Read Time: 22 minutes
Nkrumahism as an Ideological Embodiment of Leftist Thought Within the African World
By Dr. Michael W. Williams
This extremely significant paper by Dr. Michael W. Williams deserves prime attention among the various commentaries on the works of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
It places the thought of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the intellectual history of African leftist thought over the centuries. Not just that. It further sees it as the very embodiment of the latter.
This makes of this paper a compulsory reading among progressive forces across the African continent and the Diaspora. It is a wonder that this extremely useful piece appears hidden.
Published in 1984, it is already thirty-eight (38) years old. Perhaps it had remained hidden from only yours truly but ignored by those who ever saw and read it. Why the neglect, if it’s so?
Qualified, in our estimation, as a template or a guide to the study of the thought system of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah this is the piece that requires place in the front pocket of the African youth.
In our own efforts to study and encourage the study of Dr. Nkrumah’s thought system we never came close to the precision and elegant expression of it as in this 19-paged paper.
This is well represented, for instance, in its precise definition of Nkrumaism in Note 4 and this, we believe, cannot be contested by any Marxist-Nkrumaist who might rather salute it!
Let’s Remain Focused, Determined and Bold!
Onward to the African Socialist Revolution!
Lang T. K. A. Nubuor
February 24 2022
Kindly read on.
Nkrumahism as an Ideological Embodiment of Leftist Thought Within the African World
Author(s): Michael W. Williams
Source: Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, Communication and the Afro-American
(Sep., 1984), pp. 117-134
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/2784121
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NKRUMAHISM AS AN
IDEOLOGICAL EMBODIMENT OF
LEFTIST THOUGHT WITHIN
THE AFRICAN WORLD
MICHAEL W. WILLIAMS
(State University of New York-Binghamton)
One of the most serious deficiencies facing the African World today is its apparent lack of ideological clarity and unity. This grave weakness leaves the African masses without that most effective weapon to harness their energies throughout the world in an effort to guide them toward collective action in the
pursuit of common aims and objectives. This problem, nay crisis, is especially distressing in light of the abundance of historical evidence that substantiates the supposition that Africans on the mainland and those in the diaspora have been suffering from and responding to a common historical experi-
ence in a manner that has not been qualitatively different from one region of the world to another (Padmore, 1931; James,
1969; DuBois, 1970). That this common historical experience has been shaped by centuries of political-economic domination
resulting from European insufficiency and expansionism iswithout question.
JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES, Vol. 15 No. 1, September 1984 117-134
0 1984 Sage Publications, Inc. 117
118 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
In Africa and throughout the African diaspora, there has been a plethora of congruence in thought and action in the struggle to resolve the multiplicity of contradictions emanating from the particular forms of national oppression and class exploitation that the African masses have experienced under
capitalism for over 500 years. This congruence has been personified in the related movements and ideas associated with a legion of revolutionary nationalists and socialists, within the African World.
Again, despite this commonality, the scattered and suffering African masses are not tied together by a common ideologicalsystem. Nevertheless, this dearth of ideological unity within the African World, and its injurious consequences, should not be interpreted to mean that no such ideological system exists that is capable of galvinizing, harnessing, and amalgamating the energies of the African masses in their common struggle for liberation.
This is not true, for there is Nkrumahism-that is,
the consistent and coherent body of ideas, policies, and principles espoused and practiced by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.’
In this study, it is my intention to examine Nkrumahism in light of the above claim and following contention: that Nkrumahism, to a significant degree, shares an organic link, as
an ideological assimilation, advancement, and refinement, with progressive and radical ideas that emerged and developed within the African World before and during Kwame Nkrumah’s lifetime.
Reasonably, the best way to establish the veracity of this proposition, in the context of the paucity of space, is to compare and contrast Nkrumahism with a representative
sample of twentieth-century2 leftist thought in the African World. This sample would have to include minimally the thought of persons such as W.E.B. DuBois, Marcus Garvey, C.L.R. James, George Padmore, Sekou Toure, Patrice
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 119
Lumumba, Frantz Fanon, Julius Nyerere, Malcolm X, and Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael).3 In illustrating the parallels between Nkrumahism and the aforementioned
body of thought, such an examination must uncover the readily discernible derivation, compatibility, and advancement of ideas that it has been suggested links Nkrumahism with
African leftist thought of the twentieth century.4
Subsumed under the conceptual category of nationalism are several relevant units of analysis that can be used in this discussion, beginning with the concept of identity. Despite his tendency to vacillate on this question, DuBois (1970: 5-10) was lucid in his popular little book, The Negro, in defining even the
so-called mulatto as African. And even when using different concepts to describe Africans (such as colored, Negro, Black, and others), he normally applied these concepts in their
broadest (Pan-African) meaning.
