? ? ? ? ? ? I have always known and uncomfortably appreciated the fact that among the cancerous legacies bequeathed the fanatical supporters and sympathizers of Ghana’s first prime minister and president is SMALL-MINDEDNESS. The sad reality is that it is a nigh impossibility to get stentorian and pathological Nkrumaists like Messrs. K. B. Asante, Kweku Baako, Kwesi Pratt and Agyeman-Badu Akosa, among a legion of others, to reason beyond the volatile and megalomaniacal personality of the largely demogogical African Show Boy. Which is why the glorious passing and global eulogizing of South Africa’s Nelson Rolihlahla Dalibhunga Mandela visibly appears to have become a nightmare for these shamelessly fanatical apostles and disciples of the virulently and auspiciously deposed late Ghanaian dictator.

 

In our series of letters from African journalists, London-based Ugandan writer Joel Kibazo remembers how Nelson Mandela left people tongue-tied.
In our series of letters from African journalists, London-based Ugandan writer Joel Kibazo remembers how Nelson Mandela left people tongue-tied.

As a pioneer of the mid-twentieth century African liberation struggle, and the first Black-African to lead the bulk of the erstwhile European colonies into collective self-governance, Nkrumah had the rare privilege of setting the pace and tenor for the postcolonial direction of the African continent but tragically wasted such privilege and opportunity fanning the egomaniacal flames of his own self-importance vis-a-vis the far greater and far significant scheme of the continent’s destiny.

 

And it is for this reason why one finds it rather quizzically curious to hear such Nkrumah lackeys and gofers – or practical errand boys – as Mr. K. B. Asante make the predictably inexcusable and grandiose claim of Nkrumah’s having towered over and above the unarguably nonesuch stature of The Madiba, as the recently deceased 95-year-old retired South African president was affectionately called by his clansfolk, countryfolk and an awestruck world at large (See “Nkrumah Towered Over Mandela; Comparison ‘Useless’ – K. B. Asante” Radioxyzonline.com /Ghanaweb.com 12/12/13).

 

It is almost as if the fanatical likes of this sometime Nkrumah emissary cannot bear to have the continental African political strobe light shift even slightly to focus elsewhere on the primeval landmass other a strip-mall Ghana. And it was primarily for this reason that the famous Cameroonian artist, musician, writer and broadcaster, Francis Bebey, was to poignantly and dead-on accurately accuse President Nkrumah of morbidly confusing the much smaller geopolitical space of Ghana with the entire African continent.

 

The fact of the matter is that no degree of conniptions or tantrums or fits thrown up by these pathological Nkrumah supplicants is going to freeze the globally unrivaled stature of Mandela in order to invidiously dwarf the latter in comparison to the patent political, psychological and moral ordinariness of Mr. Kwame Nkrumah. Not even the Russians who awarded him their Vladimir Lenin Prize – some say he had vigorously lobbied for it – believe for even one moment that the late Ghanaian dictator was even a greater and more committed socialist leader than Congo-Kinshasa’s Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

 

Indeed, other than a few architectural landmarks that his most ardent followers are quick to point to as evidence of the unparalleled greatness of their “divine godhead” (remember the mantra “Nkrumah Never Dies!”?), the fact remains thoroughly incontestable that the moral and philosophical legacy of Kwame Nkrumah tragically far pales in comparison to the immortalized South African giant of humanistic and democratic political culture.

 

By 1990, with the liberation of the erstwhile German colony of Namibia – largely orchestrated by Fidel Castro’s Cuba – illegally occupied for sometime by the white-racist operatives of the South African apartheid regime, a still white-minority ruled South Africa became the focus of most of post-independence Africa and the rest of the world. Mandela had absolutely no need to flamboyantly traipse the continent screaming screeds of venom at the West, as Kwame Nkrumah had done during the 1950s and 1960s.

 

To be certain, by the time that The Madiba assumed the auspicious reins of governance in Pretoria, Nkrumah and his political associates and bedfellows, largely in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Ivory Coast, Congo-Zaire-Congo, Togo, Guinea and Zimbabwe had thoroughly complicated political affairs for the leaders of the oldest modern continental African political resistance/liberation organization, the African National Congress (ANC). Nkrumah and his like-minded associates and political mentees and proteges had made it easy for the clinically unconscionable and reprobate operatives of the apartheid regime to self-righteously point to the many Black-ruled one-party dictatorships dotted all across the African continent as strikingly scientific evidence of the innate inability of indigenous Africans to forge and practice civilized democratic governance.

 

For most South Africans – black and white – this is the major political legacy of Mr. Kwame Nkrumah. A palpable legacy, to be certain, but definitely a morally indefensible legacy. The imperative need for post-colonial Africa to immediately and rapidly democratize, therefore, became the second of the dual mandate of The Madiba. The multiracial democratization of the southern tip of the continent perforce radically removed any strains of cynically relativist pretext, or excuse, on the part of the “northern” African leaders not to practice the salutary, progressive and civilized regime of democratic political culture. It is the latter legacy that makes Mandela a far greater political personality than Kwame Nkrumah.

 

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*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Department of English

Nassau Community College of SUNY

Garden City, New York

E-mail: [email protected]

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