Saturday, July 19, 2008



By Roy Walker
July 15, 2008

The foundation, and the objective, of African socialism is the extended family. The true African socialist does not look on one class of men as his brethren and another as his natural enemies. He does not form an alliance with the "brethren" for the extermination of the "non-brethren." He rather regards all men as his brethren--as members of his ever extending family. that is why the first article of TANU's creed is "Binadamu wote ni ndugu zangu, na Afrika ni moja." If this had been originally put in English, it could have been "I believe in Human Brotherhood and the Unity of Africa."

"Ujamaa," then, or "familyhood," describes our socialism. It is opposed to capitalism, which seeks to build a happy society on the basis of the exploitation of man by man; and it is equally opposed to doctrinair e socialism which seeks to build its happy society on a philosophy of inevitable conflict between man and man.
Julius Nyerere, "Ujamaa: Essays on Socialism"

First right off we see the reality of Nyerere's dishonest, corrupt and criminal betrayal of the African Liberation Movement, he says that he opposes fighting other Africans; then why did he kill and imprison so many Africans in his pogroms against the Moslems of Zanzibar? Why did he imprison Malcolm's great comrade Abdulrahman Mohamed Babu ... the man who negotiated the TanZam railroad with the Chinese?

Why did he have all the Africans born in the US living in Tanzania, rounded up and thrown in jail just before the convening of 6th PAC? Why did he help the western imperialist isolate Cuba, even though Cuba is a predominantly African island and is one of the most revolutionary state in the world then and now?

Why did his government and him personally try to dismember Nigeria in 1966, (one of only three African states that supported the break up of Nigeria), even though he objected to any changes in boundaries inside of the OAU in the 1964 meeting when Nkrumah raised the issue of union government? In fact why did Nkrumah go so far as to call him a neo-colonialist?

Why did the CIA on the other hand say he was the best African leader of all? The CIA mind you, the same CIA that killed Lumumba and overthrew Nkrumah, loved Nyerere. Why did Nyerere call in British troops against his own army? Why did he denounce Pan-Africanism, and call Nkrumah and Lumumba failures, because as he put it they were to "radical" and should have been like him, what he called a "moderate"....can this be the profile of a true socialist?

A man who held up the British state and the Roman Catholic church as the models of his state...this isn't even good African nationalism, and certainly has nothing in common with Pan-Africanism or Socialism, which as Nkrumah pointed out are one and the same.

Secondly. as we see in his own word, Julius Nyerere defines what he callled socialism, as ujamaa, which as he points out is a swahili rendering of "family".... that is a so-called specific "African socialism" based on the family structures, which he held to be am appropriate way for Africa to approach socialism, as opposed to scientific socialism, championed by true leaders of the liberation movement such as Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah.

Nyerere, who never actually led a liberation movement, but in fact was=2 0one of the personality who arose into prominence as a part of the period of what Nkrumah called sham independence begin with the crop of states gifted their "independence" in 1960. Now his concept of ujaama is bogus socialism, it is anti-socialism; it opposes central planning, it denies that socialism must be based on revolutionary theory and practice that is universal, and denies that it should be based on science.

Take ujamaa 's central rationalization according to Nyerere, that is being based on "family" it is more African, and therefore, more appropriate for Africans, more in line with African traditions, customs, history, social structures and general culture.

But this is patently false and anyon e who understands true African history can easily demonstrate this. For example, one of the eternal myths underpinning not only much of African culture, but indeed world culture is the legend of what the west calls Osiris, Horus and Isis(what we know as Heru , the son of Ausar, the father and Auset the mother) yet the contradictions that wrecked the civilization that Ausar and Auset sought to institutionalize amongst the people of the world, not merely Africa, was disrupted, combated and momentarily destroyed by forces led by the brother and uncle of the holy trinity of Ausar, Auset, and Heru, Set, Seth.... and the rest of the names he is known by...what are the ancient Africans telling us about family here?

Simply this the dynamics of dialectics are at work even inside the family....the family is not immune to contradiction...and it certainly can not be said to be a unit more conducive to the adsorption of fundamental technical and scientific knowledge, indeed the family is an absolute impediment to social development by its very parochialism, narrowness and emphasis on sentimentality rather than scientific what is Nyerere ujamaa crap really good for?

Nothing but the continued rule of the imperialist capitalist, who by the way according to his own death bed confession and his whole history as a political "leader", as wel l as his bogus neo-colonial theories, was and therefore is,. nothing more than a lackey of capitalist imperialism....

I close my presentation on the subject of this criminal and criminal belief with the testimony of none other than Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah:

The term "socialism" has become a necessity in the platform diction and political writings of African leaders. It is a term which unites us in the recognition that the restoration of Africa's humanist and egalitarian principles of society calls for socialism. All of us, therefore, even though pursuing widely contrasting policies in the task of reconstructing our various nation-states, still use "socialism" to describe our respective efforts.

'The question must therefore be faced: What real meaning does th e term retain in the context of contemporary African politics? I warned about this in my book Consciencism (London and New York, 1964, p. 105).

And yet, socialism in Africa today tends to lose its objective content in favour of a distracting terminology and in favour of a general confusion. Discussion centres more on the various conceivable types of socialism than upon the need for socialist development.

Some African political leaders and thinkers certainly use the term "socialism" as it should in my opinion be used: to describe a complex of social purposes and the consequential social and ec onomic policies, organisational patterns, state structure, and ideologies which can lead to the attainment of those purposes. For such leaders, the aim is to remold African society in the socialist direction; to reconsider African society in such a manner that the humanism of traditional African life re-asserts itself in a modern technical community.

Consequently, socialism in Africa introduces a new social synthesis in which modern technology is reconciled with human values, in which the advanced technical society is realised without the staggering social malefactions and deep schisms of capitalist industrial society. For true economic and social development cannot be promoted without the real socialisation of productive and distributive processes. Those African leaders who believe these principles are the socialists in Africa.