As far as Garvey (1967) was concerned, all people of African descent were the same and he saw “absolutely no difference between the native African and the American and West Indian Negroes, in that we are descendents from one family stock” (p.52). This classification was not compromised by Garvey, evenin his confrontation with light-skinned Africans (for example, DuBois; see Garvey, 1967: 55).
In the case of Malcolm X the conceptualization of the African identity went beyond just a generic sense to include the
concept of culture as well (see Malcolm X, 1968: 182). And standing on the ideological edifice of Malcolm, while personifying so well the militant aspirations of the Black Power
movement (which had a significant impact on Nkrumah), Kwame Ture, as early as 1968, began sharpening his analysis to include the concept of the African identity (see Carmichael, 1971: 111-130).
These conceptualizations of the African identity are completely incorporated into the ideological system of Nkrumahism, which holds as one of its basic principles: “All peoples of
120 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
African descent, whether they live in North or South America, the Caribbean, or in any other part of the world are Africans and belong to the African nation” (Nkrumah, 1970: 87).
The critical role of Africa in the liberation of Africans everywhere has been given considerable attention by many African leftists as well. To a large degree, the numerous Pan-
African conferences, congresses, and conventions organized during the first half of this century by Garvey, DuBois, and other African leftists are a clear expression of this. DuBois (1946: 70) was quite clear on this point, stating that “until Africa is free, the descendents of Africa the world over cannot
escape chains.” Considered the “Father” of Pan-Africanism by many, DuBois (1919: 270) felt that Africans throughout the world should contribute to freeing Africa because “any
ebullition of action and feeling that results in amelioration of the lot of Africa tends to ameliorate the conditions of colored people throughout the world.”
Garvey, perhaps, more than anyone before him, popularized the question of the primacy of Africa in the struggle of Africans worldwide. He consistently challenged the African masses to
“build up in Africa a government of our own, big enough and strong enough to protect Africa and Negroes everywhere” (Garvey, 1921a: 272). According to Garvey (1926a: 161; 1967: 107), there was no other land base in the world that Africans had any otherjust claim to and that was more important than their own “Mother Africa.”
Malcolm X (1970: 136) was also very clear about the critical and primary role that the liberation of Africa will play in the African Revolution. Malcolm consistently taught his listeners the importance of land, arguing that “revolutions are fought to get control of land” (Malcolm X, 1965: 57), and that the
African masses, especially in the United States, were in such “avery low condition” because they “had no control whatsoever over any land.” And as a rapidly developing Pan-Africanist, Malcolm (1964) felt strongly that “the only hope for the black man in America [is] in a strong Africa.” For this reason he warned Africans in the United States that any organization that was not based in Africa could not be effective (Malcolm X,1965: 129-130).
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 121
As in the case with the African identity, the notion of the liberation of Africa as the primary precondition for the liberation of Africans everywhere is one of the cardinal principles of Nkrumahism: “The total liberation and the
unification of Africa under an All-African socialist government must be the primary objective of all Black revolutionaries
throughout the world” (Nkrumah, 1970: 88).
The idea of a united Africa has a conceptual history similar to other notions subsumed under this nationalist category.
DuBois (1965: 296-297), Garvey (1927: 169; 1967: 50, 58), Toure (1962: 154,184), Lumumba(1972: 57-58,70,75), Fanon (1967a: 187), and many other African leftists have contributed to its development. Before Nkrumah, however, GeorgePadmore gave this idea its most precise meaning, including the
strategy toward achieving it (see Padmore, 1959: 228-229;1972: xix, 356).
Nkrumahism has not only digested these ideas on African unity, but also provides a refinement of Padmore’s thesis on this subject and an advancement of DuBois’s. As a result of his experiences with a machinations neocolonialism, Nkrumah eliminated Padmore’s regionalist stage toward African unity.
He demonstrated that “the idea of regional federations inAfrica [was] fraught with many dangers” because of the risk of regional loyalties developing in Africa favorable “for foreign intervention, interferences and subversion” by the imperialist powers in their struggle to balkanize Africa (Nkrumah, 1963:
214-215; 1973: 307).
