“Dr. Danquah was a protégé of the celebrated and iconic God-father of West African nationalism and the pioneer Pan-Africanist, Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford. In his [Danquah’s] own words, it was at the feet of the eminent nationalist, ‘Ekra Agyemang’…” (Nana Ofori Atta Ayim).
We brought up this quotation for a good reason—which we explain shortly, the reason being that Nkrumah was never “another prime political and philosophical protégé of Mahatma Gandhi” in the sense of Danquah being “another prime political and philosophical protégé of Joseph Casely-Hayford.”
This distinction is extremely important. The greatest influence on Nkrumah was Marcus Garvey though his popular book—“The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey.” W.E.B. Du Bois was the other mentor whom Nkrumah worked with on several projects aimed at decolonizing the African world (Danquah was intellectually influenced by T.H. Green, V.S. Solovev, F.H. Bradley and others).
In fact such was and is the influence and importance of W.E.B. Du Bois that, the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe would review a book about him, titled “Seizing the World: History, Art and Self in the Work of W.E.B. Du Bois,” and publishing it in an Afrocentric journal (see the Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 28, No. 1, (Sept. 1997), p. 126-129).
In the meantime here is Brent Powell has to say:
“King best articulated his convictions in his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.’
“The 1963 letter supported and expanded the concepts first presented in Thoreau’s essay, injecting nonviolent direct action into the American tradition of protest…
“The American tradition of protest, strongly influenced by Thoreau’s writing on civil disobedience, includes the notion of non-violent, direct action.
“Martin Luther King, ‘fascinated’ and ‘deeply moved’ by Thoreau, built upon the work of both Thoreau and Gandhi.
“Likewise, Gandhi also admitted that, ‘Thoreau’s ideas greatly influenced [his] movement in India…”
In other words, before Gandhi came into Martin Luther King, Jr.’s intellectual life, there was already Henry David Thoreau who greatly influenced both men!
(Brent Powell. “Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., and The American Tradition of Protest.” Source: “The Organization of American Historians Magazine of History” (The OAH Magazine of History). Publisher: Oxford University Press!).
THE MORAL END AS MORAL EXCELLENCE: DANQUAH VERSUS NKRUMAH
In sum, the lesson here is that influencing each other, mentorship and tutelage are normal dimensions of the human experience. When it is about Nkrumah, all his bold and successful initiatives, achievements, intellectual development, and political vision are credited to others. However, Nkrumah was genuine enough to give credit to those who contributed to his success story. K.B. Asante said this about Nkrumah:
“He had the talent for grasping new ideas and the weakness of giving them form and calling them his own.”
On the one hand John Mensah Sarbah advised Nana Ofori Atta 1 to allow Danquah to study or pursue a degree in law if he was to be useful to him, the king, and his subjects. Nana Ofori Atta 1 heavily taxed his subjects to pay for Danquah’s education and living expenses while abroad. Yet when he returned from abroad he neglected the people of Akyem whose sweat sponsored his education.
Instead, he [Danquah] chose to spy for and to conspire with the colonial authorities and foreign intelligence outfits against his own people. Now some American intelligence officials, American and Ghanaian scholars, historians, and researchers have exposed his underhanded dealings with the C.I.A.
On the other hand, Nnamdi Azikiwe encouraged Nkrumah to study at his alma mater, Lincoln University in the United States, if he was to be useful to his people. The latter returned to the Gold Coast and put his education at the disposal of the people. The rest, they say, is history.
Ironically, Danquah’s moral end was antithetical to moral excellence!
ON THE NATURE OF THE GANDHI CONTROVERSY
None of the professors at the University of Legon who petitioned for the removal of Gandhi’s statue hates Danquah, since they did not include either Nkrumah or Danquah in the petition and since the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe did not present a shred of evidence to support his position just as he has always done on Ghanaweb and other web portals.
The fact, however, remains that these professors are more in tune with the controversy on the scholarship on Gandhi’s stay in South Africa and the controversial roles—if checkered—in the worsening the Dalit situation in India! Influential world-famous Dalit scholars and thinkers from B.R. Ambedkar to Arundhati Roy (and several non-Indian scholars, researchers, and historians) have written extensively on these subject matters. Unlike the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, they hard facts of history are on the side of Profs. Profs. Kambon, Ampofo and their colleagues!