There are, however, other African=2 0political leaders and thinkers who use the term "socialism" because they believe that socialism would, in the words of Chandler Morse, "smooth the road to economic development". It becomes necessary for them to employ the term in a "charismatic effort to rally support" for policies that do not really promote economic and social development. Those African leaders who believe these principles are supposed to be the "African socialists".

It is interesting to recall that before the split in the Second International, Marxism was almost indistinguishable from social democracy. Indeed, the German Social Democratic Party was more or less the guardian of the doctrine of Marxism, and both Marx and Engels supported that Party. Lenin, too, became a member of the Social Democratic Party.

After the break-up of the Second International, however, the meaning of the term "social democracy" altered, and it became possible to draw a real distinction between socialism and social democracy. A similar situation has arisen in Africa. Some years ago, African political leaders and writers used the term "African socialism" in order to label the concrete forms that socialism might assume in Africa.

But the realities of the diverse and irreconcilable social, political, and economic policies being pursued by African states today have made the term "African socialism" meaningless and irrelevant. It appears to be much more closely associated with anthropology than with po litical economy. "African socialism" has now come to acquire some of its greatest publicists in Europe and North America precisely because of its predominant anthropological charm. Its foreign publicists include not only the surviving social democrats of Europe and North America, but other intellectuals and liberals who themselves are steeped in the ideology of social democracy.

It was no accident, let me add, that the 1962 Dakar Colloquium made such capital of "African socialism"' but the uncertainties concerning the meaning and specific policies of "African socialism" have led some of us to abandon the term because it fails to express its original meaning and because it tends to obscure our fundamental socialist commitment.

Today, the phrase "African socialism" seems to espouse the view that the traditional African society was a classless society imbued with the spirit of humanism and to express a nostalgia for that spirit. Such a conception of socialism makes a fetish of the communal African society. But an idyllic, African classless society (in which there were no rich and no poor) enjoying a drugged serenity is certainly a facile simplification; there is no historical or even anthropological evidence for any such society.

I am afraid the realities of African society were somewhat more sordid.
All available evidence from the history of Africa up to the eve of the European colonisation, shows that African society was neither classless nor devo id of a social hierarchy. Feudalism existed in some parts of Africa before colonisation; and feudalism involves a deep and exploitative social stratification, founded on the ownership of land.

It must also be noted that slavery existed in Africa before European colonisation, although the earlier European contact gave slavery in Africa some of its most vicious characteristics. The truth remains, however, that before colonisation, which became widespread in Africa only in the nineteenth century, Africans were prepared to sell, often for no more than thirty pieces of silver, fellow tribesmen and even members of the same "extended family" and clan. Colonialism deserves to be blamed for many evils in Africa, but surely it was not preceded by an African Golden Age or paradise. A return to the pre-colonial African society is evidently not worthy of the ingenuity and efforts of our people.

All this notwithstanding, one could still argue that the basic organisation of many African societies in different periods of history manifested a certain communalism and that the philosophy and humanist purposes behind that organisation are worthy of recapture. A community in which each saw his well-being in the welfare of the group certainly was praiseworthy, even if the manner in which the well-being of the group was pursued makes no contribution to our purposes.

Thus, what socialist thought in Africa must recapture is not the structure of the "traditional African society" but its spirit, for the spirit of commun alism is crystallised in its humanism and in its reconciliation of individual advancement with group welfare. Even If there is incomplete anthropological evidence to reconstruct the "traditional African society" with accuracy, we can still recapture the rich human values of that society. In short, an anthropological approach to the " traditional African society" is too much unproven; but a philosophical approach stands on much firmer ground and makes generalisation feasible.

One predicament in the anthropological approach is that there is some disparity of views concerning the manifestations of the "classlessness" of the "traditional African society". While some hold that the society was based on the equality of its members, others hold that it contained a hierarchy and division of labour in which the hierarchy — and therefore power — was founded on spiritual and democratic values..

Of course, no society can be founded on the equality of its members although societies are founded on egalitarianism, which is something quite different. Similarly, a classless society that at the same time rejoices in a hierarchy of power (as distinct from authority) must be accounted a marvel of socio-political finesse.

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-African20socialist 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.

A further difficulty that arises from the anthropological approach to socialism, or "African socialism", is the glaring division between existing African societies and the communalistic society that was. I warned in my book Consciencism that "our society is not the old society, but a new society enlarged by Islamic and Euro-Christian influences". This is a fact that any socio-economic policies must recognise and take into account.

Yet the literature of "African socialism" comes close to suggesting that today's African societies are communalistic. The two societies are not coterminous; and such an equation cannot be supported by any attentive observation. It is true that this disparity is acknowledged in some of the literature of "African socialism"; thus, my friend and colleague Julius Nyerere, in acknowledging the disequilibrium between what was and what is in terms of African societies, attributes the differences to the importations of=0 AEuropean colonialism.

We know, of course, that the defeat of colonialism and even neo-colonialism will not result in the automatic disappearance of the imported patterns of thought and social organisation. For those patterns have taken root, and are in varying degree sociological features of our contemporary society. Nor will a simple return to the communalistic society of ancient Africa offer a solution either.

To advocate a return, as it were, to the rock from which we were hewn is a charming thought, but we are faced with contemporary=2 0problems, which have arisen from political subjugation, economic exploitation, educational and social backwardness, increases in population, familiarity with the methods and products of industrialisation, modern agricultural techniques.

These — as well as a host of other complexities — can be resolved by no mere communalistic society, however sophisticated, and anyone who so advocates must be caught in insoluble dilemmas of the most excruciating kind. All available evidence from socio-political history discloses that such a return to a status quo ante is quite unexampled in the evolution of societies. There is, indeed, no theoretical or historical reason to indicate that it is at all possible.