Whereas DuBois’s (1965: 296) concept of a united Africa included, for the most part, only “Black Africa”, “from the Sahara to the Indian Ocean,” Nkrumah’s (1963, 1968b, 1970:87-88) conceptualization included the entire African continent.
This extension is an integral part of Nkrumah’s theory of the synthesis of Africa’s three “faces” discussed below.5
In fact, the Nkrumahist notion of the African personality provides another illustrative example of ideological advancement within the African World. While agreeing with other
African leftists (for example, Garvey, 1967: 71, 84-88; Toure,1973: 3-11; Fanon, 1967a: 38; 1967b) that the cultural patterns
122 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
of the African masses have been greatly damaged, manifesting themselves in an injurious social psychology, Nkrumah (1964:
68, 70, 78-79) posits the idea that Africans, in mass, also suffer from a triadically split personality, thus including the Arab-
Islamic experience as an essential part of the externally imposed forces that contributed to the discoloring of Africa’s traditional past. Rather than arguing that Africans should
reject this cultural imposition (for example, with Garvey, 1967: 27) and return to their traditional past (for example, with Nyerere, 1962: 1-12), Nkrumahism urges a rejection of only the negative aspects of the Euro-Christian and Arab-Islamic experiences; the solution offered is a synthesis of the positive aspects of these experiences along with the positive aspects of the traditional African experience, with the underlying principles of traditional Africa serving as the salient features of this
Socialism, as a conceptual category, and several other closely related notions can also be used (as with the ideas affiliated with nationalism above) to aid in the examination of
this proposition. Socialism, via class struggle, has been an integral part of Pan-Africanism, and thus is an integral part of the ideological inheritance of which Nkrumahism is partially
composed. However, it is worth noting that the socialist world view that influenced Nkrumah did so only after it entered theprism of African leftist thought that surrounded him during
the early period of his ideological development in the UnitedStates. In other words, Nkrumah was imbibed with “the ideas
of Marx, Lenin and other revolutionaries worked out chiefly by people of African descent in Western Europe, and America,
to be used for the emancipation of the people of Africa” (James, 1977: 62).
Of the ten leftists in this sample, Garvey, Lumumba, Nyerere, Malcolm, and Ture demonstrated the least clarity on this question of the class struggle as the primary vehicle to be used in the building of socialism in a united Africa. Garvey never formally espoused socialism, partially because Africans, during his day, were hardly divided along rigid class lines.
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 123
Consequently, he often stated that “you have no fight among yourselves between capital and labor, because all of us are laborers, therefore we need not be socialists” (Garvey, 1967:111). His feelings toward socialism were also conditioned by and directed against those persons and organizations that considered themselves the practitioners of this doctrine within the United States in their attempt to infiltrate the Garvey movement and destroy it (Garvey, 1970: 1454147; Padmore,1972:284, 281-285). However, Garvey (1967: 69) never gave ablanket condemnation of socialism or communism, choosinginstead to qualify his critique: “I am advising the Negroworking man and laborer against the present brand of
communism or worker’s Partisanship as taught in America.”
In gist, Garvey’s disenchantment was not against socialism per se, but against those persons and organizations who attempted to practice it and who harbored chauvinistic attitudes on crucial questions and issues facing the African masses.
Nevertheless, it is clear from analyzing Garvey’s Philosophy and Opinions (1967) that he was staunchly opposed to any form of socioeconomic distinctions among the African masses.
In fact, the only distinctions that Garvey (1967: 53) foresaw in the new Africa that he was struggling to build “would be based upon service and loyalty to race.” He was adamant on this point because of the centuries of oppression and exploitation the African has suffered at the hands of Europeans. “Therefore,” he argued, the African “is not prepared to tolerate a similar assumption on the part of his own people” (Garvey, 1967: 52).
For these reasons, although Garvey’s class analysis was weak, his penchant for brotherhood and equality are by no means
contradictory to the Nkrumahist desire for socialism. In fact, they can be seen as contributing elements to the leftist germ
that Nkrumah was influencd by 8 and eventually developed further.
Lumumba, like Garvey, did not formally espouse socialism as the economic alternative to imperialist domination in Africa. However, there is evidence, albeit minor, to suggest
that Lumumba was moving toward the embracement of
124 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
socialism as the solution to Africa’s economic crisis (especially in his close relationship with Nkrumah). For instance, Lumumba (1972: 429) became increasingly conscious of the
interests of neocolonialism in the Congo, once arguing that the imperialist strategy was “to maintain the colonial system in the Congo and simply change the cast, as in a stage play.”
