Kwame Nkrumah’s quest for Pan Africanism: from independence leader to deposed despot
On February 12, 1951, Francis Nwia-Kofi “Kwame” Nkrumah walked out of James Fort Prison to become the first Prime Minister of the Gold Coast. After a landslide election, Nkrumah and his Convention People’s Party (CPP) sought to end British imperial rule in the Gold Coast and create a socialist Pan African union on the continent. In six years the highly educated and charismatic Nkrumah gained independence for the Gold Coast, which he promptly renamed Ghana, on March 6, 1957. Both Nkrumah and Ghana entered independence with a great deal of potential and possibility for success. However, Nkrumah’s desire for a United States of Africa became an obsession that prevented the leader from attending to Ghana’s crucial economic and development needs. As national opposition to Nkrumah’s leadership rose, he responded with oppressive laws and increased centralized authority over the people who came to view Nkrumah more as an egotistical dictator than a savior. The majority of the literature surrounding the biography and legacy of Kwame Nkrumah focuses on the leader’s shortcomings in an attempt to negate Nkrumah’s early accomplishments. This work explores Nkrumah’s legacy from a middle ground perspective by examining how Nkrumah successfully introduced Pan Africanism to Ghana and fought for the potential of African unity. The composition also demonstrates how Nkrumah’s intoxication with his own image and clear decline into dictatorship shattered his dreams of a United States of Africa.
Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History.