HAS THE IDEA OF A UNITED STATES OF AFRICA BEEN AN ILLUSION?

President Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana of blessed memory, who was voted as the greatest African of the millennium at the tail end of the 20th century by the British Broadcasting Corporation, had a strong conception and vision for a United State of Africa during his life timeas President of Ghana.
To this end, President Nkrumah worked tirelessly for the realization of this noble vision for Africa until his overthrow by the military in a coup de tat on February 24, 1966.
This sad event gave a deadly blow to Nkrumah’s vision and dashed it to the ground! And since then the idea about African unity and the coming together of African countries under one umbrella as United States of Africa had been an idle talk and illusion, so to speak!
What then had gone amiss since the exit of Nkrumah on the arena of African politics for the quest for a United States of Africa which Nkrumah dreamt of?
African leaders on the African continent today had been trying and nursing the concept of a United States of Africa through the medium of the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) and the African Union (A.U) respectively; but however, their efforts in this direction seem to have been an exercise in futility. This is so because there seems to be no head way in the making for an arrival for the materialization of the, United State of Africa, which Nkrumah worked tirelessly for during his life time for the achievement of this noble goal for Africa.
It is indisputable that President Nkrumah was a great inspirer and a strong advocate for a United States of Africa, of which idea he trotted up and down, east and west of the African continent, articulating and propagating the gospel of a United States of Africa to come into being.
To this end, Nkrumah was in the forefront and instrumental in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) which had its headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in May, 1963. This was the first step taken towards the realization of the perceived United States of Africa.
President Nkrumah’s loud voice on the African continent in the 1960’s for a United States of Africa was unequalled and unmatched in all aspects, as compared to his colleagues heads of States on the African continent at that period of time.
President Nkrumah had a strong convictism and belief that if Africans are able to form a continental government, that government will become very powerful and speedily develop the African continent to become like the United States of America!
Nkrumah believed that since Africa has the greatest inexhaustible natural resources in the world which was unequaled anywhere else, Africa will become very great and prosperous by exploiting and developing her own rich natural resources without any interference or assistance whatsoever from Europe or elsewhere.
To this end, Nkrumah was convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Africa has a great potential to become very wealthy and powerful under one government comparable to the already existing United States of America.
It is of interest to note that Nkrumah had his University Education at the Lincoln University in the U.S.A and even lectured there for a brief period of time. Whilst as a student in the United States, Nkrumah developed keen interest in politics, and felt the need to work very hard for the freedom of Africans whom he saw as being oppressed, suppressed and exploited by the whites or Europeans for that matter. To this end, Nkrumah associated himself with some prominent Afro American such as Dr. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, George Padmore etc… from whom he drew much inspiration to work for the liberation of the black man.
Nkrumah was so much influenced by these prominent Afro Americans who were concerned with the plight of black men that he abandoned his P.H.D programme that he had started whilst as a lecturer at the Lincoln University to join his African colleagues in London who had formed a union to advocate and fight for the political freedom of Africans who were under exploitations and subjugation by the white race and for that matter, Europeans.
Nkrumah became popular and outstanding for his outspokenness and propagation for the liberation of Africans. Nkrumah’s popularity for his dynamism and activeness among his African colleagues in London endeared him to many who were concerned with the African situation at that period of time.
One of Nkrumah’s admirers in London by name Ako Adjei paid a visit to Ghana who was also among some Gold Coasters who had started agitating for political independence of the Gold Coast highly recommended Nkrumah to his colleagues of the United Gold Coast Convention for his indefectibility and dynamism in African affairs.
The Gold Coast freedom fighters of the U.G.C.C who had Dr. J.B Danquah as their chairman asked Mr. Ako Adjei to go to London and bring Nkrumah to the Gold Coast to become their secretary.
Mr. Ako Adjei complied and went back to London and brought Nkrumah to the Gold Coast to assume secretary ship of the U.G.C.C. Indeed Nkrumah as the secretary of the U.G.C.C was very articulate and dynamic in his duties bestowed on him. However, as time went on in the agitation for political independence by U.G.C.C, Nkrumah realized that the U.G.C.C was slow in their demand for the independence of the Gold Coast from British rule. So Nkrumah boldly decided to break away from the U.G.C.C to form his own political organization to fight for the political independence of the Gold Coast.
Eventually, Nkrumah did break away from the U.G.C.C to form the Convection Peoples Party (C.P.P) in 1949, and began earnestly to demand for the political independence of the Gold Coast with the inspiring slogan “SELF GOVERNMENT NOW” Nkrumah articulation and dynamism for the political independence of the Gold Coast with his newly formed C.P.P organization spread like wild fire along the length. breadth and south of the Gold Coast. He was admired and mobbed by the Gold Coast people with his bold utterances for the political independence of the Gold Coast. Eventually Nkrumah led his C.P.P organization to win independence for Ghana on 6th March, 1957.
After winning independence for the Gold Coast Nkrumah realized that the African continent was highly under developed in the midst of deep ignorance and suffering of the people, so he felt he must start and lead a fight to wean the African continent of its numerous problems that had been keeping it under developed, poverty, misery and suffering.
One of the remarkable speeches that Nkrumah made at the dawn of Ghana’s independence to show his disgust about the African situation was the following: “THE INDEPENDENCE OFGHANA IS MEANINGLESS UNLESS IT IS LINKED WITH THE TOTAL LIBERATION OF AFRICA”.
