Kwame Nkrumah’s Futuristic Vision for Africa

A visionary leader with ideas before his time

By Mark KauffmanLIFE Photo Collection

A life of struggle and leadership

Kwame Nkrumah was born on 21st September 1909, in Nkroful in the British colony of the Gold Coast now present day Ghana. He died on April 27th 1972, in Bucharest Romania.  He led the Gold Coast’s struggle for independence from Britain and the construction of the new nation of Ghana. He headed the country from independence in 1957 until he was overthrown by a military coup in 1966. 

African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa (2015-05-01) by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

A Pan-African with a vision

Nkrumah's vision for the future of Africa was a United States of Africa. He was a founding member of the OAU now known as the African Union.  In the 1950s and 60s, he supported and funded the independence struggles of other African countries still under colonial rule including Namibia and South Africa.

By Ralph CraneLIFE Photo Collection

Speech at the African Union

At the first OAU conference, Nkrumah gave one of the greatest speeches of his life, which has since become the definitive blueprint for a strong and continuous fight for African unity. He is immortalized by a statue placed in front of the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey (2017) by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Nkrumah's early education

Nkrumah attended Achimota School then known as Prince of Wales College. Deputy headmaster Dr. James Kwegyir Aggrey, a graduate of Columbia University, exposed him to the ideas of Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois. He encouraged Nkrumah to pursue further studies at Lincoln University in the U.S.

University of Pennsylvania by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Nkrumah studies in the U.S.A.

Nkrumah joined Lincoln University, a historically black university (HBCU) in Pennsylvania in 1935 where he was the top student in his class. After graduating in 1939, he obtained an MA in Philosophy and an MSc in Education from the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. 

Fraternity brothers of Phi Beta Sigma FraternityHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Brotherhood at Lincoln University

Nkrumah joined the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity that exemplifies the ideals of brotherhood, scholarship and community service. Based on the belief that unity is vital to economic, social and political progress, it aims to unify and uplift people of African descent and promote Pan-Africanism; a belief that African people both on the continent and the diaspora share not only a common history but a common destiny.

Time Covers - The 50S (1953-02-09) by Boris ChaliapinLIFE Photo Collection

Pioneering African statehood

Nkrumah's vision for the future of Africa, was demonstrated by his futuristic projects in his own nation of Ghana. These include the Adomi Bridge, the Akosombo Dam, the self-sufficient industrial city of Tema  built around the Tema harbor and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.

The Adomi Bridge by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Bridging the Volta River

Adomi Bridge is a steel arch suspension bridge over the Volta River between Atimpoku on the west and the Adomi on the east. It was commissioned by Nkrumah then Head of Government Business and British colonial Governor Sir Charles Arden-Clarke on January 25th, 1957, two months before the official declaration of Independence.

The Adomi Bridge (2021) by HACSA FoundationHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Linking communities

The Adomi Bridge is an important link providing access between the capital of Accra and Volta and Northern regions for social and economic activity.  

The Akosombo Dam by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

A Visionary Project

The Akosombo Dam, also known as the Volta Dam, is a hydroelectric dam on the Volta River in the Eastern Region of Ghana in the Akosombo gorge operated by the Volta River Authority. 

Creating the largest man-made lake

At 124m tall and 660m long, the dam holds back the waters of the Volta Lake. Below the dam, the Volta River flows  to the sea. It is a rockfill dam built between 1961 and 1965. At the time the Volta River was dammed, it created the largest man-made lake in the world.

The Akosombo Dam by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Developing hydro-electric power for the sub-region

The Akosombo Dam was called "the largest single investment in the development plans of Ghana." It was built in partnership with Kaiser Aluminum, a U.S company, which required electricity for its plant in Ghana. Today the dam supplies electricity to Ghana and neighboring West African states. 

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology by Wikimedia CommonsHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Promoting science and technology

The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology is a public university established by Nkrumah in 1952. It is the largest university in the Ashanti Region and has evolved into a first-class technological institution of higher education.

Tema Harbor by ShutterstockHeritage and Cultural Society of Africa Foundation

Developing Africa's future through trade

Tema Harbor is located in Tema an integrated city which was deemed futuristic in the 1950s & 60s. The harbor lies along the Gulf of Guinea and is 18 miles from Accra, the capital of Ghana. The harbor has a deep water enclosure of 1.7 million square meters.

A transit point for land-locked countries

The harbor serves both as a loading and unloading port for goods. It also serves as a major transit point for goods from land-locked countries in the West African sub-region. It handles import and export  trade for industrial and commercial companies.

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