Pan-Africanism, Women’s Rights and Socialist Development - Part 2

The CPP and the Ghana government were committed to the realization of a United States of Africa under socialism. The party viewed the struggle for national liberation as an initial step towards continental unity and non-capitalist development.

The editorial policy of the party press was to provide unconditional political and ideological support to the national liberation movements still fighting to throw off the yoke of colonialism along with those anti-imperialist states such as Guinea-Conakry under President Ahmed Sekou Toure and Malian President Modibo Kieta. In 1960 the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union was formed pledging to work towards political and economic integration.

Mabel Dove wrote on January 8, 1960, the tenth anniversary of the Positive Action Campaign of 1950, about the plight of Nyasaland African National Congress leader Dr. Hastings Banda who was incarcerated by the British at the time. Dove noted that Dr. Banda said when he was sentenced to prison that it fulfilled one of his ambitions “to be put in prison for my people like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.” (Evening News, Jan. 8, p. 8)

She continued in this same report emphasizing “Imperialism is actually desperate in Central Africa and the arrest of African leaders like Dr. Banda provide evidence of frenzy and uneasiness which have gripped the arbitrary rulers in their murderous campaign which they seek to cloak in their imaginary ‘discovery’ of a ‘Slaughter plot’.”

On the same page of this issue of the Evening News, Dove pens another article entitled “Free Jomo Kenyatta”, the Kenyan nationalist leader who was imprisoned for his efforts aimed at winning independence for this East African settler colony. Kenyatta had worked with Nkrumah at the Fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, England in October 1945.

Dove said: “The trend today is the propaganda that white settlers in Africa are Africans. The white in any part of Africa is not an African and he can never be an African by any stretch of the imagination and the dishonorable action of imperialism of fostering these settlers on Africans and trying willy-nilly to place political power in their hands so that they become another South African horror on the Continent is the danger that is facing Africa and Africans today.”

This same article about Kenyatta goes on stressing: “The physical and mental vigor of the African has saved him from total extermination despite the slave trade, the deadly weapons and the inhuman atrocities against his soul and body, and now with his eyes on the goal of freedom, arrogant and unrepentant imperialism with her greedy eyes on the natural resources of Africa, is still spending sleepless nights and traveling great distances to create by hook or crook White Domination in Black Africa.”

During 1960, despite the proclamations of it being “The Year of Africa”, a serious crisis would erupt which would create divisions within the body politic of the newly emergent continental states. Patrice Lumumba, who had gained considerable support from Ghana while in attendance at the First All-African People’s Conference in Accra in December 1958, was soon arrested after returning to the Belgian Congo in January 1959.

Lumumba was tortured while in detention and the colonialists sought to exclude him from political negotiations that took place in the aftermath of a national rebellion in early 1959. His release and participation in the discussions surrounding the proposed independence of the vast mineral-rich Central African state would enhance his reputation as a Nationalist and Pan-Africanist across Africa and the world.

As the leader of the Congolese National Movement (MNC), Lumumba would garner the largest bloc of votes winning him the prime minister position at the time of independence on June 30, 1960. Nonetheless, imperialism was staunchly opposed to the program of the MNC-Lumumba and worked incessantly to undermine the liberation process.

The Congolese prime minister faced a mutiny of the para-military Force Publique in the immediate aftermath of the declaration of independence. Lumumba would appeal to other African states such as Ghana and Guinea to provide assistance in the stabilization of the country. Eventually he requested the intervention of the United Nations then under Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold.

When the UN troops entered Leopoldville, the Congolese capital, they objectively worked in the interests of imperialism. A contingent of Ghana troops were deployed as part of the UN force under the command of British Major General Henry Templer Alexander. The outcome of this project would be disastrous. Nkrumah perceived the performance of Alexander as defying the foreign policy objectives of the Ghana government and eventually dismissed him from his post by 1961.

 

Lumumba was overthrown in a military coup backed up by the UN peacekeeping forces. He later escaped from Leopoldville to join his supporters in the East of the country where they had sought to establish a genuine people’s republic. However, Lumumba was tracked and captured by the Belgian and other imperialist military forces that were still operating inside the country delivering him to the reactionary political puppet functionaries working on behalf of Moise Tshome, the secessionist of the Katanga province, and Joseph Mobuto, who at the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other Western interests, was placed in power for the express purpose of liquidating Lumumba and his MNC party.