The interesting point of it all is that we did, in fact, read the Wall Street Journal article (“Why Didn’t Mahatma Gandhi Ever Get the Nobel Prize?”) the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe cited in his uninformed piece, largely because an investigative journalist friend of ours, who was a reporter for the paper, brought it to our attention in 2014!
Regrettably, the article doesn’t say anything substantive about the controversial legacy of Gandhi when analyzed from the standpoint of contemporary revelations on the subject matter. The fact is that no one can tell this complicated and controversial legacy in 15-20 paragraphs. More information on Gandhi and his legacy had appeared in print since 2014 when this article was published).
However, after taking a look at the article (“Did NDC erect Gandhi’s statue at Legon to spite JB Danquah?”) we can assure writer of this poorly written article that he has not done any serious reading on the subject matter. This is because this author has read most of the important academic texts on the subject (We have also had numerous discussions with some US-based Indian students, professors and writers). To name but three primary sources, Gandhi’s own autobiography “The Story of My Experiments with Truth,” his other book “Satyagraha in South Africa,” and finally, “The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi” negate the substance of Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe’s article.
The latest academic text on his 21-year stay in South Africa—“The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer”—by two South African ethnic Indian academics, Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed, is largely based on Gandhi’s own corpus of writings and other contemporary primary sources which rather paint a different picture than what Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe had previously presented in his piece of yellow journalism.
Still, the idea of Gandhi being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prizes on some three or four occasions is nothing new, not even surprising. President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing to deserve the prize in the first place. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, and the Argentine dictator Juan Peron (who offered protection and sanctuary to Nazis and Nazi sympathizers) were all nominated for the Prize at one point or another.
Moreover since the Norwegian Nobel Committee (the Nobel Foundation) declassified it nomination archives/database covering the periods from 1901 to 1956, researchers have revealed that Jawaharlal Nehru, the man with whom Nkrumah and others founded the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), was considered eleven times for the Nobel Peace Prize (Note: The Nobel Foundation classifies information about those who recommend potential winners, namely nominees, for any of the categories of the Prize for 50 years)! This is how we have come to know that the American public philosopher, activist, sociologist and women’s rights advocate, Jane Addams, was nominated 91 times between 1916 and 193. She finally was awarded the Prize in 1931 (she passed on in 1935).
Notwithstanding the above, there are millions in India who will oppose the idea of Gandhi being awarded the prestigious award. Renowned Indian scholars such as Arundhati Roy have demanded the removal of Gandhi’s statues from public spaces and public spaces named after him renamed. Now, let us turn to the Wall Street Journal article from which the journalist Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe selectively quoted to support his biased position. For those who have not read the original article, here are the other statements Mr. Jacob Worm-Muller made about Gandhi (our emphasis):
“He is, undoubtedly, a good, noble and ascetic person–a prominent man who is deservedly honored and loved by the masses of India…sharp turns in his policies, which can hardly be satisfactorily explained by his followers. He is a freedom fighter and a DICTATOR, an idealist and a nationalist. He is frequently a Christ, but then, suddenly, an ordinary politician…had many critics in the international peace movement… He was not consistently pacifist and that he should have known that some of his non-violent campaigns towards the British would degenerate into violence and terror…”
The fact of Gandhi being a dictator was one of the primary reasons Nathuram Vinayak Dodse, the man who assassinated him, cited for the assassination. His nine-page book—“Why I Killed Gandhi?” (Or “Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi?”) —elaborates on this. The speech can be found free online (see Part 3 of this series).
Fact is, it was not only Godse who viewed Gandhi as a dictator. There were (and still are) many Indians who think he was a dictator. In other words, many Indians still regard Gandhi today as a dictator just as this uncanny spin doctor of a journalist called Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe has always regarded Nkrumah as a dictator. This explains why he [Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe] consciously did not include the part of the Wall Street Journal article where it specifically mentioned Gandhi as a “dictator.”
He has done this on a number of occasions in which he mentions the titles of references, only to tell his unsuspecting readership entirely different stories, spurious accounts of our political history. He usually does, namely putting a spin on our political history when he writes about Nkrumah! His negative revisionism has failed to make an impact even within the camp of his unsuspecting readership.
On a final note, the article continues elsewhere on why Gandhi was denied the Nobel Peace Prize:
“One of the committees was also of the view that Mr. Gandhi was not a “real politician or proponent of international law, not primarily a humanitarian relief worker and not an organizer of international peace congresses…”
We shall return with Part 4!
By Francis Kwarteng