News Headlines

Dr. Kofi Dompere On Nkrumah’s Scientific Thinking 14

Columnist: Kwarteng, Francis

The late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

The late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah

KWAME NKRUMAH: “Yet all the stock exchanges in the world are preoccupied with Africa’s gold, diamonds, uranium, platinum, copper and iron ores. Our CAPITAL flows out in streams to irrigate the whole system of Western economy. Fifty-two per cent of the gold in Fort Knox at this moment, where the USA stores its bullion, is believed to have originated from OUR shores. Africa provides more than 60 per cent of the world’s gold. A great deal of the uranium for nuclear power, of copper for electronics, of titanium for supersonic projectiles, of iron and steel for heavy industries, of other minerals and raw materials for lighter industries?the basic economic might of the foreign Powers?comes from OUR continent” (Nkrumah’s emphasis).

Let us summarize some of the major contributions of Nkrumahism to African liberation (courtesy of Dr. Zizwe Poe):

1) Nkrumah linked the traditions of West African nationalism and Pan-African nationalism.
2) Nkrumah initiated and developed the first Pan-African liberated state in modern history.
3) Nkrumah elevated Pan-Africanism movement to the level of nation-states.
4) Nkrumah developed the notion of socialist African union as the optimal zone for the African personality, genius.

5) Nkrumah offered a formal philosophy to defend the ideology of the African Revolution.
6) Nkrumah initiated the first African state sponsored effort for African research.

An October 2012 FRENCH DEFENSE REPORT however says: “FRANCE VIEWS PAN-AFRICANISM AS A THREAT TO WESTERN INTERESTS IN AFRICA IN GENERAL AND FRENCH INTERESTS IN AFRICA IN PARTICULAR” (see “Bleeding Africa: A Half Century of the Francafrique,” Loonwatch, March 25, 2014; see also Antoine R. Lokongo’s “Central African Republic: The Hidden Hands Behind ‘Yet Another Good Day,’” Pambazuka News, April 17, 2013).

We shall return to this six-point summary briefly in later pages. Now to the issue of blind, mindless copycatism and other matters: The questions we want to ask at this juncture are: How long are we going to continue aping external negativities at our expense? What of the threats of internalizing nativist negativities, of collective self-destructive tendencies such as kleptomania? No doubt Ghana and Africa find themselves in a fix! For instance, while emerging economic powers as China and Russia are doing everything within their means to wean themselves off the dominance of the US dollar in international trade African economies are rather increasing their dependency on it! That is not all, though. Political homiletics seems to have completely taken over the critical consciousness of continentalism and of the masses, the African Unity Nkrumah talked about, not the shadow we have today! What happened to Nkrumah’s African High Command? Is AFRICOM a better substitute? Why is European Union good but African Union bad? What are Africans doing to make Ghana and Africa better? Does Nkrumahism have any relevance today? Is the new crop of African leadership willing to listen to the voice of reason, of Nkrumahism?

We pose these questions because the West, France for instance, still sees Africa as her “private backyard” (arrière-cours). Réservé (private domain), chasse-gardée (exclusive hunting ground), and pré-carré (natural preserve) are the other derogatory labels the French have for Africa. Has Africa become the “Toilet Paper? You call Ugandan money shit paper?” Joseph Olita blurted out in the movie “Rise and Fall of Amin”? Why do Africans still allow others to use their homes as backyards, as a social-political backwater? Is Africa not probably the world’s richest in terms of mineral wealth? Does Eastern Congo’s mineral wealth alone not surpass the GDPs of America and Western Europe combined? What is our problem then? Is the problem the scourge of Nkrumah’s neocolonialism, the last stage of imperialism? What about her vast and resourceful human capital? Is Africa still of the knowledge that mineral resources are wealth?