Nkrumah’s fervent quest for the total liberation of the African continent and an eventual culmination of a United States of African government was unparalleled.
He practically demonstrated that the need for a United States of Africa government was inevitable and indispensable for Africa’s economic growth, development and prosperity.
Nkrumah realized that the African continent had long been backward and poor due to European colonization and exploitation. Africa is richly endowed and possesses inexhaustible natural resources; and paradoxically Africa is the poorest continent!
The solution to Africa’s problems, Nkrumah realized it is a continental government as United States of Africa that will bring Africa together as United States similar to the United States of America, which saw the Northern and Southern states coming together in strong unity to form a continental government which materialized on 4th July, 1776 to end a long period of British control, rule and exploitation.
After achieving a continental government and working together as a strongly united people with a common destiny Americans have advanced tremendously to experience stupendous and amazing economic growth, development and prosperity which is unparalleled in the modern world today.
Nkrumah realized that taking a cue from the American experience, Africa states can also form a continental government to end European control, and exploitation of Africa’s inexhaustible rich natural resources that she possesses.
Among a number of voluminous books that Nkrumah wrote to express his desire for a United States of Africa are: “AFRICA MUST UNITE”,”AFRICA HIGH COMMAND”, ‘NEO COLONIASM, THE LAST STAGE OF IMPERIALISM, IMPERIALISM”, RHODESIA FILE etc…
It must be noted that had Nkrumah’s contemporary colleagues of heads of States of Africa understood Nkrumah’s lofty vision for a United States of Africa government and co-operated with him, this noble idea would have materialized during the life time of Nkrumah.
Unfortunately, this noble idea became a fiasco owing to the myopic sight, narrow and self interests on the part of Nkrumah’s colleagues heads of States of Africa. In fact, President Kaunda of Zambia of blessed memory confessed that he and the rest of African heads of States grossly misunderstood Nkrumah’s point of direction for his idea of a United States of Africa, hence they opposed him.
President Kaunda made this personal confession at the National theatre of Ghana on his visit to Ghana during the PNDC governance of the country led by Jerry John Rawlings of blessed memory.
After Nkrumah’s exit on the stage of African affairs, one can safely say that the talk of a United States of Africa had been a mere rhetory and an illusion.
Whilst contemporary Africa is divided and fraught with ethnic wars of genocide, decimation due to Europeans influence and subtle machinations to serve their interests, although the African Union (A.U) exist, one wonders when will Africa’s hope for a continental government materialize?
Although there seems to be hopelessness for the idea of a United States of Africa to materialize,there can be a resurrected hope if all present heads of state of Africa will have a sober reflection on the past Africa’s experience as to why Africa’s situation today is still unpleasant and disgusting, there can be a revisit to the era of the 1960’s when Nkrumah vision for a United States of Africa and tirelessly worked towards the achievement of this noble goal.
To this end, all Africa’s heads of States today must realize that not until they are prepared to bury their differences and eschew their selfish and parochial interests which are promoted from Europeans subtle machinations and influence to enhance their parasiting on Africa for survival and progress, the African continent will remain under developed and impoverished. It is of interest to note that president Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe of blessed memory at one time bemoaned and lamented and said;“when shall Africa have another Nkrumah?” This is because Mugabe found himself isolated by the Common Wealth countries led by Great Britain because of his uncompromising stand and principles against the exploitation of Africa by Europeans to enrich themselves.
Robert Mugabe saw that the parochial and selfish interests of African heads of states have made them to compromise on the prevailing subtle economic exploitations by Europeans of Africa’s rich natural resources.
Robert Mugabe saw that if Africa heads of State today are strongly united or even have a continental government as President Nkrumah had conceptualized and visioned, neo colonialism on the African continent today will be completely eradicated and Africa will re-assert herself and develop and prosper as Europe and America.
A critical analysis and evaluation of Africa long odyssey journey towards the achievement of a United States of Africa is of Africans own making.
However, it must be borne in mind that we are now in the 21st century of historic time, and a lot of changes and transformations are taking place all over the globe and current heads of African states must wake up from their deep slumber to face the realities for the need for the formation of a continental African government now in order to end neocolonialism and European exploitations of Africa to benefit them.
A further dilly- dallying approach to the formation of a United States of Africa will reinforce the illusive perception of this noble idea which had been haunting the African continent up to the present time.
In my opinion, in the pursuit of this noble idea it will be appropriate and in the right direction for two or three current African heads of states to become very bold of the calibre of former President Nkrumah of Ghana to initiate the process for the achievement of a United States of Africa.
They should be elaborate and intensive in their campaign for a United States of Africa so that they can make positive impact; and consequently convince their colleagues heads of states to buy the idea and bring it into fruition and practicality.
This will definitely lead to end the long Odyssey journey for the quest for a United States of Africa. There is no harm in trying and the bull must be taken by the horns now in the annals of the African continent.
In conclusion, I state with optimism that Africa being the greatest endowed with natural resources in the world, Africa can reassert herself as the poorest continent in the world to become the wealthiest and prosperous, if she is able to come under one umbrella of a United States of Africa which Nkrumah had dreamt and visioned.
To paraphrase Professor Ali Mazuri of Kenya, Africa is a great giant sleeping; and she must wake up now in the 21st century of historic time to assert herself!

BY MICHEAL AKENOO, THEATRE CRITIC

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