Biney, Ama. The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah.

Author:Senghor, Jeggan C.
Position::Book review

Biney, Ama. The Political and Social Thought of Kwame Nkrumah. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan Publishing, 2011. 249 pp.

This is a fine study. As defined by the author, the overall task in hand is "to analyze the political, social and cultural thought of Kwame Nkrumah one of twentieth century Africa's most important nationalist leaders" (p. 1). Given the complexities involved it is not surprising that the stated arguments, objectives and purposes of the study are multiple. One overarching thesis resonating throughout the book is "that Nkrumah was profoundly motivated by an ideological vision of radical socioeconomic development for both Ghana and a united Africa along socialist lines." (p. 4) Flowing from this are a number of specific arguments. First, "that although Nkrumah may be remembered for establishing the template of single-party rule and a bloated state bureaucracy, he was by no means the exception during this phase of Africa's history."(p. 7)

Further, that "a fundamental influence on political, economic and social developments in Ghana between 1957 and 1966 was Nkrumah's own ideology: his conception of the world, his convictions and his ambitions." (p. 7) Thus, to unravel this in a meaningful way an appropriate methodology would involve: "A critical contextual approach that fuses a discussion of ideology, political performance, events, personality, and agency into a single perspective." (p. 7) Underlying all these is the need "to understand Nkrumah as a complex character rather than a larger-than-life figure." (p. 8) Hence, as part of this process of understanding Nkrumah the book aims "to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Nkrumah on various levels: in contemporary Ghanaian affairs, on the African continent, and within the diasporic African community." (p. 8) All this is facilitated by the prevailing environment of the first decade of the 21st millennium: "In a post-Cold War world and with historical events placed firmly in the past, a greater sense of perspective becomes possible in soberly reassessing Nkrumah' s role and contributions." (p. 1)

Against this backdrop, the first chapter presents a synthesis of various dimensions of the discourse on Nkrumah--his politics and his economics, in particular--and at the national, continental and international levels. On each dimension, the controversial character of Nkrumah is highlighted as are the varying interpretations of what he stood for by researchers and academics. This is...

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