Mineral wealth is not necessarily wealth, but the value added to it. It is technology, not raw materials, that provides the link between raw materials and true wealth. There is no political leader in Ghana’s entire political history who understood this link than Nkrumah given the policies he put in place to swap Ghana and Africa neocolonial status as factor market for product market. Following the prime example of Nkrumah, the new crop of African leadership should make industrialization the focus of educational reform in the 21st century. And even more so, Nkrumah’s blueprint for industrialization is already there for the new crop of African leadership to make good use of as a model for turning the continent’s infrastructural capital and natural capital into true wealth. The beneficiation concept underlying the modalities of Nkrumah’s educational, scientific, technological, and industrialization vision are worth looking into to from the standpoint of Africa’s comparative advantage and the benefits of rural science, eliminating the deficits of information asymmetry with developed economies, and reducing Africa’s ecological debt.

We should learn to take interest in Nkrumah’s vision of arousing children’s interest in science early in their school life (see Nkrumah’s speech “Opening of British Science Exhibition”), as well the one accompanying his Seven-Year Development Plan (“Blue Print of Our Goal: Launching the Seven-Year Development Plan”). In this March 11, 1964 speech [the Seven-Year Development Plan] to the National Assembly on spelling out his rationale for Ghana’s industrial development Nkrumah made some interesting observations about graft, cronyism, greed, bribery, undue favoritism, and political corruption as they related to the granting of government contracts in the execution of the Plan and how his government planned to deal with individuals who abused the system for personal gain. Nkrumah’s position that “a special effort” be made “in order to ensure that the rate of progress in the less favored parts of the country is even greater than the rate of progress in those sections which have hitherto been more favorable. It is only by this means that we can achieve a more harmonious national development” remains an unfulfilled dream.”

Food security, constructing large-scale housing for the masses, social justice, happiness, forest and animal husbandry, urban planning, improving the quality of life and standard of life of the masses, environmental consciousness, protecting the strategic interests of the state and those of Africa are all relevant to the strategic success and sustenance of economic development, just as they were in the Nkrumah days. Among his many worries, Nkrumah could not understand why Africans should go hungry when food crops from the Congo Basin alone could feed half of the world’s population, and why Africa should be poor when her mineral wealth enriched as well as strengthened Western economies (also see Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”)! That aside, Nkrumah’s environmental consciousness should be understood partly in terms of his criticism of the French atom tests in the Sahara, his promotion of forest husbandry to improve Ghana’s ecological health, and his understanding of the impact of the construction of the Akosombo Dam on the human ecology of the area. This is what the developmental psychologist Howard Gardner, essentially, calls “naturalistic” as part of his intelligence modalities. Nkrumah made these modalities fixtures of his political personality.

Nkrumah’s ability to discern clear correlations among European mercantilism, dependency complex, and neocolonialism accentuated his scientific thinking on the complexities of international, commercial and economic relations. This brings to mind the intrinsic dangers which the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) poses to the Westphalian sovereignties of West African nation-states, especially their political economies. In effect the Seven-Year Development Plan speaks to the scientific, technological, and humanistic dilemmas of Ghana’s, and by extension Africa’s, development priorities, providing some of the major strategic and tactical diversions from Africa’s neocolonial dependency complex on external patronage. These innovative ideas and development projections are worth looking into. Finally, it is important the new African leadership revisits the six-point assessments we attributed to Dr. Poe to see where Africa is going wrong. The impression is that, unlike Europeans and their vigorous promotion of Pan-Europeanism nationalism via which they have successfully managed to exert their influence over the globe, Africans are not doing enough to promote the kind of radical industrialization and scientific-technological revolution Nkrumah pushed via his Afrocentric Pan-African nationalism and Nkrumahism.

Nkrumah pushed these to advance the cause of the African Revolution, Africa’s development economics, unitary continentalization, economic and political empowerment, foreign policy, and science diplomacy. The Americans did likewise, and Asians are presently doing similarly. We now know what the so-called Asian Tigers did to achieve the enviable status they enjoy today along the world’s best, and we also know from the long range of Nkrumah’s scientific thinking how close they [Nkrumah’s ideas] brought Ghana and Africa to a similar standing in the global political economy. Development economists, political scientists, policy analysts, and historians have correctly noted that the Asian Tigers have taken a generation to achieve what it took the West three hundred years to accomplish. What others may not yet know is the fact that Nkrumah’s autobiography (1957) reveals his intention to transform Ghana and Africa in a generation as opposed to the three hundred years the West took to transform herself. Evidently then, the answers to our development dilemmas are science and technology, investment in research and development (R&D); technological change (TC) and innovation; stronger institutions; radical political reform; knowledge economy; passage of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOIB) in Ghana; patriotism; expanding supply chain Management networks, infrastructural capital, and the manufacturing base of African economies; and the kind of radical educational system, national and continental unity proposition, and policy strategies Nkrumah advanced.