Despite this development in Lumumba’s understanding of the African crisis, there is no convincing evidence, in either his writings or his speeches, to warrant us calling him a socialist.
While genuinely committed to Africa’s economic development in the pursuance of meeting his people’s basic needs, Lumumba
(1972: 169) was often confused as to how best he could achieve this. Indeed, Lumumba died believing that it was to his country’s advantage, economically, “in guaranteeing the economic interests of financiers, of merchants, of all those who have invested money in the Congo” (Lumumba, 1972: 92).
Lumumba often went to extra lengths in reassuring international imperialism that an independent Congo would not threaten their economic interests (1972: 63, 72-73, 428).
However, Nkrumah was not unclear on the nature of capitalist investments in Africa, nor was he uncommitted to the type of economic system that could raise the standard of living
of the masses of African people. On the contrary, he gave a detailed and scathing critique of international capitalist investments before and after independence in Africa (Nkrumah, 1965). He was fully aware that only when the wealth from Africa’s land, labor, and resources is completely controlled by and distributed to the African people according to their needs will the standard of living of African people be raised (Nkrumah, 1963; 1970). In other words, Nkrumah was devotedto the socialist alternative, which is the highest ideological expression of such a desired state of affairs that all African leftists have sought for their people, including Lumumba.
With Malcolm, while he believed, fervently, that a strong Africa is the African’s only hope, wherever he or she is, he never really defined what he meant by a strong Africa, besides
being united and independent. Even though Malcolm’s (1964, 1965: 65, 68-69, 121, 149) full-scale entry into Pan-Africanism
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 125
meant an accompanying and rapidly growing distaste forcapitalism and attraction to socialism, he never had the opportunity to develop such an analysis. However, Nkrumah-
ism provides such an analysis, which includes Malcolm’s (1970: 181) specific fascination with what he called “African Socialism,” that is, “a form of socialism that fits into the African
context.” While exposing the neocolonial underpinnings of the so-called African Socialism of the African bourgeoisie, Nkrumah (1968b: 29) defined scientific socialism in perfect consistency with what appealed to Malcolm-arguing that the particularity of its form does not deny the universality of its
On the notion of the class struggle, while Nyerere is opposed to capitalism and its many derivatives and has decided that socialism is the path of development that the African Revolution must follow, his idealist approach to achieving socialism denies the objectivity of the class structures and divergent class
interests that actually exist in Tanzania and the rest of Africa, and that the materialist analysis of Nkrumahism uncovers.
Instead, all Nyerere concedes is that Africans have accepted a class or “capitalist mentality.” Therefore, he rejects the class struggle and instead opts for a recapturing of the traditional
African mentality as a solution to Africa’s problems since, according to him, there were no classes in Africa before European colonialism and the advent of the “capitalist
mentality” (Nyerere, 1962: 6-8).
For his part, Nyerere is wrong on both accounts: Africa prior to European colonialism was not devoid of class distinctions or class conflict (Rodney, 1974: 40-83; Chinweizu, 1975; Markovitz, 1977: 25-55; Davidson, 1966). And second, class distinctions and exploitation exist in African society today, concretely, and not just in the mentality of some capitalist-minded Africans (Markovitz, 1977: 173-341). In fact,the penchant for a “free enterprise” system by the Africanbourgeoisie is heavily conditioned by the fact that it is to their
advantage to support such a system due to their class standing in the socioeconomic structures of neocolonialism (Amin,1971; M’buyinga, 1982).
126 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
Nkrumahism captures this socioeconomic reality and thus corrects the mistakes found in Nyerere’s analysis due to his idealist approach and false assumption about Africa’s pre-
colonial history. In regard to Nyerere’s romanticism with precolonial Africa, Nkrumah (1973: 441) states: “Colonialism deserves to be blamed for many evils in Africa, but surely it was not preceded by an African Golden Age or Paradise.” He argues that there is “no historical or even anthropological evidence” to support the contention that African society throughout the period before the European invasion was
classless (Nkrumah, 1973: 440-441).
