Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, made many contributions to his country and to the fight for political independence of African countries. His cultural policies created many institutions in Ghana and some remain visionary today. His call for African unity remains largely on paper. Who was this person, and what drove him?
In 17 chapters, grouped into three parts (society, politics, and economy), the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana (Legon) brought together prominent scholars to “assess aspects of Nkrumah’s life and work from the perspectives of their various disciplines and their own `ideological’ viewpoints” (p. x). The result is this beautifully done book. Its three parts can be read independently of each other. I enjoyed Part 3 on the economy. Some of the ideas that Nkrumah espoused are obsolete and/or were incorrect even at the time; others are startlingly current and relevant this many years later, proving the mental power and forecasting ability or perceptions of the man. I was particularly impressed by the cogency with which Dr. Nkrumah asserted the primacy of cultural institutions in determining progress. While the role of culture in human progress is not a new subject to anthropologists, others including economists have just begun to incorporate non-economic factors in their studies of economic progress.