African leaders were transported in a bus like schoolchildren while the president of the US, Joe Biden, was permitted to bring his convoy. Photo by Twitter

By Mbangwa Xaba

The humiliation of being hauled in a public transport to the continent’s colonial master’s final send-off will probably serve as a historic record of African leaders’ participation at Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo’s queen praise-singing would surely stand out. For no reason at all, he proclaimed the queen as a good ruler. “She brought about the dramatic transformation of the Commonwealth into a global force for good during her 70-year reign,” he beamed.
All that notwithstanding, I single out Ghana as a nation that has offered the most historic African symbolism to concur with the burial of the British monarch. On Tuesday, 20 September, Ghanaian Interior Minister Ambrose Dery announced that Wednesday, 21 September, which marks Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day, was to be a Public Holiday. 21 September is Nkrumah’s birthday, he was born on this day in 1909. Although this is not happening for the first time, this being the fourth of such a holiday declaration since the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day was approved by Parliament in 2019, this year’s announcement is momentous. Nkrumah is a symbol of a struggle against colonial imperialism, British colonial imperialism in particular. Nothing is more befitting to accompany Queen Elizabeth – a symbol of Africa’s dispossession with Nkrumah – a symbol of Africa’s fight for independence.
Nkrumah is credited as the first leader of an African country to lead a liberation struggle for independence from the British colonial masters in 1957. This Pan Africanist championed the formation of the Organisation of African Union (OAU). With this initiative, Nkrumah was able to mobilise the continent for the total liberation of Africa from all forms of colonialism. In 1874, Britain took control of parts of Ghana, naming them the British Gold Coast. He was the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, having led the Gold Coast to independence from Britain. Britain was weakened by the efforts of World War II and following a rising desire for independence, Ghana was the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve independence. Nkrumah was the driving force behind the independence of Ghana from British rule and founded the Convention People’s Party. Nkrumah will always be remembered for the powerful speech he delivered on the day Ghana gained independence, proclaiming, “Ghana will be free forever”, from British rule to millions of Ghanaian gathered at the Independence Square now Black Stars Square. The speech was significant as it relinquished British control over the Gold coast.
In February 1966, while Nkrumah was on a state visit to Vietnam and China, his government was overthrown in a military coup. Nkrumah never returned to Ghana and died in exile in April 1972.
Dishearteningly, we, the people of South Africa, beneficiaries of Nkrumah’s teachings as one of Africa’s foremost freedom fighters, nationalist, writer and thinker who was to influence a generation of Pan-African nationalists and freedom fighters, are notorious the globe over as Afrophobic.
As Ghana remembers this continental hero, we are such a damp squib to both Ghana’s symbolism of Nkrumah and the principles that he stood for. We are a betrayal to the continent’s agenda to our own detriment. Nkrumah was a founding member of the OAU that championed freedom from colonialism for all African nations, our own most notably. His dying wish was unity among Africans proclaiming: “Africa is one continent, one people, and one nation.” It was his view that “independence was only a prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs,” – a point he made in his speech at the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa, 24 May 1963.
This exact sentiment was to be made many years later by South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela who proclaimed: “The truth is that we are not yet free. We have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”
Mandela espoused Nkrumah’s ideals of African unity. “I dream of the realisation of the unity of Africa, whereby its leaders combine in their efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wildernesses,” he said.

He even saw our freedom as shallow if it did not recognise that we are about the freedom of others and that our right to vote was not itself an end but the beginning of the struggle for the attainment of justice.
Every bloke who can lay a hand on a microphone today ensures that the grandchildren of Nelson Mandela have no desire to follow the teachings of Nkrumah. Our so-called leaders are shattering Nkrumah’s ideals in a heart-wrenching brother-against-brother Afrophobic hate calling for Africans to be kicked out of our country. Little wonder we are a global laughing stock and a subject of humiliation even by the bereaved. As Mzwakhe Mbuli would say: “What a shame Africa, what a shame.”

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