Africa at 50: Looking to the Future
As many West and Central African countries are celebrating fifty years of independence this year, CODESRIA and the Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies of the University of Ghana, Legon, organised an international symposium to reflect on dreams and realities of African independence. Highlights of the symposium will be published in the next issue of CODESRIA Bulletin. In this issue, we publish sweet memories of one of Africa’s most illustrious sons – Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana – through the inaugural lecture of Prof. Kofi Anyidoho, a member of CODESRIA Executive Committee, which he gave at his installation as the first occupant of the Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, in March this year. On behalf of the entire African research and academic community, CODESRIA congratulates Prof. Anyidoho on this well-deserved appointment and wishes him a very successful tenure in the advancement of scholarship in Africa and beyond.
The Kwame Nkrumah Chair in African Studies was established at the University of Ghana, Legon, two years after the Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Chair in Pan African Studies was established at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, with Professor Issa Shivji as the first occupant. Hopefully, we will soon witness the birth of other chairs in pan-African studies named after great women and men of Africa and the African Diaspora such as Ruth First, Cheikh Anta Diop, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Amilcar Cabral, Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Marcus Garvey. Such Chairs can help both in making the works of great pan Africanists known to the younger generations of Africans, and to also initiate critical reflections on the challenges facing our continent and its peoples in the 21st century.
Professor Anyidoho’s interesting lecture takes us through the academic, philosophical, political and physical influences that clearly mark Nkrumah out as a pan-Africanist of distinction. Nkrumah’s erudity, clarity of vision, courage, revolutionary spirit, and some of his successes and many other issues, are chronicled in the lecture. Kwame Nkrumah’s story is that of an extraordinary symbiosis between visionary leadership and the will of the people as well as that of an individual and a nation inextricably woven together. The lecture, spiced with dramatic excerpts and anecdotes, posits that Nkrumah ended up being a controversial figure because ‘he was too far ahead of his time’, which made it difficult for his contemporaries to fully understand him. There is therefore a need to re-visit Nkrumah’s legacy, as we reconceptualise and work towards the free, united, respectable and respected, economically developed and democratic Africa that he envisioned.