The Decolonisation Of Ghana History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
1. Abstract: This Extended Essay is going to be about the Decolonization of Ghana. I have chosen this Topic due to my Interest in that country and because I spend my holidays there once a year. This essay is supposed to view the decolonization of Ghana and the reasons and thoughts behind it. This Extended Essay is written for the people who are interested into the problems and affairs in the decolonialization of Ghana. This piece of work is should show the recipients the reasons and problems linked with decolonialization and if the people of Ghana received the Independence and its aftermath with enthusiasm and/or neglecting. The essay can be divided up into a theoretical piece, in which I will write about the decolonization, its problems and reasons and a second part, where I will discuss how Nkrumah was able to get support. My research questions are: What are the reasons for decolonization and to what extent was Nkrumah successful in gaining support for Ghana and how?
Well we know that reasons for the decolonization was due to the fact that Nationalism and self-rule were things the people of Ghana were aiming for, which without removal of the current situation could not have been realized. The other fact is that Nkrumah was successful in gaining Ghanaian support, with factors being bankruptcy of Britain, hatred for Britain, and thanks to the important constitutions made.
What we are unaware of is how these steps were taken in order to counter the problems and to what extent they were able to be successful in removing their problems.
2. Introduction: During World War 2, colonies from around the globe came back to their mother countries in order to help their colonial masters fight against the enemies. While the “going to be” Prime Ministers, Henrik Verwoerd and B.J. Vorster, of South Africa supported Hitler, the majority of French colonialists remained loyal to its government until 1943. The wartime propaganda from the Germans had a part in this defiance of British rule. Japan’s conquests in the Far East caused shortages of various products such as minerals etc. Africa was therefore then used to make up for this problem and could greatly profit from this decision. U-Boats monitoring the North-Atlantic Ocean restricted the shipping of raw materials to Europe and so made the industries in Africa come to life. Local industries in turn caused the creation of new towns, and existing towns doubled in size. As urban community and industry grew so did trade unions. In addition to trade unions, urbanization brought about increased literacy, which allowed for pro-independence newspapers.
By the 1930s, the colonial powers had carefully cultivated a small elite of leaders educated in Western universities and familiar with ideas such as self-determination. These leaders, including some major nationalists such as Kenyatta (Kenya), Nkrumah (Gold Coast, Ghana), Senghor (Senegal), and Houphouet-Boigny (Côte d’Ivoire) came to lead the struggle for independence.
2. What are the reasons for decolonization?
Before discussing this policy in these fields, it would be helpful, perhaps, to give a general picture of the kind of government that ruled at the time. The government could have been described as a mixture of direct rule by the central government and the rule of African institutions. There had been a steady bias towards the latter. Ghana is a classical example of decolonization of an English colony after World War Two. A mix of nationalism, a foundation of self-rule and educated elite, men returning from serving in WW2, strong leadership, and a weakening of Europe’s hold on colonies because of the devastation of World War Two made Ghana the vanguard of sub-Saharan African independence. There was a disease threatening the cocoa farmers. This disease was damaging cocoa farms at an extremely high rate and despite scientific research the only solution to this was to cut out the infected trees. This didn’t please the farmers since at the time the price for cocoa was very high. So following the solution the government was experiencing resistance throughout the land. But the greatest problem was the deprivation. At the same time other disorders had broken out in the business district of Accra. Crowds, dissatisfied with the new prices resulting from the boycott agreement, which had been made, and incited by agitators had began to riot and loot and burn both European and Syrian owned stores. It even came that far that the people broke into the prison and freed prisoners to join in. This kind of turmoil spread to other towns of the Gold Coast./
It was the time for change.
3. How was decolonization achieved?
World War II ushered in a massive wave of decolonization struggles, and dozens of new states. The first half of the twentieth century was devastating for European colonial powers. The cumulative cost of World War I, the collapse of control and stability during the Age of Anxiety, and the devastating epic conflict of World War II, all contributed to the erosion of colonial control. Although regions seeking independence still had years of fighting to endure after 1945, countries like Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal, and the Netherlands were in a losing struggle to hold onto their colonies. Japan, Germany and Italy lost their colonial empires immediately following their defeat. The U.S. also began to relinquish direct colonial control over acquired territories, focusing its energies on building Cold War alliances and influence, In short, colonial empires collapsed all over the world, and out of this turmoil emerged dozens of new countries. World War II had a marked influence on the Gold Coast. The changes it brought were found, of course, not only in the Dependency but in all colonial areas. World opinion had become much concerned with the problem of dependent peoples and the United Nations Charter included a section in which the colonial powers agreed to promote the advancement and eventual self-government of these territories.The Country of Ghana had been developing economically and so the focus of government power gradually shifted into the hands of the Ghanaians, instead of staying in those of the Governor and his officials.
