On this date we mark the birth of Kwame Nkrumah in 1909. He was a Black African Statesman and political activist from Ghana.


He led his country to independence from Britain in 1957 and was a powerful voice for African nationalism. He was overthrown by a military coup nine years later after his rule grew dictatorial.


Nkrumah was born in the town of Nkroful in the southwestern corner of the British colony of the Gold Coast (now Ghana). He was an excellent student in local Catholic missionary schools, who as a teenager, became an untrained elementary school teacher in the nearby town of Half Assini.


In 1930, at Achimota College in Accra, the capital of the Gold Coast Nkrumah earned a teacher's certificate and taught at several Catholic elementary schools. In 1939 he graduated from Lincoln University with B. A. degrees in economics and sociology, earned a theology degree from the Lincoln Theological Seminary in 1942, and received M. A. degrees in education and philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942 and 1943.


While studying in the United States, Nkrumah was influenced by the socialist writings of German political philosopher Karl Marx, German political economist Friedrich Engels, and Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin.


He formed an African student’s organization and became a popular speaker, advocating the liberation of Africa from European colonialism.


He also promoted Pan-Africanism, a movement for cooperation between all people of African descent and for the political union of an independent Africa. In 1945 he went to London, to study economics and law. That year he helped organize the fifth Pan-African Congress, in Manchester; with black American sociologist and writer W. E. B. Du Bois, future president of Kenya Jomo Kenyatta, and American actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.




In 1946 Nkrumah left his academic studies to become secretary general of the West African National Secretariat. That same year, Nkrumah became vice president of the West African Students Union, a pro-independence organization of younger, more politically aggressive African students studying in Britain.


Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast in 1947 when the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), a nationalist party, invited him to serve as its secretary general. He gave speeches all over the colony to rally support for the UGCC and for independence.


In 1948, Nkrumah and several other UGCC leaders were arrested by British colonial authorities and briefly imprisoned. After setting up a series of colony-wide strikes in favor of independence that nearly brought the colony’s economy to a standstill, Nkrumah was again imprisoned for subversion in 1950.


However, the strikes had convinced the British authorities to move the colony toward independence.


In 1951 Nkrumah, while still in prison, won the central Accra seat by a landslide.


The British governor of the Gold Coast released Nkrumah from prison and appointed him leader of government business. The following year he named him Prime Minister. Reelected in 1954 and 1956, Nkrumah guided the Gold Coast to independence in 1957 under the name Ghana, after an ancient West African empire.


Nkrumah built a strong central government and attempted to unify the country politically and to muster all its resources for rapid economic development.


As a proponent of Pan-Africanism, he sought the liberation of the entire continent from colonial rule, offered generous assistance to other African nationalists, and initially pursued a policy of nonalignment with the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).


His goal was never realized, but his efforts helped bring about the Organization of African Unity, which promotes peace and cooperation between African nations.


In 1960 Ghana became a republic and Nkrumah was elected president. Between 1961 and 1966 Nkrumah put together an ambitious and very expensive hydroelectric project on the Volta River that though highly successful, was laced with economic mismanagement along with several other developmental schemes over the period.


Nkrumah did not hesitate to use strong-arm methods in implementing his domestic programs. He remained popular with the masses, yet his tactics made enemies among civil servants, judges, intellectuals, and army officers.


While Nkrumah was visiting China in 1966, his government was overthrown in an army coup.


Nkrumah lived in exile in Guinea, where Guinean president Sékou Тоигй appointed him honorary co-president of Guinea.


He died in 1972 in Romania while receiving treatment for throat cancer.


Kwame Nkrumah's remains were returned to Ghana for burial in his hometown.


Reference:

The Encyclopedia Britannica, Fifteenth Edition. Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. ISBN 0-85229-633-0

Sir William Arthur Lewis was born on this date in 1915. He was a Black Caribbean economist, educator and Nobel Prize winner.


From St. Lucia, he was the fourth son of George Ferdinand and Ida Lewis. He was educated in St. Lucia up to the secondary Level. He proved during this time to be quite a scholar. Later he entered the London School of Economics where he distinguished himself as a student of Economics. His excellence was rewarded, when at the age of twenty-three, he was made a lecturer. During this time he published numerous papers and pamphlets.


Lewis in 1947 married Gladys Jacobs and had two daughters, Elizabeth and Barbara. Between 1951 and 1957 he was Stanley Jevons Professor of Political Economy at Manchester University. During this time, he was also adviser to numerous governments and served as adviser on underdeveloped countries. He advised the Ghana government in 1953 and in 1957. He also served in the same capacity in Nigeria, Trinidad and Barbados. He had also been on numerous United Nations Commissions.


He won a Nobel Prize in 1979, with Theodore Schultz, for pioneering research on economic development in emerging countries. He published a book, The Theory of Economic Growth, in 1954 that is regarded as the seminal study in the field. In this book he advocated the development of infrastructure, education in all its areas and specialization in agriculture and high employment.


Arthur Lewis also served as Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, adviser to the British Colonial Development Corporation, Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Professor at Princeton University and as the Chairman of the Caribbean Development Bank. Sir Arthur Lewis died on June 15th, 1991. He is buried on the grounds of Sir Arthur Lewis Community College in St. Lucia a marked the end of a distinguished St. Lucian and Caribbean patriot.


Reference:

Africana The Encyclopedia of the African and

African American Experience

Editors: Kwame Anthony Appiah and Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Copyright 1999

ISBN 0-465-0071-1


Carter Godwin Woodson was born on this date in 1875.

He was an African American writer, educator and historian.



Born into poverty in Buckingham County, Virginia, Woodson supported himself by working in the coal mines of Kentucky as a teenager and was, as a consequence, unable to enroll in high school until he was 20. After graduating in less than two years, he taught high school, wrote articles, studied at home and abroad, and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912. Woodson also studied at Berea College and the University of Chicago.


He was dean of the School of Liberal Arts at Howard University from 1919 to 1920 and at what is now West Virginia State College from 1920 to 1922.


Woodson devoted his life to making "the world see the Negro as a participant rather than as a lay figure in history." To this end he established the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History; founded and edited the Journal of Negro History; organized the first annual Negro History Week, which became Black History Month.


Woodson also founded the Negro History Bulletin newspaper. Among his many published books are "The Mis-Education of the Negro Prior to 1861," "History of the Negro Church," and "The Rural Negro."

Woodson's life's work is the personal inspiration of Benjamin Mchie the founder of African American Registry. Carter G. Woodson died April 3,1950,


Reference: Black Heroes of The Twentieth Century Edited by Jessie Carney Smith Copyright 1998 Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI ISBN 1-57859-021-3

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