It is in this context that Nkrumah built many factories, industries, research institutions, schools, and universities. He had hope to use them to convert some of Ghana’s vast mineral deposits and cash commodities into finished products, provide employment to the masses, build upon the entrepreneurial potential of the people and harness the benefits for national development, and use Ghana’s success therefrom as a model to inform his continental agenda. But what did Busia and his client the National Liberation Council (NLM), and succeeding generations of Ghanaian leadership do? They liquidated some of these companies by allowing them to rot at the suggestion of the IMF/World Bank; sold the remainder to themselves, family members, cronies, and Western multinational companies. As the facts reveal Nkrumah built factories and industries because he clearly understood the science and economic science of value-adding, knowing full well that Africa had no voice in the higher decisional echelons of commodity markets. Obviously, there is no gainsaying a need to look into why Ghana’s and Africa’s scientific, educational, and research institutions are not producing the requisite technologies for Africa’s developmental transformation!

It is equally important that policy makers look into the wide developmental differential between Africa on the one hand and the West and Asia on the other hand from the standpoint of knowledge and research gaps. We need to understand why Nkrumah put Ghana ahead of some of the emerging economies in Asia but now finds herself [Ghana] lagging behind. The above questions and reservations notwithstanding, the idea of Africa and her sons and daughters allowing others to use her as a backyard and a recreational backwater is a deeply troubling proposition.

Now consider the following statements:

Jacques Chirac (2008): “WITHOUT AFRICA, FRANCE WILL SLIDE DOWN INTO THE RANK OF A THIRD [WORLD] POWER.”

Francois Mitterrand (1957): “WITHOUT AFRICA, FRANCE WILL HAVE NO HISTORY IN THE 21ST CENTURY.”

Jacques Godfrain (2011): “A LITTLE COUNTRY [FRANCE], WITH A SMALL AMOUNT OF STRENGTH, WE CAN MOVE A PLANET BECAUSE OF OUR RELATIONS WITH 15 OR 20 AFRICAN COUNTRIES.”

Pierre Moscovici (2013): “WE HAVE TO SPEAK THE LANGUAGE OF TRUTH: AFRICAN GROWTH PULLS US ALONG. ITS DYNAMISM SUPPORTS US AND ITS VITALITY IS STIMULATING FOR US…WE NEED AFRICA.”

Nicholas Sarkozy: “AFRICA HAS NO HISTORY…THE AFRICAN MAN HAS NOT FULLY ENTERED INTO HISTORY” (See Antoine R. Lokongo’s “African Nations Can No Longer Afford to be Taken as France’s Garden”).

Nicholas Sarkozy: “FRANCE DOES NOT NEED AFRICA” (See Chofor Che’s “France and Francophone: A Marriage of Inconvenience”).

How serious should Africa and her sons and daughters take Sarkozy’s last statement, if indeed what Hinsley Njila says: “Every year, the CIA and the World Bank publish a list of the poorest countries in the world. In the current list available on the CIA website the majority of the former French colonies in Africa fall in the ‘bottom 50’ of the poorest countries in the world” is true? (See “CFA: A Currency Designed to Keep Francophone African Countries Poor,” Feb. 9, 2008).

