political unity and every other form of pan-Africanism will be attained. He
saw in political unity a great Africa able to take its own destiny into its hands.
Pan-Africanism within the Diaspora community was meant to digni-
fy the black people and serve as a political and cultural link to Africa that they
sentimentally wanted to be united with. For the Africans living on the Afri-
can soil, pan-Africanism served as a collective platform for self-definition and
an onerous struggle against colonialism (Momoh 2003, 32). Pan-Africanism
was also conceived as a movement for political change with deep emphasis
on the identity and oneness of Africa (Momoh 2003, 44). This notion of the
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
146 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
oneness of all people of Africa and those of African descent is recurrent in the
views of many people who have written about pan-Africanism. The theme of
colonialism also comes out clearly and shows that the struggle during the co-
lonial period was for African people to gain their independence and freedom
from colonial subjugation. Today, instead of emphasis on colonialism, the
discussion is on neo-colonialism which is more damaging than colonialism.
The need for the Diaspora to work together for African unity has been made
difficult but not impossible by the failure of Africans in the Diaspora to work
together with those who are of African descent. Ideological and other differ-
ences between them and some advocates of African unity on the continent
have made it difficult for the emergence of a sustained common front against
the global destruction of Africa.
Garveyism as a variant of pan-Africanism sought to root the ideas
of African redemption in a concrete organisational form, that is, in the Uni-
versal Negro Improvement Association (Campbell 1988, 75). Meanwhile the
pan-African movement of the 1930s focused attention on the study and under-
standing of pan-Africanism through African kingdoms and civilisations prior
to European colonialism (Campbell 1988, 76). The ‘Pan’ concept in itself is
considered an exercise in self-definition by those in power. Pan-Africanism as
an example of the ‘Pan’ concept was a manifestation of nationalist conscious-
ness leading to decolonisation of African countries. The concept is interna-
tionalist in so far as it seeks the unity of people living in a large number of
juridical independent states (Campbell 1988, 78-9). During the period of the
slave trade and colonialism, one of the main principles of pan-Africanism was
that people from one part of Africa were responsible for the freedom of their
kith and kin in other parts of the continent and all black people everywhere in
the world. Pan-Africanism is also a philosophy in which Africa is regarded as
the spiritual home of a united African people with emphasis laid on solidarity
and ‘brotherhood’ between all people of African origin. It has in fact disparate
origins in the political thought of African Americans and West Indians as
well as the African elite educated in Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries
(Sturman 2007, 3). There is therefore convergence and divergence of views
on what pan-Africanism is.
Kwame Nkrumah’s Pan-African Vision
The venerated Kwame Nkrumah, born in Nkroful in Ghana in 1909
influenced African history and unity in a significant way. He was the foremost
and fearless advocate of the liberation and unification of Africa against west-
ern imperialism and for a series of actions aimed at total liberation and con-
Henry Kam Kah
solidation of this freedom (Nyamnjoh and Shoro 2011, 2-3). His thoughts took
shape while he was studying in the USA. In the early years he wrote about
the need for a West African Federation to enable Africans govern themselves
without interference from outside as was the case in the colonial period (Sher-
wood 2012, 109-10). Asante (2012) has aptly argued that Nkrumah’s vision
was political but also more than political because it was also cultural and phil-
osophical and above all Afro-centric. The Pan-African vision of unity was sup-
ported by the Concept of African Personality and a non-racial African Identity
(Dei 2012, 42-4). Added to these was scientific socialism for all of Africa (Poe
2003, 3; Lawson 2004, vii). Africa was to learn from pre-colonial societies and
not sacrifice those values for material progress (Frimpong 2012, 39).
In numerous speeches at home and abroad and in his writings, Nk-
rumah was clear about the nature of the African state, that is, a United States
of Africa for its own stability, security and independence (Asante 2012, 17).
At the philosophical level, Nkrumah is his book Consciencism intimated that
Africa was capable of evolving its own ideology and philosophy in order to
solve the crisis that affected African conscience and which was affecting soci-
ety. Still in connection with philosophical pan-Africanism, Nkrumah suggest-
ed that it was necessary for Africa to harmonise the three cultural currents
that now existed within African societies namely the traditional African, Eu-
ro-Christian and the Islamic (Biney 2012, 133). He believed that the cultural
poles in Africa were capable of bringing about freedom and respectability
among the people (Dodoo 2012, 84). Nkrumah did not mince words when he
said over fifty years ago that:
If we do not formulate plans for unity and take active steps to form political
union, we will soon be fighting and warring among ourselves with the imperi-
alists and colonialists standing behind the screen and pulling vicious wires,
to make us cut each other’s throats for the sake of their diabolical purposes in
Africa (Quist-Adade and Chiang 2012, 1 - emphasis is mine).
From Nkrumah’s excerpt one is not left in doubt that he wanted the po-
litical union of Africa because of the diabolical actions of European countries
in Africa. He was aware of the consequences that befell a divided continent
and divided people. As early as in 1960, the independent Democratic Repub-
lic of Congo felt into this trap. The British also held on to Southern Rhodesia
much to the chagrin of the people and the unity of Nigeria was threatened
by the civil war of 1967 to 1970. Several decades after independence several
African countries are tearing themselves apart and include Somalia, Libya,
Nigeria, Burundi, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Mali. The
Libyan example shows how in 2011, the West assassinated Colonel Muamar
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
148 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
Qaddafi and threw the country into chaos. Apart from internal bickering by
various factions, the Islamic State has found a safe haven in Sirte and other
surrounding towns. Besides, the migrant crisis is also a fall-out of the killing
of Qaddafi. These scenarios in Libya, Mali and Somalia are telling of what Nk-
rumah foretold several decades back but no one will listen to him. In another
prophetic excerpt of his pan-African vision Nkrumah opined that:
We need the strength of our combined numbers and resources to protect our-
selves from the very positive dangers of returning colonialism in disguised
forms. We need it to combat the entrenched forces dividing our continent and
still holding back millions of our brothers. We need it to secure total Afri-
can liberation…. At present most of the independent states are moving in di-
rections which expose us to dangers of imperialism and neo-colonialism (Dastile
and Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013, 123).
