By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Many young Ghanaians may not know this, but one of the legion critical bones of contention between Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah and Mr. Francis Nwia Kofi Kwame Nkrumah on the eve of Ghana’s independence regarded the way and manner in which the question of the ultimate integration of the African continent, otherwise known as Pan-Africanism was to be pursued. Even as astute and erudite Danquah proteges and scholars like Prof. S. K. B. Asante have intimated time and again, the putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics was a staunch believer in the ideology of Pan-Africanism long before a wet-eared Kwame Nkrumah appeared on the national political landscape in late 1947.
To be certain, Danquah had already served as the First President of the London-based West African Students’ Union (WASU) nearly two decades before Nkrumah arrived in the British capital from the United States and decided to use the same institutional apparatus to launch his political career. Now, what is important to observe here is that having disturbingly realized that most of the African leaders in the various colonies, especially those from Francophone Africa, so-called, were grossly underprepared for both economic and political integration, the foremost Western-educated philosopher and political thinker of his generation counseled a far more pragmatic process of several or individual national economic development to viable levels before any serious talk of Pan-African engagement and eventual socioeconomic, cultural and political integration could commence.
I know a handful of lambent-witted octogenarian and septuagenarian scholars who are well aware of this Danquahist Approach to Pan-Africanism but are so irredeemably steeped in their Nkrumacratic fanaticism that they are unwilling to publicly confess the same. And it is quite certain that these fast-aging scholars and thinkers will descend into their graves with this enviable gem of truth regarding the nonesuch prescience of Dr. Danquah. One of such scholars is an East African- and University of London-trained Nigerian citizen who penned and published one of the most authoritative treatises on the foundations and development of the African Diaspora. He was once a respected avuncular friend of mine. We parted ways – the initiative was entirely his – in the wake of the 2005 publication of my political biography titled Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana (iUniverse.com). My elderly friend could simply not abide the truth of Danquah’s genius and the irreparable loss his prison assassination by President Nkrumah cost both Ghanaians and Africans at large.
Needless to say, it is rather sad and tragic for me to observe and write about what follows, but it embarrassingly and purturbably appears that African politicians are the only species of humanity who prefer to put the proverbial cart before the horse, when it comes to a discussion of the critical subject of continental African integration. There is a tired old maxim which runs as follows: “A soldier walks on his/her stomach.” In other words, the first step on the long walk to Pan-African integration (my profuse apologies to Nelson Mandela) is economic development and comfort at the national level and then the regional level. This, incontrovertibly, is the reason why the European Community (EC) Countries, now the European Union (EU) States, laid down a set of rules of economic standards by which to admit members into this enviable club of the rich and powerful and the not-so-rich and powerful who claim to share a common mythical bond of consanguineal affinity.
In Africa, it well appears that the soldier is doomed to walk on an empty stomach, even as a handful of unconscionable and greedy politicians feast at the expense of the woefully deprived and destitute in perpetuity. Those of us who have been watching the African political scene fully well knew that it was only a matter of time before the most desperate among indigenous Black South Africans made ready and cheap scapegoats out of Black non-South African migrant workers and entrepreneurs. And in a quite paradoxical sense, it is all well and good. For the ballpoint tip southern part of the primeval continent, so-called, was fast and luridly becoming a dumping ground and a flesh-pot for citizens of many a “northern” African country whose leadership had greedily and unconscionably run their ship-of-state aground.
The South Africans were being unduly and inconsiderately crowded out of their own relatively greener pastures, or whatever had been left thereof by their erstwhile white apartheid overlords. The hi-tech economy of the country, especially in the health sector, had encouraged many of these “northern” African elitist leaders – and here, of course, the reference is to the faux Nkrumacratic “social democrats,” descendants of the so-called “Verandah Boys” of yesteryear – to neglect the health and well-being of their own people back home while they incessantly trooped to Boer-developed cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria for first-rate medical care.
In sum, as long as they could readily hop onto the next airbus or presidential jet to do shopping and seek out other sources of pleasure “down south,” these disastrous policymakers were not the least bit motivated to look after the health and well-being of the very people who afforded them mandate they so unconscionably prefer to abuse. These wantonly abused have-nots could either pray to God/Nyame/Allah or simply chew grass with the rest of their ineffably famished ruminants.
Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York