What would Nkrumah have us do? What would he say about our current circumstances and situation?

(All the Nkrumah quotes in this article are from Nkrumah's book Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare.)

As you peruse this short piece, keep in mind what is happening in the African world and what is happening to Africans across the world.  We are at war and have been for centuries.  However, it is the job of our enemy, of whatever color or gender, to convince us otherwise, to make us as Malcolm said, "don't stop suffering..suffer peacefully" Message to the Grassroots.

This is precisely what is happening today, we are supposed to take any indignity they choose to heap upon us. And we are supposed to just lay down and take it. But revolutionary Africans have never endorsed such a comprador position.  And among the legions upon legions of arch-angels of the African revolution, Kwame Nkrumah stands out as both Michael and Gabriel. So what would he think about what is happening today, in Zimbabwe for example?  I think all of us would agree that consideration of the Zimbabwe situation is instructive for our prosecution of our liberation struggle on every front, in all parts of the world.  Well, first let us look at Nkrumah's signature clarion call to Africans all over the world:

"People of Africa, arise!
Defeat Imperialism, neo-colonialism and settler domination,
Stand together and unite in the revolutionary struggle
Forward to victory,
We shall conquer"
p 122

Now let us look at his view of settler states such as the former "Rhodesia" and by inference his view of the imperialist and neo-colonialist elements who wish to reestablish the exploitation and oppression that defined Rhodesia:

"The predominant racial group must, and will, provide the government of a country.  Settlers, provided they accept the principle of one man one vote, and majority rule, may be tolerated; but settler minority government, never. They are a dangerous anachronism, and must be swept away COMPLETELY and FOREVER." p. 48

Taking up the gauntlet explicit in this call,  first requires the proper knowledge and general understanding of the war we must fight and how we must fight it:

"The dimension of our struggle is equal to the size of the African continent itself." p. 43

"Revolutionary warfare is the highest, inevitable answer to the political, economic and social situation in Africa today. We do not have the luxury of an alternative.  We are faced with a necessity." p. 42

"The continental scope now attained by popular insurrection in Africa is a realiity.  It remains for us to design effective co-ordinating machinery." pp. 55-6

"...the people are the makers of history and it is they who, in the final analysis, win or lose wars." p.75

"The people's armed struggle, the highest form of political action, is a revolutionary catalyst in the neo-colonialist situation." p. 52

"...if armed militia are not organised the masses cannot manifest their power in the struggle against the enemy." p. 60

"The creation of our continental people's militia is the logical consequence of the unfolding of the African liberation struggle, and it is the essential  condition for the emergence of a people's free and united Africa." p. 63

"Between a zone under enemy control where the masses are awakening and a hotly-contested zone, there is only one missing link: a handful of genuine revolutionaries prepared to organise and act " p. 49

What he would say about taking back the land?

"We must have every inch of our land and every one of our mines and industries" p.. 80

Nkrumah has also left instruction to help us understand the relationship of specific fronts to the whole revolutionary war of liberation:

"These isolated battles must be fought as part of the great revolutionary, liberation struggle, and within the framework of our politico-military organisation (AAPRA-AACPC)."  p. 89

What does he tell us to do to prepare to fight? How should we go about it, what are the prerequisites to preparing ourselves to fight and win?:

"Our propagandists must leave no problem untackled, no mistake unexposed.  Truth must always be told.  It is a proof of strength, and even the hardest truth has a positive aspect which can be used." p. 100

"Propaganda is a means of liberation, an instrument of clarification, information, education and mobilisation." p. 95

What are the critical human factors that we must definitely involve in the war? Workers, peasants, every patriot from around the world, with an emphasis on development of the women and the youth - and particularly the "spark" the students:

"The degree of a country's revolutionary awareness, may be measured by the political maturity of its women." p.  91

"The youth belong to the revolution... students must constantly guard and revitalise the revolution. On our youth depends the future of Africa and the continent's total liberation and unity." p.  88

What would he say to the leadership of the African States, who are supposedly acting in unison via the AU, the successor to the fatally flawed OAU?  He would remind them of the stakes and the nature of the contending parties, capitalist imperialism on one hand and the oppressed and exploited African people on the other; and the constantly shifting balance of power between the two forces:

"Independence must never be considered as an end in and of itself but as a stage, the very first stage of the people's revolutionary struggle." p. 16


"The capitalist imperialist states face serious economic and social difficulties. Rising prices, balance of payments problems, widespread and repeated strikes are only a few of the symptoms of the general malaise. In the United States, the grave domestic situation is aggravated by the massive counter-attacks of the African-American revolutionaries. Almost everywhere, behind the smoke screens, the social and economic situation is unhealthy, and particularly in the second class capitalist states. And these mounting economic crises mean heavier dependence on the exploitation of the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

"The need for self-critical objective diagnosis."

