The grief-stricken Dr. Kwame Nkrumah made a pilgrimage to the Republic of Guinea on Wednesday, March 2, 1966. This remains a heart consoling news to the well-meaning people of Ghana.
Remember that Osagyefo had earlier set off to Hanoi, following the invitation of President Ho Chi Minh, towards a peace mission to put the war in Vietnam to rest. However, on Nkrumah’s blind side, some power bellied mongers with no ‘balls’ at all within their thighs had laid ambush, waiting for him to get close to Peking, which was far for him to possibly make a quick turn to Ghana, should there be any uprising. And lo, it went as planned, affording the haters the right to stage their cold blooded coup.
“I left Accra on 21st February 1966. I was seen off at the airport by most of the leading government and Party officials, and by service chiefs. I recall the handshakes and the expressions of good wishes from Harlley, Deku, Yakubu, and others. These men, smiling and ingratiating, had all the time treason and treachery in their minds. They had even planned my assassination on that day, though they later abandoned the idea.” Nkrumah K. (1968) Dark Days in Ghana, 1st ed., London: 75 Weston Street, Panaf Books, pp. 20.
History is replete with the happenings on February 24, 1966. To mourn that event, Nkrumah metaphorically called it ‘Dark Days’ in Ghana. Prior to that ominous outcome, it would not be far-fetched for one to say that the people of Ghana are apathy averse. Because Ghanaians, in general, are people with a doctorate degree in hospitality and empathy. Even so, when Nkrumah was sloganeering ‘Self-Government Now’, he didn’t take the law into his hands to go on an infamy.
As a result of that the claim of the National Liberation Council (NLC) that Nkrumah’s Ghana was irreparably shambolic could never be true. And if it was even true, wouldn’t they have loved to meticulously redeem the state through a proper constitutional means? But they chose anarchy; an act worthy of Nkrumah defining their bluff a “Big Lie!”
When the peace mission was diluted with the situational irony — a coup d’état, devastation gripped Nkrumah. He had had a long journey from Rangoon and was taking a brief repose when the news landed. He said to the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana who had broken the news, “Impossible”. “But yes. It’s possible,” the Ambassador posited, “these things do happen. They are in the nature of the revolutionary struggle.”
And on February 26, 1966 Members of the National Liberation Council (NLC): J. A. Ankrah, J. W. K. Harlley, E. K. Kotoka, B. A. Yakubu, A. K. Ocran, J. E. Nunoo, A. A. Afrifa, and A. K. Deku were then jubilating in their armored minds due to a published proclamation which seemed to suspend the constitution and to give way to the (NLC). It further disbanded the Convention People’s Party (CPP), National Assembly, and gave mandate of the composition of new government of Ghana, and to the aforementioned eight traitors, as pseudo liberators.
Ghanaian people were soberly observing. The world was watching. African leaders’ hearts were palpitating because Nkrumah had predicted that none of them, as fellow Heads of State, was safe, if they remained disunited, at the first conference of the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U). The sad news was disheartening but expedient measures needed to be taken regardless. President Modibo Keita of Mali, Prime Minister of Sierra Leone, Albert Margai all sent their warm compliments.
This was where President Ahmed Sèkou Toure of the Republic of Guinea wowed the world and the entire African continent that Ghana, was to him like God and Israel. He replied Nkrumah’s note dated on February 25, 1966 with two golden sureties. To begin with, that he will organize a National day of solidarity with the Ghanaian people under the theme ‘anti-imperialism’. More so, he will call on all progressive African countries to hold a special conference and take adequate measures, that time was very vital. President Sèkou’s heart was bleeding profusely. He knew the consequences of a coup: imperialists were warming up, and if care was not taken Africa would be neo-colonized by the help of her own sons, to collapse the new dimension of Africa liberation which had gained solid grounds.
At these boiling points, barely six days post the coup, on March 2, 1966 Dr. Kwame Nkrumah arrived safely in the afternoon at Conakry, Guinea. There was a mammoth crowd already at the airport waiting for the Christ the (NLC) had called a satan. President Ahmed Sèkou Toure and his officials were present at the airport. The military fired a twenty-one gun salute for Nkrumah. This was followed by was a mass rally in the pack sports stadium in Conakry. The President, whose solidarity to African unity stood taller than a giant, at those dark days in the lifetime of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, passed a promulgation to his subjects.
The decree was that Nkrumah had been made a Secretary-General of the Guinean Democratic Party and Head of State of Guinea. “The Ghanaian Traitors”, he added, “have mistaken thinking that Nkrumah is simply a Ghanaian…He is a universal man.” The people of Guinea shown their affection to Nkrumah beautifully and admiringly. They chanted phrases like “Long Live Nkrumah”, “Long Live the African Revolutionary”, “Long Live Ahmed Sèkou”, “down with neo-colonialist”, and many more.
Later Dr. Kwame Nkrumah confirmed that he had no knowledge of what was going on. President Sèkou Toure delivered his message in French, which was sketchy for him at the time. It was in the news that Nkrumah realized he had been made a co-President. What would compel Ahmed Sèkou Toure to do so? The reasons were simple: he believed in the restoration of African dignity, the Nkrumah-led unification of Africa, the conquering of slave lords and total eradication of neo-colonialism from other African states. Also, African states had been warned to be on their guard against imperialist agents in the guise of religious or philanthropic organizations.
There had been an attempt towards African political union on November 23, 1958. Ghana and the Republic of Guinea had put a system of exchange of resident ministers in place, who were recognized as members of both the government of Ghana and the government of Guinea. And thus the (NLC) was at the time feeling the heat even far away from Ghana. They knew that Nkrumah was only 300 miles which was 30-40 minutes’ journey flight away. Therefore, the African revolutionary struggle would still be ensued. Their guess was right, Nkrumah, one of the first things he did after arriving in Guinea was to set an efficient communication system. It was one of the ways he garnered all eye witness accounts on what actually took place on the coup day.
But rather interesting to note, the (NLC), besides peddling falsehood that Nkrumah had resigned his position as head of state, took hold of Guinean foreign minister and 18 other officials in a pan American plane at Accra on March 29, 1966, who were en route to an (O.A.U.) meeting in Addis Ababa. Their wishful thinking was that they could use these Guinean delegates as a ransom to demand the release of some Ghanaians who were with Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in Conakry. Those Ghanaians, they thus alleged, were being held against their will in Conakry.
President Ahmed Sèkou Toure again exhibited his craftsmanship in political solidarity. He urgently rejected their (NLC’s) claim and condemned American complicity in the plot. Followed with an order that all Americans should be sent out of his country. He closed the office of Pan-American Airways and declined to attend the (O.A.U) Conference while the (NLC) delegation sat to represent Ghana. There was a support of other African delegates. It was said that when the (NLC) delegates stood to talk during the conference, noise pollution brimmed the room so much that the (NLC) delegates could not be heard. Subsequently, this led to the release of the Guinea diplomats.
This treatment of immense support and indescribable altruism of President Ahmed Sèkou towards Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah would always remain in the hearts of well-meaning Ghanaians who appreciate Nkrumah’s philosophy of governance and his no nonsense approach to imperialists and their associates and puppets.
For this reason, he mentioned explicitly that: “Such a gesture of political solidarity must surely be without historical precedent. When our historians come to record the events of 1966 they will doubtless consider the action of the Guinean Government as a great landmark in the practical expression of Pan-Africanism.” Nkrumah K. (1968) Dark Days in Ghana, 1st ed., London: 75 Weston Street, Panaf Books, pp. 19.
Abdul Rahman Odoi
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