As for the supposed absence of the class struggle in Africa today, Nkrumah demonstrated that theorists who make this
mistake were diluted by the temporary national unity betweenall classes in Africa during the anticolonial struggle. In gist, the
class struggle was blurred for a while. However, Nkrumah (1970: 10) explained that it was during the struggle to build socialism that the class cleavages, “which had been temporarily submerged in the struggle to win political freedom,” reappeared. The conflict between the African masses (peasants and
workers) and the African bourgeoisie-the latter whose “basic interest lies in preserving capitalist social and economic structures”-is the essential conflict in Africa today (Nkrumah, 1970: 10). This is, according to Nkrumah (1970: 10, 12), only because the African bourgeoisie is “in alliance with international monopoly finance capital and neocolonialism”; consequently, “they provide the main means by which interna-
tional monopoly finance continues to plunder Africa and to frustrate the purposes of the African Revolution” (1970: 65).
Nyerere’s analysis just fails to take into account these realities. For these reasons, the Nkrumahist analysis lays bare the obstacles that prevent Nyerere from reaching his socialist objectives, which are embodied in the class struggle.
While in Guinea during the late 1960s, Nkrumah dedicated special attention to correcting what he felt were some of the
erroneous ideas that were produced by the Black Power
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 127
movement that Kwame Ture and others of his generation werepropagating; he felt that these ideas were detrimental to the ideological development of the African World (Panaf, 1974:234-237). This task was set forth in Nkrumah’s article “TheSpectre of Black Power” (1973: 421-428), first published in
1968, and to some extent in Class Struggle in Africa (1970).
The corrections centered around Ture’s failure to grasp the significance of the class struggle relative to the stuggle against racism and national oppression. The essence of the Nkrumahist position, which rejects the primacy of race over class as an explanatory variable in determining the fundamental and principal adversary of the African Revolution, is summed up as follows: “Racial discrimination is the product of an environment, an environment of a divided class society, and itssolution is to change that environment” (Nkrumah, 1973: 438).
Ture’s understanding of the African Revolution during this time did not include an understanding of its relationship to the
international socialist revolution. Instead, he understood it only in racial terms, as expressed in his open letter from Guinea read at the opening of Malcolm X Liberation University in
October of 1969. In this letter he stated: “Right now we are in a cold war with America and Europe. When we begin to move militarily on all fronts, it will be an all-out race war, Africa
versus Europe” (Carmichael, 1971: 179). This is the reason Ture refused, for so long, to embrace socialism completely, on one occasion arguing: “In their form neither communism nor socialism speak to the problem of racism” (Carmichael, 1971: 121).
Nkrumah (1970: 29) opposed this type of thinking adamantly, asserting that only “the attainment of world communism can provide the condition under which the race question can finally be abolished and eliminated.” Furthermore, Nkrumahfelt it necessary to warn the African left in the United States “tobe on its guard against the internal as well as the externalenemy” (1973: 423) in response to Ture’s inability to see the internal class enemies of the African Revolution. In other
words, Ture’s contention that “every Negro is-a potential black
128 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
man” (Carmichael, 1971: 115), and his willingness to work with bourgeois lawyers and politicians within the African community in the United States, even as late as 1970 (Carmichael,1971: 205,210-212), blinded him from seeing the veracity of theNkrumahist revelation: “It is the indigenous bourgeoisie who provide the main means by which international monopoly finance continues to . .. frustrate the purposes of the African Revolution” (Nkrumah, 1970: 63).
This clear-cut class analysis of Nkrumahism is not withoutideological precedence or congruence within the sample of African leftists chosen for this study. DuBois, whose commitment to socialism can be traced back to as early as 1900, warned African leaders in his later years that “a body of local capitalists, even in they are black, can never free Africa; they will simply sell it into new slavery to old masters overseas” (DuBois, 1965: 309). Padmore’s hatred of imperialism, in all of
its forms, allowed him also to understand the role of theAfrican bourgeoisie in the maintenance of neocolonialism after political independence has been won. Considering this
class of Africans as traitors to the African Revolution, he once wrote, “Black capitalists are as much our enemies as white
capitalists” (Padmore, 1959: 237). James (1977: 14-15) has argued that the independent states in Africa are led by men who are nothing more than “functionaries” who “sanctify the
concentration of all available funds in the hands of the state, i.e. their own hands.” One of the most critical opponents of the African bourgeoisie was Fanon (1963: 148-205). His analysis of Pan-Africanism was permeated with an awareness of the class alliance between the African bourgeoisie and international finance capital; hence, he declared that African unity could only be achieved “in defiance of the interests of the bourgeoisie” (Fanon, 1963: 164). Toure and the PDG acknowledged “class struggle as the only dynamic and historically just step” in the struggle against imperialism (Toure, 1977: 277).
