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Kwame Nkrumah: Autobiography

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Kwame Nkrumah: Autobiography

Kwame Nkrumah led the people of the Gold Coast in their quest for independence from Britain through strikes and boycotts. After succeeding in 1957, Nkrumah emerged from prison to become the first prime minister of the country renamed Ghana, after the ancient West African empire. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Nkrumah said, “our ancestors had attained a great empire…thus we may take pride in the name of Ghana, not out of romanticism, but as an inspiration for the future.” In this excerpt from his Autobiography, Nkrumah speaks of the need to establish economic independence as a means of maintaining political independence.

Independence for the Gold Coast was my aim. It was a colony, and I have always regarded colonialism as the policy by which a foreign power binds territories to herself by political ties, with the primary object of promoting her own economic advantage. No one need to be surprised if this system has led to disturbances and political tension in many territories. There are few people who would not rid themselves of such domination if they could…

I saw that the whole solution to [our] problem lay in political freedom for our people, for it is only when a people are politically free that other races can give them the respect that is due them. It is impossible to talk of equality of races in any other terms. No people without a government of their own can expect to be treated on the same kind of level as people of independent sovereign states. It is far better to be free to govern or misgovern yourself than to be governed by anyone else…

Once freedom is gained, a greater task comes into view. All dependent territories are backward in education, in science, in agriculture and in industry. The economic independence that should follow and maintain political independence demands every effort from the people, a total mobilization of brain and manpower resources. What other countries have taken three hundred years or more to achieve, a once dependent territory must try to accomplish in a generation if it is to survive.

  1. How does the author define colonialism?

  2. Nkrumah viewed political independence as a means of gaining what?

  3. Nkrumah states that newly independent countries must establish economic independence with great speed if they are to survive. Give reasons to support this statement.

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