Chofor writes: “Another area where Francophone Africa continues to suffer from the marriage with France is the imposition of the franc CFA…The structuring and composition of the central banks makes it possible for a colossal sum of finances from Africa to the French public treasury. This means that very poor countries finance France. There happens to be over 8000 billion of CFA from Africa stocked in France…”

Mawuna Remarque Koutonin writes: “France is not ready to move away from that colonial system which puts about 500 billion dollars from Africa to its treasury every year…When Sekou Toure of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of French colonial empire, and opted for the country’s independence, the French colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in an act of fury the French Administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits of French colonialism. Three thousand French left the country, taking all their property and destroying anything that which could not be moved: Schools, nurseries, public administration buildings were crumbled; cars, books, medicine, research institute instruments, tractors were crushed and sabotaged; horses, cows in the farms were killed, and food in warehouses were burned or poisoned” (See “14 African Countries Forced to Pay Colonial Tax for the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization”; Koutonin also discusses the fate of African leaders who dared decide to break away from the CFA: France connection: Coups, assassinations, etc).

Most shockingly if we could add, Dr. Asante told these authors a few years back after visiting Ivory Coast and meeting with some of the country’s leaders, activists, and scholars, that, ownership of the Ivorian national economy is mostly foreign and, in that regard, 99% French-owned. Writer Lokongo provides additional evidence about France and her neocolonial interventionist policies with her former colonies in his afore-cited Pambazuka News. He writes: “It [France] has secured a monopoly in Ivory Coast.” Lokongo goes on to mention a popular impression of the French that France, their country, is “totally bankrupt”; and that France’s postcolonial strategy to see her interventionist monopoly strategies in Africa’s political economy become a material reality, by any means necessary, is driven by a burning need to revitalize her ailing economy.

Giving these facts, is it any wonder that the former British African colonies are doing relatively better than their French counterparts as measured by GDP, infrastructure, business deals, economic growth rates, market size, entrepreneurship, quality of business environment, etc? (See Alain Faujas’ “Africa: Why Francophones Are Lagging Behind Anglophones,” The African Report, Jan. 12, 2012). This cache of funds can be used to incentivize scholars, researchers, scientists, and other professionals; invest in R&D and supply chain management projects; fight brain drain and economic immigration; build schools, research facilities, roads, and hospitals; contain the rising business cost of disease burden across the continent; underwrite or defray the overhead expenses of the African Union (AU). After all, what is the point of allowing the European Union to extend financial support to the AU when Africa has the funds and when Nkrumah insisted that it [AU] should be independent and free from undue influences and pressure from external patronage?

In fact the gross mismanagement of Africa’s mineral wealth is taking a serious toll on Africa’s development economics. For instance, the late General Lansana Conte, President of Guinea, gave one of the world’s largest known deposits of untapped iron ore located in his country to Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli businessman Beny Steinmetz, on the cheap. This caused Mo Ibrahim to wonder if the Guineans involved in the deal were “dead idiots, or criminals, or both” (see Patrick R. Keefe’s “Buried Secrets,” The New Yorker, July 8, 2013). This would never have happened under Nkrumah, since the politico-moral revolution he embarked upon provided a vigorous platform for an African-centered critique of the kind of corporate imperialism African leadership has adopted as a development strategy. It would be covering old ground to make any exegetical forays into the political and diplomatic problems Nkrumah’s “Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism” caused for Ghana’s relations with the West.

However, the behavior of African leaders has compelled some critics of African leadership who have acquired insider knowledge of outrageous deals, such as the Guinean example, to make nostalgic references to slavery and re-colonization of Africa as a desired and fitting riposte to bad leadership. This indictment of African leadership has come in a fit of anger and righteous indignation. Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni said in September 1994: “I have never blamed the whites for colonizing Africa; I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave” (“The Atlantic Monthly Magazine,” Vol. 274, Issue 3, p. 22). In 1998, The Shariat, a Ugandan newspaper, attributed the following remarks to Museveni“: As Hitler did to bring Germany together, we should also do it here. Hitler was a smart guy, but I think he went a bit too far by wanting to conquer the world” (Vol 2, No. 15, April 15-21; see also Milton Allimadi’s “Rep. Rangel Deplores Gen. Museveni’s Past ‘Hateful’ Statements on Slavery, Hitler, and LGBTS,” Black Star News, Aug. 1, 2014). It may also be recalled that certain members within the leadership of Hutu militants relied Nazi documents to execute the Rwandan Genocide (see Ben Kiernan’s “Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur”).