The vision of Nkrumah stressed the importance of strength in unity
and not division. African countries were moving in different directions. Many
French speaking countries were tied to their former colonial master and oth-
ers in East Africa led by Julius Nyerere were defending with all might the
need to achieve continental unity through regional blocs. All these and other
divisive forces exposed African countries to the avarice of their enemies. Nk-
rumah firmly believed that in unity African people would ensure their total
liberation from the pangs of imperialism and neo-colonialism which was the
order of the day and has remained so in the world today. In spite of his warn-
ings against a return of colonialism in disguised forms to destroy Africa, this
call was not harkened to. Rather, some countries like Nigeria accused him of
being seek-seeking in the struggle for pan-Africanism.
Faced with the overwhelming forces of gradualism and pessimism
during the historic founding of the OAU in 1963, Nkrumah passionately ex-
pressed his thoughts for Pan-Africanism in these words:
If we do not come together, if we do not unite, we shall all be thrown out, all of
us one by one-and I also will go…. The OAU must face a choice now-we can
either move forward to progress through our effective African Union or step
backward into stagnation, instability and confusion-an easy prey for foreign
intervention, interference and subversion (Dastile and Ndlovu-Gatsheni
2013, 126 - emphasis is mine).
Still at this historic meeting in 1963 Nkrumah speaking of the need
for African unity he opined that:
Just as our strength lies in a unified policy and action and development, so the
Henry Kam Kah
strength of imperialists lies in our disunity. We in Africa can only meet them
effectively by presenting a unified front and a continental purpose. Our
freedom stands open to danger just as long as the independent states of Africa
remain apart (Muchie 2000, 1 - emphasis is mine).
This was a fervent call from someone who was aware of the desta-
bilising influence of Western European countries. He stressed on the need
for coming together, uniting, moving forward to progress, a unified front if
African leaders would be spared being thrown out one by one including him-
self. This will lead to a step backward, stagnation, instability and confusion
on the African continent. This clarion call was not heeded to by Nkrumah’s
contemporaries. It would seem Nkrumah was too intelligent for his contem-
poraries because all that he predicted have come to pass. The failure to unite
has slowed down development and has led to the departure of some African
leaders like Qaddafi as discussed earlier. It has also led to the humiliation of
former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Omar El Bashir of Sudan with
threats of arrest by the International Criminal Court at The Hague. There is
stagnation of African economies with many of them still relying on the pro-
duction of primary products. Industrialisation remains a dream for most of
them. Others have been entangled in the web of loans from the International
Monetary Fund (IMF). There was confusion among member states of the AU
when Muamar Qaddafi was at the mercy of the West. Instead of speaking up
and condemning in the strongest terms and probably getting into the war in
support of Qaddafi, many leaders were mute or confused on what to do. Many
have remained undecided on a wide range of issues affecting Africa. The rise
of terrorism has brought confusion on how this can be handled.
A United States of Africa would have defended the people against
neo-colonialism and the threat of fragmentation or balkanisation and prevent-
ed Africa from being a pawn for Cold War politics (Lawson 2004, 122). With
a common a single federal government, with one president, a common cur-
rency and a common economic and foreign policies (Sturman 2007, 3) Africa
would have been stronger and be able to shape its own destiny. Like Christ the
Messiah, Nkrumah foresaw his own downfall caused by the imperialists. He
was not the only one. Others had and eventually faced the same fate such as
Patrice Lumumba of the Congo who was virtually eliminated by the pro-West-
ern forces in his country. His death was destabilising to Nkrumah because he
was a comrade in arms who wanted the liberation of the Belgian Congo from
strangulation but ended up being strangled. Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, a
fierce critic of Nkrumah, would never have believed that the Nigerian Civil
War will end up consuming him. Nkrumah had seen this coming but Taf-
awa Balewa was naïve to analyse this. Nkrumah had passionately advocated
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
150 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
a Union Government for the economic, social and political emancipation of
Africa (Wapmuk 2009, 645; Olaosebikan 2011, 218; Gassama 2008, 6). He
was emphatic that no single independent African country could develop with-
out a complete political unification of the continent for their collective benefit
(Kumah-Abiwu 2013; Mei 2009; Abbas; Kimaryo 2013, 15). He was resolutely
against African countries joining military alliances and the establishment of
military bases and the testing of nuclear weapons on the African soil (Afari-
Gyan 1991, 6). This was because it left Africans at the mercy of European
Kwame Nkrumah also argued in favour of an African Personality that
should disentangle Africa from attachment to European and American cul-
tural entanglements. He advocated pan-Africanism through an approach of
governance based on the black world, that is, on the unity of all black people
around the world. Through this, he advocated support for the war against
racism and segregation like was and is still obtained in the USA and other
parts of the world. Nkrumah also emphasised the need for cultural autonomy
and the personal self-esteem of black people wherever they found themselves
(Frimpong 2012, 41). Nkrumah’s thoughts on pan-Africanism were clearly
elaborated in his books and especially in Neo-colonialism: The Last Stage of
Imperialism. In this book he denounced the exploitative activities of multina-
tional companies, the dependency of African countries on foreign aid which
was tied with strings, rising debts of African countries and increasing poverty
among its people. He wanted Africa to pursue greater economic and politi-
cal integration to overcome these hurdles (Quist-Adade and Chiang 2012, 3;
Gassama 2008, 333-38). Nkrumah firmly believed that western multinational
companies and institutions in Africa established an economic stranglehold
over its economies not in the interest of its people (Biney 2012, 128). Schitte-
catte (2012, 58) classifies the pan-African vision of Nkrumah, also reflected in
what he hoped for Ghana, into three namely, to gain political and more im-
portantly economic independence for Ghana and the continent. The second
vision was the ability of the newly independent countries of Africa to be able
to de-link themselves from the past colonial masters and the new neo-coloni-
al ones and finally the strength and feasibility of a united African continent.
