Today in Ghana we celebrate Founder’s Day, the recognized birthday of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The twist to this agreed date is that September 21, 1909 was a Tuesday. Some sources claim that Dr. Kwame Nkrumah himself stated he was born on 18th September, 1909 rather than this agreed Founder’s Day date while his mother put his birth year at 1912 (both Saturdays). This reference comes from the well-known culture of naming children based on the day they are born. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah insisted he was born on a Saturday and wanted to maintain his Ghanaian identity by emphasizing this name: Kwame.
A Case for Identity
A name is a fundamental part of our identity and I must add that many other cultural aspects define our identity as a people (wherever you come from). Kunta Kinte’s resistance to being called Toby was an issue around retaining his original identity. The same goes for someone like Dr. Mensa Otabil who stopped wearing suits many years ago, and maybe Mohammed Ali who changes his name from Cassius Clay. Many other fathers particularly of the oppressed people of the world have done things or developed habits that indicated their insistence of preserving their identity.
A Revolutionary Leader
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is very well-known for his revolutionary speeches, passion for Africa as a whole, his camaraderie with the East, and socialist philosophy. Many thinkers still make reference to his ideas and many Ghanaians still laud his achievements after decades of changes in government. He is one great example that shows us that there was something the early fathers of African countries knew and experienced in their exposure to Europe and the West that made then very adamant about protecting the African identity and building our own history of which we can be proud. Take a look at the likes of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, Tafawa Balewa, Alex Ekueme, Obafemi Awolowo, Thomas Sankara, Kenneth Kaunda, Jojo Kenyatta, Nelson Madela, Julius Nyerere and others. Even Robert Mugabe with all his advertised flaws had something about him that showed he had more depth than many contemporary African leaders. It is quite difficult to compare the intelligence, diction, oratory prowess, commitment to duty, sacrifice and passion we saw in the early post-colonial fathers with what we see today. what happened to us?
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s foresight in advocating something as outlandish, as threatening to the West as the United States of Africa is a testimony to how advanced that generation was. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s foresight showed up again in such investments a six-lane road that connects Accra to Tema which is still being used over five decades later. Some of his contemporaries considered such a wide motorway a complete waste of money. He envisioned the future of his grand-children, I wonder whether we can do same for our own descendants.
We, The People
Now let me conclude by going back to the issue of identity. Our fathers know we have something to offer. The rest of the world knows and they come to help us exploit our resources. But we ourselves seem totally oblivious of the extent of our wealth. This shows up in our intense craving to travel, purchase foreign goods, entertain ourselves from other country’s creativity and so on. But let me be clear, I am not advocating some kind of xenophobia or a hatred for the West. I am saying that correctly defining our identity as Africans means bringing what we have to the table of nations and being proud of it. Growing our own technology, our fashion, our own creative expressions. It means creating real value from what God has given us rather than advancing policies that enslave us to others. It means sacrificing a little now so we can buy the future. We do have a a unique identity as a people and we have to preserve it.