Saturday, April 15, 2006


The hosts of the Discoverthenetworks web page reassure visitors to their site that they can be relied upon for accurate information with timely updates and corrections. They write: "When DiscoverTheNetworks was launched in mid-February 2005, we made it clear from the outset that we were committed to maintaining the highest possible standard for the accuracy of the information included in our database."

Fourteen months later, how are they doing? Not so well, if their entry on Kwame Nkrumah is any measure. There we learn that "Nkrumah was the creator of Pan-Africanism - a political movement calling for the forced repatriation of all Africans and African Americans, for the purpose of having them take control of the government of each African nation."

It would seem that Nkrumah was a yet more prodigious figure than any of us knew. One of the first organizational meetings of the Pan African Movement was organized by Henry Sylvester William in London in 1900. There was another Pan African conference in 1909, by which time Nkrumah had at least managed to get himself born. Perhaps William had been channeling the formative stages of Pan Africanism from a not-yet-birthed Kwame Nkrumah hovering in the spiritual realm. The first Pan African Congress, in which W.E.B. Dubois played a major organizational role, was held in 1919, when Nkrumah was all of ten years old.

Nkrumah came to the United States to study, and it was here in Pennsylvania, at Lincoln University, that C.L.R. James met the young West African student. That was in 1943, by which time the Pan African Movement had already been in progress for four decades. James remained in contact with Nkrumah, providing the younger activist with a letter of introduction to George Padmore, James's friend from childhood, when Nkrumah traveled to London. There, partly through James's introduction, Nkrumah was able to join with a broad coalition of international activists working to end colonialism in Africa.

Both James and Padmore were on the podium at Ghana's Independence Day celebrations, a testament to the role they, along with all the other participants in the Pan African Movements, had played in the liberation of West Africa.

It was never an uncritical relationship, and James came to distrust Nkrumah's later polticial decisions. James writes about this in his crucial book NKRUMAH AND THE GHANA REVOLUTION. When Nkrumah began to take measures that indicated that he held himself free of some of the restrictions assumed by a separation of powers (sound familiar), James did not hesitate to level strong criticism at his old friend.

But even James never accused Nkrumah of favoring the "forced repatriation" of all Africans and African Americans. Even Marcus Garvey in his wildest imaginings never conceived the forced repatriation of diasporic Africans. Who ever did conceive such a thing? You might do well to look back at nineteenth century American debates over African Colonization for an answer.

Just where do the folk at DiscoverTheNetworks do their research? There are absolutely no sources cited in their Nkrumah entry. I'm guessing they're just banging at keys on their laptops, checking out their buddies' blogs.


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