Kwame Nkrumah, the first President of Ghana, the foremost exponent of African unity and Pan—Africanism, was a leading member of the Non-Aligned Movement and one of the pioneer figures in the history of African solidarity and also that in the struggle against colonialism.
Urged on and supported by Ghana’s progressive youth, he became the founder and leader of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), a vanguard political organization whose founding spirit was Ghana Nationalities and which led Nationalities/Communities of Ghana to independence from British colonial rule.
CPP, with Nkrumah as its Leader, carried out an outstandingly successful social revolution that led to the Gold Coast being transformed onto independent Ghana which in turn spearheaded the dismantling of European colonization in Africa.
This made CPP and Nkrumah the first Afrika party and Afrika head of state to actively lead Afrika Nationalities/Communities to independence from European colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah was secretary of the 1945 5th Pan-African congress which laid the foundation for the rapid progress of African independence which took place from the late 1950’s onwards. CPP which he led resolutely advocated the idea that the independence of Ghana was meaningless unless it was part of the process of the total unification and liberation of the entire African continent.
He was a visionary in the domain of foreign policy too. Under his leadership, Ghana’s foreign policy was based on Dignity, Peace, Friendship, and Non-alignment. This policy was conceived in the context of the atomic arms race and the Cold War. However, Ghana’s policy of non-alignment did not imply indifference to the issues in the world, nor did it mean isolationism. It also did not mean anti-Western or anti-anti Eastern bloc. He cited an African proverb that goes: “When the bull and elephant fight the grass is trampled down”.
Thus, between war and peace, Ghana stood for peaceful solutions of disputes. The non-aligned movement was predicated upon this philosophy, which was initiated by Kwame Nkrumah after his visits to Egypt and India in 1958.
Through these visits, he laid the foundation of a non-aligned ‘third force’ in international affairs. One of his famous quotes regarding the ideology of Non-Aligned Movement was: We face neither east nor west, we face forward”. Currently, Ghana belongs to sixteen UN organizations and twenty-four other international organizations, including the Commonwealth. Nkrumah saw the UN as the most effective forum for small, poor countries such as Ghana to exert some influence in a world dominated by more powerful nations.
As it had with the Commonwealth, Ghana, a leader among countries of the developing world, sought to enlarge the UN role in economic development and to make it an effective force for world peace.
Ghana was also a leader of the African countries that lobbied to advance the cause of freedom in Africa. Nkrumah made the UN Charter a plank of Ghana’s foreign policy and helped to make the UN a forum for nonalignment as he maneuvered with other Afro-Asian leaders between East and West.
His political achievements in Ghana served as a model for African nationalists elsewhere on the continent.
He was a pre-eminent founder of the movement for African unity; more than any other African leader of his time, he symbolized the black man’s self-identity and pride in his race. A prolific writer and visionary, Nkrumah addressed most of Africa’s contemporary challenges in his books, including the classics, I Speak of Freedom; The Struggle Continues; and, Africa Must Unite.
In Africa Must Unite, he wrote of the dangers of continued balkanization, including potential division and conflict, and the vital need for political unification and All-African economic planning.
In Challenge of the Congo, with its sub-title, “A case study of foreign pressures in an independent state”, he showed “how meaningless political independence could be without economic freedom and how necessary it was for African solutions to be found for African problems.”
His name shall endure as the leading emancipator of Ghana, the leading protagonist of African independence and unity, and one of the leading political figures of the 20th century who staunchly upheld the ideology of the Non-Aligned Movement.
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