Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister from 1957 to 1960 and President of the Republic of Ghana from 1960 to 1966. He was the leader of the first sub-Saharan African nation to gain its independence from Britain. He went on to become a leading figure in the campaign for a United States of Africa.
Francis Nwia-Kofi Ngonloma, popularly known as Nkrumah was born on September 21st, 1909, at Nkroful, in the Gold Coast now known as Ghana, he was born to Kofi Ngonloma, who was a goldsmith, and Elizabeth Nyaniba, who was a salesperson. He saw his parents as great inspirations. He attended missionary schools in Accra and Government Training College [which is now Achimota School] in Achimota from 1926 to 1930, where he prepared to become a teacher.
In 1935, Nkrumah left for the United States of America where he attended Lincoln University from 1935 to 1939 and the University of Pennsylvania from 1939 to 1943). He was a very gifted student, and by 1943, Kwame Nkrumah had earned multiple bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics, sociology, education, theology, and philosophy. Then, in May of 1945, Nkrumah left USA for London, England, where he studied as a PhD student at the London School of Economics. Whilst in London, in the same year he organized an international conference for African freedom. He held very important positions in anti-colonialist and black-nationalist organizations, and authored controversial papers calling for African independence and unity. In 1945, Nkrumah co-founded the Pan African Congress(PAC), which became an influential voice against colonialism in Africa.
In 1947, Nkrumah returned to Ghana, and became general secretary of the newly-founded United Gold Coast Convention,(UGCC). However, in 1949, Nkrumah split with the organization over its political objectives and formed the Convention People’s Party (CPP). During his turn in office as head of the CPP, Nkrumah strongly objected to the British rule and led numerous treaties for self government. He was imprisoned by the British in 1950 for his political activities. In 1951, after his release, his party won the general election in a landslide victory. He was then elected prime minister in 1952.
As the prime minister, Kwame Nkrumah led an aggressive campaign for independence and achieved it in the year of 1957. Three years later, he formed a new government, the Republic of Ghana. In 1960, Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana a Republic. As a committed Pan-Africanist, Nkrumah forged unity with both Guinea and Mali, and sought to create a league of African states with its own government. To help achieve this goal, in 1963 he and other African leaders formed the Organization of African Unity(OAU), now African Union (AU). Nkrumah chose to remain neutral in political affairs outside of the African continent as he initially gained tentative support from both the United States and Soviet Union, receiving economic and technical support from both countries.
In 1958, Nkrumah had married Helena Ritz Fathia, an Egyptian Coptic and relative of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt. They had four children Gokeh, Sarmiah Yarba, and Sekou Ritz.
Continuously suppressing political dissidents, Nkrumah almost immediately was branded a dictator by his political opponents. Then, in 1961 a firestorm of strong objections uprised after he appointed himself as the supreme commander of the armed forces and absolute head of the CPP. Nkrumah followed with outlawing all other political parties.
In 1966, Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by a coup d’état while he was on a trip to Beijing, China.
After his overthrow, Kwame Nkrumah lived out his life in Conakry, Guinea in exile. He was later diagnosed with prostate cancer, in August 1971 he flew to Bucharest, Romania for treatment. It was there that he died on the 27th April 1972 at the age of 62. He was buried in Ghana on 7th July 1972.
The Osagyefo, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah authored over 20 books and publications. He was a lead authority on the Political theory and Practical Pan-Africanism.