“….The theses…circulating in magazines, books, online publications, and presses over the last 30 years that… Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana failed to develop at the same rate as Singapore, that… Kwame Nkrumah is responsible for Ghana’s development quagmire, are bunkum theses…They are…without facts and data…In 2016, and for the last 60 years or so,…Yew could not fairly be elevated as more “astute” compared to Kwame Nkrumah on the matter of regional associations. Again, to advance a contrary message is to absolve those from your/our “native-country” who took up the banners of “unhappy” foreign governments engaged in a “Cold War” by proxy on your/our Father’s Land…Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, every Ghanaian ought to know, was many miles ahead of Lee Kwan Yew in matters of economic development and vision…”, (Prof Lungu, 21 May 16).
Titled “RE Ghana: lessons from Nkrumah’s fallout with his economic adviser“, our article was a fair critique of the un-tethered essay by Professor Tignor. As a result of comments received on that article, we presented the first in our “Definitive” series of essays, “Only mad 60-year olds fault Kwame Nkrumah for Ghana’s development quagmire”, on 15 May, to deal 4-square with the false, unproven narrative that Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew bettered Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah in development and economic performance.
And so, as readers who have been following the discourse know, this is the second in that multi-part “Only mad 60-year olds” series in which we provide additional information that is data-bounded, consistent with history, and represent a fair interpretation of the record regarding the performance of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, versus lawyer, Lee Kwan Yew, of Singapore.
TO HUMBLY RESEARCH WITH DILIGENCE IS DIVINE:
Again, the theses that have been circulating wildly in magazines, books, online publications, and presses such as the claim by Professor Tignor and Kwabena Yeboah, etc., that Nkrumah failed to develop Ghana even near the same rate as Yew did for Singapore, or that Kwame Nkrumah is responsible for Ghana’s development quagmire are all bunkum. They are ignorant, un-tethered ideas without basis in fact as far as the post-independence period (1957-1966, the period we can rationally compare and contrast), is concerned.
It is all bunkum unless the people who advance those ideas want the same world to believe that relying on coup-plotter narratives, Cold War-era newspaper headlines, and Johnson-CIA propaganda, make them serious, informed, critics. In that case, they may want to tell us they believe in the “truth” of Rip Van Winkle, as well.
Now, dear reader, observe that we use “60-year olds” largely as a metaphor.
Further, we are only interested in “post-independent” Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah, 1957-1966, a period for which there is comparative data, 1966 being the year Nkrumah’s government was overthrown.
Our senses is, a serious critic must today be prepared to take a mere 30-60 minutes, or so, of their time to examine actual facts, data, and theories related to a subject they intend to pontificate on using the human knowledge port known as the INTERNET.
As for us, we usually encourage all of our friends, including those we have the privilege of mentoring, to recognize that there is precious little written record by man that is not also available on the internet free of charge. (However, there are people and websites that will sell you the same information, including free data provided by governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO), if you open your wallet).
Due diligence research of actual records on the part of Professor Tignor and others may well have forestalled our “Only mad 60-year olds” essay series. But, if that had occurred, it would have deprived us the opportunity to deal with these key questions related to Nkrumah’s actual record.
So, for that, we are grateful to Professor Tignor and Kwabena Yeboah.
Here are two (2) fundamental points for the Kwame Nkrumah critic:
(1) Like Nkrumah, Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew struggled and fought to form and maintain regional associations with countries within Singapore’s geographic, historical, and socio-economic spheres
(2) Kwame Nkrumah’s style of governance achieved for Ghana greater political and economic success during his own time, compared to efforts by Lee Kwan Yew of Singapore.
On those counts, Kwame Nkrumah cannot, rationally, be responsible for Ghana’s development quagmire that shows that “… today, income per capita in Singapore is $33,000 and Ghana is $1,500…”.
This second paper in our “Only mad 60 year olds” series takes up the matter identified under our current Item 1 (i.e., regional associations and “confabulations”).
In 2016,and for the last 60 years or so, Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew could not be fairly elevated as more “astute” compared to Kwame Nkrumah on the matter of regional associations. Again, to advance a contrary message is to absolve those from your/our “native-country” who took up the banners of “unhappy” foreign governments engaged in a “Cold War” by proxy on your/our Father’s Land.
To advance a contrary message is to absolve those who again and again stole power by the barrel of the gun. It is to absolve those who mis-managed the country, including “rascal civilians” like Busia, who upon ascension to power repeatedly failed Ghana the harder they tried over 60 years to banish the philosophy and ideas of Kwame Nkrumah.
