FOUR Lessons to learn from Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Legacy

A lot has been said and written about the person and achievements of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of the Republic of Ghana. It is an undeniable fact that the achievements and impacts of Dr. Nkrumah are enormous not only on our continent, but globally as well. It is very good to discuss the past, but we don’t help ourselves much if we fail to learn useful lessons from it in our quest to build upon our present, and improve our future.

Below are four useful lessons from Dr Kwame Nkrumah.

1. His Vision

Nkrumah was somebody who saw beyond what his contemporaries saw. He saw the future from the present and acted his vision out; he lived his vision, though he couldn’t complete it. He realized that vision without action was nothing but a dream, but vision with action has the faculty of transforming our country and the continent. Dr. Nkrumah figured out that the only way for the African to earn respect and dignity in this world is through the empowerment of the people through education. This is evidenced in the number of educational institutions which he built across the length and breadth of the country. He also reckoned that for Ghana to be a major player on the world scene there was the need for the country to develop the infrastructure that are needed to hold the economy firm. Unfortunately, almost all the manufacturing industries that were established by Nkrumah have been sold to private individuals, most of them foreign nationals.

This vision should not be allowed to remain a dream. We elect politicians to continue with this vision in order to bring the country on the path of progress, prosperity and peace. These leaders are supposed to be the mind, heart, and eye of the country, so as to fulfill and live the dreams and visions of this visionary. His vision also reminds us that instead of taking away the jobs of people who are perceived to be loyal to certain political groups to their members when they assume the mandate of ruling the country, governments should think about creating more jobs.

2. Selflessness

Nkrumah didn’t enter politics to make wealth or loot the economy as some leaders in the country and on the continent do. He came to serve and help his people out of poverty and economic despondency. We are talking about somebody, who gave his entire life for his country and continent. He realized that great men don’t die; they live on the minds of successive generations as a result of their selflessness and patriotism. Nkrumah, together with other patriots put their lives in harm’s way to ensure that Ghana was born and ready to champion the cause for the liberation of other countries on the continent. Honestly, but painfully, the life and selflessness of Dr. Nkrumah is in stark contrast to those of most of our leaders after him. We are not going to get anywhere in our developmental efforts if our leaders fail to sacrifice for our motherland. No country has ever succeeded when their leaders were so callous and lived ferociously on the economy at the expense of the poor. No country can ever make progress when their leaders swim in the pool of corruption. No country can ever succeed when because of our political biases we always jump to the defense of apprehended corrupt officials who don’t care about the majority of the impoverished folks. The time of property grabbing or corruption by politicians and public officials should give way to love, sacrifice, and patriotism for our country. If we are able to allow our anti-corruption institutions to perform their legitimate duties, and also play our civic duties of exposing the nefarious and diabolical activities of corrupt officials, we will surely be on the course of economic progress.

3. Confidence in the black man

Nkrumah had an unqualified confidence in the black man. His belief in the black man is epitomized in his declaration that “the black man is capable of managing their own affairs”. In other words, Nkrumah was making the point that the future of the black man, the Ghanaian, lies in their own hands. We are our own future, and what we do with our human resources now, will determine our future. This aspect of his life has been dearth on our continent for a long time. Until we understand that the western countries are not fundamentally interested in our interests, but theirs, and make a detour in finding out and utilizing the capabilities in our people, we wouldn’t be able to detach ourselves from the apron strings of foreign governments. This means that we will always be at their beck and call. Let our leaders arise, invest in the people and make them the carriers of change, innovation, and progress in our country.

4. Use of power

Finally, however, there should be the need for our leaders to be wary about the appetite for power. In my view, some of the politics of Nkrumah were not in the best interest of the country. For instance, there was no justification for the introduction of the preventive detention act and changing the constitution to make Ghana a one party state. I hear people defending the introduction of the PDA, which to me is kind of weird. Can’t we call a spade a spade? What is not good can never be good, and should not be in anyway justified. We should come to the realization that we derive strength and more knowledge in the midst of diversity of opinions and views. Since no individual is a repository of knowledge, it stands to reason that our leaders should endeavour to accommodate the criticisms of opposing elements in the country without intimidation and wanton arrests. Our leaders should understand that their being in power is to serve all the people with the same measure of service and not to discriminate against some. These unfortunate developments lead to division and instability which have the power of hindering us from making strides in our developmental efforts.

In concluding, let us all, regardless of our ideologies join forces in celebrating one of the greatest sons of not only Ghana, but also Africa. He loved his country and lifted high the flag of Ghana throughout the world. Let us with open heart and one mind love him back.

He deserves it. God bless Ghana!!

Source: the above is a summary of a publication by Kingsley Nyarko, PhD, on on 28 September 2009. You read the full write here.