When one society meets another, the observed historical trend is that acculturation results in a balance of forward movement, a movement in which each society assimilates certain useful attributes of the other. Social evolution is a dialectical process; it has ups and downs, but , on balance, it always represents an upward trend.

Islamic civilisation and European colonialism are both historical experiences of the traditional African society, profound experiences that have permanently changed the complexion of the traditional African society. They have introduced new values and a social, cultural, and economic organisation into African life. Modern African societies are not traditional, even if backward, and they are clearly in a state of socio-economic disequilibrium. They are in this state because they are0Anot anchored to a steadying ideology.

The way out is certainly not to regurgitate all Islamic or Euro-colonial influences in a futile attempt to recreate a past that cannot be resurrected. The way out is only forward, forward to a higher and reconciled form of society, in which the quintessence of the human purposes of traditional African society reasserts itself in a modern context-forward, in short, to socialism, through policies that are scientifically devised and correctly applied.

The inevitability of a forward way out is felt by all; thus, Leopold Sedor Senghor, although favouring some kind of return to African communalism, insists that the refashioned African society must accommodate the "positive contribution" of colonial rule, "such as the economic and technical infrastructure and the French educational system".

The economic and technical infrastructure of even French colonialism and the French educational system must be assumed, though this can be shown to be imbued with a particular socio-political philosophy. This philosophy, as should be known, is not compatible with the philosophy underlying communalism, and the desired accommodation would prove only a socio-political mirage.

Senghor has, indeed, given an account of the nature of the return to Africa. His account is highlighted by statements using some of his own words: that the African is "a field of pure sensation"; that he does not measure or observe, but "lives" a situation;=2 0and that this way of acquiring "knowledge" by confrontation and intuition is "negro-African"; the acquisition of knowledge by reason, "Hellenic".

In African Socialism [London and New York, 1964, pp.72-3], he proposes
"that we consider the Negro-African as he faces the Other: God, man, animal, tree or pebble, natural or social phenomenon. In contrast to the classic European, the Negro-African does not draw a line between himself and the object, he does not hold it at a distance, nor does he merely look at it and analyse it. After holding it at a distance, after scanning it without analysing it, he takes it vibrant in his hands, careful not to kill or fix it. He touches it, feels it, smells it. The Negro-African is like one of those Third Day Worms, a pure field of sensations... Thus the Negro-African sympathises, abandons his personality to become identified with the Other, dies to be reborn in the Other.20He does not assimilate; he is assimilated. He lives a common life with the Other; he lives in a symbiosis."

It is clear that socialism cannot be founded on this kind of metaphysics of knowledge. To be sure, there is a connection between communalism and socialism. Socialism stands to communalism as capitalism stands to slavery. In socialism, the principles underlying communalism are given expression in modern circumstances.

Thus, whereas communalism in a non-technical society can be laissez-faire, in a technical society where sophisticated means of production are at hand, the situation is different; for if the underlying principles of communalism are not given correlated expression, class cleavages will arise, which are connected with economic disparities and thereby with political inequalities; Socialism, therefore, can be, and is, the defence of the principles of communalism in a modern setting; it is a form of social organisation that, guided by the principles underlying communalism, adopts procedures and measures made necessary by demographic and technological developments. Only under socialism can we reliably accumulate the capital we need for our development and also ensure that the gains of investment are applied for the general welfare.

Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialised if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say , egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves.

There is only one way of achieving socialism; by the devising of policies aimed at the general socialist goals, each of which takes its particular form from the specific circumstances of a particular state at a definite historical period. Socialism depends on dialectical and historical materialism, upon the view that there is only one nature, subject in all its manifestations to natural laws and that human society is, in this sense, part of nature and subject to its own laws of development.

It is the elimination of fancifulness from socialist action that makes socialism scientific. To suppose that there are tribal, national, or racial socialisms is to abandon objectivity in favour of chauvinism.

Everyone must choose; real socialism or working for the imperialists, as Nyerere did.

Roy Walker


Anonymous said...
July 26, 2008 at 9:08 PM  

Thank you. The time has finally arrived when we can denounce Uncle Toism at its worse.


Anonymous said...
February 28, 2009 at 5:18 PM  

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Nkrumah Traded with Apartheid South Africa!
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Feature Article | Tue, 08 Apr 2008

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A hungry stomach believes no rules. A greedy stomach respects no rules. I was both. Hungry and greedy and I tell you my brother, if you are hungry and greedy, there is nothing that you will see as a danger to life, that is why I robbed banks, just the lure of good money. by gayton m - By: kofi beng agogo
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The last thing that anybody wants to be drawn into on the eve of one's birthday, and in the middle of a handsome breakfast, is a pointless debate regarding whether Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah, the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics, as well as the nominal Father of modern Ghana and founder of Ghana's flagship academy, the University of Ghana, is greater than Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana and founder of the Convention People's Party (CPP).

First of all, we must hasten to note that without the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), co-founded by Dr. Danquah and Mr. George Alfred (Paa) Grant, there would likely not have existed any political party called “Convention” People's Party, a veritable derivative and institutional offshoot of the UGCC. And, it is worthwhile noting that Nkrumah himself fully recognized this incontrovertibly historical fact well enough, thus his proud and routine acknowledgement of the fact of him having made a seminal contribution to the country's development through his, admittedly, remarkable role as both an organizer and General-Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention.

Furthermore, long before Nkrumah arrived in London from the United States and enlisted himself into the executive membership of the West African Students' Union (WASU), the seminal training ground for many of the prominent leaders of the African liberation movement, the shortly to become “Dr.” J. B. Danquah, foremost John Stuart Mill Scholar in the Philosophy of the Logic of the Mind, having also won a gold medal for the same from the University of London, had been elected as First President of the West African Students' Union.

