Kwame Nkrumah is a name that rings a bell in the minds of many African people, almost everyone knows him. He was one of the most instrumental revolutionaries in the fight for independence, and his impact is palpable in the past and present times. However, there have been two distinct sides to Kwame’s legacy. As much as he was an iconic revolutionary, Kwame was an authoritarian ruler.
He ultimately reached a point where he was despised by the very same people who had expressed jubilation when the country became the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to get independence. He reached a point where he eventually got deposed off through a military coup while he was out of the country. Despite such an unceremonious end to his leadership, Kwame Nkrumah set up solid foundations of Pan-Africanism. He famously declared that the independence of Ghana did not have any meaning as long as the whole of Africa was still in the bondage of colonialists. He had envisioned a united Africa, with one parliament. It is the same vision that Libya’s Gaddafi wanted to resuscitate, but the attempts were futile.
Upon attaining independence, Nkrumah improved the lives of the poor and the underprivileged, and that contributed immensely to his popularity. He built schools, roads, hospitals and the largest dam in Ghana. He wanted a modern and industrialised Ghana. It is important to note that what eventually led to his political demise was the factor of endless ambitions, which were rolled into motion wrongly, against the basic economic principles.
When things took a wrong turn, he introduced draconian laws that were very dictatorial. Insulting the president could land one in prison, and people could be arrested and sentenced without trials. Parastatals were failing, and he decided to raise the taxes, which subsequently increased the standard of living. The cumulative effect of this was growing resentment towards Kwame. One can look at Kwame Nkrumah’s legacy through any side they want. But what is of importance to note is that his Pan-African ideals have had a profound impact on the history of Africa.