Is Ghana's decision to grant the US access to a base in the country a betrayal of Nkrumah's 'neither East nor West, but independent' stance?
The decision to grant the US access to Ghanaian territory has triggered storms of protests, with President Nana Akufo-Addo even called a traitor by demonstrators during his recent London visit for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The protesters, recalling Nkrumah's anti-imperialist slogan, 'we face neither East nor West; we face forward', insist Ghanaian leaders should not be entering such agreements with non-African, foreign powers. Secondly, it shouldn't in any case be on such cut-price and humiliating terms.
Nkrumah knew that the only way Africa could face forward, breaking free from the strangleholds of East and West, was to create a counterweight, a united and independently aligned African super-state.
However, without the necessary resources, Nkrumah's project over-reached domestically, and suffered Western-inspired bankruptcy, aided and abetted by Ghanaian coup-plotting elites acting in concert with their Western patrons.
The legacy today, is that it is impossible to imagine, even in the spirit of ECOWAS and common African defence, Ghana extending to Nigeria or any African country, such access on the same terms as enjoyed by the Americans. Which brings us to our reluctance to honestly admit the degree to which Ghana and other African states are quite happy to remain Western client-states. The protesters appear not to truly understand how all-pervasive and long-standing the construction of this client relationship has been.
One simply has to read Dele Ogun's fascinating account of the story of Nigeria, A Fatherless People, to grasp how the project began in the early 1800s following the abolition of slavery. British plans to resettle enslaved Africans on their home continent, sat alongside dreams to create a huge African Empire in West and Central Africa that would rival their Indian holdings.
The justification for this empire was a mixture of the 'white man's burden' in civilising Africans; humanitarian intervention against slavery/rights abuses; and access to resources. To achieve these aims, bases were first set up, which eventually became colonies--so we have been here before. And as Britain constructed this empire, it worked closely with African elites, who were offered 'protection' in return for access to their markets. These elite Africans were also running their own agendas...