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Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana, the IMF and the question of true independence

The logical answer to the above question lies in the famous independence declaration where Kwame Nkrumah said among other things that “…the Blackman in capable of managing his own affairs”. The inspiration and confidence with which he approached head-on colonial system came from CLR James, a radical Pan Africanist who made a considerable impact on Nkrumah’s world view.

Also, Nkrumah indicated self-awareness of the colonial reality owed to the influence of Kwagyir Aggrey, a Gold Coast nationalist and personalities like Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Booker T. Washington, Ras Makonnen, George Padmore, and W.E.B Dubois contributed to the actualization of the dream of independence.

The apparent unparalleled cultural and political orientation of Nkrumah made him eschewed economic tokenism and went in for the big killing-establishment of a viable independent economy without strings fastened to the metropolitan economies.

In line with his objective a thoroughly planned centralized economic policy was formed. The Seven Year Development plan anchored on import substitution industry was kicked into action and this saw a phenomenal economic boom unrivalled in sub-Saharan Africa.

The development plan was the cusp of Ghana’s economic emancipation and Nkrumah had envisioned Ghana to attain full middle level economic status by 1971 by which Ghana would be a net exporter of goods and services but also, import labour to augment the insufficient indigenous labour force since there will be shortage of manpower.

To show that he was not a braggart like latter day politicians who made empty promises and pledges, Nkrumah set out to establish industrial hubs that would become the foundation for modernization and industrialization of the foremost independent state of the new Africa.

The Tema we see today was a village turned into modern industrial city fed by the almighty Akosombo hydro electricity. In one of his inspiring consciousness-raising speeches Nkrumah noted “…across the parapet, I see the Mother of Africa Unity and independence, her body smeared with the blood of her sons and daughters in their struggle to see her free from the shackles of imperialism and I could see and hear springing up, cities of Ghana, becoming the metropolis of Science, Learning, Scientific Agriculture and Philosophy. And I hear the mortals resound the echo and the rejoinder: ‘Seek ye first the political kingdom and all the rest shall be added unto it”,

To practicalise the independence dream saw the birth of Workers Brigade, Builders Brigade, State Farms Corps and GIHOC with the sole purpose of giving the workers appropriate skills to be able to fit into the industrial establishments. At the time unemployment was infinitesimal owing to the socialist planning based on egalitarianism.

In a bid to reduce social injustice and class inequalities, a dominant feature of colonial rule, Nkrumah built social infrastructure such as schools and hospitals to address the needs of the populace with whom freedom was won.

Hitherto, the health institutions were woefully inadequate and were mainly built to serve the needs of the expatriate class and their lackeys. Kwame Nkrumah undertook massive expansion of the health sector by building specialized centres fully equipped to serve the need of the masses.

During the colonial rule, the good hospitals were only accessed by white people while lower grade type called health posts were for black people. The critics who out of ignorance advocated for gradualist approach towards de-colonisation should tell us how long the grammar-missionary type of education should stay, a skewed educational system that trained people without skills.

Over a century of colonial rule only 10 secondary schools were ever built for the over six million population. In less than a decade Nkrumah built and delivered fully furnished secondary schools numbering 100, and the elementary schools were 1000. These led to an exponential increase in intellectual and human capital with most states emerging from the ashes of colonialism depending on Ghana’s teachers, lawyers, judges, etc.

Science and technology was the hallmark of Nkrumah’s agenda for modernizing Ghana. The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the Ghana Medical School were all established to provide the needed professional skills for the country. The engineering and the medical corps became the backbone of the economy making Ghana an enviable state amongst her peers.

The establishment of heavy and light industries coupled with modern agriculture and scientific research institutions (CSIR and its affiliates) were the capsule that propel Ghana to soar above her peers in terms of economic growth and development both within and without Africa. Just as the soaring eagle which is the emblem of Ghana chosen by Nkrumah, the economy also soared with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3,828 with a growth rate of 7% as of 1965.

The South Korean economy under General Park Chung-hee which is the envy of the world today was outperformed by Nkrumah in the 1960s. The GDP of South Korea as at 1965 was $109 with a growth rate of -12.04%.

Clearly, the trajectory that Nkrumah had taken pursuant to Ghana’s economic freedom kept the economy poles apart from the Breton Woods (IMF/World Bank) development policy modelling which torpedoed the neocolonial agenda of structural adjustment (trade liberalization, deregulation, privatisation) pulling the strings of the economy in order to politically and culturally control the destiny of the state.

Thus the inability of the West to exert influence and eventually take hegemonic control of the economy to place Ghana under neocolonial tutelage and Nkrumah’s will to stay on an independent course and the religious zeal with which he pursued Pan Africanism for eventual continental unity were the trigger for the 1966 military putsch facilitated by the Central Intelligent Agency.

The bear truth is that the Nkrumah-led administration of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) did not opt for a bail out from the Breton Wood institutions at any point. In fact, the first time Ghana went for financial assistance (euphemism for begging for money)from the IMF was in May 1966 that was three clear months after the overthrow of Nkrumah. So, the coup was deliberately orchestrated to roll back the progress of development and rope Ghana into the sphere of imperialist influence and dominance.

On this auspicious day of the one hundred and thirteenth (113) birthday of the great Pan African revolutionary and, the chief avatar of Africa’s liberation from the gnawing jaws of capitalist colonialism, there is only one thing that has to be understood: that the liberation of Africa is still unfinished per Nkrumah’s vision.

The end game of the 1957 independence agenda was economic freedom which according to Nkrumah must be hermetically connected with continental planning and development. In Nkrumah’s view a united Africa should accomplish the following objectives:

1. Africa should have over-all economic planning on a continental basis. This would increase the industrial and economic power of Africa. So long as we remain balkanized, regionally or territorially, we shall be at the mercy of neo-colonialism and imperialism.

2. Africa should aim at the establishment of an integrated unified military and defence strategy-African High Command. If we do not unite and combine our military resources for common defence, the individual States, out of a sense of insecurity may be drawn into making defence pacts with foreign powers which may endanger the security of us all.

The pitiful state of Ghana’s economy since 1966 should tell the current crop of leaders that there is something fundamentally wrong with the kind of paradigm being employed to deal with the cancer of underdevelopment, a crisis situation that has enveloped the country and Africa for that matter, today. Almost every other regime after Nkrumah must go cup in hand and prostrate before the colonial masters for alms in order to resolve chronic issue of balance of payment deficits. This situation has never been resolved for the past six decades suggesting that the neoliberal order is an unworkable solution to the economic malady.

The alternative and a workable one is the Nkrumah’s Development Plan which must take into account the current global political economy. A resilient economy cannot and would never be promoted by the Western governments because our pauperization is their prosperity.

If the roll call of African leaders with a vision for Africa’s political and economic emancipation Nkrumah will be among its pantheon.  His vision was relevant yesterday and it still is today.

Nkrumah Never Dies!

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