The Death and Symbolic “Resurrection” of Kwame Nkrumah

  • Harcourt Fuller
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


In exile, Nkrumah had lots of time to reassess his time in power and ponder the factors that led to his downfall. For one, he blamed the resilience of what he saw as “tribalism” in national politics as culpable for the coup that removed him from power. As a nationalist, Nkrumah tried to downplay tribalism in Ghanaian politics and stressed regional and tribal unity as necessary for nation-building. Having fought an uphill battle against traditional chiefs (particularly the Asantes) before and after independence, he also recognized that there had always been a close Ewe-Asante relationship, exemplified by the tribal alliance between Harlley (an Ewe), Kotoka (an Ewe), and Afrifa (an Asante) who headed the coup against him. In his memoirs, however, Nkrumah admitted some failure in his attempts to eliminate the scourge of tribalism that threatened to undermine his nationbuilding policies and ideals:

I had to combat not only tribalism but the African tradition that a man’s first duty was to his family group and that therefore nepotism was the highest of all virtues. While I believe we had largely eliminated tribalism as an active force, its by-products and those of the family system were still with us. I could not have chosen my government without some regard to tribal origins and even, within the Party itself, there was at times a tendency to condemn or recommend some individual on the basis of his tribal or family origin.1


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  1. 1.
    Kwame Nkrumah, Dark Days in Ghana (1968; new ed., New York: International Publishers, 1969), 66.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See National Liberation Council and the Ministry of Information, The Rebirth of Ghana: The End of Tyranny (Accra-Tema: State Publishing Corporation, Printing Division, 1966), 6–20.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Roger S. Gocking, The History of Ghana (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005), 148.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    June Milne, Kwame Nkrumah: A Biography (London: Panaf, 2006). See Part Two, “The Conakry Years,” especially Chapter 13, “Villa Syli.”Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    Ama Biney, The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 171–172; Milne, Kwame Nkrumah: A Biography, 251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Harcourt Fuller 2014

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