The Greatness of Akufo-Addo
I don’t suppose that other than his pathologically dictatorial tendencies, a psychological hallmark of clinical diffidence or an abject lack of self-confidence, dangerously verging on blistering inferiority complex, that President Kwame Nkrumah was any remarkably more competent than President Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, as that Nkrumah fanatic by the name of Edmund Nii Aryee would have Ghanaians believe (See the Comments column of the article captioned “When Did Pastors Become Politicians?” Modernghana.com 5/18/19). It may also interest the latter Akufo-Addo critic to learn that Senegalese President Leopold Sedar Senghor once advised Nkrumah to seek psychiatric examination, for behaving rather irrationally and quixotically like a child on the very complex and deliberate issue of African unification (See Richard Mahoney’s book “JFK: Africa Ordeal”).
You see, the entire notion regarding the greatness of Kwame Nkrumah is almost wholly predicated on his passionate pan-Africanist ideals, largely inculcated into him by his Diaspora African mentors like WEB DuBois, CLR James, George Padmore and, perhaps, remotely by Henry Sylvester Williams, the primal convener of the London-based Pan-African Congresses. As Ghana’s Chief Post-Independence Administrator, Nkrumah presided over a far more horrific culture of rank corruption than under the tenure of any reasonably long-serving Ghanaian leader, with the possible exception of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and his two lackluster minions and successors, namely, Presidents John Evans Atta-Mills and John Dramani Mahama. Indeed, so rankly corrupt was President Nkrumah that one needed to carry a Convention People’s Party (CPP) membership card before any highly qualified Ghanaian-born academic could secure employment at any of the then three university colleges in the country.
Nkrumah’s veritable reign-of-terror made many well-educated and highly enlightened Ghanaian citizens yearn for the “hey” days of British colonial rule. Now, I don’t know of many Ghanaian citizens under the tenure of President Akufo-Addo who yearn for the return of British colonial imperialism or political domination. You see, his much-touted rapid Africanization of the public and civil service and all, the legendary “Show Boy” ultimately employed far more British/European expatriates than at anytime during the 113 years of direct British colonial rule of the country. The irony here, though, was that the massive reengagement of these Anglo-European expatriates came on the heels of the massive deportation of many of these same subsequently double-salaried expatriates in the vacuous name of Africanization.
Indeed, if he were as progressive and foresighted as his most ardent champions and fanatics would have Ghanaians and their fellow Africans believe, Nkrumah would have sized up the civil and public service landscape, beforehand, before scandalously embarrassing himself and the rest of the country and, indeed, the African world at large. If he had, he would have realized that there was not an adequate number of well-educated and well-trained African technocrats and professionals of the various sectors of the national economy to take over from the forcibly deported European expatriates. The good news here is that the African leaders who came onto the scene some 20-odd years after the epic Nkrumah debacle, largely in the southern part of the continent, learned a lesson or two from this “Russian,” as in hasty or haste-driven, mistake.
I also don’t suppose that the greatness of any African leader ought to be either wholly or primarily predicated on his/her speeches, especially on how inspirational such speeches may be deemed to be. For, as we may all be aware of by now, no volumes or amount of speeches, however inspirations they may be, have been known to put bread-and-butter on the dining table of any individual Ghanaian citizen or his/her family’s dining table. In the end, it is the progressive and foresighted and visionary leadership of our politicians and statesmen and women, and the hard work of ordinary citizens, that combine to synergistically move a country ahead in the direction that it healthily needs to go. That, in essence, is what the leadership thrust of Nana Akufo-Addo is decidedly about. Comparing Nana Akufo-Addo to Kwame Nkrumah does no good to either very different personality who lived in a very different time within different set of circumstances.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
May 18, 2019