Socialism, women’s liberation and the struggle for world peace
Sep 15, 2016
The Nkrumah years of transition from 1951-1956 and the independence period of 1957-1966 set the standard for African development and political imperatives related to inter-state integration and women’s affairs. Nkrumah was overthrown in a coup orchestrated by the US on 24 February 1966. Genuine African liberation, unification and socialist development can only occur after a fundamental break with world capitalism.
This is the second and final part of an essay that we carried last week entitled, Pan-Africanism, women’s emancipation and the meaning of socialist development.
Revolutionary socialists from the late 19th century to the middle of the 20th viewed gender-based oppression and discrimination as integral to the class struggle against capitalism and imperialism. This was articulated by Clara Zetkin, a German woman who was a leading member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).
In her speech delivered to the Party Congress in Berlin on October 16, 1896, she drew a clear distinction between bourgeois and socialist feminism. Zetkin said that the capitalist ruling class had no fundamental opposition to bourgeois feminism since it did not challenge the economic status of the owners of the means of production.
The speech was entitled “Only in Conjunction with the Proletarian Woman Will Socialism Be Victorious.” In this contribution Zetkin maintains that: “The liberation struggle of the proletarian woman cannot be similar to the struggle that the bourgeois woman wages against the male of her class. On the contrary, it must be a joint struggle with the male of her class against the entire class of capitalists. She does not need to fight against the men of her class in order to tear down the barriers which have been raised against her participation in the free competition of the marketplace. Capitalism’s need to exploit and the development of the modern mode of production totally relieves her of having to fight such a struggle. On the contrary, new barriers need to be erected against the exploitation of the proletarian woman. Her rights as wife and mother need to be restored and permanently secured. Her final aim is not the free competition with the man, but the achievement of the political rule of the proletariat. The proletarian woman fights hand in hand with the man of her class against capitalist society. To be sure, she also agrees with the demands of the bourgeois women’s movement, but she regards the fulfillment of these demands simply as a means to enable that movement to enter the battle, equipped with the same weapons, alongside the proletariat.”
During her tenure in the SPD, Zetkin, along with Rosa Luxemburg, who was a close friend and collaborator, were central figures in the left wing of the party. As a result of political developments inside the party, a debate on revisionism erupted at the turn of the 20th century. Zetkin and Luxemburg together waged an ideological and political struggle against the dominant theoretician Eduard Bernstein.
Zetkin wrote extensively on women’s affairs particularly in regard to the movement to end discrimination and the acquisition of women’s suffrage. Her efforts assisted in the development of the social-democratic women’s movement in Germany. From 1891 to 1917 Zetkin edited the SPD women’s publication Die Gleichheit (Equality). Later in 1907 she took over the leadership of the recently-created "Women’s Office" for the SPD. Zetkin is credited with creating the first "International Women’s Day" on March 8, 1911, having launched the project in Copenhagen, in what later became the Ungdomshuset.
In the aftermath of the Socialist revolution in Russia and the formation of the USSR, the role of women in society was transformed dramatically. Resolutions were passed against institutional discrimination based upon gender and women participated fully in various aspects of Soviet society.
These revolutions would occur in Korea, Vietnam, China, Yugoslavia and Albania during the years following World War II. The international division of political and economic power was growing pitting the Socialist states, the national liberations movements against colonialism and imperialism based in the capitalist countries of Western Europe and North America. The wars waged against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Vietnam and the People’s Republic of China were also aimed at arresting and redirecting the national liberation movements, many of which were influenced by anti-capitalist ideas.
One key element in the domination of U.S. imperialism in the Post World War II period related to the maintenance of American territory during the fighting and the utilization of the Atomic bomb against Japan in August 1945. The was clearly an act of aggression directed not just against the already defeated Japanese ruling class but its broader purpose was to put the Socialist countries and liberation movements on notice that the number one imperialist state was more than willing to rain down death and destruction at unprecedented levels.
In the period leading up to the Conference of the Women of Africa and African Descent in July 1960, the Ghanaian government was launching its own campaign against the plans of the French government under Charles De Gaulle to test an atomic weapon in the Sahara on Algerian territory. These plans were taking place in congruity with the armed and mass struggle by the Algerian people for independence.