Nkrumah’s “scientific” conception of education provides a standard critique of the neocolonial psychology Museveni and the general leadership of Africa represent. The question is: With the uncontrollable spate of corruption and kleptomania going on all over Africa, what is the guarantee that these funds could be put to good use? This question begs for answers that African leadership avoids for lack of accountability, transparency, and probity!

Yet the French neocolonial relationship with her former colonies constitutes a major cause for worry. No wonder Paul Kagame chose to swap French for English as the linguistic medium for scholarship, business, international politics, and diplomacy in Rwanda. French has now taken on linguistic officiality besides Kinyarwanda, though Kagame still acknowledges that Rwanda’s adoption and officializing of English has strategic and tactical benefits for extending the hand of Rwanda’s commercial and diplomatic reach deeper into the pocket of global finance and international politics. Kagame has always pointed accusing fingers at the French for instigating the Rwandan Genocide, a moral culpability which the French vehemently deny. These are classic examples of Walter Rodney’s “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa”! Yet Europe is under-developing Africa with the active support of African leadership. What then can the “brotherhood” Nkrumah talked about so passionately do to fight these injustices? Were Busia and Danquah better than the British Colonial Government?

What has Nkrumahism got to say about all these, Africa’s development dilemma and economic challenges? It is essential also for the new crop of African leadership and the masses to see the following four-point suggestions through: 1) Reinforcing African solidarity; 2) Increasing the volume of intra-African trade by African countries; 3) Resisting neocolonialism and cultural imperialism by putting in place industrial, educational, scientific, and technological structures to underwrite Africa’s scientific development, self-determination, and economic development; 4) Strengthening the Africa Union and weaning it off foreign sponsorship and patronage; 5) [African countries’] striking strategic economic, scientific and technological, and development deals with the West and Asia in the best interests of Africa. This five-step-point model symbolizes some of the basic building blocks of Nkrumahism and of Nkrumah’s scientific thinking, which are also well represented in the larger implications of Prof. Dompere’s work on Nkrumahism.

We may want to add the following modalities for further consideration (courtesy of Botwe-Asamoah and Nkrumah). African leadership should honor these proposals: 1) A Commission to draw up details for a Common Foreign Policy and Diplomacy; 2) A Commission to produce plans for a Common System of Defense (Nkrumah’s African High Command); 3) A Commission to make proposals for a Common African Citizenship; 4) A Commission to work out a continental plan for a common economic and industrial program for Africa: a) A Common Market, b) An African Currency, c) An African Central Bank, and d) A Continental Communication System. The European Union has already realized most of these proposals. Importantly, the formation of the African High Command is necessary because its projected contributions to the management of Africa’s internal affairs will make the foreign policy agenda for which AFRICOM was created ineffective, as well as undermine the interventionist agenda of France and others who merely want to use Africa and her vast wealth for their development ends. Thus Nkrumah gave Africa three choices to choose from: 1) TO LOOK TO EACH OTHER AND POOL OUR RESOURCES, 2) TO LOOK TO ONE OR OTHER OF THE FOREIGN POWERS AND BECOME DEPENDENT UPON THEM, and 3) TO ISOLATE OURSELVES AND REGRESS (see his speech “Africa Needs Her Farmers” delivered during the March 19, 1962 Conference of the Framers of Africa).

Lastly, Nkrumah gave Africa one advice she cannot do without. He writes: “Africa is one continent, one people, and one nation. The notion that in order to have a nation it is necessary for there to be a common language, a common territory, and common culture has failed to stand the test of time or the scrutiny of scientific definition of objective reality…” The examples of the United States of America and the European Union are, in hindsight, the standard “test of time” or “the scrutiny of scientific definition of objective reality” Nkrumah may have had in mind. The ancient empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai also provide another set of examples. And with all the intra-African border and marital conflicts and disputes over mineral wealth, gas and oil, as the ongoing international arbitration between Ivory Coast and Ghana indicates, one would have thought African leaders will see wisdom in Nkrumah’s unitary system of continentalism as a “scientific” riposte to Africa’s internal problems. What does it say about Africa that decades after formal political independence Africans still run to their ex-colonial masters for adjudication and arbitration? What if we think of Africa in terms of the continentalization of defense, mobilization of resources for the people’s benefit rather than for the greed of foreign multinational companies, and unitarization of foreign policy? Evidently Nkrumah’s scientific thinking itself has stood the “test of time” or “the scrutiny of scientific definition of objective reality!

