A dilemma called Ghana (Part 1)

A dilemma called Ghana (Part 1)

Just after midnight on March 6, 1957, a nation was inspired to take its destiny into its own hands. A nation was given hope of becoming great by manag­ing its own affairs. Today, that nation is not only in a dilemma; that nation is a dilemma.

Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah set out to lead six million or so Ghanaians at the time to a future of self-sufficiency and wealth. He embarked on providing infrastructure for education, manufac­turing, health, transport, agriculture and many more.

Many secondary schools were built, roads constructed, industries set up and an agricultural brigade put in place. State farms were established, and Tema and Takoradi ports were built to facilitate trade. A national shipping line was set up and named the Black Star Line.

To give impetus to the industrial revolution, Nkrumah built the hydro­power station known as the Volta Dam at Akosombo to provide cheap electric­ity for the industries. Tema was billed to spearhead this industrial revolution. Many factories sprang up in Tema, pro­viding jobs for thousands of people.

The Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) was the leader in this endeav­our, followed by textile mills, the State Fishing Company, steel works and many others. Tema itself was zoned and built as a modern city with all the amenities befitting its status. The 19-mile Ac­cra-Tema Motorway was constructed as a fast traffic route between Tema and the capital.

A national airline, known as Ghana Airways, was also established to par­ticipate in the global aviation industry. Flying the national flag, Ghana Airways was very popular with travelers in the West African subregion and beyond. Indeed, Nkrumah’s dream for this coun­try knew no bounds.

He strengthened the Civil Service bequeathed to his government by the colonialists and made it more efficient and professional. To engender national cohesion devoid of class and tribalism, the government policy was for more boarding secondary schools to accom­modate students from all over the country studying together. I recollect when I entered Zion College (Zico) in 1967, I met students from Nigeria, Togo, Cameroon, Liberia and from almost all regions of Ghana.

It was for Ghana’s technological advancement that the University of Science and Technology (now KNUST) was established in Kumasi and the University College of Cape Coast (now University of Cape Coast) to train professional graduate teachers for the secondary schools. Teacher training colleges were opened in almost all the regions.

With a vision for future scientific advancement, Nkrumah decided to build an atomic plant which could serve the nation’s energy needs and also spearhead research activities.

Ghana produced tyres from the Bonsa Tyre Factory, matches at Kade, transistor radios, called Akasanoma, in Tema, jute bags in Kumasi, and glass at Aboso. Juapong produced gray baft for the textile mills in Tema, especially the Ghana Textile Printing Company (GTP). Oil palm plantations sprang up in Ben­so, Kwamoso and other places. A brand of vehicles called Boafo was assembled in this country.

This country became so attrac­tive globally that many Africans in the Diaspora claimed to be Ghanaians. And many African countries started clam­ouring for independence. The torch of independence, lit by Nkrumah, was burning across sub Saharan Africa. “Ablode gbarzaa” was the refrain in Keta, where I was a five-year-old, pre­cosious and notoriously inquisitive boy in kindergarten at the time.

Ghana was on a roll until attempts were made to take Nkrumah out by both internal and external forces. Assassination attempts were made on him, bombs were thrown at him. The imperialist forces branded him a Com­munist, a vermin to Western interests that must be eliminated at all costs. Western interests began strangling Ghana’s economy, thus creating disaf­fection to the government.

Nkrumah was in a bind, trying to figure out how to get the country out of economic strangulation. Prices of commodities began rising and life was becoming difficult for the citizens. And the politi­cal opposition was making capital out of it all.

Then, on Thursday, Febru­ary 24, 1966, the military and police announced the overthrow of the government. Nkrumah himself was out of the country on a peace mission to Hanoi. The reason given for the coup d’etat was that the Osagyefo had lost control of the economy and things were difficult for Ghanaians. A National Liberation Council comprising high-ranking soldiers and police was formed to run the country.

Like almost all politicians, Nkru­mah ignored advice not to travel. An astrologer, psychic and herbalist, Mr. E.S. Fia Demanya, told Nkrumah that if he traveled, he would not set foot on Ghanaian soil again. Nkrumah did not believe this. The rest is history, as the saying goes. I do not yet know why politicians believe only in themselves and brush aside sound advice.

Meanwhile, Ghanaians, not used to hardship, poured into the streets to jubilate at the overthrow of Nkrumah. He was called names as if he was the devil incarnate. The junta that took power paraded some Nkrumah appoin­tees through the streets locked up in a cage like zoo animals.

It has been said that the American CIA was behind Nkrumah’s overthrow. If this were indeed true, what did the men in uniform benefit from it? Cash inducement to sell one’s country to the West? I think they were the very people trained to protect and defend the territorial integrity of the land. As sol­diers, they could be pardoned for not being politicians, but as senior officers who took courses to earn their promo­tions, they should have some intellectual ca­pacity to discern what the Americans were asking them to do. The big picture was lost on them.

Today, almost six decades later, the only thing Ghanaians say with any semblance of pride is that we were the first country south of the Sahara to gain independence. Nothing else. Nkru­mah said we preferred self-government in danger to servitude in tranquility. As I write, I am told our central bank is under the supervision of someone from Kenya on the orders of the IMF/World Bank. Even in servitude, there is no tranquility.

Almost six decades on , is Ghana better than it was before the Osagyefo was overthrown? Where are the indus­tries, the state farms, and the board­ing schools? Where is Ghana Airways? Do we still have the Black Star Line? The machines to kickstart Ghana’s atomic project were taken away by the Americans. The Accra-Tena Motorway is an apology. Tema has lost its shine.

Nkrumah himself was declared persona non grata and it was illegal to display any portrait of him. His po­litical party, the Convention People’s Party, was proscribed and declared an illegal organization.

I am told there is an American mil­itary detachment based in this country today. Word has it that our own Com­mander-in-Chief is barred from visiting the site. Is that how much we have debased our sovereignty as a nation? I need answers.

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By Dr. Akofa K. Segbefia

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