And so, in essence, the scandalous notion making the shameless rounds among members of the Nkrumaist circle in Ghana, to the damnable effect that beyond Ghana's colonialist territorial boundaries, the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics was, literally, at sea, must be squarely envisaged for what it primarily is; and the latter is patently integral to the sacrilegious fabric and chimerical lunacy of the nescient Nkrumaist fanatics.

What is also significant to stress is the fact that in 1930, while on his deathbed, Mr. Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford, founder of the National Congress of British West Africa (NCBWA), father of CPP stalwart Mr. Archie Casely-Hayford, envisaged Dr. Danquah as the one Ghanaian (Gold Coaster then) who was singularly qualified to pilot the Ghanaian ship of state into the heady, albeit murky, waters of independence, thus his solemn knighting of Dr. Danquah as a perfect replacement for the dying Mr. J. E. Casely-Hayford.

In sum, had Dr. Danquah been woefully possessed of a parochial political perspective, in all likelihood, Mr. Casely-Hayford would have anointed another Ghanaian in his stead; and to be certain, there was hardly any shortage of formidable Ghanaian intellectuals to readily assume Mr. Casely-Hayford's august and progressive leadership mantle.

Unless one has the stamina and is willing, such as this writer has done during the course of the last several years, to spend marathon midnight oil-burning sessions in order to excavate and thoroughly examine the epic breadth of Danquah's polymathic genius, as exemplified in his documents and artistry, of course, one would be tragically doomed to slavishly and oafishly lap up nescient Cii-Pii-Pii propaganda against the unimpeachable scholastic pragmatism of the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics as constituting all that there is to the man.

Indeed, if the man has not been fittingly accorded his due, even under the aegis of the Danquah-leaning Kufuor Administration, it is primarily because so blistering had Nkrumaist propaganda been that until very recently, one could hardly Google the name of Dr. J. B. Danquah and be lucky to come up with even one-hundred hits! Still, just like the “Truth” that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., repeatedly and consistently adumbrated, the ideological hangmen and undertakers of Dr. Danquah, particularly the moral righteousness for which he stood, were, thankfully, only able to inter (or bury) the flesh and bones of the man, not his eudaemonius spirit of statesmanship and exemplary leadership in the realm of African Nationalism.

Perhaps the vacuously loud micro-nationalist critic who presumed to cavalierly impugn the pan-Africanist credentials of the Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics had better be referred to the famous Egyptian Epic Drama, in which the immortalized President Julius Nyerere, of Tanzania, ripped his prepared speech apart and mordantly lit into Africa's so-called Man-of-Destiny in Cairo, during the teething days of the erstwhile Organization of African Unity (OAU).

For those of our readers who may not be aware of the foregoing landmark event, it had to squarely do with Mr. Nyerere's unmistakable recognition of Mr. Nkrumah's overweening ambition to assume the neo-Garveyite mantle of Emperor of a United States of New Africa. President Nyerere readily saw through the shameless transparency of Nkrumah's bid to upstage his executive peers and promptly put the Nkroful native in his place.

But what is even more significant about Egypt's Epic Drama is Mr. Nyerere's blunt, albeit salutary, enlightenment of the African Show Boy to the fact of the ideal objective of Pan-Africanism being collective and integral to the Blydenian concept of the African Personality. In other words, for President Nyerere, no single African leader reserved the right to foist the collective Pan-Africanist agenda on another, while also mischievously and mendaciously pretending to have copyrighted the ideology of Pan-Africanism as his personal property.

What is also tragically embarrassing is the predictable fact of the fanatical Nkrumaists' flat refusal to recognize the grim fact of Nkrumah having probably remarkably retarded the Anti-Apartheid liberation struggle by electing to consort with white-ruled and racist South Africa as Ghana's largest trading partner on the African continent during the CPP's dictatorial tenure (see Kwame Arhin's The Life And Work of Kwame Nkrumah).

What is also epically unflattering to well-meaning Ghanaians is Nkrumah's benighted refusal to financially support Nelson Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) in the early 1960s, when the future Nobel Peace Prize Laureate visited Ghana, among several African countries, to solicit material assistance for the vigorous prosecution of the Anti-Apartheid liberation struggle. Nkrumah had recently been knighted as “Moscow's Most Obedient Servant” by being awarded the LENIN PRIZE. It was Dr. Danquah's tragic mistake in taking up Nkrumah's bait of a guest-invitation that firmly laid the groundwork for the Doyen's prison assassination by President Kwame Nkrumah! (See Inquest into Dr. Danquah's Death at the Nsawam Medium-Security Prison).

Back then, Nkrumah preferred to throw his neo-imperialist support behind Mr. Sobukwe's Pan-Africanist Movement (PAM). And not only did President Nkrumah adamantly refuse to grant audience to Mr. Mandela, he also rather arrogantly, ignorantly and self-righteously characterized the leaders of the ANC in much the same manner as the Show Boy envisaged the Danquah Tradition. Thus, it came as hardly any surprise that President Nkrumah and Ghana, the so-called Lodestar of Africa, did not make the “visionary” and heroic list of staunch supporters of the Anti-Apartheid movement in Mr. Mandela's maiden post-prison speech.

Ultimately, we can only speak to the foresighted genius of the immortalized Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics. No doubt, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah has more than his fair share of fiery propagandists at his beck, even posthumously.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of 14 books, including “Romantic Explorations” (Atumpan Publications/, 2008), his 11th and latest volume of poetry. E-mail:
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Anonymous said...
April 16, 2009 at 5:11 AM  

Most African leaders felt that Nkrumah wanted to rule Africa. And it was common knowledge that he did try to undermine some governments, especially in Francophone Africa. As Nyerere stated: "He (Nkrumah) had tremendous contempt for many African leaders."

