The Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day commemorates the life and times of the great Osagyefo, the inspiring leader and one-of-a-kind man of courage who led Ghana to independence.
Nkrumah was born at Nkroful in the Western Region of what was then known as the Gold Coast to Kofi Ngonloma of the Asona Clan and Elizabeth Nyanibah of the Anona Clan, according to many historians (now Ghana). In 1957, he would lead the West African nation to independence from Britain.
Nkrumah was one of the founding fathers of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which is now the African Union. He was a fervent advocate for a united African state and the entire liberation of the African continent from imperialism and western reliance (AU).
On February 24, 1966, while on a state visit to China and North Vietnam, Nkrumah was deposed by the military with Western help. After months of worsening health following the strange death of his chef in Conakry, Guinea, where he was exiled, he died of prostate cancer with no family by his side.
Much has been published about Nkrumah’s life, both private and public. However, certain facts about him that are little known or unknown, such as the information he supplied while applying for a Ph.D. in Anthropology at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1945, make for a fascinating case.
He changed his name from Francis Nwia Kofi Ngonloma to Kwame Nkrumah in 1945 in the United Kingdom, preferring Kwame because he was born on a Saturday. On the LSE form, however, he listed Francis Nwia-Kofi Nkrumah as his name.
Despite the fact that Nkrumah’s date of birth has long been a point of contention, the official date is September 21, 1909. He listed his date of birth as September 12, 1912 on the LSE application form before amending it to September 21, 1912.
Joshua Attoh Quarshie, a Ghanaian politician and oral historian, recently stated that Nkrumah was born in Liberia to a Liberian father named Kofi Nwia. Nkrumah’s mother, Nyaniba, is referenced in several history books. However, in an interview with Citi TV in Ghana in October 2019, Quarhie said that Nkrumah’s mother was unknown.
Nyaniba only adopted Nkrumah when he arrived in Ghana from abroad, according to him.
“Nkrumah is not a Ghanaian; he is a Liberian. Nwia is the name of Nkrumah. Nwia, Francis Quarshie stated, “That was Nkrumah’s name.”
“Read the welcome address he gave when he arrived in Liberia. “Welcome to your fatherland,” remarked Tubman [William Tubman, former Liberian president].”
“No one knows who his mother [Nkrumah] is. Nyaniba was a childless woman, and they used to carry some sticks in the back…” he claimed.
In a 2019 interview, Quarshie, a founding father of Ghana’s ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) who died in January, said that Nkrumah only had artificial cousins like Obed Andoh, Ayeh Kumi, and others. He claimed that when Nkrumah arrived in Ghana from overseas, Catholic missionaries in the Gold Coast (now Ghana) had to look for Nyaniba to look after him.
Regardless of the aforementioned assertions, Nkrumah spent his youth “in the hamlet, in the bush, and on the neighboring sea” before attending an elementary school sponsored by a Catholic mission at Half Assini, where he excelled.
Eventually, he studied education at the Government Training College (which would later become Achimota School) in Accra, where he met Kwegyir Aggrey, a Columbia-educated deputy headmaster who emphasized the concepts of Pan-Africanists Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois.
By 1935, Nkrumah had amassed sufficient funds to travel from the Gold Coast to London, where he applied for an American visa. He was accepted to Lincoln University of Pennsylvania in the same year. In 1942, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Sacred Theology degree, and a Master of Science degree.
According to historians, Nkrumah earned a second Master’s degree in philosophy the next year.
Nkrumah was voted president of the African Students Organization of the United States and Canada while at Lincoln University, and afterwards completed his education in England, where he assisted in the organization of the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945. Nkrumah later created the West African National Secretariat to campaign for Africa’s decolonization while serving as Vice-President of the West African Students’ Union (WASU). In 1947, he was also asked to serve as General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention.
As a result, after writing his first book, “Towards Colonial Freedom,” Nkrumah returned to Ghana to take that position, but soon left the party due to ideological differences to found the Convention People’s Party (CPP), which would eventually lead the country to independence, the first in Sub-Saharan Africa.