Kwame Nkrumah, the visionary that he was, also warned the potential elite
of colluding with external interests but to listen to the African masses who
would never become agents or partners of neo-colonialism as the elite would
be (Schittecatte 2012, 61). On the other hand, Dodoo (2012, 86) identify three
main objectives of Nkrumah in his pan-African vision of political integration
of Africa. The first was the overall continental on a continental scale; then a
unified land, sea, air, military and defence strategy as well as a common for-
Henry Kam Kah
eign policy for all African countries. These ideas found support among some
people at the time and after Nkrumah.
Acceptance of Nkrumah’s Vision
The ideas of Kwame Nkrumah on pan-Africanism though very pro-
found and rejected by many of his contemporaries still found a place in the
hearts of many a people and institutions during the colonial period and there-
after. These ideas are being recited and given greater meaning today by those
who truly want to see Africa become a single continent like the United States
of America and much of Europe through the European Union (EU). One of
the foremost African-American who supports Nkrumah’s idea of a United
States of Africa is Molefi Kete Asante. As a passionate advocate of pan-Afri-
canism, Asante (2012, 12) intimates that a United States of Africa will pre-
serve its resources through a common external policy and an integrated con-
tinental market. This is in line with the vision of Nkrumah before and after
independence of African countries. There is wanton exploitation of African
resources by Western companies with no central command to negotiate bet-
ter or to mobilise the human capital necessary for the exploitation of these
resources for Africa’s benefit. A common external policy and an integrated
continental market will rid African of divided voices when it comes to major
international issues dealing with the economy, the backbone of every people’s
ability to provide for the basic needs of the larger community.
Among the early converts to Nkrumah’s pan-African vision of conti-
nental unity were Sekou Toure of Guinea, Mali’s Keita and Ahmed Ben Bella
of Algeria (Adi and Sherwood 2003, ix). In contrast to Julius Nyerere’s empha-
sis on strengthening regional groupings as a first to pan-Africanism, Ahmed
Sekou Toure of Guinea shared Nkrumah’s pan-African ideology of a conti-
nental union. On 23 November 1958 shortly after the independence of Guinea
from France, Toure and Nkrumah signed an informal agreement pledging to
create a union of West African states and solidified their pan-African efforts in
the Conakry Agreement on 1 May 1959 (Wilburn 2012, 38; Lawson 2004, 123).
This nucleus of a union if pursued would have seen African unite to defend it-
self from western domination and exploitation. Later on, following a meeting
in Accra from 27-29 April 1961, Presidents Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Sék-
ou Touré of Guinea, and Modibo Keita of Mali signed a charter which formally
established a tripartite Union of African States. This charter came into effect
upon its simultaneous publication on July 1 in the capitals of Ghana, Guinea,
and Mali. This was after these leaders had met at Bamako, Mali, on June 26 to
examine the extent to which decisions reached at their April meeting in Accra
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
152 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
had been implemented. The charter had evolved from a decision announced
by the three leaders at Conakry, Guinea, on December 24, 1960. They envi-
sioned a common diplomatic representation and the creation of committees
to draw up arrangements for harmonising economic and monetary policies
for their countries (DeLancey 1966).
Another person who bought the vision of Kwame Nkrumah
of continental unity and who was assassinated through French and American
connivance was Colonel Muamar Qaddafi of Libya. Following on the path of
Nkrumah, Qaddafi made utterances and suffered the same fate of rejection
and frustration like Nkrumah but unlike Nkrumah was killed. Like Nkrumah,
Qaddafi argued that it was necessary to have an economic, political, social
and ideological position towards the advancement of Africa. Qaddafi saw a
united Africa as a harbinger of stability, security and independence. This was
because it would lead to the investment of huge sums of money to improve
the lives of many destitute Africans. It was this thinking that made Qaddafi
during an extra-ordinary summit of the OAU in his home city Sirte Libya
on 9 September 1999 to re-table the idea of a Union Government begun by
Nkrumah (Muchie 2000, 7; Sturman 2007, 6). He re-affirmed this at the 4th
ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Abuja
on 30-31 January 2005. Then at the close of the Kampala Summit of the AU
on 27 July 2010 Qaddafi among other things said “We are approaching the
formation of the African Authority each time we solve African problems and
also move in the direction of peace and unity.” Meanwhile in another AU
summit in Sirte in July 2005 Qaddafi passionately presented the urgency of a
United States of Africa in these words:
We accept from others outside Africa to reduce our sovereignty and to interfere
in our internal affairs, but we do not accept the same in the name of African
unity. When we talk of African unity, we say no on the grounds that it is in
conflict with our national sovereignty…. Yet, we are prepared to cede our sov-
ereignty to foreign powers. We accept that, saying this is the way things work
in our own time, but when we talk of ceding part of our own sovereignty to
the African Union, we say no our sovereignty is too big a thing to compromise
(Sturman 2007, 7 - emphasis is mine).
From the excerpt of his speech above, it is clear that Qaddafi made
a mockery of those who claimed that they were for African unity when they
would not subscribe to a Union Government in defence of their sovereignty
but when it concerned foreign powers, they would forget about sovereignty.
There are in fact many of such leaders in Africa who act like zombies always
at the mercy of western countries. Qaddafi more than ever before ceaselessly
Henry Kam Kah
called for a United States of Africa comprising of a presidency and parliament
and the establishment of an African military ‘High Command’ (Asante 2012,
18; Mei 2009). Another committed believer in African unity was Abdoulaye
Wade, the former President of Senegal who said that if all African countries
agreed to continental unity he was very glad to become the “Governor” of Sen-
egal in that union (Asante 2012, 18; Dastile and Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013, 129;
Wapmuk 2009, 647). Many have never thought of giving up their positions of
Presidents with all the glamour that comes with it for the position of a gover-
nor of a region of a united Africa. They pay lip service to the political unity of
Africa not for the benefit of all and sundry but their selfishness.
