Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Reflecting on the 24th February 1966 in Ghanaian History

I'm ashamed to admit that it was the BBC that had to be the one to remind me that today marks 43 years since one of the most dramatic events in Ghanaian history occurred. On 24th February 1966, the first President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, was overthrown in what was the first in a series of coup d'états that blot the landscape of Ghanaian history.
Hindsight 20/20 makes it easy for everyone to present differing points of view of how Ghana would have turned out without the coup. Some insist that Dr. Nkrumah should have been allowed to continue with his seemingly promising socialist agenda and pursue his dream of a united Africa. Others on the other side of the debate argue that Dr. Nkrumah was already showing signs of becoming increasingly autocratic and less tolerant of dissenting voices. History also tells us that he seemed to be devoting more time to pursuing his vision of a united Africa to the detriment of Ghana.

Regardless of what our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles tell us or what some of people may even remember about this time, today provides the perfect occasion to reflect on the Butterfly Effect that I rambled on about earlier. How could Ghana's history be different if Kwame Nkrumah was never overthrown? The possibilities and scenarios are endless. Possible scenarios without the coup:
  • Ghana could have emerged as a leading industrial nation in Africa under the Nkrumah-ist socialist agenda with an almost egalitarian society as well as marginal differences between rich and poor. However, is there any country out there where a rigorous socialist agenda actually stood the test of time?
  • Falling commidity prices in the early 1970s could have hit Ghana's socialist agenda in the same way they hammered another socialist country Tanzania rendering it one of Africa's poorest nations. In this scenario, Ghana may only have been able to recover years later in the same way as Tanzania.
  • Ghana could have become a reactionary one-party state with Dr. Nkrumah as the aging dictator unwilling to give up power in the vein of a certain "Uncle Bob" way down South.
  • The authoritarian nature of a one-party state under Kwame Nkrumah could have lead to a rebellious armed opposition that would have plunged Ghana into a bitter civil war. This war would have pitted Western-backed rebels against Communist-backed Nkrumah similar to the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.
Alas, as with the Butterfly Effect, the possibilities are endless. Regardless of how history did in fact play out, this 24th February is different. Simply because this year, Kwame Nkrumah's only daughter Samia has just taken up her seat as a member of parliament for the latest incarnation of her father's party, the Convention People's Party. There is something about coming full circle about that.

12 comments:

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

I was in Ghana when these events took place and although I was only 5 at the time - my parents tales of what went on (+ photos and newspaper articles) make me almost feel as though the memories I have are my own...
Samia is a very beautiful lady..:)

novisi said...

the story of Nkrumah is always one that makes me wonder...

i believe no matter how the story is told or looked at, some things are very clear:

1. Nkrumah clearly never used the so called Ghana money to enrich himself and his family...like some others have done.

2. There's one country where a rigorous socialist agenda has actually stood the test of 'some' time and that country is Cuba! {just trying [trying!] to tie down fact here...not personal} (personally, I'm no socialist nor capitalist... i just believe in proper solutions). socialist or capitalist doesn't matter much, does it??? America is on the downhill motion right???

3. J. B. Danquah died in prison under Nkrumah as a political prisoner. And that is a big question on Nkrumah's human right's record.

4. It is clear too that most of Nkrumah's human right's faults started as a result of activities of CIA sponsored agents like Danquah and Obetsebi Lamptey who planted bomb traps for Nkrumah and so on! thus REACTIONARY FOOLISHNESS if you ask me!

5. And did Nkrumah actually prosecute a total Socialist agenda? i wonder so when i come to think of the negotiation that led to the building of Akosombo Dam. well...

so Nkrumah may just have been foolish with human rights' issues but surely his ideals and examples surely go far!

Long live Nkrumah!!!

Abena said...

That is amazing that u have photos and newspaper articles from this time! Samia is indeed beautiful. She was on tv yesterday and appears to be quite an intelligent lady.Unfortunately, she has quite a task ahead of her being the only CPP member of parliament.

Abena said...

Thanks Novisi, indeed you are right, Nkrumah may not have followed a completely socialist agenda on Marxist principles outlined in Das Kapital!

On another note, even though there are indications that there were CIA elements operating in Ghana, I have a real issue with the whole "JB Danquah was a CIA agent" story. If you do a search on google (JB Danquah + CIA). The only web-pages that come up are from Ghanaian sources....ghanaweb, modernghana...etc etc.
Under the American freedom of information act, CIA files from this period are now declassified and open to the public. So if one does not have time to go and search for files in CIA basements in Langley, Virginia there is webpage at http://www.foia.cia.gov/ that is the CIA's electronic reading room. If you enter "Danquah" into the search engine, no search results come up. Why would that be? After all, among Ghanaians it appears that the JB Danquah paid agent story is a fact.
As far as I'm concerned if I don't see any CIA documents stating it as a fact it is still a fallacy.

patrick said...

