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The African way

02 April 2014, 05:30

I believe that in order to understand our present situation it is necessary to study the history of Africa south of the Sahara over the past 60 years.

Let's have a look at Ghana, the first colony to obtain independence (1957) . Kwame Nkrumah was highly popular, worshipped like Nelson Mandela. A newspaper editor said of him: " Nkrumah will be written of as the liberator , the Messiah, the Christ of our day."

He was well educated , obtaining degrees in Economics, Sosiology and Philosophy while abroad.

When Britain announced its plans for gradual constitutional reform , leading up to independence he returned to Ghana and became a  full time organizer for the United Gold Coast Convention ( UGCC).

Its leader dr Joseph Danquah who was very popular with the British, favoured the constitutional reform idea while the radical Nkrumah soon broke away and formed his own party the Convention People's Party (CPP)  He wanted immediate self goverment and when violent protest action broke out he was jailed for three years. While in jail the first election ever were held and  when his party  won by a land slide he was released from jail to form a goverment. The British Governor , Arden Clark , set March 6 1957 for independence. 

Again elections were held and the CPP won comfortably although this time there was stiff opposition from a new party the National Liberation Movement  (NLM) . Delegates from 57 countries attended the handing over ceremony. President Nixon from the USA attended in person. 

The Ghanians were euphoric when at midnight March 6 1957 Nkrumah wearing a convict's scull cap , was carried to the stage by supporters. He did an impromtu dance with tears streaming down his face. The future looked bright.  Ghana was a country with an efficient civil service , an impartial judiciary , a prosperous middle class and aid promised from all over.  The celebrations lasted 6 days.

Nkrumah who believed like his supporters , that he was an African Messiah spent much time and effort to encouraged other African leaders to press for immediate independence.

What was the situation in Ghana like ? Similar to our own situation. Nkrumah's close associates , members of parliament , cabinet ministers and senior officials almost immediately began to enrich themselves. Corruption had arrived. Collecting 10% on all goverment contracts became standard practice.

Nkrumah and his sycophants quickly grew obscenely rich. The poor grew poorer.

Goverment funds were squandered, maladministration by incompetent officials caused poor service delivery. It became so bad that Nkrumah appointed a committee to investigate the matter. Its findings were not published and the quilty were not punished ( sounds familiar ). After a rigged referendum in 1965 Ghana became a one party state. On the positive side   many projects were started. Hospitals , roads , bridges , schools , shipyards etc.

Unfortunately through corruption practices costs became so inflated that millions were misspent. The economy suffered. State corporations were badly run by incompetent managers and lost money. Agricultural policy failed for the same reason. By 1965 Ghana was bankrupt. Nkrumah and his sycophants attributed all setbacks to imperialists and colonialists plotting against Ghana ( Sounds familiar ) 

Things kept on deteriorating and in 1966 Nkrumah was unseated in a military coup while he was abroad   to mediate in the Vietnam War.

Most other African countries travelled the same road as Ghana.  Favouritism, corruption , self enrichment, autocratic rule and mismanagement followed by military coups. We won't have a military take-over but we are on our way to a failed state.

Who says different ?? 

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