The Ghana Evening News took a strong position in solidarity with the movement to prevent the test from occurring. In the January 4, 1960 issue of the state-run paper there was a letter to the editor written by O’ba Owusu-Akyem, a Stone Contractor from Tema, who expressed support for a protest team seeking to travel to the area of the proposed test.
Owusu-Akyem said in the letter that “by their patriotic action, stubborn France must know that the whole of the continent of Africa is deadly against that terrible test and it must be stopped in the precious name of humanity.”
In another letter to the editor published in the same issue of the Evening News by Kwasi-Kwadjo of Asafo, it says: “I have just heard that the French authorities have arrested the members of the Sahara Protest Team who are going peacefully about their duty in the service of humanity…. Africa has spoken against this Sahara test and the world has supported Africa in her protest and it is left to France to show a keen sense of sympathy and respect for mankind.”
CPP journalist Mabel Dove in her article based upon an interview with French pacifist Pierre Martin, who was staging an ongoing protest against the pending weapons test outside Paris’ embassy at Ghana House in Accra, outlined the solidarity of the Nkrumah government with the hunger strike against the utilization of these weapons in Africa. Dove quoted Martin as saying: “There are two embassies in Ghana today. I Pierre Martin am the ambassador representing the people of France and the embassy on the fifth floor of Ghana House represents French Officialdom.” (Evening News, Jan. 4, 1960)
Dove asked Martin whether he thought his fast could stop the test. Martin responded saying “If General de Gaulle so desires, the atom test in the Sahara could be stopped.”
This article goes on to report: “In the hands of Pierre Martin was a pamphlet. I (Dove) glanced through it and I will give you the details of the findings of a group of scientists in the Atomic Energy Commission of the United States of America. ‘As surely as a bomb is exploded thousands of persons will fall sick and will die in some part of the world. Carbon 14, the most menacing of radioactive substances, is a menace because it lives so long, 8,000 years. Up to the moment biological peril to man of Carbon 14 has been responsible for ‘100,000 major defectives, physical as well as psychological; 380,000 stillborn children and of infant mortality and 900,000 cases of embryonic and neo-natal deaths. And yet despite all these horrors, France proposed to test in the middle of the African continent, an absolute bomb of no scientific value because according to Christian France, the most powerful countries are those who have these diabolical weapons and France believes that by endangering the lives of 200 million Africans she will become a powerful nation.”
Later on January 15, 1960, the Evening News reported on the mobilization of the Ghana women’s movement in opposition to the French atomic test. An article on the front page of the paper entitled “Women Federation Presents G21 Cheque”, reported on the contribution to the Ghana Council for Nuclear Disarmament.
The article reveals that Mr. E.C. Quaye, Chairman of the Ghana Council for Nuclear Disarmament, received the gift from a three-member delegation of the Ghana Federation of Women. These women were Mrs. A.M. Akiwumi, the National President, Dr. Evelyn Armateifio, the General Secretary, and Mrs. Elsie Ofuatey Cudjoe, an executive member of the Federation.
This presentation of funds was held at the Accra Municipal Council and Dr. Armateifio “told the Evening News that at the Federation’s annual conference held at Keta, it was unanimously decided to make financial contributions to help the Sahara Protest Team. To this end the conference resolved to organize rallies to launch an appeal for funds. Yesterday’s contribution was proceeds from rallies held at Peki and Half Asini.”
Some ten days later the Second All-African People’s Conference was convened in Tunisia which immediately went on record as condemning the proposed nuclear test by the French government. On the first day of the gathering there was a rally held in opposition to the French test which was sponsored by the ruling Neo-Destour party. The Evening News of January 25, 1960 said: “The underlying theme of the conference is ‘Freedom and Unity’ and how to complete Africa’s independence and weld it into one unit grouping all 230 million Africans. Delegates from more than 30 nations are taking part in the conference.” (p. 6)
Despite this widespread sentiment in Africa against the French test in the Sahara, it was carried out on February 13, 1960. This was its first atomic bomb, known as Blue Jerboa. In 2014, declassified documents indicated that radiation emanating from the operation in the Algerian desert extended much further than what was stated at the time.
The Digital Journal noted in an article by Anne Sewell that: “In fact, the radiation fallout is likely to have reached as far as the southern coast of Spain as well as Sicily and Sardinia in Italy, within just 13 days of the blast. The French daily newspaper Le Parisien published the military papers on February 14, 2014.”