MEMO TO KWAME NKRUMAH CRITICS:
There is no common sense path to development of Ghana if so-called leaders uncritically and meanly oppose and belittle Kwame Nkrumah’s basic propositions that Ghana’s resources belong to Ghanaians, that Ghanaians can develop Ghana, but that, it is Ghanaians who must first believe in themselves and the Ghana-centered values, goals, and objectives they hope to achieve through social living, politics, business, even through the courts, as necessary.
Being mute on this matter does not inspire, nor is it patriotic, considering that like Lee Kwan Yew, Kwame Nkrumah is the founding father of Ghana. In fact, nothing else will inspire Ghanaians to uncommon acts of patriotism that will fast-track Ghana’s development precisely because unlike latter day “rulers and leaders”, Kwame Nkrumah never stole a pesewa or “state enterprise” from the peoples’ coffers.
AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FACT vs. SINGAPORE REGIONAL ASSOCIATION
The last we heard, Kwabena Yeboah was telling the world “…Lee Kwan Yew was not interested in regional associations, confabulations and continental ambition…”.
But, surely, and still, not so fast!
Clearly, Nkrumah recognized that Ghana is located on the “Dark Continent” of Africa, a place long represented by Europeans as inhabited by ignorant, uncivilized, and un-Christian black people who needed redemption and civilization. The black people on the Continent had no rights to their own resources. Therefore, they were arbitrary partitioned into European “possessions” by white people sitting around large tables in Berlin, Germany, by and large in 1844-1845, with hip-pocket “colonial” maps mostly made by missionaries and self-seeking adventurers and thieves.
It is uncontroversial: At independence, Kwame Nkrumah recognized that Ghana was not an island, that the European “possessions” and their “Partition of Africa” had to be ameliorated in other to allow Ghana, a newly independent state, to make progress towards development and true independence. Hence, his strong support of the proposal for the formation of an African continental government.
On the other hand, it is a lot easier to see why Lee Kwan Yew would not have fundamental interest(s) in “continental… confabulations” of any kind.
It is just common sense.
Singapore, after all, is an island located on the east Asia extremity.
Singapore, after all, has since the 1800s been a singular multi-cultural immigrant society of predominant ethnic Chinese, native Malays, and immigrant Indians inhabiting a 719.1 square kilometers (277.6 sq mi). In 1963, the population of Singapore was 1.8 million.
Contrast all of that with Ghana in sub-Sahara Africa where the 7.3 million population in 1963 were composed of more than 50 ethnic groups inhabiting a land area that is greater than 239 square kilometers (92,000 square miles), a country created mainly through European fiat, and an African population sharing almost the same forms of European subjugation with virtually every other country on the African Continent.
By saying that Lee Kwan Yew was not interested in “continental associations” does not mean he was not interested in “regional association”. There is a difference.
To the point, it is a mighty long jump and a gross mis-representation of the history to claim that Lee Kwan Yew “was not interested in regional association”.
That is simply not true, if we must be charitable.
THE FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA IN SHORT HISTORY
Fact is, when Yew’s PAP party first came to power in 1959, Lee actually believed that “Singapore’s future lay with Malaya”:
“….They felt that the historic and economic ties between Singapore and Malaya were too strong for them to continue as separate nations. Furthermore, Singapore lacked natural resources, and faced both a declining entrepôt trade and a growing population which required jobs. It was thought that the merger would benefit the economy by creating a common market, eliminating trade tariffs, and thus supporting new industries which would solve the ongoing unemployment woes…”
Fact is, the efforts expended by Yew’s PAP for “Malaya” were rebuffed by:
“…the sizable pro-communist wing of the PAP…strongly opposed to the merger, fearing a loss of influence as the ruling party of Malaya, United Malays National Organisation, was staunchly anti-communist and would support the non-communist faction of PAP against them…”
As the history goes, on 9 July, 1963:
“…the leaders of Singapore, Malaya, North Borneo and Sarawak signed the Malaysia Agreement to establish the Federation of Malaysia…(supported by the)….British government…who…believed that the merger would prevent Singapore from becoming a haven for communism…”
Mr. Yew of Singapore was thus right smack at the center of that regional association, an undefeatable supporter of that regional “confabulation”.
“The founding father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew declaring the forming of the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 in Singapore”.
