Friday, June 12, 2009

Ghana, 50 years after Independence

Ghana's Independence , on march6, 1957, was the first in black Africa.It was a catalyst to the struggle for liberation from colonial rule across the continent.For the African masses, one man's role stood out in achieving this feat: Kwame Nkrumah.
Inspiired by the independence of India from Britain, in 1947,Nkrumah saw the possibility of defeating imperial \britain with co-rdinated and consistent political struggle against colonial rule. Nkrumah became a symbol of the anti-colonial struggle in the Gold Coast (Ghana was known before indepedence)and the rest of Africa. His return to Ghana and the formation of the anti-colonialist party , Convention People's Party (CPP), gave a radical fillip to the Independence strugle and set the stage for the exit of the British colonialists.
Unlike the current generation of African leaders , who are mostly only satisfiedwith earning foreign exchange from the sales of natural resources for self enrichment, Nkrumah was genuinelycommitted to to using the resources of Ghana for the industrial development and economic growth of the country.Ghana was rich in Bauxite and that could help in the manufacture of Aluminum, including foreign export,if there was a reliable power suooly . This, together with the need to producebelectricity , set in motion the process of industrialisation, leading to the Volta dam project. The project was only half successful but nobody could reasonably doubt the positive intention behind it.
Nkrumah only asserted capitalismwasunable to achieve the goals of development . But beyond the rhetoric of anti-capitalism and "scientific socialism" in Nkrumah's celebrated speeches and writings , he never truly cut links with capitalism and imperialism. His socialism was based on the model of the Stalinist Soviet Union and a utopian African version of socialism. This was Nkrumah's undoing and made it impossible to achieve his lfty goals.
For instance, Nkrumah's government relied on a bureaucratically-run marketing board , which was a colonial invention , to mobilise the required resources from the sales of cocoa, the country's then main stay of economy , to attain reforms. This createdyet another avenue for official corruption rather than basic human needs and infrastruture it was originally designed to achieve.