Le Parisien emphasized that: “The military recognizes that in some places the safety standards have been widely exceeded: Arak near Tamanrasset, where the water was highly contaminated but also in the Chadian capital N’Djamena….. The documents also show that dangerous levels of iodine-131 and caesium-137 were discovered in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, along with Arak, near Tamanrasset in southern Algeria. However, it is impossible to tell the exact levels involved. Everyone knows today that these radioactive elements cause cancers or cardio-vascular diseases.”
These documents illustrated there were four atomic bomb tests in the Sahara prior to the independence of Algeria in 1962. In addition, the declassified materials indicate there were 13 additional tests in the post-independence period until 1966 when they were halted. France then resumed atomic testing in Polynesian territory in 1970.
The Digitial Journal report says: “Around 150,000 people living within the blast zone are reportedly yet to be compensated by 2014. On top of this, some illnesses suffered by French soldiers have been established to be the result of exposure to radiation from the blasts. The weapon was detonated atop a 105-meter tower near Reganne, Algeria. According to a description video, the test was a pure fission device with a plutonium core and a one-point initiated implosion system.”
Ghana’s criticism of France and other imperialist states in the early 1960s created animosity towards the Nkrumah government by the most powerful colonial and neo-colonial states. The concerns of the western governments and their allies in the region were fueled by the industrial and modernization program of the CPP. The opening of three universities: Legon, Cape Coast and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, led to the rapid advancement of the technical and literary capacity of the newly-independent nation.
Nkrumah and the CPP through its coterie of journalists, propagandists, diplomats, educators and organizers wielded tremendous influence among the masses of workers, youth and farmers throughout Africa. This dissemination of the Pan-Africanist and Socialist ideology of the party impacted African Americans and other diasporic communities in the Caribbean, Latin America and Western Europe. After 1961, Ghana moved even closer towards the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and other Socialist countries. With the CPP press being openly anti-capitalist in its orientation and editorial policy prompted the accelerated plans aimed at undermining the Nkrumaist project and the African Revolution as a whole.
After the deadly CIA-backed attacks between 1962 and 1964, the CPP government still remained intact. The Volta River Dam being constructed by Kaiser Aluminum was designed to provide the first stage of a rapid industrialization scheme which was spelled out in the party document “The Seven Year Plan for Work and Happiness.”
Shirley Du Bois in Ghana
By February 7, 1964, just over a month after yet another assassination attempt against President Nkrumah, Shirley Graham Du Bois, then the Director of Ghana National Television, could write to her lawyer Bernard Jaffe in New York City from Accra saying: “I didn’t expect things to ‘burst’ with such violence, but I am sure you have read enough in your newspaper and heard on the radio that relations between the U.S. and Ghana are ‘strained.’ I heard on BBC last night that the U.S. Ambassador had been recalled from here as a token of ‘displeasure’. I have not yet heard whether or not Ghana’s Ambassador has been recalled from Washington. I do not know what will happen. I do know that had the citizens of a small country, a few years ago, torn down the U.S. flag as was done here Tuesday, gun boats would already be in that small country’s harbor….. For several days the newspapers here really have out-done themselves. Somebody is really fed up!” (Correspondence in files stored at the Univ. of Mass. at Amherst)
Graham Du Bois continues in this same letter to Jaffe noting that: “For some time evidence has been piling up which the Ghanaians accept as proof that the last attempt on the President’s life was engineered by the CIA. A number of persons have been arrested. Last week five American teachers at the University were ordered to leave the country. And this week came the two huge demonstrations around the U.S. Embassy. There is no longer any secrecy about any of this. All I can say is the African Revolution is rolling along. And revolutions are never exactly joy rides.”
Nonetheless, the work of the CPP continued at full speed. Graham Du Bois’ correspondence with Jaffe reports on her trip to Japan in March 1964 where the government in Tokyo was providing considerable technical support for the development of Ghana National Television. She said in a letter dated March 18 that she “came back from Japan fired with an IDEA. I want to start Ghana Television in color! After what I have seen in Japan, after what I have learned, after the contacts I made, etc. etc. etc. I KNOW IT CAN BE DONE.”
