In the last issue of DISSENT you carry a review of Nkrumah’s Ghana by M. K. Kamath. The author of this review implies that Nkrumah alone freed Ghana and created the “Secret Circle” and the Convention People’s Party. The author says that: “Nehru had a Gandhi to fall back upon as intellectual and spiritual guide… Nkrumah apparently did not.”
This is a wrong slant on West Africa and her present-day leaders. Of course, today people know more about Asia than about Africa. This is one of the blind spots of the Western world. Behind this attitude is the assumption that Asian civilization is ahead of African culture or civilization. From a naive point of view, this is true. But from an historical point of view it is all wrong. Those nations in Asia and Africa today who are making the fastest and most stable progress are those whose past has been shattered, whose outlook is uncloudily turned toward the future.
Back of the whole movement of black nationalist liberation in West Africa is the Pan-African movement which is headed by George Padmore. In his book, Pan-Africanism or Communism?, Padmore gives a detailed history of the movement of black nationalism—a movement which is older than Communism! If Gandhi laid the foundations for Indian freedom, then Padmore, the mentor of the leaders of West Africa, is now, today, laying the same foundations for West African freedom. If Gandhi is better known than Padmore, it is because of Western racial prejudice. (I might add that I wrote the introduction to Padmore’s Pan-Africanism or Communism?) . It is often overlooked that the African has been in intimate touch with the Western world much longer than the Asian and that the African is really more politically advanced.
This might sound as though I’m grinding a racial axe, but he who cares to look into this matter will see that I’m merely stating facts. The white West has been long sold upon the idea that the ancient traditions of Asia spell a higher culture and a greater capacity for political development. I feel that the contrary is really true. The West, in its brutal attack upon the fragile tribal culture of Africa, freed the African psychologically to build stable and modern states. Having been hit hard by the white West, the African has less of the past in his heart than the Asian. I believe that the immediate future progress of West Africa will bear me out in this. I’m not seeking to devalue the great accomplishments of Nkrumah, but it ought to be known that behind Nkrumah is a “black international,” a well-knit, intelligent, public organization which is holding its Sixth World Conference this year in Accra.