 

Since the time of the death of Lumumba and his comrades, various operative of the CIA, the U.S. State Department, the Belgian colonial authorities and the British intelligence services (MI6) have admitted to the plot to kill Lumumba. Initial efforts were made to poison the Congolese leader which failed. The kidnapping place Lumumba at the mercy of his enemies and he was reportedly assassinated on January 17, 1961 in Elizabethville in Congo.

 

The assassination of Lumumba prompted outrage throughout the African continent and the world. In the U.S. at the UN world headquarters, a group of African Americans, led by women, disrupted a session chaired by American envoy Adlai Stevenson.

 

Lumumba’s assassination was ordered by the National Security Council of the U.S. under the administration of retired Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Several days later, the administration of President John F. Kennedy took office and continued the same policy towards Congo. (See The Congo Cables: The Cold War in Africa From Eisenhower to Kennedy, by Madeleine G. Kalb, 1982))

 

The Kennedy presidency presented a false image of support for African independence. This in part derived from a Cold War strategy of outmaneuvering the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the People’s Republic of China and their foreign policies that categorically rejected colonialism and imperialism in defense of the African people’s inherent right to self-determination and national independence.

 

Kennedy while serving a term in the U.S. Senate from 1954-1960 established a sub-committee on African affairs. This was part of a broader effort to win over not only the emergent African states but also the African American electorate by giving the appearance that he was sympathetic to their interests in the U.S. as well.

 

Nkrumah came to the U.S. on March 8, 1961 for consultations with Kennedy. Nevertheless, the damage had already been done with the assassination of Lumumba and the derailing of the Congolese Revolution and its Pan-Africanist leanings.

 

A U.S. State Department synopsis of the meeting between the Ghana delegation and Kennedy administration officials said: “In summary, the two Presidents found themselves in agreement on three principal points on the Congo,

 

(1) removal of Belgian military and para-military personnel,

(2) neutralization of Congolese military forces and insulation of the Congo against outside influences and military supplies, and

(3) freedom for the Congolese to work out their own political development. On the last point the Secretary called attention to our own history to illustrate the importance we attach to the principle that government must be based on consent of the governed. In addition to examples from our early history he cited our important role in assisting Indonesian independence and President Roosevelt’s heavy pressure on Churchill, even while we were allies in a world war, in regard to India.

 

There should be no doubt, therefore, in any reasonable mind, that the U.S. would always be basically, and in the long run effectively, on the side of anti-colonialism and independence, whether the problem is Portugal and Angola or France and Algeria or any other.” (U.S. State Dept. archives on Africa policy from 1961-1963)

 

According to this same declassified report from the State Department: “President Nkrumah exhibited no desire to talk about U.S. – Ghana bilateral relations and at one point turned off the Secretary’s attempt to bring up the Volta project. President Nkrumah did, however, make the point that the U.S. should broaden its view of Africa and look at the continent as a whole, a subject which he said he had raised when he was here in 1958. The President (Kennedy) took this opportunity to explain the difficulties we face in Africa. He cited the resentment inspired in “colonialist” circles by Governor (G.M.) Williams’ (Undersecretary for African Affairs) alleged statement on “Africa for the Africans” in Nairobi and pointed out that despite this, Governor Williams had been given an unfriendly reception by the press in Lagos. The President (Kennedy) also expressed his surprise and puzzlement over receipt of a recent personal message from Sekou Toure accusing him of complicity in Lumumba’s murder. President Nkrumah seemed sympathetic but offered no very specific advice or comment.”

 

Responses to the Congo crisis would divide the newly-independent African states into two separate political camps: the Casablanca Group characterized by its anti-imperialism and Pan-Africanism and the Monrovia Group, which was perceived as more favorable to the U.S. and other colonial and neo-colonial states. Although Nkrumah sought to maintain cordial relations with the Kennedy administration, the overall domestic and foreign policy orientation of the CPP government was anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. (See Nkrumah’s Challenge of the Congo, 1967 and Revolutionary Path, 1973)

 

These developments further aggravated relations between Accra and Washington. Nkrumah’s government would soon move closer to the USSR, the COMECON sector in Eastern Europe and the People’s Republic of China. Pressure would escalate against the CPP through the machinations of the CIA and the State Department.

 

From August 1962 to early 1964, a series of assassination attempts against Nkrumah and mass killings of Ghanaians were blamed on outside interests. The attack on Nkrumah at Kulungugu in the North of the country near the border with Upper Volta set off a massive purge within the CPP.

 

Leading figures in what was considered the left-wing of the party were accused of being behind the plot. Adamafio and others were put on trial and later acquitted by the Ghana courts. Nkrumah objected to the not-guilty verdicts and dismissed the judges setting up another proceeding that found many of the accused culpable, landing them in prison.

