By PAP Reporter
Kwame Nkrumah (1912-1972), a pioneering pan-Africanist was one of the main catalysts of the African independence revolution in the 1950s and 1960s and his political rhetoric influenced world affairs in the 20th century.
Among independence leaders across the globe and African independence leaders in particular, Nkrumah is considered by political commentators as a political firebrand. This fiery posture, of which using parables/metaphors was the key was one of the things that set him apart from other politicians. Contemporary politicians, including former US president Barack Obama, former UK prime minister Tony Blair and Ghana’s former president John Mahama, have very similar traits.
Nkrumah’s Use Of Metaphor
Analysing Nkrumah’s speeches on African independence, we found that he a used metaphor to articulate a strong resistance against colonialism and imperialism. He did it in a way that inspired confidence in his leadership boosted the morale of Africans and empowered them for sociopolitical action.
Using metaphor, he constructed heroes and villains, protagonists and antagonists. At the same time, he portrayed himself as a valiant leader and a noble revolutionary. And he vilified and demonised the systems and people he saw as the enemies of Africa, in a way that advanced his sociopolitical goals.
These excerpts show how he went about doing this.
Speaking at the Nationalists’ Conference of African Freedom Fighters in 1962, he said:
This meeting gives us the opportunity also to review our strength as well as that of the enemy and to reorganise our forces and our strategy … Who is the enemy? The enemy is imperialism, which uses as its weapons colonialism and neo-colonialism.
In another speech delivered to African heads of state, he said:
For my part, I must say that as long as I live, and as long as any a little vestige of colonialism and imperialism remains in Africa, I shall prosecute a ruthless war on these monsters, a war in which there shall be no truce. Colonialism and imperialism have no honour, no shame, no morals and conscience.
And in his book Consciencism (1964), he stated that:
Neo-colonialism is a latter-day harpy, a monster that entices its victims with sweet music.
Speaking to government functionaries at an event in honor of President Josip Tito of Yugoslavia, he asserted that:
We see the hydra-headed neo-colonialism slowly but clearly emerging, but that ugly head should be crushed.
These extracts show Nkrumah using expressions such as “evil”, “enemy”, “monster”, “hydra-headed” and “harpy” to describe the brutal nature of colonialism and imperialism and to underscore the threat they pose to Africa. By using these words, he was inviting people to take action.
He also invoked religious imagery by selecting a word like “evil” to describe the colonialists and by asserting that colonialism and imperialism has ‘no morals’. Given that religion is considered by many to be the ultimate moral force, Nkrumah is seen to be imposing a moral imperative on Africans to rise up in armed resistance.
Nkrumah also designated the colonialists as the “enemy”. This established moral order and created a sense of solidarity. Combining the word “enemy” with expressions such as “forces”, “war”, “prosecute” and “crush”, he portrayed Africa as the battlefield and Africans and the colonialists as opposing armies.
Additionally, he associates the colonialists with “monsters”, thereby casting them in the mould of tormentors and vampires who were sucking the life out of Africa. This made them a threat that needed to be nullified.
This article is powered by PAN AFRICAN PYRAMID (PAP) organization: To Know More About This Click Here