There are other Afro-optimists from all walks of life who have accept-
ed the ideas of Nkrumah on the unity of Africa. They are among other factors
pushed by the negative consequences of colonialism and over 500 years of
the vestiges of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. Besides, the present
global economic system is so lopsided that Africa is not benefitting from it
because the countries have not closed ranks to work as a team. The Afro-opti-
mists argue that African unity is possible because of African agency of creativ-
ity that can contribute to overcome some of their problems (Quist-Adade and
Chiang 2012, 2). In addition, the strong demand today from Pan-Africanists
and progressive forces for a more just egalitarian economic world order is in
line with Nkrumah’s vision of Africa and the world (Quist-Adade and Chiang
2012, 135). This view of Africa acting more as a continent and not as individu-
al countries to global issues was re-echoed by the late Rev. Leon Howard Sul-
livan while addressing the people at an African/African American Summit in
Abidjan in 1991 several years after the death of Nkrumah. During this august
assembly, the venerated clergyman said that he predicted the revival of Africa
as a continent (Dodoo 2012, 78). This was prophetic and could be seen as a
call for the people of Africa to unite and fight against racial segregation not
only in Africa but all over the world especially America and Europe. Nkrumah
had stood against racism anywhere in the world especially against people of
the black race.
Several other people and organisations have made statements and
efforts that venerate Nkrumah as someone who had extra-ordinary force of
mobilisation of the African people towards unity. The experiment of a united
West Africa by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
is close to the kind of unity that Africa should pursue as a continent (Dodoo
2012, 86). Nkrumah had called for the unification of West Africa a first step to
African unity while a student in the USA and if ECOWAS is still to attain that
goal, it is on the right path to regional unity. In addition, Dodoo (2012, 89)
argues that although Adu Boahen, a Ghanaian historian, was a fierce critic of
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
154 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
Nkrumah, he however recognised that Nkrumah inspired and accelerated the
anti-imperialist and anti-colonial revolution to such an extent that it engulfed
the whole of Africa. This author also points to the efforts of the African-Amer-
icans to organise and provide assistance to Africa so that the people should
wake up or walk if they are already up. And Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa who
is the President of the Kwame Nkrumah Foundation also argues that Africans
can only become self-sufficient and retain their dignity if they unite and termi-
nate all neo-colonialist activities. Meanwhile in 1960 prior to the formation of
the OAU in 1963, Emperor Halie Selassie of Ethiopia strongly supported the
vision that Nkrumah had for pan-Africanism. He said that “a Union of Afri-
can States is a necessity which should be pursued energetically in the interest
of African solidarity and security” (Olaosebikan 2011, 222). Three years later
during the formation of the OAU, the emperor further intimated that African
leaders should “arouse the slumbering giant of Africa, not to the nationalism
of Europe in the nineteenth century, not to regional consciousness, but to the
vision of a single African brotherhood” (Sturman 2007, 4). Shivji (2009, 8)
on his part has supported the pan-African vision of continental political unity
and economic integration but that it could be pursued from a regional level
guided by a pan-African vision. These statements are all supportive of Nkru-
mah’s vision for African when he emphasised that Africa must unite and said
if the people did not come together, neo-colonial forces would set them apart
or force them to fight while these forces watch and take away their resources.
If nothing else people are agreed that Kwame Nkrumah’s politics of
mass mobilisation was an effective weapon of the political struggle for the
liberation of Africa. It was his foresight and vision as far as revolutionary
struggles are concerned in Africa. Revolutionary movements in Southern
Africa like SWAPO, FRELIMO and ZANU-PF all learnt a lesson from the
mobilising skills of Nkrumah in their own struggle for independence. The
pan-African nationalists were proud of Ghana’s role in the African revolution
and were hopeful that other African states would like Nkrumah’s Ghana de-
vote themselves to become zones for pan-African liberation (Poe 2003, 25).
This was an open recognition and support of the efforts of Kwame Nkrumah
in the unity of the African continent. One of the freedom fighters who liber-
ated Namibia from the yoke of Apartheid rule Sam Nujoma in appreciation of
Kwame Nkurmah once said:
Ghana’s fight for freedom inspired and influenced us all, and the greatest
contribution to our political awareness at that time came from the achieve-
ments of Ghana after its independence. It was from Ghana that we got the
idea that we must do more than just petition the UN to bring about our own
independence (Frimpong 2012, 69 - emphasis is mine).
Henry Kam Kah
The inspiration that Ghana gave to freedom fighters all over Africa
was thanks to the pan-African vision of Kwame Nkrumah. He had stated that
the independence of Ghana would be incomplete if other African countries
like Namibia and Southern Rhodesia were not freed. This was recognised by
Sam Nujoma, the freedom fighter who led this southern African country to
independence. Similarly, Kenneth Kaunda, the first President of independent
Zambia intimated that “Nkrumah inspired many people of Africa towards
independence and was a great supporter of the liberation of southern Africa
from Apartheid and racism” (Frimpong 2012, 69-70).
The vision of Kwame Nkrumah concerning a continental body with
stronger powers has been bought by the AU. In July 2009, the AU issued a
“Declaration on the Celebration of the 100th Birthday Anniversary of Kwame
Nkrumah.” This declaration praised him as that advocate of pan-Africanism
who played a vital role in the establishment of a continental organisation and
the liberation of Africa from colonial rule (Quist-Adade 2012, 6; Olaosebi-
kan 2011, 218). This was an open recognition of the ideals for which Kwame
stood and fought for until his death. The AU had openly acknowledged and
accepted this vision as good for Africa if the continent must make progress
in socio-economic and political development. This recognition makes greater
meaning at a time that the African fifty three or so countries are what Quist-
Adade (2012, 9) refer to as “desparate, dispirited non-viable… today.” In great
recognition of Nkrumah’s legacy of pan-Africanism, the AU has named its
newly constructed headquarters in 2012 in Addis Ababa after him. This was
because of his unremitting stance on African unity and his commitment to
fight against colonial subjugation (Frimpong 2012, 70). This kind of scenario
would have been avoided had African countries listened to the wise counsel
of Nkrumah. They are recognising now when the web of neo-colonialism had
entangled them to breaking point.