Even Nyerere's room was bugged when he attended the African heads of state summit n Accra in 1965 but Tanzania's intelligence chief, Mzena, and other Tanzanian agents who accompanied Nyerere, found that out in advance.

And when one of Ghana's and Africa's leading journalists, Cameron Dodou, returned to Ghana from Tanzania in the early sixties, he was accused by the Ghanaian government - and reportedly by Nkrumah himself - of working for Nyerere against Nkrumah and was arrested.

Also Nkrumah worked relentlessly to undermine Nyerere's attempts to unite Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and form an East African federation. In one of his books, Basil Davidson says that was one of the worst mistakes Nkrumah ever made. As he states in his book "Black Star: A View of the Life and Times of Kwame Nkrumah":

"Some, like Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, chastised Nkrumah for his interference. East Africa, Nyerere believed, could best contribute to continental unity by moving first towards regional unity. Although knowing little of East Africa, Nkrumah not only disagreed but actively interfered to obstruct the East African federation proposed by Nyerere....It was one of Nkrumah's worst mistakes."

Many shared this assessment.

And according to Oginga Odinga in his book "Not Yet Uhuru":

"As late as 8 July 1965, Nyerere said that Tanzania was still ready for East African Federation no matter that outside influences had interfered in the hope of blocking its formation. He said 'If we listen to foreign influence we should be made to quarrel with Kenya and Uganda, but this we will not do.' He had already told President Kenyatta that if his country was ready to unite, Tanzania was also ready."

That was clearly in pointed reference to Nkrumah who had actively interfered in East Africa in an attempt to block formation of federation of the three East African countries.

Nyerere himself publicly criticised Nkrumah for his opposition to the federation saying we have been told that formation of an East African federation will impede African unity. "Those are attempts to rationalise absurdity."

Still, Nyerere worked closely with Nkrumah on many issues. And according to Ben Bella in an interview in Geneva in 1995, he, Nkrumah, Nyerere, Nasser, Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita had their own secret group within the OAU, known as The Group of Six, and worked closely and secretly together on African liberation and other continental issues including the Congo crisis since they did not feel that other African leaders were serious enough about that.

And as Nyerere said about Nkrumah, "we corresponded profusely" on the subject of African unity and how to achieve continental unification. They differed, of course, on how to achieve it.

Nyerere himself articulated Nkrumah's position even before Nkrumah called for immediate continental unification, although on a regional scale. He said if African countries waited too long to unite, it would be very difficult for them to unite. That's why he wanted Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika to unite before independence.

Nkrumah wanted all African countries to unite right away in Addis Ababa in May 1963 and in Accra in 1965; an unrealistic goal without even any preparation for such continental unity. In fact, Nkrumah's book "Africa Must Unite" was published just before the first OAU summit was held in Addis in May 1963. It was perfect timing to promote his agenda. But most African leaders did not support him or agree with him and he left Addis after the conference, frustrated.

Earlier in 1960, Nyerere offered to delay the independence of Tanganyika (scheduled for December 1961) so that the three countries of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika would unite and emerge as a one country on the same day they won independence. But after they failed to do so, and after they failed again to unite soon after independence, he said he became wary of Nkrumah's approach of immediate continental unification.

Nyerere, Kenyatta and Obote signed a declaration of intent on 5 June 1963 in Nairobi stating that they would form a federation before the end of the year. And Nyerere and Obote asked Kenyatta to be president of the East African Federation but the Grand Old Man refused. As Nyerere stated in one of his last interviews with the "New Internationalist" in December 1998 not long before he died in October 1999:

"I respected Jomo (Kenyatta) immensely. It has probably never happened in history. Two heads of state, Milton Obote and I, went to Jomo and said to him: ‘Let’s unite our countries and you be our head of state.’ He said no. I think he said no because it would have put him out of his element as a Kikuyu Elder....

Kwame Nkrumah and I were committed to the idea of unity. African leaders and heads of state did not take Kwame seriously. However, I did. I did not believe in these small little nations. Still today I do not believe in them. I tell our people to look at the European Union, at these people who ruled us who are now uniting.

Kwame and I met in 1963 and discussed African Unity. We differed on how to achieve a United States of Africa. But we both agreed on a United States of Africa as necessary. Kwame went to Lincoln University, a black college in the US. He perceived things from the perspective of US history, where the 13 colonies that revolted against the British formed a union. That is what he thought the OAU should do.

I tried to get East Africa to unite before independence. When we failed in this I was wary about Kwame’s continental approach. We corresponded profusely on this. Kwame said my idea of ‘regionalization’ was only balkanization on a larger scale. Later African historians will have to study our correspondence on this issue of uniting Africa."

Nyerere also pointed out to Nkrumah that Africa was not going to have an African Napoleon who was going to conquer other countries and unite them by force. Most African leaders during that time thought Nkrumah was trying to do just that, hence his attempts to undermine a number of African governments so that people who danced to his tune would become the new leaders whom he could manipulate at will and achieve his goal to be the imperial president or "emperor" of a United Africa.

In one of the interviews on the subject of how to unite Africa, Nyerere said:

"My differences with Kwame were that Kwame thought there was somehow a shortcut, and I was saying that there was no shortcut. This is what we have inherited, and we'll have to proceed within the limitations that that inheritance has imposed on us.

Kwame thought that somehow you could say, 'Let there be a United States of Africa' and it would happen. I kept saying, 'Kwame, it's a slow process.'

He had tremendous contempt for a large number of leaders of Africa and I said, 'Fine, but they are there. What are you going to do with them? They don't believe as you do – as you and I do – in the need for the unity of Africa. BUT WHAT DO YOU DO? THEY ARE THERE, AND WE HAVE TO PROCEED ALONG WITH EVERYBODY!'

