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Kwame Nkruma

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Kwame Nkrumah
"Seek ye first the political kingdom, and all else shall be added unto you...."
He was born Francis Nwia Kofi Ngonloma in Nkroful, Gold Coast. Nkrumah graduated from the Achimota School in Accra in 1930. Nkrumah went on to train as a teacher and for a few years taught elementary school in towns along the coast. He was popular and charismatic, and earned a decent living. But exposure to politics and to a few influential figures sparked in him a greater interest, to go to America. He applied to universities in the United States, and with money raised from relatives, he set out on a steamer in 1935. He reached New York almost penniless, and took refuge with fellow West Africans in Harlem. He then enrolled himself at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania; a small scholarship and a campus job helped him make ends meet. He studied theology as well as philosophy. In the United States, Nkrumah saw alternatives to the British tradition of government. Nkrumah plunged into America's black communities. Founded before the Civil War, Lincoln University was America's oldest black college, and its special atmosphere inspired and comforted Nkrumah. In the summers, he worked at physically demanding jobs in shipyards and construction at sea. He also forged ties with black American intellectuals, for whom Africa was becoming, in this time of political change, an area of extreme interest. He moved London after World War II, where Nkrumah helped organize Pan-African congresses thereby linking the emergent educated groups of the African colonies with activists, writers, artists, and well-wishers from the industrial countries. It was a time of great excitement and optimism. In the autumn of 1947 Nkrumah was invited to serve as the General Secretary to the United Gold Coast Convention under Joseph B. Danquah. This political convention was exploring paths to independence. Nkrumah accepted the position and set sail for the Gold Coast.
The government suspected the UGCC was behind a series of protests and then arrested Nkrumah and other leading members of the party. The newly emerging radical political leadership of the UGCC did not generally lead these actions. The boycott of European businesses in February 1948 was entirely independent, triggered by discontented Second World War veterans. The ensuing riots left scores dead and shook the Gold Coast to its core.
After his imprisonment by the colonial government, he emerged as the leader of the youth movement in 1948.After his release Nkrumah began to travel around the countryside. In community after community he proclaimed that the Gold Coast needed "self-government now." He built a large power base. The cocoa farmers rallied to his cause because they disagreed with British policy concerning the containment of swollen shoot disease. The Unions also allied with his movement. By 1949 he had organized these groups into a new political party; The Convention People's Party. British requested that a new drawn up a New Constitution which was to be drawn up by middle class Africans. Nkrumah brought together his own People's Assembly composed of representatives of party members, youth organizations, trade unions, farmers, and veterans. Their proposals called for a universal franchise, and self-governing status under the Statute of Westminster. These proposals were rejected by the colonial administration.
The colonial administration's rejection of the People's Assembly's recommendations led directly to Nkrumah’s call for Positive Action in January 1950, which meant civil disobedience, non-cooperation, boycotts, and strikes. The colonial administration arrested Nkrumah and many of his supporters in the CPP. Nkrumah was sentenced to three years in prison.Britain organized the first general election to be held in Africa under universal franchise in 1951. Though in jail, Nkrumah won the election by a landslide and his party gained 34 out of 38 seats in the Legislative Assembly. He was then released from prison. In 1952, upon the withdrawal of the British Governor, he was appointed to the office of Prime Minister. Finally, winning the election of 1960, Nkrumah became the first President of Ghana.
The year 1954 was a pivotal year in the life of Kwame Nkrumah. In that year, he won the Independence Election with an astonishing 80% of the vote.
Unfortunately he was not as good at governing as he was removing colonial rule and later oppressed his people in the name of industrialization adopting many policies that were similar to those of the soviets, such as a seven year plan and repressing of strikes, which later lead to the lack of opposition when his government was overthrown. Although through all this he is still voted the most influential African leader beating out the likes of Nelson Mandela. Proving that although he eventually turned against his own polices he still lead the first African country to the first open election

Bibliography

www.socialstworkeronline.com http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwame_Nkrumah http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/shared/minitextlo/prof_kwamenkrumah.html#top

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