Describing her responsibilities as a major figure in the CPP government, Graham Du Bois wrote in her letter to Jaffe that she was the head of an eight-million-dollar project to establish this television network. That she has “the responsibility to plan, administer, recruit workers, train workers here and decide who shall be sent away for special training, check equipment, choose equipment, buy equipment, watch over the final construction of buildings which is costing the government over three million pounds. The British and Canadians are already in on this project. The fact that I am now going to bring the Japanese in on it is going to be explosive news.”
The Ghana National Television Director tells Jaffe of her exceptional reception in Japan. Graham Du Bois says she was somewhat of a “sensation” in Japan. She was featured on Japanese television twice and in an extended interview over radio which was broadcast to many regions of the world. “The people were wonderful to me and I certainly did tie down their interest in Ghana!”
In addition to being Director of National Television, Graham Du Bois was also a member of the National Planning Commission and the Board of Directors of the State Publishing House, which opened during the latter months of 1964. Other responsibilities included serving on the Publicity Committee of the Secretariat for the Third Organization of African Unity Summit which took place in Accra in October 1965. She told Jaffe that “I am called upon at all hours of the day and night to be advisor, sympathizer, companion, relaxation and stimulation and sources of information, to fill a Consuming Fire of Demands, Visions and Needs!” (Letter to Jaffe, August 16, 1964)
However, by February 21, 1965, Graham Du Bois explains in another letter to Jaffe that the situation in Ghana is becoming complicated due to U.S. interference. She places these problems within the context of the broader instability and Cold War exigencies across the world. Although Ghana appears to be a place of refuge for African and African American freedom fighters with the rapid process of development, the independent character of the CPP government has made it a target of U.S. imperialism.
In response to the Pan-Africanist and Socialist orientation of the Nkrumah administration, Graham Du Bois asks: “So what happens? Attempts at assassination fail! Attempts at stirring up internal dissension fail! We keep moving forward. So now the World Marketers close in! They are trying to strangle our economy, cut off our trade, freeze certain foreign exchange, while, at the same time, choke us with foreign goods. Nkrumah answers by refusing to release precious cocoa, imposing rigid import restrictions and telling us we must do without until new adjustments can be made with socialist countries! It will work. Nobody is going to starve, but new, industrial projects such as television have been hard hit. Television must import everything in the line of equipment and working materials. And here we are—in the last quarter, ready to make final for beginning and unable to get final essentials for our work. I must ‘hold the line’ and ‘keep the high morals and spirits of my workers’, continue with everything it is possible to do—and there is much to do—and radiate assurance that everything will be all right!... All the forces of history are on our side. It would be ridiculous to treat it as such. But this kind of situation produces daily a hundred irritating stresses and strains, uncertainties and embarrassments.”
Some four months later, Graham Du Bois records the escalating pressure from the imperialist countries. She notes in her letter to Jaffe on June 17, 1965, that despite the fact of being “shaken, weary and bloody, our heads are ‘unbowed’ and we are now marching forward on firm ground which rises to a higher level than ever before.”
The Ghana National Television Director reports that: “Every possible economic and political device has been used by enemies to prevent the holding of the Third African Summit Conference in Accra next September as scheduled. But last week at the Foreign Ministers Conference in Lagos, Nigeria, the last obstacle was swept away and by unanimous agreement the Conference will be held.”
This OAU Summit held in Accra during October 1965 was the last before the overthrow of the CPP that following February 24, 1966. The summit took place in a brand new conference center that was magnificent in its splendor. American novelist Truman Nelson was interested in traveling to Ghana as an incentive for a writing project on the life of Dr. Du Bois. He arrived during the period leading up to the OAU Summit in Accra and Graham Du Bois felt that the writer was roundly impressed with the political and economic progress being made in Ghana.
In a letter to Jaffe dated November 21, 1965, she says: “In spite of all we tell them, Americans do come to Ghana with certain preconceived ideas. Now, as you know, Ghana is a big surprise when you see it for the first time under normal conditions.”
Of the OAU gathering, Graham Du Bois stressed that: “There is nothing like our Summit Compound in the world. I have seen the United Nations building in New York, the Conference Chambers in Geneva and conference buildings in many world capitals. But ours is uniquely distinctive! The first time Truman entered the Conference Hall (the Compound is composed of three buildings) he said in a stunned voice, ‘But this is better than the UN Building!’”
Nelson was taken to the site of the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River which was scheduled for a grand opening by January 1966. He was able to return to Accra with President Nkrumah in the state helicopter.
