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Nkrumah's Ghana and East Africa: Pan-Africanism and African Interstate Relations

By Opoku Agyeman
The book sets out to explore the impact of Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah on the subregion of East Africa in the period between the independence of Ghana in March 1957 and the overthrow in 1966 of his government by the Ghanaian military.

Guided by his conception of Pan-Africanism, Nkrumah sought to affect the ideological and political disposition of Julius Nyerere, Jomo Kenyatta, and Milton Obote, and the states they represented: Tanganyika (later Tanzania), Kenya, and Uganda respectively.

Nkrumah believed in his cause with a passion that is rarely brought to the affairs of state; and his impatience with those who did not share his passion or sense of urgency about Africa's future, made for some of the most interesting political and intellectual battles in the second half of the twentieth century. The intricacies and the nuances of these battles constitute the essence of this book.

The book reinforces the verdict that Pan-Africanism in the Nkrumah era represented the most important indigenous political force on the African continent - the most significant single African attempt to affect in an important way the speed and direction of social change in Africa. The core period in this study, 1957-1966, represents the most potent phase in the history of this redemptive movement in Africa.

Nkrumah's efforts at influence could not, and did not, take the same form in the three East African countries. In every case, political-ideological contextual factors dictated the pattern of input. In Tanzania, where Nyerere's calculated and studied "evolutionism" was the main concern, the main line of attack was geared to pushing the Tanzanian leader and his people toward Nkrumah's "immediatist" continental integration formula.

In Uganda, where the primary concern was over Buganda particularism and its disruptive effects on Obote's efforts to achieve territorial integration and unity behind his Pan-Africanist commitments, Nkrumah's exertions were geared primarily toward augmenting the Obote government's capacity in waging an internal crusade against ethnic parochialism and "disruptive separatism."

In Kenya, the entrenched neocolonial situation dictated a Nkrumaist policy of a structural attack on the system through the labor movement. The logic of Nkrumah's Pan-Africanism retains its force - particularly in the face of the deepening crisis of development in Africa, and the underlying vocal acknowledgment of the limitations of established nation-states as symbolized by the European movement toward economic and political union, and the current drive toward a North American Common Market embracing the 350 million people of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.


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