Finally, the Nkrumahist use of dialectical materialism is amply instructive to conclude this analytical examination.
Although Nkrumah used, basically, the same method of
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 129
analysis that other European leftists used, his theoretical orientation and emphases often deviated from some positions taken by some of the disciples of orthodox Marxism. Some of
these “deviations” revolve around issues related to racism and the national question, for example, his rejection and revision of the Stalinist definition of Nationhood (Nkrumah, 1970: 88).
Even Nkrumah’s insistence on an African national identity and allegiance for the African diaspora is regarded by many so-called Marxists as theoretical anathema (Amponsem, 1979: 17).
Other “deviations” are squarely in the area of philosophy, for instance, Nkrumahist insistence on the primary (Nkrumah, 1964: 84) as opposed to the sole (Progress, 1974: 72) existence of matter, which gives more attention to the role of ideology in transforming material conditions than do many Marxists (Nkrumah, 1964: 34).
Notwithstanding the theoretical chauvinism on the part ofsome Marxists, this “deviationist” aspect of Nkrumahism shares the same sort of assimilative relationship that has been
demonstrated thus far. Indeed, Dubois never swallowed Marxist theory in total, arguing that Marxism had to be “modified so far as the Negro is concerned (Dubois 1933: 215). James has always struggled not to let his Marxist
orientation distort his understanding of the relationship between racism and the class struggle. Hence, while acknowledging the
primacy of class struggle, he refused to succumb to the pure class analysis taken by some Marxists, once arguing that “to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental [is] an error only less grave than to make it fundamental” (James, 1963: 283).
Padmore (1959) after removing his Marxist “blinders” in 1935, counseled Africans to “subject Marxism to our own critical
examination and see what there is in it which can be usefully applied to the conditions facing us” (p. 227). According to Fanon (1963:40) in the context of colonialism, class ex-
ploitation and national oppression are so intertwined that “Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretched everytime
we have to do with the colonial problem.” Consequently, the
130 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
Nkrumahist “deviation” from doctrinaire Marxism, along the same lines carried out and counseled by both the predecessors and contemporaries of Nkrumah, is perfectly consistent with the type of relationship that has been demonstrated that links Nkrumahism with African leftist thought withing the AfricanWorld.9
In this investigation it has been made evident that Nkrumahism lends itself neatly to solving the ideological crisis of unclarity and disunity that the African World continues to experience.
With such an appreciation, the monumental task of organizing an unorganized people (which is the only way an ideology can
become a “material force” can, along the lines advocated below by Dubois (1965: 374) become a reality.
When once the blacks of the United States, the West Indies, and Africa work and think together, the future of the black man in the modern world is safe.
Without such Pan-African cooperation, facilitated by a Pan-African ideology, the pitiful condition of the African masses seems certain to grow worse.
- Kwame Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana, in West Africa. After a CIA-inspired coup toppled his government in February of 1966, Nkrumah was given refuge in Guinea, where he was made Co-President with Sekou Toure. He received his intellectual training in Africa, the United States, and Great Britain. Nkrumah became the leading theoretician of the African Revolution, advocating unity and socialism for Africa’s future before he died of cancer in April of 1972.
- The focus on the twentieth century in no way implies that there is no connection or, better, continuity in the thought of the present century with the thought of earlier
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 131
centuries. For example, Clark (1974: xv-xxxii), Draper(1970), Thompson (1969), and many other historians of the African experience have researched and uncovered the roots of black nationalist thought in centuries that date as far back as the enslavement of Africans in the Western Hemisphere by Europeans. Rather, the twentieth century is important because of the significant degree of conceptual clarity and consistency that has been reached within the African World as a result of prior centuries of ideationalproduction.
- This list does not by any means exhaust the number of African leftists in the twentieth century or who could have possibly influenced the thought of Nkrumah.
There are many others; however, their ideological contributions were either smaller
than, not significantly different from, or not as deeply felt as those of the leftists in this
sample. This sample does encompass the major contributors to African leftist during their adult lives. More important, it should be remembered that the contention being examined is Kwame Ture (formerly Stokley Carmichael), his ideas that Relatedly, with Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael), his ideas that personified the Black Power movement (which had a great impact of Nkrumah) before he officially professed to be an Nkrumahist are under scrutiny here.