The Director felt the staff of the Ghana network was highly professional in handling the event. Graham Du Bois said: “In addition to pieces which we had collected from every independent African country and presented to the edification of the Heads of State and their delegations, we covered all open sessions of the Conference live. This meant that some of my teams—with me—were often on duty from early morning of one day until two or three a.m. the next morning. We had both Josephine Baker from Paris and Mariam Makeba from New York as ‘special entertainers’.”
Nevertheless, the OAU Summit in Ghana attracted the ire of the U.S. and other imperialist governments. Many of the Heads of State failed to attend sending envoys instead. The burgeoning crisis over the imminent “Unilateral Declaration of Independence” by the British settler-colony in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was the focus of the Summit along with the Nkrumaist objective of the formation of a United States Africa encompassing an “All-African Military High Command”, political and economic integration and the consequent breaking down of borders and the adoption of a single currency.
By November 11, the UDI had been adopted in Rhodesia leading to United Nations and Commonwealth sanctions against the settler-colony. However, Nkrumah demanded the total isolation of the settlers even up to the point of military intervention. The CPP government in line with the resolutions passed at the OAU Summit in Accra broke diplomatic relations with Britain along with nine of the 39 governments who were then member-states.
These other OAU member countries included Algeria, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Conakry, Mauritania, Mali, Tanzania, Sudan and the United Arab Republic (Egypt). After the coup against the CPP in February 1966, a number of these states gradually re-established relations by 1967-1968. (Modern Diplomacy, R. P. Barston, Fourth Edition, 2013)
In a December 12, 1965 letter from Graham Du Bois to Jaffe, she remarks: “You can imagine the general state of our nerves here in Ghana. Thursday evening’s television showed me leading all my television workers to sign up for our Voluntary Peoples Militia.”
The coup against Nkrumah was engineered by the CIA and the U.S. State Department on February 24, 1966. Acting on behalf of imperialist interests, a group of lower-ranking military officers and police waited until the President left the country on a mission aimed at ending the U.S. war against Vietnam. He stopped over in Peking en route to Hanoi and was informed by Premier Chou En Lai that a coup had taken place in Ghana. Nkrumah reacted with disbelief while the Chinese Communist leader told him that these are things which occur during the course of the revolutionary struggle. (See Dark Days in Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, 1968)
Conclusion: Pan-Africanism or neo-Colonialism in the 21st century?
“Operation Cold Chop” was conducted with extreme swiftness and efficiency during the early morning hours of February 24, 1966. The top leaders within the Ghana military who did not support the coup were either assassinated or placed in detention. Hundreds of CPP officials were arrested and taken immediately to prison.
At the same time, those held in detention by the CPP government were released in order to lead demonstrations in support of the coup through the streets of Accra. Thousands of party members, functionaries, propagandists and journalists were terminated from their positions. CPP books and other Socialist literature were burned in the streets in an orgy of counter-revolutionary fervor in genuflection to the imperialist countries.
Industrial projects, educational programs and party publications were shut down under the guise that they were not profitable and a liability to the Ghana state. Show trials in the form of tribunals against corruption were held for national and international consumption in an effort to rationalize and justify the unconstitutional removal of an elected and recognized government.
No real appreciation of the challenges facing a post-colonial African state was taken into consideration in developing the narrative against the Nkrumah-CPP era. With Ghana being a former slave and colonial territory, the structural obstacles to national integration and economic development were formidable by the time the country embarked upon an independent path.
During the early to mid-1960s when Nkrumah was in power under the Republic system, approximately 60 percent of the labor force was involved in agricultural production. In 1961, manufacturing generated a mere two percent of the overall gross domestic product. Agricultural production of manioc, maize, yams, plantain, taro, millets, and sorghums, and rice accounted for 80 percent or more of the caloric consumption. (See Ann Seidman and Marvin P. Miracle, State Farms in Ghana, 1968).
Nonetheless, another impediment in evaluating any form of progress by developing states is related to the limited nature of data which can hamper any substantial assessment and analysis of what is considered success and failure as it relates to post-colonial development projects particularly those that sought to shift production towards state-owned enterprises in the agricultural sector.
As the process of evaluation of Ghana’s largest agricultural export, cocoa, analysts suggest that the data available is much more reliable. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in its statistical reports on the production of cocoa indicate that there was an increase of 70 percent in the aftermath of World War II. However, there was a decline in cocoa prices on the international market in the early 1960s and consequently foreign exchange earned by Ghana remained stagnant.