Unfortunately for Mr. Yew, the union known as the “Federation of Malaysia” had a mighty rocky road to travel from the get go. Due to racial tensions and inability to resolve political and social conflicts, some of which resulted in violence (some, between the ethnic Chinese and Malays in Singapore):
“… Tunku Abdul Rahman (the Malaysian Prime Minister) decided to expel Singapore from the federation. Goh Keng Swee, who had become skeptical of merger’s economic benefits for Singapore, convinced Lee Kuan Yew that the separation had to take place. UMNO and PAP representatives worked out the terms of separation in extreme secrecy in order to present the British government, in particular, with a fait accompli…//
…//On the morning of 9 August 1965, the Parliament of Malaysia voted 126–0 in favor of a constitutional amendment expelling Singapore from the federation; hours later, the Parliament of Singapore passed the Republic of Singapore Independence Act, establishing the island as an independent and sovereign republic…//
…// A tearful Lee Kuan Yew announced in a televised press conference that Singapore had become a sovereign, independent nation. In a widely remembered quote, he stated:
“For me, it is a moment of anguish. All my life, my whole adult life, I have believed in merger and unity of the two territories…The new state became the Republic of Singapore, with Yusof bin Ishak appointed as its first President…”
FIVE POINTS ON YEW’S AFFINITY FOR ASSOCIATIONS
Dear reader, if you did not know previously, you know now:
(1) Singapore was actually expelled from the regional association in its geographic, social, and historical sphere(s)
(2) It was actually another individual (Goh Keng Swee) who foresaw that dis-association from the Malaysian “confabulation” would possibly be a net positive for Singapore because it in fact meant independence from Britain.
(3) The expulsion from that “Regional Association” actually occurred on 9 August 1965, a mere 6 months before the overthrow of Nkrumah’s government in Ghana.
(4) Further, when Suharto resigned on 21 May, 1966, an event Mr. Yew did not have any hands in, that action alone allowed what was known as the “Konfrontasi” between Malaysia and Singapore to cease. It enabled Singapore to develop in peace, beginning in 1966, the same year Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by the Johnson CIA.
(5) Crucially, the following year, in 1967, Singapore became a founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
KWAME NKRUMAH WAS JUST AS ASTUTE, POSSIBLY MORE:
So, tell, us, how can any African or Ghanaian for that matter, how can they claim, critically, that Lew Kwan Yew never favored “regional associations?
How can any African or Ghanaian critically claim that Lew Kwan Yew of Singapore was a better political strategist in 1957-1966, compared to Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana?
Surely, it cannot be because Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by the Johnson CIA and western powers, and traitors from Ghana, just as Lew Kwan Yew was beginning to find his moorings.
Or can it?
Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, after all, was singularly instrumental in the conceptualization and formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 25 May 1963, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This is essentially the same “confabulation” that still exists today as the African Union, notwithstanding the white-wash in name spearheaded by the South African pubic-coffer- thief Jacob Zuma, since 2002. You know, the same Jacob Zuma who spent:
“…£13 million of public money…on…a new cattle kraal, chicken run, amphitheatre and…a swimming pool…(arguing that)… the water could be used to fight a fire…(who)…Even before he won the presidency in 2009…faced no less than 783 charges of alleged corruption, fraud and racketeering…”
But, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah never stole a pesewa that belonged to Ghanaians.
Then there is all that lose talk about the performance of Nkrumah in the sphere of economics and development.
Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, every Ghanaian ought to know, was many miles ahead of Lee Kwan Yew in matters of economic development and vision, given their individual country’s unique strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).
That, we will take up in Part 3 of this series, next time.
1. Prof Lungu. RE: Lessons from Nkrumah’s fallout with his economic adviser, Ghanaweb, 8 May 16, (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/RE-Lessons-from-Nkrumah-s-fallout-with-his-economic-adviser-436894/).
2. Prof Lungu. Only mad 60-year olds fault Kwame Nkrumah for Ghana’s development quagmire. Ghanaweb, 15 May 16 (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/browse.archive.php?date=20160515/).
3. History of Singapore, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Singapore/)
4. Robyn Klingler Vidra. The Pragmatic ‘Little Red Dot’: Singapore’s US Hedge Against China, Undated. (http://www.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/publications/reports/pdf/SR015/SR015-SEAsia-Vidra-.pdf/).
5. Ravi Menon: An economic history of Singapore – 1965-2065. Keynote Address, 5 August, 2015, (http://www.bis.org/review/r150807b.htm).
6. David Blair. Judges have the last word in Zuma’s epic battle with the rule of law. The Telegraph, (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/04/02/judges-have-the-last-word-in-zumas-epic-battle-with-the-rule-of/).