 

In early January 1964, yet another assassination attempt against Nkrumah by a guard at Flagstaff House increased the atmosphere of siege against the CPP government. A national referendum on making Ghana a one-party state was held solidifying the Revolution as being on a firm socialist path with the central foreign policy objective being the realization of a United States of Africa.

 

Nkrumah had welcomed several hundred African Americans to Ghana where many played important roles within his government. In October 1961, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and Shirley Graham Du Bois would locate in Ghana eventually taking up citizenship in the country.

 

Dr. Du Bois was appointed as the Director of the Encyclopedia Africana Project which was designed to develop a comprehensive history and political economy of the African people. Shirley Graham Du Bois was assigned to develop a national television network based in Ghana, the first of its kind envisioned on the African continent. Both of the Du Bois’ were well-known leftist and Pan-Africanists. The Du Bois’ were both members of the Communist Party of the U.S. and had traveled extensively throughout the USSR, China and other Socialist states.

 

During the Cold War hysteria of the late 1940s and 1950s inside the U.S., Dr. Du Bois in 1951, was indicted by the federal government for allegedly being an agent of a foreign belief system simply because he was an advocate of peace with the Socialist camp. The American government’s case collapsed under the absurdity of the charges. However, the couple had their passports seized and were not allowed to travel outside the U.S. during the period of 1950-1958.

 

A host of other activists were targeted as well including Paul Robeson and Dr. William Alphaeus Hunton, Jr., who with Dr. Du Bois and Robeson headed the Council on African Affairs (CAA). Nkrumah had participated in CAA activities during the mid-1940s when he was a student in the U.S.

 

When their passports were re-issued in 1958, the Du Bois’ embarked upon a world tour of the Socialist countries and other states in Europe. Graham Du Bois visited Ghana in December 1958 for the All-African People’s Conference where she delivered an address written by Dr. Du Bois, who was not able to attend at that time.

 

This speech was entitled “The Future of All-Africa Lies in Socialism.” It said in part, in regard to which direction the continent would move as it relates to social development, asking: “Which way shall Africa go? First, I would emphasize the fact that today Africa has no choice between private Capitalism and Socialism. The whole world, including Capitalist countries, is moving towards Socialism, inevitably, inexorably. You can choose between blocs of military alliances, you can choose between groups of political unions, you cannot choose between Socialism and private Capitalism, because private ownership of capital is doomed.”

 

The Du Bois’ continued saying to the 62 national liberation movements assembled in Accra: “But what is Socialism? It is disciplined economy and political organization in which the first duty of a citizen is to serve the state; and the state is not a selected aristocracy, or a group of self-seeking oligarchs who have seized wealth and power. No! The mass of workers with hand and brain are the ones whose collective destiny is the chief object of all effort.  Here then, my brothers, you face your great decision: Will you for temporary advantage–for automobiles, refrigerators and Paris gowns–spend your income in paying interest on borrowed funds, or will you sacrifice present comfort and the chance to shine before your neighbors in order to educate your children, develop such industry as best serves the great mass of people and makes your country strong in ability, self-support and self-defense? Such union of effort for strength calls for sacrifice and self-denial, while the capital offered you at high price by the colonial powers like France, Britain, Holland, Belgium and the United States, will prolong fatal colonial imperialism, from which you have suffered slavery, serfdom and colonialism.”

Of course there were other African Americans and Caribbean Africans who played a role in the Ghana Revolution and Pan-Africanism. People such as Vicki Garvin, a longtime Communist and activist was in Ghana at the time. Maya Angelou, the writer and dancer taught school in Ghana and worked in defense of the Nkrumah project. Alice Windom, another African American woman was in Ghana participating in national development efforts.

All of these women worked with Julian Mayfield, the novelist and journalist, who after fleeing the U.S. in 1961 amid the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) hunt for Monroe, North Carolina organizer and former local NAACP leaders Robert F. Williams and Mabel Williams, relocated in Ghana becoming a publicity secretary for the parliament and editor of African Review, a journal of Pan-Africanist thought.

Julian Mayfield along with Windom, Angelou and Garvin would host the two visits of Malcolm X to Ghana during 1964.  Malcolm X mentioned in his final speech in Detroit that the first chapter of the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU) was formed in Ghana. This was initiated after he left of the Nation of Islam in 1964 being patterned in part on the Organization of African Unity (OAU), founded in May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with 32 member-states.

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