One of the fiercest opponents and contemporary of Nkrumah was Ju-
lius Nyerere of Tanzania but he came to recognise and accept what Nkrumah
stood for several years after the passing on of the former. In one of his quotes
during the 1997 7th Pan African Congress which also coincided with the 40th
anniversary of the independence of Ghana Nyerere said “We of the first gener-
ation leaders of independent Africa have not pursued the objective of African
Unity with vigour, commitment and sincerity that it deserves. Yet that does
not mean that unity is now irrelevant” (Dastile and Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013,
128). A deeper interpretation of this statement shows that Nyerere came to
believe in greater unity a thing which he did not believe in the way Nkrumah
first suggested it. He was an advocate of gradualism but by 1997 he had rec-
ognised that gradualism had not led to the unity that Africa needed more than
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
156 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
ever before. This explains why he said if they were not committed to it before,
this did not mean that unity was not a necessity. He was in other words calling
on the people to pursue it with greater commitment and vigour than many of
them did during the colonial and early post-independence periods.
Ali Mazrui has credited Nkrumah for establishing the agenda for con-
tinental unification for Africa. Besides, he argues that no one else has made
the case for continental integration more forcefully than Nkrumah ever did.
Mazrui holds that through Nkrumah’s books his ideas have continued to in-
fluence the notion of continental integration for Africa (Kumah-Abiwu 2013,
123). This can be considered to be one of the most important contributions of
Nkrumah which is acknowledged even by his fiercest critics. They are aware
that as times passes, people read his works and look at what is happening to
Africa today and see in these works the need to identify with what Nkrumah
had said several decades ago. It is high time to go beyond just identifying but
actually working towards to a Union Government for Africa. It may not in the
short term provide the much needed solutions to the problems of Africa but
will be very useful in the future.
The post-Nkrumah Ghana lambasted him for the economic and so-
cio-political woes of Ghana. Leader after leader tried to undermine all that
Nkrumah had done for Ghana before and after independence. Interestingly
enough, during the radical period in the early 1980s in the country, Nkrumah
and his philosophy of unity was revitalised in the struggle for an African rev-
olution. The government of Ghana exploited his image and legend for the
purpose of uniting Ghana and for pan-Africanism (Iljima 1998, 171). Who
would have thought that in less than two decades, Ghanaian ruling authori-
ties would give so much attention, honour and respect to Kwame Nkrumah
who was ‘vomited’ by the military in a bloodless coup d’etat. This came to pass
and revealed that the ideas of Kwame Nkrumah penetrated the minds of even
the heart-hearted or his fierce critics within his country. Although Ghana is
seen as a model for many African countries, it has not escaped the onslaught
of the West as far as its resource exploitation is concerned.
African renounce musicians are not indifferent to Nkrumah’s
pan-African vision. Nkrumah advocated pride in the cultures, histories and
peoples of Africa and African descent. This was actualised by musicians like
Fela Kuti of Nigeria and Bob Marley of Jamaica. It has also been creative-
ly appropriated by younger generation writers like Chimanda Ngozi Adichie
who are constantly negotiating and navigating such myriad identity margins
as epitomised by President Barrack Obama of the United States (Nyamnjoh
and Shoro 2011, 4). The acceptance and valorisation of Nkrumah’s ideas of
pan-Africanism notwithstanding, these ideas were and still have been refuted
Henry Kam Kah
in some circles thereby making pan-African unity to remain a mirage at a
time that it is needed most.
Rebuttal of Nkrumah’s Vision
The pan-African vision of Nkrumah as compelling and realistic as
it can be today’s in Africa that is torn apart has persistently been opposed
by divisive and anti-unity forces within and outside the continent. There are
still people today like in the days of Nkrumah who have voiced very strong
sentiments against a United States of Africa. They argue that the continent
is too large and diverse to be united and that there are too many languages.
Above all, they opine that European countries will not allow this to happen
because it would mean losing grip of former colonies. Still others intimate
that blacks and Arabs cannot live together on the continent and that Qaddafi
like Nkrumah wanted to be the President of a United States of Africa (Asante
2012, 18-19). They define Africa in terms of colour when they talk about Arabs
and blacks. The ‘gradualists’ since the days of Julius Nyerere have opposed
‘rapidists’ on the idea of continental unity. This is because they are more con-
cerned with the false idea of the loss of sovereignty. According to them, there
should be economic before political integration which is opposed to the call
for political union as a means of economic integration (Asante 2012, 20). The
Afro-pessimists dismiss pan-Africanism as utopic and which can never be re-
alised. The debate which was given greater visibility on the African continent
by Nkrumah has been further compounded by these views of ‘anti-unifica-
tionists.’ Unfortunately, many of them are steering the ship of state in their
countries. They talk about sovereignty only when it come sot political unity
of Africa. In their dealings with Western Europe, the United States and today
China, they are virtually ribbed of their so called sovereignty. Based on this
thinking at a time that all Africans including those in the Diaspora should
be coming together lead one to ask which is the best approach to a continen-
tal government that would be acceptable to all? Some are for political unity,
others for sovereignty and still others for a regional federation (Quist-Adade
and Chiang 2012, 2 and 6; Shivji 2009, 4; Wilburn 2012, 37). Regionalism
and sovereignty have failed Africa in its drive for a Union Government and it
would be a logical and wise thing to try political unity.
After the independence of many African countries, instead of join-
ing forces, many of their leaders opposed Nkrumah’s call for a United States
of Africa. While Nkrumah’s Ghana pushed for a political union of Africa,
Nigeria for example fiercely resisted it. Countries like Nigeria, Senegal, Be-
nin, Tunisia, Kenya, Tanzania and many other French speaking states were
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
158 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
content with maintaining close links with the Western countries. President
Julius Nyerere of Tanzania preferred a gradualist approach to pan-Africanism.
