Tween Talk with Eugenia Tachie-Menson: The man from Nkroful…


We all know about Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, or don’t we? Well, we do know he is Ghanaian, was the first President of Ghana, and was one of the founding fathers of Ghana. What else do you know about him? Where did he school? Who were his parents? Did he have siblings? Did he have a family of his own?

I have been reading a biography of Kwame Nkrumah, and found some information I thought I must share with you all; ready?

He was born as Kwame Nwia-Kofi on September 21, 1909 – He would later change his name to Kwame Nkrumah. He was the only son of his mother and father but had a lot of other siblings from his father’s side – his father had other wives, and that wasn’t frowned upon back in the day. His father was a goldsmith.

One thing I found intriguing when reading about the man Kwame Nkrumah was that where he started school, all classes were put together. Picture that – so Classes 1 to 6 all sat in one classroom with one teacher, with nursery rhymes being sung and recitation of the multiplication tables permeating the air…phew!!!

After elementary school, he became a pupil teacher, spending part of his time in preliminary education under the supervision of a headteacher. In 1927, he enrolled in the then Accra Training College (now Accra College of Education) to train as a teacher.  It was here that he would meet the now famed Dr. Kwegyir-Aggrey (a man who deserves his own column) and be so taken in by him as he writes in his autobiography. I found a rather fascinating read about an allegory Kwame Nkrumah was told in his training college by Dr. Kwegyir-Aggrey that I thought to rehash.

An eaglet had been captured and raised on chicken food along with chickens on a farm. The eagle grew behaving like a chicken. One day a naturalist visited the farm, noticed the eagle among the chickens, and asked the farmer about the bird; I guess because it looked unusual as eagles are known to eat chickens.

The farmer explained that the eagle was raised as a chicken and so behaves as one; the naturalist disagreed; so the farmer, trying to prove his point, lifted the eagle into his hands and spread its wings. The eagle flew briefly in the air and landed right back with the chickens. But the naturalist wasn’t convinced and insisted the bird was an eagle; eagles are known to soar about 20,000 feet above sea level!

At dawn the next morning, the naturalist was at the farmer’s, wanting to prove his point. He knew about eagles and so using this knowledge, he lifted the bird high in his hands, facing the rising sun. Then said to the bird it was no chicken “but a fine mighty eagle with strong beautiful wings, and that it should fly away into the sky where it belonged”. The bird then spread its wings and gradually rose into the air and away it flew, never to come back to live as a chicken.

Kwegyir Aggrey was said to have paused then said to the audience, in which Kwame Nkrumah was: “You are an eagle. You have been put among chickens and fed with all kinds of chickens’ food, but you are an eagle”.

I was struck by the moral of this and wondered if this allegory was the beginning of Kwame Nkrumah’s motivation and aspiration to want to break away from his everyday life and seek for something greater for himself and his people? I would read on to find out that he would later go through the most trying of circumstances to get to Lagos, Nigeria to raise fund for his education in Lincoln University USA, back to Ghana, then on to Great Britain to get his US visa (there was no US Consulate in Ghana – then called Gold Coast – at the time).

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was married to Fathia Ritzk – an Egyptian, and the couple had 3 children – Gamal, Samia (the only daughter) and Sekou Nkrumah, who are all alive.  Kwame Nkrumah died on April 27, 1972 of cancer in Bucharest, Romania. He was in exile following his overthrow, and lived in Conakry, Guinea. He was 62 years at the time of his death.

There are more than a handful of books on Kwame Nkrumah’s life; I suggest you begin to read them to better appreciate who he really was.

*parts culled from June Milne’s Kwame Nkrumah – A Biography

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