- Nkrumahism can be defined as the application of the philosophical principles of
dialectical and historical materialism to the African crisis of national oppression and
class exploitation that African people have experienced and continue to experience
throughout the world. It is a revolutionary, ideological creation geared toward addressing the problems that Africans face in the sense that its ultimate objective (Pan-Africanism)-to which it serves as an ideological map-is “the total liberation and the unification of Africa under an all-African Socialist Government”; this, Nkrumah (1970: 88) concludes, “must be the primary objective of all black revolutionaries throughout the world.” According to Nkrumah, all black people of
African origin are Africans, their only home is Africa, and only when Africa is free (i.e.,
liberated, unified, and socialist) will Africans throughout the world be free (Nkrumah,
1970: 87-88; 1973: 421-431).
- This is very important question is reminiscent of Malcolm’s uneasiness in
defining “the solution to the problems confronting our people as black nationalism,”
- This very important question is reminiscent of Malcolm’s uneasiness in defining “the solution to the problems confronting our people as black nationalism,” after being
confronted by the Algerian ambassador to Ghana, who even Malcolm (1965: 212-213)
described as “an African,” but with non-African phenotypical characteristics.
- According to Nkrumah(1970: 88), this synthesis will also take much of its shape
and content from the revolutionary struggle for African unity and socialism.
- For instance, in commemorating the death of Russia’s illustrious socialist leader, V. I. Lenin, Garvey (1924: 27) equated the interests of the African Revolution with the interests of the Russian Revolution: “It is without any hestiancy, without any reserve, we could not but favor the existence of a social democratic government in Russia or in any other part of the world, because we are of the class that rules in Russia and naturally our sympathy should be with the people who feel with us, who suffer with us.”
- It is worth remembering that in his autobiography, after crediting the influence
of the European left on him, Nkrumah (1957: 45) states that Garvey’s Philosophy and
Opinions “did more than any other [book] to fire [his] enthusiasm.”
- There are many other ideas, concepts, theories, and principles that link Nkrumahism with leftist thought in the African World in a manner that has been done
132 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
thus far (Williams, 1981: 103-274).They are especially found in the many questions and
problems related to the objective, strategy, and philosophy of the African Revolution.
AMIN, S. (1971) Neo-Colonialism in West Africa. New York: Monthly.
AMPONSEM, B. (1979) “Pan-Africanism makes transition.” The Guardian: The Independent Radical Newspaper (July 25): 17. (See also Parts II and III of this same article in the Guardian, August 15, 1979, p. 17, and August 22, p. 17.)
CARMICHAEL, S. (1971) Stokely Speaks: Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism. New York: Random House.
CHINWEIZU, (1975) The West and the Rest of Us: White Predators, Black Slaves and the African Elite. New York: Random House.
CLARK, J. H. ed. Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa. New York: Vintage.
DAVIDSON, B. (1966) A History of West Africa to the Nineteenth Century. Garden
City, NY: Doubleday.
DRAPER, T. (1970) The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism. New York: Viking.
DuBIOS, W.E.B. (1970) The Negro. London: Oxford Univ. Press.
–(1965)The World and Africa: An Inquiry into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History. New York: International.
–(1946) Quote in H. Fuller, Journey to Africa. Chicago: Third World, 1971.
–(1933) “Marxism and the Negro problem.” Crisis (May). (Reprinted in
T.Vincent [ed.] Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. San Francisco: Ramparts, 1973.)
—(1919) “Africa and Africans.” Crisis (February). (Reprinted in T. Vincent [ed.]
Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. San
Francisco: Ramparts, 1973.)
FANON, F. (1967a) Toward the African Revolution. New York: Grove.
—(1967b) Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove.
–(1963) The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove.
Williams / NKRUMAHISM 133
GARVEY, A. J. ed. Garvey and Garveyism. New York: Collier-Macmillan.
GARVEY, M. (1967) The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey or Africa for
the Africans. London: Frank Cass.
—(1927) “Prediction for Africa,” in A. J. Garvey (ed.) Garvey and Garveyism. New York: Collier-Macmillan, 1970.
