THE INSIGHT WEDNESDAY 16TH THURSDAY 17TH DECEMBER, 2009 PAGE 3
Thirty-seven years after his death, the greatest African of the 20th century, Osagyefo dr. Kwame Nkrumah is enjoying an unprecedented revile. The African union decided at its recent summit in Sirte, Libya, to join the government and people of Ghana in celebrating Nkrumah’s 100th birthday anniversary with a series of events starting from September 2009 and running thought to Africa liberation day 25 may 2010.
When he came into office in January 2009, Ghana’s new president john ata mills proposed the celebration of Nkrumah’s birthday as a national founders day, and went on to set up a committee in June to oversee a fitting centenary celebration in honour of the man. In Accra , Nkrumah’s only daughter, Samia Nkrumah , 49, is keeping her father’s torch ablaze. In the last elections in December 2008, Samia became the only representative of her fathers once powerful conventions peoples party to win a parliamentary seat. She was just six years old when her father’s government was overthrown in a military coup in February 1966. After a long sojourn abroad and a career in journalism and media consultancy, Samia soon joined her fathers party on her return to Ghana.
Today she sits in parliament as an independent voice that has refused to align with either the ruling national democratic congress or the opposition new patriotic party. Femi Akomolafe went to interview her, and what a chip off an old block she turned out to be! Here are expects.
Q: what does it mean to be the daughter of Africa’s favourite son, Osagyefo dr. Nkrumah?
A: being the daughter of Osagyefo dr. Nkrumah is a great privilege and an honour. I have come to understand that it also means having a responsibility towards our people. That responsibility includes going back to seriously revisit his works, his legacy and what he tried to do, what he began to do and pick up from where he left off. He left us a blueprint to restructure our economies and make us self-reliant with a strong agricultural and industrial base, to unify our continent to become economically viable, and to achieve total socio economic and cultural emancipation. His works need to be revised and his ideology needs to be demonstrated.
Q: this year, the whole of Africa is celebrating your father’s anniversary centenary can ypu tell us about your recollections of him as a father and also as a larger than life politician?
A: I have flashbacks of our father at home, sitting nearby reading a book, eating with his fingers, carrying us around, spooning honey into our months, takings our hands as we accompany him to the garden, down the steps. But we didn’t see that much of him, so when he was around it felt like a normal family with him sitting with a book while we played around. I also remember some remarkable says like the day he was attacked in flagstaff house by an imposter posing as a guard. I saw our father came up the stairs with bloodied face, surrounded by many people.
It was harrowing, as a politician , I got to know him better after he was gone, when i started reading his books and listening to people who worked with him, who knew him and also our mother’s recollections. Discovering him really made me appreciate him better bother as a father and also as a politician who had a vision and was capable of seeing the whole picture. He was a man who knew what he wanted to do and had it all planned. Not even his worst critic would ever describe him as selfish or petty minded. And of course it didn’t take much to realise that his political thought was the answer to many of our problems.
Q: you were very young when the CIA instigated coup toppled your fathers government, what do you remember from those harrowing days?
A: I remember 24 February 1966very well because we were so indescribably terrified and so utterly confused. I remember waking up to the sound of gunshots, praying for safety upon our mother’s instructions, being wrapped in blankets and getting in and out of our car, ordered around by scared young soldiers and all those soldiers, and all those soldiers pointing guns, shouting, confused. I remember particularly the gun held against our mother’s nape. It was utterly terrifying; the stuff that nightmares are made of . and I know we were very lucky to leave on the same day. Thanks to Gamel Abdel Nasser, the late president of Egypt, who sent and Egyptian air flight to take us to Cairo that very day.
Q: what emotions do you still carry when you remember those very dark days, is it anger or sadness or both?
A: today, I can put in perspective. I think of it as a day in life of a developing nation caught up in the cold war dynamics. We dealt with the fear, the nightmares, the confusion, and the loss of identity to be able to engage in the politics of today, I has to wipe the slate clean. I cannot do what I am doing today by harbouring resentment. What has happened has happened and we cannot undo it. As our elders say, “if you don’t forget yesterday’s quarrel you will not have someone to play with” revenge and vindictiveness are inadmissible in politics – at least politics as we have known it in the Nkrumah family; that is the politics of giving, of serving of loving our people. And really these are not superficial sentiments. You know Nkrumah never approved the execution of any Ghanaian not even those who had attempted to assassinate him. In guinea after the coup he attacked Ghanaian forces to wrestle power from the national liberation council y the solders who overthrew him. He would never approve of the shedding of a single drop of Ghanaian or African or human blood.
Q: a lot of associations disowned your father after the coup are their people you would like to acknowledge as standing by him and helping your family in those turbulent days?
A: many people helped us over the years. In fact there wasn’t a period in my life when people didn’t help. Governments helped, individuals helped, families helped. The list is long as I wouldn’t want to miss anyone. Gamel Abdel Nasser , the revolutionary of guinea-Bissau, and many other leaders stood by Nkrumah. But one person comes to mind than others today as I am speaking and that is June Milne, our fathers literacy executrix, who is now 90. She went to guinea from England 16 times, stood loyally by Nkrumah, rescued precious papers after his death, and helped publish his books; some posthumously. And she introduced me seriously to Nkrumah’s thoughts and told me so much about him and gave me all his books. When i understood what Nkrumah stood for and tried to do, the vision he left us everything else fell into sharp focus as if someone was telling me : this is the way, walk in