Nyerere laid emphasis on the dilemmas and problems that militated against
pan-African unity and criticised Nkrumah for political unity of Africa as mere
propaganda. The unity of Africa was compounded by the emergence of dif-
ferent blocs such as the Casablanca bloc which wanted political union and
the Brazzaville and Monrovia blocs that were more concerned with their sov-
ereignty and closer ties with their former colonial masters. The Francophone
speaking countries especially argued forcefully that the time was not ripe for a
pan-African organisation. They wanted to remain on good terms with France
and supported only sub-regional pan-Africanism. While the more radical
states like Ethiopia, Guinea and Mali belonged to the Casablanca group of
states and supported Nkrumah for political union, the more moderate states
like Ivory Coast, Liberia, Togo, Benin, Sierra Leone and Nigeria of the Mon-
rovia group were for economic cooperation as the best way to achieve African
unity (Dastile and Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013, 121-3; Wapnuk 2009, 646; Kumah
Abiwu 2013, 123; Mei 2009; Olaosebikan 2011, 218; Akonor). In a forceful
expression of denial of political union for Africa, President Sourou-Migan of
Benin among other things said:
My Government feels, however, that it would be wise to maintain for a
certain time the liberal conception of flexibility or organisation of our con-
ference. We should also abstain from giving a supranational character to the
bodies it sets up. Caution demands that the O.A.U. be maintained for the
present as a multinational organisation (Olaosebikan 2011, 223 - emphasis
is mine).
Similarly, the Prime Minister of Nigeria Sir Abubakar Tafewa Balewa
argued very strongly against political unity of Africa in these words:
Nigeria stand is that if we want unity in Africa, we must first agree to cer-
tain essential things. The first is that African States must respect one another.
There must be acceptance of equality by all the States. No matter whether
they are big or small, they are all sovereign and their sovereignty is sovereignty
(Olaosebikan 2011, 223 - emphasis is mine).
The excerpts from the speech of the President of Benin and Prime
Minister of Nigeria reveal the strong opposition against political unity. Sour-
ou-Migan cautioned that the OAU should not be turned into a supranational
structure and Tafewa Balewa stressed on the equality and sovereignty of all
countries. In apparent reference to Kwame Nkrumah, he talked about the
need for states to have respect for one another. This could be understood
Henry Kam Kah
based on an earlier statement made in June 1960 in Ethiopia during the Con-
ference of Independent African States (CIAS) by the leader of the Nigerian
delegation Yusuf Maitima Sule. Sule had during this conference intimated
that “If anybody makes the mistake of feeling that he is a Messiah who has
got a mission to lead Africa the whole purpose of pan-Africanism will, I fear,
be defeated” (Biney 2011, 139). The President of Senegal Leopold Sedar Seng-
hor publicly lambasted Kwame Nkrumah for his support of political unity
telling him to accept defeat. With this kind of thinking and behaviour which
was re-echoed by Qaddafi when he challenged states to rise above sovereignty
is what has made Nkrumah’s dream to remain a dream in the 21st century
While the AU as a continental body is an improvement in itself, it re-
mains an inter-governmental organisation that is still far away from a United
States of Africa as envisaged by Nkrumah before and after independence and
Qaddafi at the turn of the 21st century (Mei 2009). To make nonsense of what
Nkrumah all along fought against the New Partnership for Africa’s Develop-
ment (NEPAD), the brainchild of the AU is still tied to the apron strings of the
West. Through NEPAD, the colonial matrix of power is still active in shaping
fake partnerships that do not work practically. The proponents of NEPAD did
not learn any lesson from Kwame Nkrumah’s insistence that neo-colonialism
was a major threat to Africa’s struggle to control its own destiny (Dastile and
Ndlovu-Gatsheni 2013, 129). The AU also espouses a model of development
based on liberal democracy and market principles (Frimpong 2012, v). This is
a fundamental and radical break away from the thinking of Nkrumah and this
is a rejection of his philosophy of pan-Africanism.
In the pursuit of pan-Africanism, Nkrumah had opponents from with-
in his own country Ghana and also from his partners. Ghanaian nationalists
argued that he was using the resources of the country or squandering them
to make Ghana a base for the African Revolution. Some regionalists in his
country violently opposed a central pan-African government because it under-
mined the sovereignty of their country and their own interests (Poe 2003, 25).
Many chiefs of Ghana and their councils believed that an independent Ghana
would restore ethnic power over government and this believe was in conflict
with the path of African unity that Nkrumah had chosen. The argument was
that before Nkrumah could create a pan-African nation he needed to tackle
the entrenched regional and ethnic divisions that plagued Ghanaian society
(Lawson 2004, 113). His partners like Sékou Touré of Guinea, Modibo Keita
of Mali and Abd Al-Nasser of Egypt did not always see with Kwame Nkrumah.
They did not always agree with his positions although this was not done vi-
olently (Poe 2003, 35). This is to show that the forces against Nkrumah’s vi-
Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
160 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
sion were from both within his country and within his closer circle of reliable
friends. It was therefore a distant dream for continental political unity to be
achieved at that time. This thinking of “micro-interests” above the collective
good has so dominated African leadership that it will take a new and radical
generation of leaders to put the interest of Africa and the suffering masses
above petty interest. Africa needs political unity to fight the many wars that it
is confronted with from without and within the continent. Nkrumah’s clarion
call still beckons on them to make haste while the sun shines.
This paper has examined the acceptance and rejection of the pan-Af-
rican vision that was propounded by Kwame Nkrumah prior to and after the
independence of many African countries in the 1960s. We began the paper
through an introduction and then examined different views about the best
possible ways that pan-Africanism can become a reality in and between Af-
ricans and those of African descent. These views have their roots in the past.
While some authors have traced the pan-African vision to several years before
the birth of Jesus Christ, others have argued that pan-Africanism began with
the slave trade that took place between Africa and the Arab world and later on
between Africa and Western Europe. The colonial period is also highlighted as
having contributed to the development of pan-African ideas among Africans
especially those of African descent in the diaspora. The different pan-African
views is a clear indication of how diverse Africans are with regards to the best
way to express a common position that will contribute to the independence of
African states from the ‘invasion’ of Europe and the United States of America.
