Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Nkrumaism: 1980's and beyond (Part 1)

Kofi Owusu

Unbridled invocation of an ideology repels a lot of Ghanaians. But how could politics be conducted without invoking one of the political ideologies?, argues Kofi Owusu, London.
Efforts have been made in Ghana to cut down to an undeserving size anybody who invokes ideology. He is seen in certain quarters as a jaded crank. How could politics be conducted without invoking one of the political ideologies? No doubt, unbridled invocation of an ideology repels a lot of Ghanaians.

The PNP of Ghana published a pamph- let, a three part article was printed in 'West Africa' and the Punch' carried an editorial and articles, all focused on PRESIDENT LIMANN AND NKRUMAISM.

The Punch editorial (5th-11th Dec- ember 1980) extensively used similar words and shibboleths in West Africa on pages 2534 (15/12/80) page 2613 (22-29/ 12/80) and pages 20 and 22 (5/1/81). No mention was made of the PNP pamphlet in circulation on the theme, also carrying similar cliches and words. Was this journalistic oversight or sheer coincidence with the usage of words?

What all these papers rehashed were the eloquently delivered series of lectures on "What went Wrong" during Late Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah's rule.

Most of these accusations were intellectually well thrashed in DARK DAYS IN GHANA (1968) Late Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah and in REAP THE WHIRLWIND (1968) by Geoffrey Bing. These two books contain facts that were to help expose similar setbacks in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. The writers of President Limann & Nkrumaism ignored the existence of these books and were throwing dust into the eyes of the reading public that Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah was not really Nkrumaist and that Engels and Lenin were not hardcore Marxists.

Three new criticisms added to the old ones warrant rebuttal. First, that PNP did not use Late Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah's platform to win the last Presidential and general elections. This is poppycock. It is a fallacy that does not hold water. CPP organisers, rank and file members were in the forefront of these elections.

Second, that new faces in the PNP helped it to win the elections. The relevant matter is that which of the people who formed the main props of the PNP and the candidates were new in Ghana? They were all well-known. This is not the time to personify issues, but to concentrate on the principles.

Third, the assertion that even in a region set up during the first republic, PNP had only 23% of the votes cast in that region. Did CPP government set up that region in question for future vote- catching purposes? The setting up of that region was purely for administrative reason coupled with population growth plus the agitation of the chiefs and people of that region.

The Punch (5/12/80) started an editorial:

"Ideology, without prejudice to the situation, is the main motivating force and vortex around which socio-economic policy revolves". Curiously the editorial ended: " ... not futile and sterile sloganeering of out and dried or fast platitudes based on obsolete 'ISMS". What an intel- lectual drivel! While an ideology is "motivating force, there was no need to stick to it, according to the Punch.

During the same period, the Punch carried articles emphasising the end of ideology. "The End of Ideology" (1960) Daniel Bell was thought to be making a surprising statement. This was under- stood by many people, including the writers of the Punch to mean the age of ideologies has ran out its course — an exhaustion of political idea.

No one could be unmindful of the disruptive tactics of Jerry John Rawlings in his morbid ambition, inordinate and selfish desire to become Head of State of Ghana. He and his henchmen threatened the very existence of the Third Republic.

The last chapter of the book, though, dealt with the exhaustion of critical ideas to mean old political ideas were exhaus- ted, but there was still hunger among intellectuals. The Punch writers casti- gated those invoking Nkrumaist ideology as ideological windpipes being unnecessarily humbug.

In 'Encounter' (February 1983) Daniel Bell saw on the horizon the assertiveness of the Third World ideologies with colour, race, pan-African, Pan Arabian as their main components.

One quotation that ran through the Punch editorial, PNP pamphlet and West African three part article referred to earlier, was from a book written by Late Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first President; Consciencism (page 104) "To achieve true liberation positive action must begin with objective analysis of the situation which it seeks to change".

Was an 'objective analysis' to have been made by updating the Work and Happi- ness programme at a special party con- ference? Could not those ideological critics within the PNP have been silenced by the Party using its majority in the Ghanaian Parliament to launch a development plan based on the updated programme?

With money from taxation, export drives, borrowing from friendly financial sources, supported by the uniqueness ingrained in the Ghanaian work-force could not a headway have been made to implement an updated Work and Happiness programme? What an opportunity wasted and lost!

What was in the Work and Happiness programme that the PNP leadership did not like? To satisfy the right wing caucus in that Party, writing on the economic policies pursued during the first Republic REAP THE WHIRLWIND (1968) Geoff- rey Beng asserted on page 11 "There was theoretical support for socialism, but acceptance in practice of economy".

