Richard Mahoney: On Danquah and Nkrumah – Part One By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
This is the first in a series of articles on the protracted debate between the followers of Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah, the widely acclaimed Doyen of Modern Ghanaian Political Culture, on the one hand, and those of the first Prime Minister and later Executive President of Ghana, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, on the other. In part, this series has been occasioned by recent torrents of abuse in which the abusers, largely the followers of Mr. Nkrumah, have sought through diverse mendacious ways to impugn both the patriotism and the phenomenal and seminal contributions of Dr. Danquah to the shaping and development of modern Ghana. One source which the followers of Mr. Nkrumah, the so-called Nkrumaists, have consistently, persistently and perennially cited to cast both doubt and aspersions on the integrity of Dr. Danquah is Richard D. Mahoney’s quite authoritative treatise on United States’ foreign policy vis-à-vis Africa during the Eisenhower and the Kennedy years, titled JFK: Ordeal in Africa (New York: Oxford UP, 1983).

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But that the author’s father, William P. Mahoney, was the U.S. Ambassador to Ghana during the Kennedy years, has predictably served to further enhance the credibility and authority of his book in the opinion of these diehard Nkrumaists. What, so far, none of those Nkrumah disciples who have made a rather routine ritual of citing Mahoney’s book to purportedly prove their point alleging the collaboration of Dr. Danquah with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have also woefully failed to publicly alert their audience, is the possible reason, or motive, for the author’s decision to title the chapter exclusively devoted to their hero as follows: “Quite a Few Chips on a Very Dark Horse” (JFK: Ordeal in Africa 157). Naturally, I am intrigued by the convenient, albeit gaping, silence of the Nkrumaists on the foregoing observation. I am also fully aware of the fact that a significant part of the answer squarely lies in the fact that many an Nkrumah fanatic who pretends to be intimately familiar with Mahoney’s JFK: Ordeal in Africa has merely been told about what the author is supposed to have reported in his book about Dr. Danquah, invariably in twisted terms that are predictably meant to put Mr. Nkrumah in a saintly and progressive light, where the reality tells quite a decidedly different story.

I know the foregoing for a fact because, as already adumbrated, many an Nkrumah fanatic – and there are legions of them – does not read English in the meditative and scholastic sense of the term. Indeed, about the only language that these faux pan-African jihadists are intimately familiar with may properly be characterized as “PROPAGANGLISH,” which is why they continue to indiscriminately cite Mahoney whose quite formidable treatise deals almost exclusively with U.S. policy towards Africa, rather than critically, poignantly and objectively probe the question of whether any of Nkrumah’s inveterate political opponents, indeed, collaborated with the CIA in order to auspiciously remove the pro-communist and neocolonial monstrosity that was the Nkrumah-led Convention People’s Party (CPP).

At any rate, it may interest his apostles and disciples to learn that in the chapter devoted to their cultic demigod, Mahoney poignantly describes Nkrumah as a “unique and troubled personality” (JFK: Ordeal in Africa 157). Earlier on, the author had described postcolonial Ghana’s pioneering premier as “the self-styled leader of Africa.” But what is even more intriguing about Mahoney’s book is the author’s suggestion that “Kwame Nkrumah of Africa” (the way the Show Boy desired to be known and identified) may well have orchestrated his own exit from the Ghanaian and continental African political scene. We learn, for instance, that just six days before he embarked on his largely self-instigated China trip on the resolution of the Vietnam War (See Fitch and Oppenheimer, Ghana: The End of an Illusion), Nkrumah had had his will revised. Could it be that the messianic African Show Boy had espied the proverbial handwriting on the wall? Even more intriguing, however, is the fact that this critical question has never been amply discussed or even marginally highlighted by CPP ideologues and fanatics. And if, indeed, the Show Boy had evidently envisaged the proverbial handwriting on the wall on the eve of his fateful departure for Beijing (Hanoi), then what is the glaringly paradoxical rationale behind the perennial plaint of those Nkrumaist apostles who both decry and wistfully lament the fact that their idol/hero had not been allowed to remain at his already-befouled post in order to complete his supposedly epic and nonesuch development agenda for the country?

The preceding question becomes even more significant, in view of the fact that by the eve of his landmark and auspicious overthrow, Nkrumah had effectively run the Ghanaian economy aground. For Mahoney, though, Nkrumah’s pan-Africanist obsession was largely a disdainful quirk in the eyes of the West, in general, and the United States, in particular, up until the notoriously megalomaniacal Ghanaian leader overtly demonstrated “his willingness to use subversion and communist aid in the pursuit of his ambition.” And precisely what did this sort of “subversion” entail? The answer, of course, lies somewhere between the assassinations of Togo’s President Sylvanus Olympio and Kenya’s Mr. Tom Mboya. We shall be exploring the foregoing in due course.

Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “The Obama Serenades” (, 2011).


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