There has been a focus on the vision of Kwame Nkrumah and how it
was and has been acknowledged and accepted as the way to save Africa from
dismemberment. Early attempts were made by Nkrumah and the leaders of
Guinea and Mali to make political unity a reality. His ideas were also bought
by writers, musicians, Muamar Qaddafi, the AU and others. Sceptics who
found in Nkrumah’s pan-Africanism a dream are beginning to see the need
for a united Africa more than ever before because of the destruction that is
going on in the continent today. The resources of the continent are exploited
with reckless abandon; European countries intervene and further exacerbate
the problems of fragile states like Mali, Ivory Coast and Libya.
In as much as Nkrumah’s ideas have found fertile ground in some
circles, it has been out-rightly rejected in others. The Afro-pessimists are
more concerned with safeguarding the territorial integrity of African states.
Henry Kam Kah
They also point to diversity in languages and historical experiences that will
make it near impossible for a United States of Africa to be achieved. Their
arguments fail to take into account the fact that regionalism and sovereignty
have not helped Africa close ranks and defend the collective good. It is high
time Nkrumah’s vision of a political union be given a try so that Africans will
be given the opportunity of comparing these and make their judgements as to
which of these has been more successful.
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Kwame Nkrumah and the pan-african vision: between acceptance and rebuttal
164 Austral: Brazilian Journal of Strategy & International Relations
v.5, n.9, Jan./Jun. 2016
This paper focuses on the pan-African vision of Kwame Nkrumah, the first president
of independent Ghana, and how this vision has been appreciated over time. Nkrumah
was the greatest advocate of the political unity of Africa. This was to enable the conti-
nent to ward off exploitation by the West and then build a continent self-reliant. This
paper examines the divergence in the acceptance and rebuttal of his vision for Africa
through a content analysis of written works.
Pan-Africanism; Kwame Nkrumah; African Unity.
Received on June 27, 2016.
Approved on August 02, 2016.
... President Nkrumah envisaged the time when the whole of Africa would be united. He came up with the notion of Pan-Africanism (Kah, 2016;Odi and Sherwood, 2003;Mboukou, 1983). ...
... Esta corrente ideológica, fulcral para o processo de descolonização, se fundamentou sob duas visões similares, porém diferentes, que direcionaram o debate intelectual no continente Africano. A primeira visão enxergava o Pan-Africanismo como um movimento global, que tinha como o objetivo a luta contra a opressão racial e exploração do continente (KAH, 2016), cujos vetores eram enxergados, principalmente, na Hegemonia Europeia. A segunda pregava que a luta contra o racismo e o colonialismo (KAH, 2016) seria a pedra fundamental no estabelecimento da União Africana(UA) 12 e por tanto condição sine qua non para a união do continente em torno de um projeto em comum. ...
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Este artigo tem como objetivo abordar uma literatura crítica em relação ao discurso apriorístico e determinista que discorre sobre a natureza, e por consequência formação histórica, do Estado e das Relações Internacionais nas sociedades africanas. Com base nessa premissa nota-se a existência de diagnósticos, referentes aos Estados Africanos, que a partir de visões inerentemente negativas sobre as sociedades e economias analisadas, chegam a conclusões enviesadas. Portanto, discute-se sobre algumas das dificuldades inerentes, e por tanto inevitáveis, de toda pesquisa no campo das RI que envolva, de alguma forma, os países africanos em seu objeto de estudo. A região, territorialmente e culturalmente extensa, do continente Africano demanda um olhar crítico sobre a dicotomia das questões que envolvem o ambiente doméstico e o internacional, de maneira a abrir novas perspectivas e agendas de pesquisa.
... The unification dreams are so far away. As one writer recently put it, even those African leaders who 'survived assassination or attempted coup d'état were still confronted with a new economic order that introduced a new kind of colonial bondage, one based on economic dependency rather than political subordination' (Kafumu 2018). History proved that Nkrumah was right: some four decades later none other than Nyerere himself admitted the failure of the first of African nationalist to achieve the Pan-African vision for which Africa now is being referred as poorer and weaker. ...
Full-text available
This paper takes a multi-dimensional look at the theme of African futures. The plural nature of those futures comes out of the numerous differences that African states enjoy in terms of their comparative advantages and disadvantages. The primary angle of investigation, which highlights those differences, is the presence and engagement of the People’s Republic of China across the continent. The case of Rwanda in particular, is one through which many of the challenges and opportunities of future, Chinese-related, African scenarios may be analysed. First, the issue of partnership is touched upon in a post-colonial context, while referencing back to colonial rule and the continent’s inherited status in the world system. Second, the putative threat of ‘recolonization’ is examined with a focus on China’s Africa-policy. Third, Rwanda’s “home-grown” solutions to these and other problems are dealt with, shedding light on the landlocked East-Central African country’s investment policy, approach to external actors, including China, and it’s vision for its own future – the lessons of which are not confined to Rwanda alone.
... The unification dreams are so far away. As one writer recently put it, even those African leaders who 'survived assassination or attempted coup d'état were still confronted with a new economic order that introduced a new kind of colonial bondage, one based on economic dependency rather than political subordination' (Kafumu 2018). History proved that Nkrumah was right: some four decades later none other than Nyerere himself admitted the failure of the first of African nationalist to achieve the Pan-African vision for which Africa now is being referred as poorer and weaker. ...
Full-text available
The editors of this issue of the Journal of the Institute for African Studies introduce the theme of African futures, and insist on the plural meanings it involves as both a concept and an empirical reality. The relationship between the continent’s futures and its multiple pasts and presents are considered, and the concept of ‘trajectory’ is used to integrate those multiple African realities into an integrated picture of human agency and human action in the continent today. The editors then introduce the papers that follow in this special issue.
The idea of the Unification of Africa is not one that should be easily discarded. It is an idea, however, that has experienced major difficulties for those seeking to implement it. Originating in the African Diaspora, it was taken up by figures such as Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere. In its first decades, the project of African unity was institutionalised in the Organization of African Unity. The OAU passed through many vicissitudes and was always a conceptual and political battleground divided between those who wanted swift and speedy unification of African states, and those who favoured more cautious approaches. In a period where the OAU has given way to the African Union, the authors make an impassioned plea for the continuation of the unification projection into the future, even if in a more sober manner more attuned to the complexities of a diverse continent.