It is amazing that some of us still are wasting our little time calling someone a CIA agent, africans love this crap.The guys who waste our time on J.B.Danquah been a agent are themselves the one who getting their monthly expense check from the local CIA liaison or call it Case officer,trust me i know what i talking about..I will like to know how some of these guys from the NDC got their kids in some colleges in the states.hmmmm.bye

Abena said...

Thanks for the input Patrick..it is indeed all a slippery slope...

novisi said...

Abena dear,
did i just goof again big time on Danquah and CIA here...? WOW!

i guess a man could goof some right??? there must be enough space in this universe for that... and by same measure there must be enough space to condemn any such foolishness! still right, RIGHT??

ok, now let's take it a bit more slowly, the topic still remains about Nkrumah...

that said, it must be interesting for anyone to find out what role the US ambassador Mr. William P. Mahoney played in the overthrow of Nkrumah and what relationship he ever did have with Danquah.

This coupled with the machinations of Danquah and Co against Nkrumah with bombs and bullets directed at Nkrumah in an attempt to rob him of his FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT TO LIFE must interest anyone without needing to wait for CIA to declassify anything as they wish on only their terms!

even Cain the murderer in the Bible which some people believe in warned that anyone who killed Cain would have multiples of punishments right? fundamental right to life gone biblical here if you want!

IN ANY CASE it is known that not all the declassified documents come really declassified...some pages are either kept for private viewing or out of coverage area and you are left to keep trying like mobile service in Ghana.

and who ever said that by dicto everything is documented? one might be happy or sad to read about the contribution of one Howard Banes and his exploits and how he got promoted by the CIA.

[but i admit that these issues are not explicit or naked enough to reveal the bare essentials and that is why i accept without delay in repetitive fashion that i goofed bad.]


Now Patrick's comment makes me jerk some in robotic motion... because i see loads of goof in there on his part too.

i accept my goof (for the records) but would Patrick come to accept his too??? how does he prove that those who call Danquah CIA agents are themselves CIA agents with all the linkage to NDC folk by same measure??? Patrick sure knows what he's 'TALKING ABOUT'!

and more goof by Patrick: he says Africans 'love this crap'! meanwhile you are African and you clearly do not like 'this crap' and so does he himself. or is he not african? definitely som-tin-wron!!!

so let Patrick just understand that whether climbing up or climbing down "it is indeed all a slippery slope...", like you put it!

CHEERS!!!

patrick said...

Hello bro novisi,trust me i did not goof about what i said about those who are making load noise about brother danqauh are them shelf's in the pocket of local cia case officers in accra ..they are stomach agents who get their little 500 to 1000 dollar every other month to spy on fellow friends,most of them work in the police ,news media ,army even your new govt.and i can prove it next time i am town or we share a nice cold star beer..lol

novisi said...

nice one Patrick,
i'm sure i would love the adventure to find out who and who are spying who....and in so doing i might just be spying on others too so in that case note that i'm not against spying at all...it must be a sweet activity indeed!

and while i still maintain that until the proofs come you goofed by the standards being set here by Abena, i'm game for the beer!

aaaaaah, sweet!!!

Abena said...

Novisi; I'm always happy to provide a forum for a healthy exchange of ideas. I do agree with you though, the burden is indeed on Patrick to substantiate his claims....I guess it would have to be in the real world tete a tete over cold beer....Alas, hopefully no recording devices will feature!!

Africa News said...

My personal view is that Unkrumah started off well but i feel power corrupted him and thus his human rights side of things were appalling.


He started incarcerating his political opponents and aligning himself with the former USSR, and i believe that made the CIA sit up. Remember those were the days when the USA and USSR were fighting the bitter cold war. The CIA feared if Nkrumah were to be successful uniting Africa, he was gonna deliver us to the USSR and that was going to be unacceptable to the USA. They saw Africa as a strategic point in the world with whom they could manipulate to suit their whims.

Thus, i guess Nkrumah caused his own downfall. JB Danquah, Obetsebi Lamptey and co also wanted power, CIA wanted to dispose off Nkrumah before he could deliver Africa to the USSR, hence both parties (JB Danquah & co. and the USA)saw it as win win situation.

Abena said...

Interesting and very plausible perspective. Alas, more speculation than hard facts but plausible.