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Kwame Nkrumah
1989 CPA 6101.jpg
Soviet postage stamp with Nkrumah's face on it.
Born September 21, 1909
Died April 27, 1972
Other names Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
Known for Head of state of Ghana, philosopher
Title Dr.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah (born Francis Nwia-Kofi Ngonloma, September 21, 1909April 27, 1972) was an African political leader. He was well known as the first Prime Minister, then President, of Ghana. He imagined a united Africa. On March 6, 1957, after ten years of campaigning for Ghanaian independence, Nkrumah was elected President and Ghana gained independence from British rule.

Early life and activism

Nkrumah was born Francis Nwia-Kofi Ngonloma in Nkroful, a town in Gold Coast (the British colony that was to become Ghana) to Kofi Ngonloma, a goldsmith, and Elizabeth Nyaniba, a salesperson, who he saw as a great inspiration.


He attended Elementary School at Half Assini where his father worked as a goldsmith. A German priest called George Fischer influenced his education. He went to a school for teachers in Accra, then became a teacher himself. In 1935 he went to Lincoln University in the United States. He learned more about Communism. His education continued at the University of Pennsylvania, from 1939 to 1943. Next he went to London and organized an international conference for African freedom. He also changed his name to "Kwame".

President of Ghana

Independence Arch - Accra, Ghana1
Independence Arch in Accra

Nkrumah returned to the Gold Coast and founded the Convention People's Party. He was elected Prime Minister. When Ghana became independent from England, Nkrumah was its first president. He created the flag of Ghana. He required all children to attend school. More women attended school and took jobs. For electricity, Nkrumah ordered the building of a hydroelectric dam and a nuclear power plant.

Nkrumah was not friendly to the tribes in Ghana, such as the Asante. He wanted everyone to be a member of the Convention People's Party. He wanted them to be loyal to Ghana and Africa but not to smaller groups. Some people did not like Nkrumah because he opposed the tribes.

The military and police forced Nkrumah from power on February 24, 1966. He lived for the rest of his life in Guinea.


  • 1930: Obtained Teacher's Certificate from the Prince of Wales’ College at Achimota (Formerly Government Training College, Accra)
  • 1931: Teacher, Roman Catholic School, Elmina (Central Region) and later, Head teacher, Roman Catholic junior School Axim (Western Region)
  • 1932: Teacher, Roman Catholic Seminary, Amisano (Central Region)
  • 1935: Entered Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, USA
  • 1939: Earned a BA (Lincoln University), USA
  • 1942: Earned a BA (Theology), Lincoln University, USA
  • 1943: M.Sc. Education, MA Philosophy, and completed course work / preliminary examination for a Ph. D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • 1939 - 1945: Combined studies with part-time lectureship in Negro History. (During this period, he helped to found the African Studies Association and the African Students Association of America and Canada)
  • 1945: Voted "Most Outstanding Professor-Of-The-Year by "The Lincolnian"
  • 1945 (May): Arrived in London with the aim of studying Law and completing thesis for a Doctorate but met George Padmore. The two as Co-Political Secretaries helped to organize the Sixth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England. After the Congress, Nkrumah continued work for de-colonization of Africa and became Vice-President of West African Students Union. He was also leader of "The Circle", the secret organization dedicated to the unity and independence of West Africa, in its struggle to create and maintain a Union of African Socialist Republics
  • 1947: Wrote his first book, "Towards Colonial Freedom"
  • 1947: (December): Returned to Gold Coast and became General Secretary of United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC)
  • 1948: Detained with Executive Members of UGCC known later as the "Big Six" following disturbances in the colony
  • 1948: (September): Established the "Accra Evening News which appeared on the news-stands the same day that he was dismissed as General Secretary of UGCC
  • 1949 (June): Formed Convention Peoples Party (CPP) with the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO)
  • 1949 (December): Declared Positive Action to demand Independence
  • 1950 (January): Arrested, following riots resulting from declaration of Positive Action
  • 1951 (February): Won the election while in prison with a vote of 22,780 from the 23,122 ballots cast, to take the Accra Central seat. He was released later from prison in the same month to form new Government
  • 1956: Won the elections leading to independence
  • 1957: (6 March): Declared Ghana's Independence
  • 1958 (April): Convened Conference of the existing independent African States (Ghana, Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Morocco and Liberia). In December, He held an All-African Peoples Conference in Accra, the first Pan-African conference to be held on African soil. He took the first step towards African Unification by signing an agreement with Sekou Toure to unite Ghana and Guinea
  • 1958: Married Helena Ritz Fathia, an Egyptian Coptic and relative of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.Had three children with her - Gokeh, Sarmiah Yarba, and Sekou Ritz
  • 1960: Declared Ghana a Republic
  • 1961: Nkrumah extended the Ghana - Guinea union to include Mali under Modibo Keita
  • 1962 (August): Target of an assassination attempt at Kulungugu in the Northern Region of Ghana
  • 1963 (May): Nkrumah organized a conference of the 32 independent African States in Addis Ababa. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was formed at this conference with the purpose of working for the Unity, Freedom and Prosperity of the people of Africa
  • 1964: Established Ghana as a One Party State with himself as Life President
  • 1965: Nkrumah published his book "Neocolonialism". In this book he showed how foreign companies and governments were enriching themselves at the expense of the African people. This book drew harsh protest from the US government and consequently withdrew its economic aid of $35m previously earmarked for Ghana
  • 1966 (February 24th): Overthrown in a Military Coup d'état while on trip to Hanoi, North Vietnam. He left for Conakry, Guinea on being told of the overthrow. He lived in Conakry as Co–President of Guinea.
  • 1972 (April 27th): Died of natural causes in a Romania
  • 1972 (7 July): Buried in Ghana

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