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Culture and People

Interesting facts about Kwame Nkrumah

The Pan-African Dream: Nkrumah's Quest

Dive into some interesting facts about Kwame Nkrumah, his life and legacy. Explore the fascinating journey of Ghana's first president and a symbol of pan-Africanism - a man who shaped the destiny of a nation and inspired entire Africa towards unity and independence.


Accra, Greater Accra

The Pan-African Dream: Nkrumah's Quest

Kwame Nkrumah is a controversial but loved historical figure in Ghana’s history - a leader and advocate of pan-Africanism - he led Ghana to Independence in 1957. From that point Ghana became a symbol of resistance and hope for all African countries. His intellect and determination are admirable. Even though many aspects of his policies and philosophies remain under strong controversy (he was blamed for ‘damaging the democracy and economy in Ghana’), he still is honoured and celebrated in Africa. Here are some interesting facts about the first president of Ghana.

Early Life and Family Background

Nkrumah was born on September 21, 1909, in Nkroful, Gold Coast (now Ghana). His actual name was Francis Nwia-Kofi Ngonloma. He became Nkrumah because his teacher could not pronounce his name correctly. He changed his name officially to Kwame Nkrumah in 1945. Nkrumah's father, Opanyin Kofi Nwiana Ngolomah, was a goldsmith from the Akan tribe of the Asona clan. His mother was a retailer.

Education and Early Career

Kwame’s career started as a teacher at a Roman Catholic primary school in Elmina. Later he was also a headmaster in the Axim school.

Studies abroad and Political Aspirations

He received his formal education in the United States, earning master's degrees from Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania. Kwame Nkrumah also had a degree in Theology. He preached in Presbyterian black churches in New York and Philadelphia.

When applying for studies in London School of Economics (LSE) under nationality he wrote "British Subject". At the time Ghana wasn’t independent just yet, but it preoccupied Nkrumah’s mind already then.

He remained curious and constantly eager to learn throughout his life. He studied every theory in philosophy, politics, as well as black nationalism, Africa, and national liberation movements.

Intellectual and ideological influences

From the age of 6 to his late teenage years, Roman Catholicism shaped his beliefs. Later, as a student, he spent a significant amount of time reading books and materials on philosophy, political science and history - from works of the greatest philosophers, political leaders to economic theories and practises. His readings ranged from Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Freud to Aristotle, Gandhi, Karl Marx and even Hitler shaping his political and philosophical ideologies.

Kwame Nkrumah Monument as seen from the Mausoleum

Nkrumah was a Roman Catholic. However, in his Autobiography Nkrumah stated: "I am a non-denominational Christian and Marxist Socialist and I have found no contradiction between the two". He embraced some Soviet ideas, often referring to himself as "Africa’s answer to Lenin". In 1962 he even got, at the time, the Lenin Peace prize. However, he did not agree with all the Marxism ideas and practices. In one of his essays where he outlines Christian, modern and Marxist interpretations, he expressed his disagreement with the Marxist concept of ownership. He wrote on "the idealism and impracticability of communistic theories". He also wrote that "communism seems to be unsuccessful in societies where it has been tried, because its principles are at variance with human nature, and even with the original nature of property itself". Regardless of ideologies and political practices, his top priority goal always was an independent Ghana and a united, free and dynamic Africa.

Leadership, governance, legacy and recognition

He held the positions of Prime Minister of the Gold Coast (from 1952 to 1957) and the first President of Ghana (from 1960 to 1966). Nkrumah's nickname "Osagyefo" meaning Redeemer, was bestowed upon him during his presidency. Kwame Nkrumah was named honorary co-president in Guinea, where he lived in exile. In 2000 listeners of BBC World Service voted him Africa’s man of the millennium.

Contributions to Culture and Literature

Kwame Nkrumah was into theatre and writing. One of his essays "Negro History: European Government in Africa" was published in The Lincolnian - Lincoln University student newspaper (The Lincolnian, April 12, 1938, p. 2 , Lincoln University, Pennsylvania). He was also a member of the Philosophy Club at Lincoln University.

Nkrumah's passion extended to writing, with over 20 books to his name, including an autobiography and insightful essays on African governance. He wrote the book "Dark Days In Ghana" while being in exile.

Kwameh Nkrumah was an interesting personality to say the least. His legacy stands out with his strong vision and unbeatable determination through struggle, hardships and battles. His life, marked by both controversy and admiration, has become a symbol for future generations, leading the path toward unity, independence, and progress. He remains a symbol of hope and a source of inspiration, urging to dream big and push beyond the boundaries of what seems possible.
Edite Strautmane

Hi, I’m Edite, I am part of the core team of GhanaTRVL and also one of the Insiders.

Locations mentioned

# Location Coordinates City/State
Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park 5.544604492 / -0.202874871 Accra, Greater Accra more info
Independence Square in Ghana 5.548246950 / -0.192680213 Accra, Greater Accra more info
Nkrumah Museum 4.966364945 / -2.325546010 Nkroful, Western

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