No one could be unmindful of the disruptive tactics of Jerry John Rawlings in his morbid ambition, inordinate and sel- fish desire to become Head of State of Ghana. He and his henchmen threatened the very existence of the Third Republic. Ato Austin poured invectives on mere rumours of attempts to devalue the cedi, now he is a minister in an infamous regime that devalues the cedi almost every month. Hypocrisy and double standards holding sway on him. Some friends of Chairman Rawlings, called for the setting up of 'People's democracy' and 'demo- cratic centralism'. These were calls which clearly were out of tune with the prevail- ing constitution of the Republic of Ghana. Most well-meaning Ghanaians and friends of Ghana wanted the Third Republican constitution to succeed, certainly there were not to be sudden amendments to the constitution or its precepts to be flouted.

However, to some of us, PNP inertia in providing vigorous leadership in government and for instance, the needless con- fusion created on the ideological issue contributed to the ego of power-hungry Rawlings.

The recent publication of a book, the Spark by Mr Kofi Batsa has resurrected the debate on Late Osagyefo Dr Nkru- mah's ideology. In dealing with specific issues regarding ideology, some of the issues raised earlier in this article may re-surface.

On page 13 of the book, the spark records Late Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah'svision of the defeat of colonialism, of the achievement of true economic independence by the African was not to be limited to Ghana. This is fair representation of Late Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah's ideas.

On page 18: "so the spark (newspaper) was the ideological organ of the CPP. I was also involved myself to some extent in the ordinary day to day politics of Ghana at this time. We would attack in the journal a minister who we felt was deviating from the right path... But our discussions of local politics were always on ideological level." Mr Batsa helped to crystalise Late Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah's ideas and therefore assisted to shape the orientation of millions towards imbibing these ideas.

On page 119, when a threat was posed to the PNP that the CPP faction was to leave, the author of the Spark states: "to me our major task should have been to call off the bluff, clear the air, assert leadership and mobilise support which stood ready to rally behind the Party."

Was Mr Batsa to rely on the defective and outworn arguments in the Punch editorial and articles, three part article in West Africa to win converts "to call off the bluff"? To use the author's own words on page 120 why was he finding those harping on the ideological issue 'irritating and pushy"? As the author of the book, The Spark goes on, page 44, to state: "But it was political aims of Nkrumah that were attacked."

By the way, on page 23 of the Spark it is stated: "without democracy or an ideology the country had no chance and in a sense the people knew it." Is democracy prevent being equated with an ideology? What sort of democracy liberal democracy, People's democracy or social democracy? What sort of an ideology - Capitalism, socialism, Maoism, Leninism or Nkrumaism?

On page 42, the author writes: "Nkrumah called a meeting of members of parliament at the castle to resolve public dispute on ideology" There was ideological tussle between the Press and some MPs during the First Republic. Did PNP leadership attempt to resolve this debilitating issue at a special PNP Party conference?

Was Mr Batsa not helping to bury Late Osagyefo's ideas in Ghana, though according to Page 43: "There was, and is no doubt in my mind that 1966 coup was ideological?

"... when General Akuffo overthrew General Acheampong and decided to hand over to civilians in 1979, I met a few friends who advised me to throw my weight behind a Party which would revive the good works of Kwame Nkrumah”, page 49. Why is any reader of the book The Spark not so lucky to know which were the good works of Late Osagyefo Dr Nkrumah?

“... Apart from the normal conversation of everyday life - the thoughts and expressions which no government can - it was common in Accra that any social event of any size, a wedding or a funeral for example, became the excuse for the gathering of political colleagues, and an occasion for planning for the future. We, who considered ourselves the successors of Nkrumah, met regularly in this way and so did the other parties" (pp50). What evidence, apart from the foregoing is one not to deduce that the PNP did not go into the last Presidential and General elections on the broad platform of Late Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah?

It goes on " It was obvious that the old faces of the Convention People's PNP Some of the old politicians were emerging from their shadows and being dusted up. Though it was not easy to stand on the platform with some of those who had denounced Kwame Nkrumah and his Convention People's Party after 1966 coup. It was necessary to accommodate thein but to watch and control them" - page 51

Even up to the time of the elections, the author was not fully compromising with those who had wronged Late Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his cause in 1966. Two postures are adopted and could be clearly now seen The first, he was all out For Late Osagyelo Dr Kwame Nkrumah and his goodwork's not even the long years form 1966 to 1979 made Mr Batsa to The second, after gaining the political power in 1979 then anti Osagyelo Dr Nkrumah's feelings started to dawn upon him

Did the author's friends advise him to turn against "Nkrumah's Myth" - page 118 or he was having a new set of friends?

The "CPP and Nkrumah's myth" accounted in a large measure for the win- ing of the last Presidential and general elections in Ghana. A Deputy Minister of Trade under Dr Limann's government confirmed this assertion in the 1984 Christmas edition of Talking Drums.

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