Happy Birthday: Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972)


On this date we mark the birth of Kwame Nkrumah in 1909 Kwame Nkrumah became the first prime minister and later president of Ghana He was born at Nkroful in what was then the British-ruled Gold Coast the son of a goldsmith
In 1930 at Achimota College in Accra the capital of the Gold Coast Nkrumah earned a teachers certificate and taught at several Catholic elementary schools In 1939 he graduated from Lincoln University with B. A degrees in economics and sociology earned a theology degree from the Lincoln Theological Seminary in 1942 and received M. A. degrees in education and philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942 and 1943 and He also promoted Pan-Africanism a movement for cooperation between all people of African descent and for the political union of an independent Africa In 1945 he went to London to study economics and law That year he helped organize the fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester with Black American sociologist and writer W.E.B. Du Bois future president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta and American actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson In 1946 Nkrumah left his academic studies to become secretary general of the West African National Secretariat That same year Nkrumah became vice president of the West African Students Union a pro-independence organization of younger more politically aggressive African students studying in Britain and He returned to Ghana in 1947 and became general secretary of the newly founded United Gold Coast Convention but split from it in 1949 to form the Convention People party (CPP) However the strikes had convinced the British authorities to move the colony toward independence In 1951 Nkrumah while still in prison won the central Accra seat by a landslide The British governor of the Gold Coast released Nkrumah from prison and appointed him leader of government business The following year he named him Prime Minister Reelected in 1954 and 1956 Nkrumah guided the Gold Coast to independence in 1957 under the name Ghana after an ancient West African empire Nkrumah built a strong central government and attempted to unify the country politically and to muster all its resources for rapid economic development As a proponent of Pan-Africanism he sought the liberation of the entire continent from colonial rule offered generous assistance to other African nationalists and initially pursued a policy of nonalignment with the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) His goal was never realized but his efforts helped bring about the Organization of African Unity in 1963 which promotes peace and cooperation between African nations In 1960 Ghana became a republic and Nkrumah was elected president Between 1961 and 1966 Nkrumah put together an ambitious and very expensive hydroelectric project on the Volta River that though highly successful was laced with economic mismanagement along with several other developmental schemes over the period


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