By 1961 as the development policies enacted by the Nkrumah government shifted more towards the models in operation in the Soviet Union, China and Eastern European socialist states, the First Republic sought to invest more resources into the creation of state farms. Although the British colonial authorities had established state enterprise projects in agriculture as early as 1950, more of these efforts were undertaken under the Seven-Year Development Plan for 1963-64 to 1969-70, which was designed to institutionalize Socialist economic production inside Ghana.
Under the rubric of the State Farms Corporation (SFC), the Nkrumah government set about to transform agricultural production with the expressed intent to reduce reliance on the importation of both food stuffs and other commodities. These SFC initiated projects would be utilized in supplying materials for industrial production as well.
The development program issued in 1962 says: “The farming plan for the State Farms Corporation during the next seven years envisages heavy concentration on cereal and basic crops especially to meet demand in the rapidly expanding urban areas and on the establishment of new farming acreages in the savannah zones of Ghana. More specifically, the State Farms Corporation should concern itself with the introduction of new crops and proven techniques and establish itself in uncultivated, rather than already farmed areas. This would be an effective means of popularizing new methods and ensuring that idle land resources are put to productive use. In addition, state farms will play a leading part in the production of sugar cane, cotton, rubber, non-apparel fibers and meat where large-scale organization has decided advantages in production.”
University of Wisconsin-trained economist Ann Seidman working alongside Reginald H. Green at the University of Ghana-Legon from 1962-66 sought to provide an academic framework for the Nkrumaist vision of African Unification and Socialism. Understanding the significance of rejecting the western orthodoxy of economic theory and its applicability to Africa, Seidman and Green worked to provide the empirical data to verify that integration of continental states was a prerequisite to genuine growth and development.
Of course this viewpoint fell into institutional disfavor after the CIA and State Department engineered coup of February 1966. Moreover, the failure to recognize imperialism as the central impediment to African unification and progress hampers any assessment of why the First Republic efforts were thwarted. After 1966, even Seidman and Green in their 1968 book “Unity or Poverty? The Economics of Pan-Africanism” attempt to dislodge the imperatives of African integration from its political and ideological basis. The systematic underdevelopment of Africa is a direct result of the centuries-long legacy of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism. In order for Africa to advance economically the basis of its continuing exploitation and oppression must be overthrown.
These are clearly political questions that lead to economic visions and solutions and not vice-versa. Without a strategic outlook informed by an anti-imperialist ideological orientation the concept of African unity and economic integration can never come into view.
Furthermore by ignoring or even denying the role of the principal architect of neo-colonialism and imperialism in the second half of the 20th century extending to the first two decades of the 21th century, leaves the African workers, youth and farmers without the ideological underpinning to challenge the status quo. The inability of African states to develop sustainable economic growth and transformation cannot be explained solely from the perspectives of technological, managerial and skill deficiencies. All former and currently existing Socialist states have been plagued by the same challenges and have overcome them as in China, Democratic Korea, Cuba, Vietnam and other areas where advancements have been made even without the realization of a Socialist society, as in African states breaking the chains of European domination.
Seidman in a paper on “State Farms in Ghana” co-authored with Marvin P. Miracle concludes correctly in the first instance saying: “In sum, Ghana’s state farms programs strongly suggests that for any large-scale farming projects to succeed in Africa there must be careful prior research, adequate numbers of managerial personnel, and trained technicians, and availability of all the complementary resources and marketing facilities.” Nevertheless, these two scholars unfortunately fall into a “technocratic” mode of analysis that nullifies the conceptual basis for Pan-Africanism and Socialism in Africa by stressing that, “Initially, at least, such projects should probably be limited to those tree crops and industrial raw materials associated with given processing facilities. Where possible, efforts should be made to stimulate private production of additional supplies.” (p. 46)
From an ideological standpoint this form of economic logic leads right into providing a rationale for what became known as “Neo-liberal” reforms which took hold when the so-called National Liberation Council” was installed by the CIA and State Department after the police and military coup.