And I said to him in so many words that we're not going to have an African Napoleon, who is going to conquer the continent and put it under one flag. It is not possible.

At the OAU conference in 1963, I was actually trying to defend Kwame. I was the last to speak and Kwame had said this charter has not gone far enough because he thought he would leave Addis with a United States of Africa.

I told him that this was absurd; that it can't happen. This is what we have been able to achieve. No builder, after putting the foundation down, complains that the building is not yet finished. You have to go on building and building until you finish; but he was impatient because he saw the stupidity of the others.

When I clashed with Kwame, it was when we were very close to a federation of East African states and Kwame was completely opposed to the idea.

He said that regionalization - that's what he called it - was Balkanization on a larger scale.

I said 'Look, Kwame, this is absurd.' I thought that historically there were grounds for different groupings of countries trying to come together. West Africans at one one time – under the British – had a common currency. Basically, the French had two huge colonies – French Equatorial Africa and French West Africa. I thought it was possible to move towards unity by putting those areas together. But even that didn't happen.

I thought that these groups could come together naturally, within the OAU. Then there could be propaganda, an incentive, and the push for greater unity. Kwame thought that we all could just sit down together and come out as a United States of Africa.

I think that Kwame was perhaps over-influenced by the way the US and the Soviet Union came together. You know the way the thirteen colonies came together, drafted a charter, and then declared the United States of America. I never thought it would work this way, because these African countries had become independent and the mistake was evident in East Africa.

If we wanted to come together, we should have come together before independence, because if you wait until after independence it cannot be done. With four presidents, four flags, four national anthems, four seats at the UN - ahh! It's extremely difficult!"

The interview is published in a book by Bill Sutherland and Matt Mayer, "Guns and Gandhi in Africa: Pan African Insight on Nonviolence, Armed Struggle and Liberation in Africa," Africa World Press, 2000.

The two leaders clashed publicly at the second OAU summit in Cairo, Egypt, in July 1964. Some African leaders may have been scared of Nkrumah but Nyerere was not scared of him at all. And Nkrumah knew that and didn't like it.

Nyerere saw Nkrumah as his equal and many African leaders were glad he confronted him and responded forcefully. Nyerere was at least 13 years younger than Nkrumah and obviously respected him as elder brother in a typical African tradition but he saw him as his equal as a leader.

The rivalry between the two leaders had become pronounced even before the OAU summit in Cairo in July 1964.

Earlier in May 1963 at the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's capital, was chosen by the African leaders as the headquarters of the OAU Liberation Committee to oversee and coordinate the liberation struggle in southern Africa and Portuguese Guinea (renamed Guinea Bissau), and Nkrumah did not like that.

He also felt he had been ignored and rejected by the other African leaders and took it as a personal insult. He had made several determined attempts to have Accra, Ghana, chosen as the headquarters of the African liberation movements but when the OAU chose Tanzania under Nyerere to be the headquarters, he became very frustrated. Other leaders knew that and they gave him a "consolation prize" by choosing Accra, Ghana, to be the headquarters of the OAU Defence Committee.

More than any African leader, Nkrumah saw Nyerere as a challenge and as a threat to his position as the most prominent African leader of continental stature and wanted no competition. The Nigerian newspaper, "The West African Pilot," even taunted Nkrumah in the sixties saying there were now other shining stars on the African political scene and Nkrumah and Nasser were not the only ones. Before then, "the tournament," as the paper put it, had been between Nasser and Nkrumah.

It was interpreted by many people that this was directed against Nkrumah and highlighted the emergence of Nyerere as a leader of continental stature who was seen as a challenge to Nkrumah especially in Africa south of the Sahara.

And many Nkrumah loyalists were offended - as Nkrumah himself probably was since he was still living then - when the internationally renowned Kenyan scholar, Professor Ali Mazrui, said "Nyerere is the most intellectual of the East African presidents and the most original thinker among all the leaders in Anglophone Africa," and Senghor in Francophone Africa. Mazrui articulated the same position in his book "On Heroes and Uhuru Worship: Essays on Independent Africa."

The only other leader - besides Nyerere - whom Nkrumah saw as his rival was Nasser. But he was not worried that much about him because he felt that Nasser could not really speak for "Sub-Saharan" Africa. He saw Nasser as being highly influential in North Africa and in the Arab world but not in Africa south of the Sahara where Nkrumah himself was the dominant figure for racial reasons. In fact, Nkrumah's marriage to Fathia Rizk, an Egyptian Arab woman who became Fathia Nkrumah and Ghana's First Lady, was only for political reasons. It was a political marriage more than anything else.

Nkrumah even dismissed Marcelino dos Santos of Mozambique for the same reason he did Nasser. Before Nkrumah was overthrown in February 1966, Marcelino dos Santos was already the second most prominent leader of FRELIMO after Dr. Eduardo Mondlane and was the international spokesman for FRELIMO and its leading ideologue and theoretician. Both Mondlane and dos Santos were during time based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Marcelino dos Santos later became the vice president of Mozambique under Samora Machel after the country won independence from Portugal in 1975.

Nkrumah said Marcelino dos Santos could not really speak for Mozambique and for the people of Mozambique, a predominantly black African country, because he was a mulatto and not a black African. Marcelino dos Santos became was so offended and felt so insulted by Nkrumah that he never forgave him for that. I knew many high-ranking FRELIMO leaders in Dar es Salaam and they said in the seventies dos Santos was still angry with Nkrumah for saying that and for not acknowledging him as a true African and a true Mozambican.

Nkrumah also wanted to take control of FRELIMO which he felt was under Nyerere's control and leadership, giving Nyerere a high profile as a prominent leader in the liberation struggle in southern Africa. He invited rival Mozambican nationaaist leaders including Adelino Gwambe - one of the main leaders - whom he wanted to lead the liberation struggle in Mozambique but failed in his attempt to do so.