Final questions: Have the accounts of Dr. Asante, Chofor, Njila, Koutonin, and Faujas not more than confirmed the central thesis of Nkrumah’s “Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”? Do we now understand why the West is not happy with Pan-Africanism, and why France and her Western partners teamed up to overthrow Nkrumah? Does the October 2012 French Defense Report not say it all? Did Nkrumah’s scientific thinking not predict these neocolonial happenings taking place? Can anyone doubt the proven political arithmetic of Nkrumah’s scientific thinking, of Nkrumahism, and of his exegetical stance on the political sociology of neocolonialism? Has Nkrumah not been vindicated then? It turns out Dr. Asante has seen wisdom in relating the solution to Africa’s development dilemmas to Nkrumah’s scientific approach to resource and mass mobilization, and conscientization strategies and tactics.

He [Dr. Asante] notes: “NKRUMAH WAS A PROPHET OF REALITY; HIS POLITICS TOOK THE FORM OF PROACTIVE WORK TO RAISE THE CONSCIOUSNESS OF THE MASSES. BUT THE PROCESS IS LONG; THE JOB IS HARD, AND THE PEOPLE ARE OFTEN UNWILLING TO GIVE UP THE DEVIL THEY KNOW FOR THE DEVIL THEY DO NOT KNOW…IN THE NAME OF NKRUMAH, LET US RE-ORIENT OURSELVES, TO OUR COMMITMENTS TO EACH OTHER, TO OUR DRIVE TOWARD A FEDERATIVE AFRICAN UNION, AND TO A CONNECTION TO AFRICANS EVERYWHERE” (our emphasis; see “Nkrumah Celebration”). Is Dr. Asante’s “consciousness of the masses” what Prof. Dompere refers to as “cognitive imbecility”? Possibly!

Granted, it was not for nothing that Amilcar Cabral called Nkrumah “a strategic genius.” His statement that Nkrumah’s “place in African history is assured” is misleading and misplaced. In fact, his failure to rise above his intellectual, emotional, and political limitations in assessing the far-reaching achievements and scientific implications of Nkrumah’s ideas for Africa’s technological, politico-economic, and industrial development, self-determination, and military empowerment stunted and tainted his judgment of Nkrumah’s true place in world history. Dr. Kwame Amuah, Mandela’s son-in-law (husband of Makaziwe Mandela-Awuah), tells the world Mandela held Nkrumah as his hero (see “How Do You Write on Death When You Haven’t Experienced it? Nelson Mandela to His Son-in-Law,” New African, Dec. 2, 2013). The other point is that there is no single individual in Africa’s entire political history comparable to Nkrumah. Nkrumah’s Gold Medal Award (United Nations’ Special Session, 1978), World Peace Prize (World Veterans Federation, 1954), and the SATMA Awards (South African Government, Ingwe Mabalabala Holdings, National Heritage Council of South Africa) confirm his stature in global history.

Mr. Enoch Ampofo, the Ghanaian representative in South Africa who received the SATMA Awards on Nkrumah’s and Ghana’s behalf, said: “GAINING PERSPECTIVES INTO HOW DR. KWAME NKRUMAH HAS AFFECTED THE LIVES OF PEOPLE IN SOUTH AFRICA, I FOUND OUT THAT BACK IN THE DAYS OF APARTHEID, THE OPPRESSED WENT TO SCHOOL AND WERE TAUGHT ABOUT THE PRINCIPLES OF KWAME NKRUMAH OR NKRUMAHISM.”

We conclude this chapter by stressing that Prof. Dompere’s scientific, philosophic, and mathematical valuation of Nkrumahism puts these larger inquests of sociology, development economics, political economy, development sociology, and self-determination in their proper scientific perspectives and contexts!

We shall return…