Seidman and Green emphasize that: “In the last analysis, all the financial resources of the state (and of Ghana were, for Africa, extensive) are not adequate to meet all the expanding food and raw material needs of a developing economy by means of state-owned projects. If the Government of Ghana had used the same amount of money and organizational talent that were expended on the state farm program to develop techniques and provide incentives for small farmers, there would probably have been a far greater increase in domestic food production.”
As recently as 2014, in a paper published by Gerardo Serra on the work of Seidman and Green in Ghana before and after the CIA and State Department backed coup, entitled “Continental Visions: Ann Seidman, Reginald H. Green and the Economics of African Unity in 1960s Ghana”, the author makes what can only be interpreted as a political attack on Nkrumaist Pan-Africanism by claiming that: “The Kwame Nkrumah Conference Center (or Job 600, as it came to be called since it was the six hundredth project realized by the Ghana National Construction Corporation) estimated to cost between 8 million and 10 million British pounds at a time where foreign exchange reserves were exhausted and shortages of basic goods were plaguing the economy ‘became the symbol of all Nkrumah’s foolish prestige projects’. Amidst this atmosphere of increasing popular discontent at home and isolation from other African leaders, Nkrumah was overthrown in February 1966. Although the reasons behind the his overthrow had more to do with the mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy than with the tension pervading the Pan-African scene, the revolutionary dream of a Union Government and a continental plan ended with the fall of Nkrumah, while the crowds in Accra were cheering and smashing statues of the former leader.”
In following this clearly pessimistic outlook on the capacity of Africans to determine their own destiny and failing to mention the well-documented plotting, machinations and execution of a police and military coup by the CIA and State Department, Serra not only distorts the political history of Africa but also conveniently dismisses the ongoing role of imperialism, led by Washington and Wall Street, in blocking and reversing any gains made during the course of the African Revolution since the beginning of the post-World War II period.
The army and police officials who took charge of the government formed an alliance with the opposition forces many of who campaigned against national independence in 1957 saying Ghana was not prepared for liberation under a unitary political system. Those Ghanaian nationals and expatriates that worked within the context of the CPP-led revolutionary government were rendered unemployed forcing many into poverty and exile.
Graham Du Bois was placed under house arrest and soon left the country for Egypt. First Lady Madam Fathia Nkrumah was transported back to her Egyptian home in a plane sent by the government of President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
African Americans such as Julian Mayfield and other progressives from the U.S. were forced to abandon projects established by the Nkrumah government. The ideological orientation of the so-called “National Liberation Council” was clearly pro-imperialist since they owed their existence to the extra-legal actions of the CIA and U.S. State Department.
John Stockwell, a former CIA operative, said of the American involvement in the coup in 1966 that: “Howard Bane, who was the CIA station chief in Accra, engineered the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah. Inside the CIA it was quite clear. Howard Bane got a double promotion, and was awarded the Intelligence Star for the overthrow of Kwame. The magic of it was that Howard Bane had enough imagination and drive to run this operation without ever documenting what he was doing and there wasn’t one shred of paper that was generated that would name the CIA hierarchy as being responsible.“(Quote printed in Ghanaweb.com from author of In Search of Enemies, 1978)
The overall status of women in post-coup Ghana was catastrophic with the dismissal of parliament and the removal of cabinet ministers. Most of the women involved in the CPP remained barred and alienated from Ghana politics.
Consequently, the domestic and international influence of women declined. Whereas under the Nkrumah government as early as 1959, African American artist and writer Elton C. Fax wrote in the New York Age of his meeting with Federation of Women Secretary General Dr. Evelyn Armarteifio in Ghana who asked him why Blacks in the U.S. continued to refer to themselves as “Negroes” when the term Afro-American was more appropriate. This sentiment was reflected in the CPP press where the term “Negro” was generally not used.
Such an encounter by Fax while he sketched this woman leader who said to him that she had lived and studied in the U.S., was deemed significant enough by veteran Barbadian-born Socialist and Nationalist leader Richard B. Moore of Harlem to utilize the quote from the New York Age article in his book entitled “The Name Negro: It’s Origins and Evil Use”, published in 1960. (p. 92)
Six years later in 1965, the Assistant Director of the National Council of Ghana Women, Agatha Dumolga, visited the U.S. as a representative of the Nkrumah government. She was one of 15 women selected to visit over a period of 11 weeks.