Nkrumah also strongly supported the Pan-Africanist Congress and helped to fund it when Sobukwe and his colleagues left the African National Congress in 1959. This testimony comes from Jordan Ngubane in his book "An African Explains Apartheid." Ngubane knew all the main leaders of the African National Congress from P. ka I. Seme and John Dube - who were the founding leaders of the ANC at Bloemfontein in 1912 - to Mandela and others including Sobukwe.

Some said Nkrumah supported the Pan-Africanist Congress to gain undue influence in the liberation struggle in South Africa by supporting a new organisation which had the potential to become a major player - if not the major player - on South Africa's political scene especially with its strong emphasis on black unity. Nkrumah, of course, also supported and helped finance the Zanzibar revolution. This comes from one of the leading figures in the Zanzibar revolution, the legendary Mzee Thabit Kombo, in a recorded interview not long before he died.

So there's no question that Nkrumah was a major player on the African political scene on a continental scale, at least in sub-Saharan Africa which he may have considered t be his turf or territory, while North Africa was Nasser's. And he wanted no challenge to his eminent position. Nyerere posed that challenge to him.

When Nkrumah and Nyerere went to the OAU summit in Cairo in July 1964, the stage was set for a confrontation between the two leaders. Nkrumah, infuriated that he had lost to Nyerere when the OAU chose Tanzania and not Ghana as the headquarters of the African liberation movements, denounced Nyerere as "an imperialist agent," to use his exact words, asking: how can you trust "an imperialist agent" to be in charge of African liberation movements? As Professor Ali Mazrui - he first met Nkrumah and talked to him at Columbia University, New York, when Mazrui was a student there studying for his master's degree before he went to Oxford for his PhD and knew Nyerere well on personal basis for more than 30 years - stated in his lecture at the University of Ghana in 2002 about the two leaders:

“In reality Nkrumah and Nyerere had already begun to be rivals as symbols of African radicalism before the coup, which overthrew Nkrumah.

Nkrumah was beginning to be suspicious of Nyerere in this regard. The two most important issues over which Nyerere and Nkrumah before 1966 might have been regarded as rivals for continental pre-eminence were the issues of African liberation and African unity....

The Organization of African Unity, when it came into being in May 1963, designated Dar es Salaam as the headquarters of liberation movements. The choice was partly determined by the proximity of Dar es Salaam to southern Africa as the last bastion of colonialism and white minority rule. But the choice was also determined by the emergence of Nyerere as an important and innovative figure in African politics.

Nkrumah’s Ghana did make the bid to be the headquarters of liberation movements but Nkrumah lost the battle....

The great voice of African self-reliance, and the most active African head of government in relation to liberation in Southern Africa from 1967 (after Nkrumah was overthrown in February 1966) until the 1980s was in fact Nyerere....

He became the toughest spokesman against the British on the Rhodesian question. His country played a crucial role at the OAU Ministerial meeting at which it was decided to issue that fatal ultimatum to Britain’s Prime Minister, Harold Wilson - ‘Break Ian Smith or Africa will break with you'....

Nkrumah pointed out that his own country could not very easily join an East African federation. This proved how discriminatory and divisive the whole of Nyerere’s strategy was for the African continent.

Nyerere treated Nkrumah’s counter-thesis with contempt. He asserted that to argue that Africa had better remain in small bits than form bigger entities was nothing but ‘an attempt to rationalize absurdity.’ He denounced Nkrumah’s attempt to deflate the East African federation movement as petty mischief-making arising from Nkrumah’s own sense of frustration in his own Pan-African ventures.

Nyerere was indignant. He went public with his attack on Nkrumah. He referred to people who pretended that they were in favour of African continental union when all they cared about was to ensure that ‘some stupid historian in the future’ praised them for being in favour of the big continental ambition before anyone else was willing to undertake it.

Nyerere added snide remarks about ‘the Redeemer,’ Nkrumah’s self-embraced title of the Osagyefo.

On balance, history has proved Nkrumah wrong on the question of Nyerere’s commitment to liberation. Nyerere was second to none in that commitment.

At that Cairo conference of 1964 Nkrumah had asked ‘What could be the result of entrusting the training of Freedom Fighters against imperialism into the hands of an imperialist agent?’ Nyerere had indeed answered ‘the good Osagyefo’ with sarcasm and counter-argument."

Much as I would have liked for Africa to have united immediately in the early sixties as Nkrumah advocated, I'm also realistic enough to know that there was and there still is - even today in 2009 - so much opposition to such an approach towards continental unity among the majority of African leaders.

In fact, most of them don't want our countries to unite under one government because they don't want to lose their leadership positions as presidents, prime ministers, national cabinet members, as ambassadors and so on. As Nyerere pointed out back then in the sixties and as recently as March 1997 in his speech when he was an official guest at Ghana's 40th independence anniversary in Accra:

"Kwame Nkrumah was the great crusader for African unity. He wanted the Accra summit of 1965 to establish a union government for the whole of independent Africa. But we failed. The one minor reason is that Kwame, like all great believers, underestimated the degree of suspicion and animosity, which his crusading passion had created among a substantial number of his fellow heads of state. The major reason was linked to the first: already too many of us had a vested interest in keeping Africa divided.

Prior to independence of Tanganyika, I had been advocating that East African countries should federate and then achieve independence as a single political unit. I had said publicly that I was willing to delay Tanganyika’s independence in order to enable all three-mainland countries to achieve their independence together as a single federated state.

I made the suggestion because of my fear, proved correct by later events, that it would be very difficult to unite our countries if we let them achieve independence separately.

