This month (April 2021) will mark the 49th anniversary of the death of Kwame Nkrumah, the revolutionary leader of Ghanaian independence and visionary advocate of the Pan-African movement.
As President, Nkrumah oversaw Ghana’s rapid industrial development and invested in national educational facilities. He played a key role in the development of the Organisation of African Unity (now the African Union). However, the establishment of a one party state and his opposition to tribal loyalties triggered violent reactions from various factions and Nkrumah survived at least five assassination attempts before being ousted in a military coup on 24th February 1966.
The eulogy that follows is by Ghanaian poet Adjei Agyei-Baah.
Man of the Millennium
They blinded him
For his vision (1)
And crippled him
For his movement
They removed his chair
When he stood up
And clipped his wings from flying high
To tear through the cloak
Of injustice and oppression.
They sealed his mouth
From sending brotherly messages of unity
And made him die in a barren land (2)
Where he once sprinkled some seeds of hope.
They saw his brain too big
To be housed in his smallish skull
But could not deny him a place of honor:
“African’s man of the millennium”
And now his ghost stands on guard
Humbly watching and waiting
As his mighty works
Have become hunters
Haunting the visionless!
Here is the poem in Twi:
Mfie Mpem Mmienu Nipatitire
Ofiraa n’ani wɔ n’anisoadehunu nti
na obubuu n’aprɛ wɔ n’anamɔntuo mu
na ɔhwan n’ase akonwa
wɔ berɛ a ɔtiaa ne nan akyi
na ɔsan nso kaa ne ntanban fam
sɛnea ɔrentumi ntu nkɔsunsan
ntɛnkyea ne nkoasom mu ntoma a
na wɔde afira abibiman.
Na ɔpam n’ano
sɛnea ɛbɛyɛ na ɔrentumi ɛne abibiman
nkaeɛ no ntumi nto kɛsɛ
maa no wui wɔ asaase pradaa bi so a
ɔkɔɔ wɔn mmoa wɔ berɛ bi a atwam.
Na wɔhunuu sɛ na ɔkuta adwene kɛseɛ
a na ɛboro ne ti ketewa kwankoraa soɔ
nanso wɔantumi anka n’abodin anhyɛ:
“abibirem barima kokoɔdurufoɔ”.
Na saa berɛyi ne saman gyina atweneɛ
a ɔretwɛn na ɔrehwɛ nneɛma
berɛ a ne nsa ano nnwuma
abɛyɛ ahonini a ɛrehunahuna nea ɔnni
by Adjei Agyei-Baah
- Nkrumah’s vision of truly independent African nations collaborating together to maximise their resources and resist exploitation by imperial and colonial powers inspired many liberation movements across the continent.
- In 1966 Nkrumah went into exile in Conakry, Guinea, as the guest of President Ahmed Sékou Touré, who made him honorary co-president of the country.
Adjei Agyei-Baah is a lecturer, poet, editor and translator at the University of Ghana School of Continuing and Distance Education, Kumasi Campus who teaches Academic Writing and Literature in English related courses. He is the co-founder Africa Haiku Network and Poetry Foundation Ghana, and currently serves as the managing coeditor of The Mamba, Africa’s first international haiku journal. He is widely anthologized and won several international awards. Adjei is an author of four haiku/senryu poetry collections: Afriku (2016), Ghana 21 Haiku (2018), Piece of My Fart (2018) and Trio of Windows (co-published, JUNPA, 2018). Adjei is currently PhD student at the University of Waikato, New Zealand researching into teachers experiences of teaching Literature in English in Ghana.