Making an impression on the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper journalist Elinor Kelley when Dumolga visited this Southern city in July 1965, an article featuring her begins by stating: “Women are taking on more responsibility in running at least one country and they’re getting plenty of help from their parliament. Social welfare is the big area where women are making their presence felt in the government of Ghana on the West African coast.” (July 15, p. 15)
Kelley reported that Dumolga was visiting supermarkets “to see how food was displayed. She will be in Memphis one week visiting welfare agencies, Juvenile Court, hospitals and talking to women’s groups in an idea exchange program. Miss Dumolga said 30 of the 114 members of Ghana’s parliament are women. ‘The women speak for the women and the men speak for the men’, she said.”
The writer noted Dumolga was adorned in traditional attire from Ghana as her picture appears in the Commercial Appeal wearing a dress made of kente cloth, carrying a fashionable purse and wearing her hair in a similar style as many African American women would in 1965. Dumolga was quoted as saying: “We have all these things—homes for children, juvenile courts, hospitals, in my own country. But I want to compare the way things are done here and at home.”
This same article surmises that: “In Ghana, Miss Dumolga does work that might be compared with a home demonstration agent in the United States. She goes from town to town, teaching women about balanced diets, gardening and sewing. Women are best suited for this. It’s easier to make contacts with the women because they take care of the whole house. If they have the understanding they can pass it on to the family.”
The report ends noting that Dumolga was the guest of Mrs. Emalyn Myles of 1390 Chadwick Circle, who was a member of the African American women’s sorority Delta Sigma Theta, which was co-sponsoring the tour with the African Women’s Corps.
Although some of the myths fostered by the NLC and its imperialist backers were that Ghana faced bankruptcy, the deployment of troops to fight in Rhodesia and egregious theft of public resources by Nkrumah himself, these allegations were never proven. The economic conditions inside the country deteriorated in the post-coup period and the clout that Ghana held within Africa and the entire African world has never been retrieved after five decades of both military and civilian rule.
After February 24, 1966, Nkrumah settled in Guinea-Conakry where he was appointed Co-President by the Secretary General Ahmed Sekou Toure of the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG), a fraternal organization. Nkrumah wrote several pioneering theoretical works during the 1966-1971 period while in Guinea. His writings remain an inspiration to revolutionaries throughout the continent and the international community.
President Toure hosted Nkrumah until 1971 when he was flown to Romania for medical treatment after which he was diagnosed with cancer. Nkrumah died on April 27, 1972 and was given a state funeral by the Guinea government.
Based on certain negotiated conditions, President Toure agreed to send the remains of Nkrumah back to Ghana after being requested for burial by a newly-installed military regime which took power in January 1972. Nkrumah was entombed in his village home of Nkroful in the Nzima region. During the early 1990s, his remains were taken to Accra for burial.
Economic conditions in Ghana had so declined by the mid-1980s that it became the first country to impose the dreaded Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) in Africa. The SAPs enacted draconian cuts in education and social services, resulting in the decline of currency values and the further privatization of public assets.
Today the African Union (AU) has passed resolutions mandating the participation of women in the political, economic and educational affairs of member-states. Although progress has been made in several states, there is much to be desired. Africa remains under the domination of international finance capital and any movement towards genuine unification and continental socialist development can only occur after a fundamental break with world capitalism.
The Nkrumah years of transition from 1951-1956 and the independence period of 1957-1966, set the standard for African development and political imperatives related to inter-state integration and Women’s affairs.
In 1999, former Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi hosted an OAU Summit in Sirte, which drafted resolutions that would bring about the transition from the old continental group to the AU. Many of the aims and objectives of Nkrumah’s Ghana were adopted, if only on a symbolic level. Subsequently, the first U.S. president of African descent, Barack Obama, serving the interests of the ruling class and the Pentagon, led in the military and economic destruction of this state which was bombed for seven months in 2011 with the approval of the UN Security Council.
Libya, like Ghana before it, illustrates the dangerous nature of imperialism in Africa. Nkrumah in last book published while he was in office entitled “Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism”, correctly identifies the U.S. as the principal enemy of Pan-Africanism and Socialism.
In 2016, with the decline in commodity prices and the increasing military and intelligence penetration of Africa, a struggle must be waged to guarantee the sovereignty and economic independence of the continent. This will prove to be the major challenge of the initial decades of the 21st century not only for Africa but for all oppressed nations and peoples of the world.
* Abayomi Azikiwe is Editor of Pan-African News Wire.