Kwame Nkrumah was born September 21, 1909 in Nkroful, Gold Coast (now Ghana). He was educated at Catholic mission schools and seminary, and taught for several years before coming to the United States to study in 1935. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics and sociology from Lincoln University, followed by a degree in theology. While at Lincoln he organized and was president of the African Students Organization. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania, receiving master's degrees in education and philosophy, and went on to study at the London School of Economics where he helped organize the fifth annual Pan-African Congress. During these years he was influenced by the works of DuBois, Gandhi, Lenin, Marx and Garvey.
In 1947 Nkrumah left England to serve as General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention, a moderate nationalist movement. He became a leader among the younger, more eglitarian members of the party, and his campaign for universal suffrage gained him the support of farmers, union workers and women. He formed the Convention People's Party in 1949, which sought independence through civil disobiedience and non-cooperation with the British. The colonial administration arrested Nkrumah and other CPP leaders, and he was sentenced to three years in prison.
British Togoland to form Ghana. A new constitution was ratified in 1960, with Nkrumah being elected President. He increased his focus on pan-Africanism, traveling throughout the continent, and Ghana became a charter member of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.
Nkrumah's legacy as a African nationalist and visionary is unequaled but his leadership in Ghana steadily deteriorated and became more repressive. In 1958 the Preventive Detention Act suppressed political opponents by calling for the arrest and detention of anyone criticizing the government, without recourse to a jury trial. Although Nkrumah had supported labor strikes earlier, in 1961 he had strikers arrested because the strikes interfered with industrial expansion. In 1964 the CPP became the only legal political party and Nkrumah was elected President-for-Life.
|With W. E. B. DuBois|