Once you multiply national anthems, national flags and national passports, seats at the United Nations, and individuals entitled to 21-gun salute, not to speak of a host of ministers, prime ministers, and envoys, you will have a whole army of powerful people with vested interests in keeping Africa balkanized. That was what Nkrumah encountered in 1965.

After the failure to establish the union government at the Accra summit of 1965, I heard one head of state express with relief that he was happy to be returning home to his country still head of state. To this day I cannot tell whether he was serious or joking. But he may well have been serious, because Kwame Nkrumah was very serious and the fear of a number of us to lose our precious status was quite palpable.

But I never believed that the 1965 Accra summit would have established a union government for Africa. When I say that we failed, that is not what I mean, for that clearly was an unrealistic objective for a single summit. What I mean is that we did not even discuss a mechanism for pursuing the objective of a politically united Africa. We had a Liberation Committee already. We should have at least had a Unity Committee or undertaken to establish one. We did not. And after Kwame Nkrumah was removed from the African political scene nobody took up the challenge again."

Some of the people who support Nkrumah contend that Nyerere was the main stumbling block who frustrated Nkrumah's immediate continental unification in the early sixties. What they forget or ignore is that even if Nyerere himself came out swinging in full support of immediate continental unfication as advocated by Nkrumah, African countries still would NOT have united under one government - simply because Nkrumah and Nyerere said so: "Let unite NOW under one continental government." Most African leaders were opposed to continental unification. And they're still opposed to it today.

James, if you have not read "Nyerere and Africa: End of an Era" by Godfrey Mwakikagile, you probably should. It contains the information I have presented here and an even deeper analysis and a lot more material on the subject than what I have provided in this message.

The practical approach to continental unification is gradual. And it is regional. That's why we have today the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Should African countries unite right away? It's a good idea. But it won't happen. Instead of waiting for that to happen, something that will never happen, do some thing else to unite Africa. Take the regional approach. Otherwise we won't have anything except separate and weak countries as we have them today.

David Kapinga

In, James Chikonamombe wrote (april 12, 2009):

Ndugu Kapinga,

I should have answered this last week.

I was always under the impression that Nkrumah felt that regionalism would get in the way of total continental unity. But this piece states that Nkrumah had no qualms with regionalism as long as he himself was the driver. I still think that regionalism is more attainable at this moment in time. Furthermore, most African countries are non-viable entities: Guinea-Bissau, Togo, Gabon, Eritrea, C.A.R, etc. We need to merge into wider regional, economic groups. Regional, political unity will come later, after all other options have been exhausted.


The main reason Nkrumah was opposed to regional federations was his fear that someone, somewhere, would unite African countries before he did.

He wanted to be the first to do so. That's why he formed the Ghana-Guinea Union in November 1958. And that's why two years later, he invited Mali to join the union and the three countries formed the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union in December 1960.

Why did he do that if he was really opposed to regional federations? Those unions were regional, not continental in scope.

Nkrumah was the driving force behind those unions and he would NOT have done that if he was really opposed to regional federations. It was after these unions failed that he became vehemently opposed to regional federations, after strongly supporting them because he knew about plans for an East African federation. Nyerere had been talking about that long before he led Tanganyika to independence from Britain in December 1961. And Nkrumah clearly saw that Nyerere would beat him to the finish line and become the first African leader to unite African countries; which he in fact did. The union of Tanganyik and Zanzibar is the only union of independent countries that was ever formed and that still exists on the continent, although Nyerere said he really wanted an East African federation including all the countries in the region. So Nkrumah's fear was well-founded though not justified.

Nkrumah also secretly signed an agreement with Lumumba in Accra in August 1960 to form a political union between Ghana and Congo. That was the THIRD regional union he formed.

And it was agreed that Leopoldville would be the capital of this political union. It was yet another venture, the third one, into regional federation by Nkrumah. Why, if he was opposed to regional federations? He tried three times to form such federations. But they FAILED.

In fact, the Ghana-Guinea Union lasted until 1962, not long before African leaders met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to form the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Did he, Nkrumah, realise only a few months later in May 1963 when the OAU was formed that regional federations were an obstacle to continental unification? Why did he still support the Ghana-Guinea Union until late 1962 if he was against such regional groupings - and then all of a sudden, in Ethiopia a few months later, he turned around saying regional federations would impede continental unification? He had created some of those federations himself - three of them - not long before the African leaders met in Addis to form the OAU.

Nkrumah made a quick turnabout because all the three federations he had started failed.

Yet when Nyerere, the strongest advocate of federation in East Africa together with his friends Oginga Odinga and Joseph Murumbi as well as Pio Gama Pinto, made a concerted effort to unite Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika - later Tanzania - and form a single political entity, an East African Federation, Nkrumah said such a union would impede continental unification. Did the Ghana-Guinea and the Ghana-Guinea-Mali unions impede continental unification? If they did, why did he establish them in the first place? If they did not, why would the East African federation impede continental unification but not them? If they helped facilitate continental unification, why wouldn't the East African federation, as advocated by Nyerere, do the same thing?

Nkrumah also said the East African federation would be discriminatory and impractical for countries such as Ghana to join. How practical was the union between Ghana and Congo separated by vast expanses of territory and hundreds and hundreds of miles? Ghana did not share a common border with Congo - there were many other countries which separated them.

And how practical was the Ghana-Guinea and the Ghana-Guinea-Mali unions? Ghana does not share borders with those countries - they're far away from Ghana. Yet it was practical for him to unite with them as long as it suited his purpose to become the first African leader to achieve unity and form political entities - federations - which would also be under his control.

I still admire Nkrumah as a great African leader and always will as much as I do Nyerere and a few others including Sekou Toure and Modibo Keita. But it's simply NOT true that Nkrumah was opposed to regional federations ONLY because he felt they would impede progress towards continental unification. There were other reasons. And they were personal.

David Kapinga