Kwame Nkrumah and the fight for Ghana’s Independence

Ghanaian's home and abroad will celebrate the country's 64th year of independence on the 6th March! The day commemorates the end of colonial rule in the former British colony of the Gold Coast.

If you are an avid lover of history, if you have most likely heard about the country Ghana, and the man Kwame Nkrumah, the person who spearheaded one of the greatest movements in Africa (the movement for the independence of Gold Coast as it then known) from its colonial masters the British empire. He will later grow to become one of Ghana’s most influential figures, as we would get to see in this interesting bit about Ghana’s independence and one of the many forces behind the revolutionary movement.

 

Kwame Nkrumah

Born 21st September 1909 to a retail trader mother and a goldsmith father, in Nkroful Ghana, Nkrumah spent his early years and education in his country of birth before heading to the Lincoln University in the United States where he furthered studied and obtained a master’s degree. From a young age, Nkrumah had evident interests in subjects like politics and socialism and studied ideologies advanced by Karl Marx. Interestingly and unsurprisingly, he furthered his education on the literature of socialism and also obtained a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

Nkrumah described himself as a Marxist Socialist and a nondenominational Christian and lent himself to various political causes, one of the founding one's being him taking up the position of the president of the African Students Organization of Canada and the United States. Also notable was his organization of the 5th Pan-African Congress in Manchester, the United Kingdom in the year 1945.

 

Ghana’s independence

Nkrumah spearheaded the movement for Ghana’s independence, which the country gained in 1957, and it was the first Sub-Saharan African country to gain independence, a feat that is laudable till this day. Though Nkrumah’s labour came to fruition in 1957, his agitation for a Gold Coast free of colonial rule started in the late 1940s.

His firm stance against colonialism is not only why he is remembered, but because we consider him one of the most influential figures to have changed the face of Africa through his staunch beliefs that Africans could think for themselves; and capable of fighting their battles without the intervention of the West. His vocal nature about his opinions and activism paved the way for Africans to take part in the helms of their affairs. We can find an avid example of this in the creation of reforms that saw Africans taking up seats at the colonial legislative councils.

Nkrumah became the obvious choice as leader, and he was elected prime minister of the Gold Coast in the year 1952, and then the first prime minster of Ghana in 1957. To celebrate the country's newfound freedom, Nkrumah commissioned the development of the Black Star Square, which is also known as Independence Square. Nkrumah renamed the country Ghana- which means "powerful Warrior King" from the old medieval Ghana Empire in West Africa.

Nkrumah would also later become the nation’s first president in 1960; and the people gave him the title ‘Osagyefo’ an Akan title given to leaders who have been successful at battle. Osagyefo remained president until a military coup overthrew him in 1966. Nkrumah found asylum in Guinea, where he spent the rest of his life.

Despite his legacy, Nkrumah suffered many criticisms for the ideologies he held, especially as some believe that these ideologies contributed to the economic crisis for Ghana. Though his critics say he was an authoritarian, his influence especially where Ghana’s independence is concerned is no mean feat.

We should remember Kwame Nkrumah for not only his biggest achievement leading Ghana to independence from colonial rule, but for also inspiring the rest of the continent of Africa to gain her independence. 

because he led the Ghana to independence, and he inspired subsequent independence movements throughout the continent of Africa over a generation.

Shop our Ghana independence collection where you would find unique products that showcase the beauty of the independence movement.

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