Professor Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, Oppenheimer Faculty Director, Harvard University Centre for African Studies, has hailed Ghana’s founding President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s visionary leadership, and described him as “a man who was light years ahead of his time”.
“Look at the things that he did – the Port is there, the electricity and the dam, yes we had to make other dams. When he made the Tema Motorway, people were critical, today we have made many roads. How many times have we resurfaced the Accra-Kumasi road? The Tema Motorway is still the number one motorway in this country,” he said.
“Nkrumah has been described as a man with a bold vision. He was also described as a man in a hurry. And when you are a man with a bold vision and a man in a hurry, you need very competent people around you, who will take your ideas and translate them,” he added.
He said Nkrumah had great vision for Ghana; and that, after his overthrow, as a nation, we keep going back to take from his vision for Ghana’s industrialisation and development.
Prof Akyeampong gave these commendations about Dr Nkrumah at the 2018 Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures and Special Congregation Ceremony – Dedicated to the 70th Anniversary of the University of Ghana in Accra.
The two-day event was on the theme: “Nkrumah and the Making of the Ghanaian Nation-State.”
Prof Akyeampong noted that Nkrumah’s vision of creating an industrialised Ghanaian economy hinged on the new Akosombo Hydro Electric Dam, which Nkrumah viewed as key to his industrialisation scheme.
He said the Akosombo Dam was financed primarily by American interests, a country very much at the centre of Nkrumah’s formative experiences as an intellectual; stating that, the cost of this scheme was borne by the cocoa industry.
“While Nkrumah appreciated the cash cow that was cocoa, he was ambivalent about its pre-modern infrastructure and the dominance of small family farms, which he considered inadequate as a driving force for his industrialization schemes,” he said.
Prof Akyeampong said the balance between agriculture and industry, and the role of smallholder farmers had remained perennial issues in Africa’s developmental agenda.
He said Nkrumah’s policies undercut the cocoa industry, though the results would not be evident until the 1970s, as Ghana declined as the world’s leading producer of cocoa and the Ivory Coast emerging as the premier producer.
He called for the strengthening of agriculture, especially smallholder farming, to feed the people, and also the creation of enabling environment for industries to grow.
The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures are a major event on the academic calendar of the University of Ghana.
They were instituted to commemorate the contribution made by the three persons to the founding of the Prince of Wales College, now Achimota School, and more generally the advancement of education and particularly higher education in Ghana.
The three are Dr James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey, Reverend Alexander G. Fraser and Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg.
Dr Aggrey, a native of Anomabu in the Central Region, was a great African visionary and spokesman for racial harmony and equality.
He was the first Vice-Principal of Achimota School.
His outstanding contributions are symbolised in the shield of the school, the black and white piano keys, which stand for harmony among the black and white races.
Rev Fraser was the first Principal of Achimota School.
He is described as a humane, courageous and far-sighted Scottish educationist, who brilliantly advocated education, in what was then the Gold Coast in the days of skepticism about the educational potential of the African.
Sir Guggisberg was perhaps the best administrator that Britain ever sent to govern a West African colony.
Far in advance of the official colonial thinking of his day, he gave concrete expression to the ideals which formed the basis of Ghana’s present progress.
Under his vigorous sponsorship, Achimota School was founded, and it grew to become one of the most distinguished educational institutions in Africa.
Furthermore, railways, major roads and a major hospital, the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital were also constructed during his tenure.
Lady Jackson (Barbara Ward), a British economist and author, delivered the inaugural lectures in 1957.
This year’s lecture, which is the 37th, was chaired by the University of Ghana Council Chairman, Prof Yaw Twumasi.
Other high profile personalities of the University, who graced the occasion were, the Vice Chancellor, Prof Ebenezer Owusu Oduro; Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic and Student Affairs Prof Samuel Kwame Offei; Registrar, Mrs Mercy Haizel-Ashia; and Professor Michael Tagoe, Provost of the College of Education.
Also in attendance were former Vice Chancellors of the University including Prof George Benneh, Prof Akilagpa Sawyerr, Prof Ivan Addae-Mensah, Prof Clifford Nii Boi Tagoe and Prof Ernest Aryeetey.