By Spy Uganda
Africa is celebrating the birthday of one of her Pan Africanists dubbed Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah who was a politician, theorist and revolutionary. Today’s statutory public holiday followed the passage of the Public Holiday Amendment Bill into law in March 2019.
Kwame Nkrumah was Ghana’s first president and a member of the “Big Six”. He was born on 21 September, hence, the “Founder’s” Day celebration on 21 September each year in honour of his participation in the Ghanaian movement for independence. Other members of the “Big Six” were Edward Akufo-Addo, Joseph Boakye Danquah, Emmanuel Obetsebi-Lamptey, William Ofori Atta, and Ebenezer Ako-Adjei.
After leading the Convention People’s Party (CPP) to victory to form a government, Nkrumah became the leader of government business in 1951. The move, eventually led Ghana, formally the Gold Coast to independence from British rule in 1957.
As the leader of the country, Dr Nkrumah led massive socio-economic development that resulted in a number of infrastructural projects, including the construction of the Akosombo Dam, the Tema Motorway, among other projects.
Nkrumah was an ardent promoter of pan-Africanism, seeing the movement as the “quest for regional integration of the whole of the African continent”.
The period of Nkrumah’s active political involvement has been described as the “golden age of high pan-African ambitions”; the continent had experienced rising nationalist movements and decolonization by most European colonial powers, and historians have noted that “the narrative of rebirth and solidarity had gained momentum within the pan-Africanist movement”.
Reflecting his African heritage, Nkrumah frequently eschewed Western fashion, donning a fugu (a Northern attire) made with Southern-produced Kente cloth, a symbol of his identity as a representative of the entire country.
He oversaw the opening of the Ghana Museum on 5 March 1957; the Arts Council of Ghana, a wing of the Ministry of Education and Culture, in 1958; the Research Library on African Affairs in June 1961; and the Ghana Film Corporation in 1964. In 1962, Nkrumah opened the Institute of African Studies.
A campaign against nudity in the northern part of the country received special attention from Nkrumah, who reportedly deployed Propaganda Secretary Hannah Cudjoe to respond. Cudjoe also formed the Ghana Women’s League, which advanced the Party’s agenda on nutrition, raising children, and wearing clothing.
The League also led a demonstration against the detonation of French nuclear weapons in the Sahara. Cudjoe was eventually demoted with the consolidation of national women’s groups and marginalized within the Party structure.
Laws passed in 1959 and 1960 designated special positions in parliament to be held by women. Some women were promoted to the CPP Central Committee. Women attended more universities, took up more professions including medicine and law, and went on professional trips to Israel, the Soviet Union, and the Eastern Bloc. Women also entered the army and air force. Most women remained in agriculture and trade; some received assistance from the Co-operative Movement.