—(1926a) “Sacrifices for Africa.” Negro World (September 24). (Reprinted in T. Vincent [ed.]Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. San Francisco: Ramparts, 1973)
–(1926b) “The emancipation of the race.”Negro World (June 26). (Reprinted in
T. Vincent [ed.]Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. San Francisco: Ramparts, 1973.)
—(1924) Editorial in Negro World (February 2). Quoted in E. Brath, “An apostle of revolutioinary Pan-Africanism.” Caribbean Perspective 1, 3: 25-28.
–(1921a) “The African republic and white politics.”Negro World (February 12).
(Reprinted in T. Vincent [ed.] Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the
Harlem Renaissance. San Francisco: Ramparts, 1973.)
–(1921b) “What Garvey thinks of DuBois.”Negro World (January 1).(Reprinted
in T. Vincent [ed.] Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. San Francisco: Ramparts, 1973.)
JAMES, C.L.R. (1977) Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution. Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill.
–(1969) History of Pan-African Revolt. Washington, DC: Drum and Spear.
–(1909) The Black Jacobins: Toussaint l’Ouverture and the San Domingo
Revolution. New York: Vintage.
LUMUMBA, P. (1972) Lumumba Speaks: The Speeches and Writings of Patrice Lumumba, 1958-1961 (J. Van Lierde, ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.
MALCOLM X (1970) By Any Means Necessary. New York: Pathfinder.
—(1968) The Speeches of the Malcolm X at Harvard. New York: Morrow.
–(1965) Malcolm X Speaks. New York: Grove.
—(1964) Malcolm X: Struggle for Freedom (filmed interview of Malcolm X in
Paris). New York: Grove.
MARKOVITZ, I. L. (1977) Power and Class in Africa: An Introduction to Change
and Conflict in African Politics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
M’BUYINGA, E. (1982) Pan-Africanism or Neo-Colonialism: The Bankruptcy of the
O.A.U. London: Zed.
NKRUMAH, K. (1973) Revolutionary Path. New York: International.
–(1970) Class Struggle in Africa. New York: International.
—(1968a) “Nkrumah outlines the role of the Party overseas.” Quoted in Kwame
Nkrumah. London: Panaf, 1974.
—(1968b) Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare: A Guide to the Armed Phase of the African Revolution. New York: International.
(1965) Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. New York: International.
–(1964) Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonization. New York:
134 JOURNAL OF BLACK STUDIES / SEPTEMBER 1984
—(1963) Africa Must Unite. New York: International.
—(1957) Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah. New York: International.
NYERERE, J. (1962) “Ujamaa-the basis of African socialism,” pp. 1-12 in J.
Nyerere, Ujamaa: Essays in Socialism. New York: Oxford.
PADMORE, G. (1972) Pan-Africanism or Communism. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
—(1959) “A guide to Pan-African socialism,” in W. H. Friedland and C. G. Roseberge (eds.) African Socialism. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press, 1964.
—(1931) The Life and Struggle of Negro Toilers. London: Red International of
PANAF (1974) Kwame Nkrumah. London: Author.
PROGRESS (1974) The Fundamentals of Marxist-Leninist Philosophy.Moscow:
RODNEY, W. (1974) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Washington, D.C:
STUCKEY, S. (1972) Ideological Origins of Black Nationalism. Boston: Beacon.
THOMPSON, V. (1969) Africa and Unity: The Evolution of Pan-Africanism.
TOURE, S. (1980) The United States of Africa. Guinea: Imprimerie Nationale Patrice
—(1977) Strategy and Tactics of the Revolution. Conakry: Press Office.
—(1973) “A dialectical approach to culture,” pp. 3-15 in R. Chrisman and N. Hare
(eds.) Contemporary Black Thought: The Best from the Black Scholar.
—(1962) The International Policy and Diplomatic Action of the Democratic
Party of Guinea. Cairo: S.O.P.
WILLIAMS, M. W. (1983) “Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah: a case of ideological assimilation, advancement and refinement.” Western J. of BlackStudies 7 (Summer): 94-102.
—(1981) “The relationship between Nkrumahism and twentieth century leftist
thought in the African world.” Ph.D dissertation.
Michael W. Williams is an Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Binghamton, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Sociology and Afro-American and African Studies. For four years, prior to
1983, he was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. His research interests include the sociology of knowledge and Pan-Africanism. His most recent work, entitled “Marcus Garvey and Kwame Nkrumah: A case of Ideological Assimilation, Advancement and Refinement, “was published in the Western Journal of Black Studies.
Currently, he is completing an extensive manuscript on Nkrumahism.
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