"If imperialists are faced with so many external and domestic difficulties, how then can they afford to step up their aggression in Africa? To answer this question, it is necessary to examine the internal factors which make our continent so vulnerable to attack, and particularly to look closely at the whole question of African unity. For this lies at the core of our problem. There are three conflicting conceptions of African unity which explain to a large extent, the present critical situation in Africa:

"1. The mutual protection theory: that the OAU serves as a kind of insurance against any change in the status quo, membership providing a protection for heads of state and government against all forms of political action aimed at their overthrow. Since most of the leaders who adhere to this idea owe their position to imperialists and their agents, it is not surprising that this is the viewpoint which really serves the interests of imperialism. For the puppet states are being used both for short-term purposes of exploitation and as springboards of subversion against progressive African states.

"2. The functional conception: that African unity should be purely a matter of economic co-operation. Those who hold this view overlook the vital fact that African regional economic organizations will remain weak and subject to the same neo-colonialist pressures and domination, as long as they lack overall political cohesion. Without political unity, African states can never commit themselves to full economic integration, which is the only productive form of integration able to develop our great resources fully for the well-being of the African people as a whole. Furthermore, the lack of political unity places inter-African economic institutions at the mercy of powerful, foreign commercial interests, and sooner or later these will use such institutions as funnels through which to pour money for the continued exploitation of Africa.

"3. The political union conception: that a union government should be in charge of economic development, defence and foreign policy, while other government functions would continue to be discharged by the existing states grouped, in federal fashion, within a gigantic central political organization. Clearly, this is the strongest position Africa could adopt in its struggle against modern imperialism.

"However, any sincere critical appraisal of past activities and achievements of the OAU would tend to show that, as it is now constituted, the OAU is not likely to be able to achieve the political unification of Africa.

"This is obviously why imperialists, although against the idea of political union, will do nothing to break the OAU. It serves their purpose in slowing down revolutionary progress in Africa. This state of affairs is mirrored both in the discouragement of freedom fighters in the remaining colonial territories and South Africa, and in the growing perplexity amongst freedom fighters from neo-colonized territories.

"The struggle for African continental union and socialism may be hampered by the enemy WITHIN, - those who declare their support for the revolution and at the same time, by devious means, serve and promote the interests of imperialists and neo-colonialists. Examination of recent events in our history, and of our present condition, reveals the urgent need for a new strategy to combat imperialist aggression, and this must be devised on a continental scale.

"Either we concentrate our forces for a decisive armed struggle to achieve our objectives, or we will each fall one by one to the blows of imperialism in its present stage of open and desperate offensive." pp. 39-41

"...in unity lies strength, African states must unite or sell themselves out to imperialist and colonialist exploiters for a mess of pottage, or disintegrate individually." p. 35

"Our armed struggle for freedom is neither moral nor immoral, it is a scientific historically-determined necessity." p. 19

and I believe he would conclude with this simple straightforward statement:

"The new phase of the armed revolutionary struggle in Africa embraces the entire continent.  It is essential that we know what we fight, and why we fight.  Imperialism and neo-colonialism must be broken down into their component parts so that we can clearly see them  We must know their world  strategy." p. 1

So, let us embrace Nkrumah's extraordinary grasp of the science of human liberation and answer our own call to fulfill our common and individual destinies It must be done and as David Walker said it is better to fall fighting the enemy than like some penned animal a mere object for the use and abuse of our satanic tormentors. If some of us do fall in the struggle, then we would have attained a noble transition -- if we do not perish in the effort, then we would live to see our people "make it to the promise land" if I may paraphrase the martyred Dr. King. Whatever does happen to us as individuals -- we are certain of one thing:  the people as a whole will win this war and our tormentors will finally be brought to justice and suffer the fate that they deserve for their long history of inhuman, amoral crimes.  For their crimes against the African people; for their crimes against humanity itself.

Just remember every oppressed and exploited people across the world is fighting the same, the very same enemy, so, in reality, the odds are dramatically in our favor.  All we need to do is act and think in a scientific and principled manner.


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