A.B. Assensoh finds Dr. Edward Kissi's posting (No. 179) on Nkrumah and the CIA very refreshing and useful. However, like Oliver Twist, Assensoh asks for more, as he also explains aspects of his past research scenarios on which he is anxious to expand in the years ahead; Assensoh further throws in a few nuances about democracy and politics, given his own wide experiences as a Journalist and historian.
Apart from the academic interests that I hold in the Nkrumah-CIA episode, I also wish to explain that I do not plan to uncover more than meets the eye of an ordinary or curious African scholar. After all, most adult Ghanaians (who lived in Ghana between 1957 and 1966) either (1) have their own useful opinions on, or (2) know how and why the Nkrumah regime was unseated militarily from its comfortable political arena on February 24, 1966. It is just like the ongoing essential democracy debate of this forum (No.180 and No. 181), whereby Dr. Edmund Abaka was "tempted" to underscore, inter alia: "Last of all, democracy is useless to the hungry."
As a trained Journalist and a practising historian, I have a lot of vested academic and personal interests in democratic institutions. Therefore, I may not, per se, underscore or support such a premise, although I have also heard a lot of prominent African leaders (sometimes in interviews, at press briefings, and in private conversations) echo sentiments similar to Dr. Abaka's written stance about democracy (or even politics in general), especially when it comes to our suffering brothers and sisters in African countries. Didn't I hear, for example, similar sentiments being uttered from the "salty" mouths of some of Africa's experienced politicians at press conferences in mid-1960s and 1970s, including the late Liberian President W.V.S. Tubman at his Friday weekly press briefings at his Executive Mansion in Monrovia? That was especially so, when such leaders discussed why their radical colleagues were being overthrown in coups d'etat but they were still sitting pretty! "Nkrumah, Modibo Keita and others forgot that their citizens could not eat their many Young Pioneer slogans when hungry and wallowing in abject poverty," it was cynically said!
In fact, when in exile, Ghana's late Prime Minister (Professor) K.A. Busia, for example, was also often accused of having said that Ghana was "not ripe for independence in 1957." However, I seriously think that, as a very mature and well-educated politician, Professor Busia would never put it in such crude terms, although his opponents often accused him of having held or expressed such a thinking in speeches in Europe and in meetings with anti-Nkrumah congressmen of the U.S. Congress, in his efforts to derail the quests for overseas assistance and investments by the Nkrumah regime. I still recall some prominent African politicians from various places on the continent wondering: "Na politics or rhetoric the people can chop when they are looking for bread and butter?" Others asked, "Na political slogans that can feed the people when they are hungry?" When Ghana's late "General" I.K. Acheampong felt that he could not become a civilian leader through partisan politics, he too unsuccessfully turned to "Union Government" (or "Unigov")! To him, as a military man, partisan politics was too divisive! Still, we find some astute scholars who, also, think that way; don't we?
In fact, some people continue to make similar statements about democracy but, like what Sekou Toure would say about self-governance, some of us would prefer democracy in poverty to dictatorship in abudance. It is as simple as that! After all, why should a fellow citizen (by the mere virtue of being elected to lead a government) wield so much power that one -- out of fear -- cannot live in one's own God-given country in peace? In simplistic terms, that is how I see dictatorship or tyranny of any type versus democratic rule! Of course, having lived in Europe and in the Americas for so long, I am ready for any type of democracy at any time, especially for African nations, where politics often rests on emotions and, sometimes, on one-man (or personality) cults and fiats! Does anyone remember the "One man, one wife", and "One man one car" slogans or prescriptions in some post-independent African nations?
Back to the Nkrumah-CIA issue! I wish to add that, since 1967, I have done a lot (research-wise) to try and get to some useful facts about the 1966 overthrow: whether or not the Western capitals connived in getting Nkrumah out of Ghana on the Vietnam Mission, apart from a very "respectful" telegram from then Presidnet Lyndon Johnson to Nkrumah supporting his peace initiatives in Southeast Asia, including the planned 1966 "trip-of-no-return" there. In fact, when I arrived in the USA as a Scholar-in-Residence at Lincoln University (with concurrent residence at University of Pennsylvania and other places) to complete my first book on Nkrumah, his overtrhow and his exile years, I had the "golden" opportunity of interviewing several prominent or "accused" actors, including the former U.S. Ambassador to Ghana (at the time of Nkrumah's 1966 overthrow), the late Dr. Franklin H. Williams, who later on became the President of Phelps-Stokes Fund in New York. In the interview -- part of which has already been published in Kwame Nkrumah, Six Years in Exile, 1966-1972 -- Dr. Williams, expressing anguish, harped on the familiar: that he knew nothing about the 1966 coup d'etat that unseated his fellow Lincoln University (Pa.) alumnus.
Addressing accusations that he (Dr. Williams) supervised the overthrow of Nkrumah's regime in 1966, and that it was easier for him (as an African-American or a Black American diplomat in Accra at the time) to move up and down (with bagged "almighty" dollars) to meet the anti-Nkrumah military plotters, Dr. Williams basically "swore" that, if he had the least wind of the plot, he would have, confidentially, leaked the information to Nkrumah, whom he described as his "good friend." Well, I have also looked at other "evidence" on the issue and, in the end, I did an entire dissertation on Nkrumah. Yet, the pieces of the "puzzle" are still scattered, not yet in place in one whole! Therefore, I sincerely appeal to Dr. Kissi (Edward) of USF to help me with additional research sources, as my co-author and I continue to look into African political leadership and the 1966 Nkrumah episode. Any information will be appreciated and, in the end, we are willing to share aspects of what we gather (as results) with USA/Africa Dialogue subscribers. Thank you.