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The search for Africa's political unity has been one of the underlying ideas drawn from Pan-Africanism for several decades. Besides political leaders such as Sékou Touré and Modibo Keita with similar ideas on continental unity, Kwame Nkrumah was the central figure who vigorously championed the cause for Africa's political unity. The role of Nkrumah as the iconic personality for the unification movement continues to attract scholarly attention and debate. This article contributes to the literature on Pan-Africanism and African unity by examining Nkrumah's ideas and decision making through the lens of his leadership traits and personality styles. Grounded on the existing scholarly works in the field, the article employs the theoretical framework of Leadership Trait Analysis (LTA) to examine the way Nkrumah's leadership traits shaped his decision making on Pan-Africanism and African unity. The article finds some utility in the theory (LTA) and concludes that Nkrumah's decision making was partly driven by his leadership traits and personality styles.
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Between 1957 and 1966, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana fought vigorously for the creation of a Union of African States with a Common African Government. His optimism for the unity and cohesion of Africa as a lever for continental development was unparalleled. However, his dream never became a reality due to stiff opposition from African leaders, most of whom feared the loss of their sovereignty, and the West, due to selfish interest. This notwithstanding, this paper posits that Nkrumah's mooted idea of unity government is still the best option if Africa will be able to overcome her precarious socio-economic and political tragedies of intermittent wars and conflicts, poverty and exploitation of her natural resources by the West; even in the face of daunting challenges. The paper concludes that only a union government could enable Africa to compete favourably with other political and economic blocs in this age of globalization and continental integration process going on in various other continents of the world.
Inspired by Gandhi's non-violent campaign of civil disobedience to achieve political ends, Kwame Nkrumah led present-day Ghana to independence. This analysis of his political, social and economic thought centres on his own writings, and re-examines his life and thought by focusing on the political discourse and controversies surrounding him.
This study analyzes contributions made by Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972) to the development of Pan-African agency from the 1945 Pan-African Congress in Manchester to the military coup d'etat of Nkrumah's government in February 1966.
Pan-African History brings together Pan-Africanist thinkers and activists from the Anglophone and Francophone worlds of the past two-hundred years. Included are well-known figures such as Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kwame Nkrumah, and Martin Delany, and the authors' original research on lesser-known figures such as Constance Cummings-John and Dusé Mohammed Ali reveals exciting new aspects of Pan-African activism.
Kwame Nkrumah was one of the most fascinating, revolutionary Africans in world history. From humble origins, US-educated Nkrumah led the effort to overthrow colonial rule in Ghana and Africa, sought vast sums of economic aid from the West for Ghana's Volta River Project, and as the leading Pan-Africanist and vocal member of the world's non-aligned leadership worked to create the United States of Africa. Nkrumah promoted these goals, and more, in a novel form of historical evidence-philately. This article examines Ghanaian stamps and argues that Nkrumah used them overtly and symbolically to advance his national and international agendas. It also compares and contrasts Nkrumah's use of stamps to promote Pan-Africanism with the approaches of Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Sékou Touré of Guinea. Additionally, the philatelic reflections of Nkrumah-era Ghana illustrate the brilliant colors, stunning beauty, clever art, enduring optimism, and African themes of the Nkrumah era stamps. © University of Florida Board of Trustees, a public corporation of the State of Florida.
This paper discusses the late Jomo Kenyatta, founding President and Head of State of the Republic of Kenya. The paper focuses on Kenyatta as a pioneer and giant African Pan-Africanist, nationalist and intellectual. As a pan-Africanist, the late Kenyatta together with other founding presidents Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Patrice Lumumba of the Republic of Congo, Leopold Senghor of Senegal among others joined hands in spreading the message and values of pan-Africanism which emphasized a form of intellectualism, and political and economic co-operation that would lead to the political unity of Africa. The pan-Africanist spirit, advocated that riches of Africa be used for the benefit, upliftment, development and enjoyment of African people. It is the outstanding African scholars, political scientists, historians and philosophers living in Africa and the Diaspora who developed pan-Africanism that was conceived in the womb of Africa and a product made in Africa by Africans. The paper will focus on Kenyatta`s role in fostering pan-African ideologies for the continent of Africa. Having been influenced by nationalism, Kenyatta sought to address the inter-related issues of power, identity politics, self-assertion and autonomy for Kenya, himself and the African continent. His activities in his struggle for independence and democratic governance in Kenya evidence this. His role in initiating the spirit of Harambee (development through collective pooling of resources ) among the diverse ethnic groups of Kenya is particularly well recognized, appreciated and approved by Kenyans. This paper will also seek to give a critical examination of the challenges faced and caused by Kenyatta as a statesman in his leadership styles especially the way he dealt with emerging opposition in his cabinet. Finally, the paper seeks to discuss Kenyatta the intellectual. As a trained anthropologist and author, Kenyatta contributed immensely to knowledge production in Kenya and Africa as a continent. This is evidenced in his book, Facing Mount Kenya, which talks about his ethnic group, the Gikuyu, and their traditional way of life.
In the annals of African and Black peoples history, and particularly anti-colonial nationalist politics, Nkrumah remains in a unique position as a nationalist and anti-colonialist who pioneered a struggle for Independence for the first Black nation on the continent. Given the post-colonial challenges facing African peoples today, African intellectuals today have a responsibility to revisit some of his pioneering ideas as we seek to design our own futures. To revisit Nkrumah is more than about a 'return to the source' i.e., Sankofa'. It is also about to return to the source to listen, learn, and hear that is 'Sankotie' and Sankowhe' (see Aikins 2010). This paper would borrow from the philosophy and ideas of Nkrumah as we rethink how African peoples can design their own futures in the area of schooling and education. I centre the possibilities Pan-African spirituality as a base/sub structure on which rest the possibilities of community building. I focus on Pan-African spirituality as resistance to the disembodiment and dismemberment in Diasporic contexts. In so doing, I will also seek to draw connections of Afrocentricity and Pan-African struggles to highlight the challenge and promise of African agency.