Sakara Speaks On The Big Question: Was Nkrumah A Dictator?
Many answer this question from a biased standpoint without taking the facts into account and in their context. Let us set aside our prejudices and view the man, the period, and his options in their context.
The fact is that the process by which Ghana became a one-party state was by voting in parliament. After that, it was ratified into law and implemented. That is NOT dictatorship!!!
Dictatorship is when by force, you overthrow a government, dismiss parliament, appoint who you want, and decree laws just by speaking. Furthermore, anybody that opposes you is eliminated. That is a dictatorship.
Do not mix up apples and oranges.
Was Nkrumah autocratic? Yes to an extent. Was it always good or wise to do so? No!
Did Nkrumah have other options? Yes, but they got more limited the longer he stayed. What could Nkrumah have done to survive longer to build the Ghana he wanted to see?
He had two options.
One was to play along with the West and be a “good boy” from the beginning. He could then have liberated the other African countries under the banner of Western pro-democracy benevolence. He would however have had to continue feeding Western economic interests until OAU was formed the way he wanted it. Then he would have taken two more decades to form jvs/ conglomerates between western economic multinationals and various African countries on a regional basis. This would have rapidly built the economy with full value addition using expansion of the European expatriate community at first and then trimming it back later after achieving industrialization.
Then assuming he was President of OAU, he would use some of the proceeds from that increased income to build the intercontinental military capacity with regional bases and one center of command under OAU. The point of becoming fully independent arrives when military power matches economic power. The liberation, economic emancipation, and unity of Africa would have been completed after 36 years following Ghana’s independence.
The second option was to go the hard way right from the start. A one-party state would have come immediately or even a real dictatorship. Nkrumah would have consolidated power and eliminated his opposition like Rawlings’ PNDC regime did. Nkrumah would have been a Castro of sorts but with land borders. He would have lasted maybe twenty years but it is unlikely he would have lasted as long as Castro did because Ghana is not an Island.
What did Nkrumah actually do? He chose the middle path and carried along his rivals, enemies, and detractors until they succeeded in overthrowing him. The fact that they lived to do so means that Nkrumah was at heart a democrat and could not bring himself to use the tools of a dictator even though he needed them to survive and achieve his objectives.
So our story continues with a long turbulent military period that proved that dictatorship would have been tough anyway.
Then we have the Rawlings era which proved that the most stubborn constipation has its purgative. However the purgative can make you as uncomfortable as the constipation.
In the final analysis, we have to learn to cook with a mix of ingredients that avoids constipation in the first place. In other words, we must have inclusive and equitable governance to avoid the disgruntlement of some being left out.
Here we are after 30 years of democracy, we are getting back to our old habit of exclusive political and economic elitism. This grows unacceptably wide gaps between the haves and have nots. It also strips some to clothe others or robs Peter to pay Paul. The constipation is back again. The purgative awaits us, but this time it must be through constitutional reforms to rest our path. The new way forward must lead to prosperity for all, not just a few.
By Dr. Foster Abu Sakara (2012 Presidential Candidate – CPP)