This had been made possible due to gradual development of a strong spirit of nationalism and which would eventually result in independence.
In effect the Gold Coast was ready for an increased measure of self-government for the economic, social, and political development of the inter-war years had contributed to the experience of the Dependency’s leaders. The territorial councils had broadened the viewpoint of chiefs hitherto confined to the particular interests of individual states, and service on the legislative council had taught the traditional rulers and the educated classes to work together in general with the view to the national good. Once the movement had begun, events moved rapidly, at a pace that not only surprised the colonial government but also among conservative African elements as well.
In the late nineteenth century, an arbitrary political system which placed almost all power into the hands of the governor through his appointment of council members had been thought unacceptable by a number of educated Africans. In the 1890s, a group was formed named, the Aborigines Rights Protection Society, by members of the educated coastal elite. They protested against a land bill that threatened traditional land tenure. In the end this protest helped build a foundation for political action that would ultimately lead to independence.
From the African members of the legislative Council, one of them, Joseph E. Casely-Hayford, convened the National Congress of British West Africa, which then sent a delegation, so that the colonial office was urged to consider the principle of elected representation, in 1920. This group represented the first expression of political solidarity between nationalist and intellectuals of the area. Sadly the delegation had not been received, but it had by any means aroused considerable support from the Africans elite back home.
Granting their call for elected representation as opposed to a system, in which the governor appointed numbers of the council, the nationalists had insisted that they were loyal to the British crown and that they only would help make an extension to British political and social practices of Africans. They had important leaders, such as Africanus Horton, John Mensah Sarbah, and S.R.B. Attah-Ahoma. These few men gave the nationalist movement a distinctly elitist touch which was going to last.
Provincial councils of paramount chiefs had been created by the constitution of 1925. The councils in return elected 6 chiefs as unofficial members of the legislative council. The new constitution was appearing to recognize African sentiments, but Guggisberg, governor and command-in-chief, was mostly concerned with how to keep the British interests protected.
For example: Africans only had a limited voice in the central government. By doing this, Guggisberg had spawned a wedge between the chiefs and their educated subjects. The subjects now believed that the chiefs had cheated the by letting the provisional councils fall into British hands, son that the chiefs would be able to receive support from the British.
However the chiefs and the intellectuals had begun to reproach each other again, by the mid 1930s.
Agitation for more adequate representation continued. So two more unofficial African members had been added to the executive council in 1943, this was gained due to the call for broader representation.
The Burns constitution of 1946, named after the governor in charge at the time or just known as the Gold Coast constitution, had been a very bold document. It was bold due to the fact that for the first time they had abandoned the concept of an official majority. 6 Ex-officio, 6 nominated members, and 18 elected members composed the legislative council at this moment. In addition it also admitted representatives from Asante. Although there was a Labour Party Government in power, the British still viewed their colonies as sources of raw materials. These sources were bitterly needed, since the British economy was crippled and they needed to strengthen it. Only after riots and looting did the British decide to make, the placing of real power into African hands, a priority. Ghana now had a decisive majority of elected members. They have reached a Level of maturity in politics unheard of elsewhere in Africa. The government had been unable to bring down high prices, curtail profiteering, and ease other economic burdens of the country. The people were disappointed that their representatives in the newly formed legislative council did nothing to help them in this battle. The above statements give us a fairly good indication of the U.G.C.C.’s objectives. It is important at this juncture to notice certain characteristics if the organization. The organizations was mainly made up of the élite, it also always put pressure on its aim of fulfilling self government. But it should be achieved by legitimate and constitutional means. These hints make the impression that the U.G.C.C. represented a kind of conservative nationalism in contrast to the later kind that will develop in the near future. But a new phase dawned upon the history of the organization, which they themselves hadn’t realized, by the Mr.Kwame Nkrumah becoming its general secretary.
Nkrumah was born in a small village of Nzima, in the western section of the colony, in September 1909. He studied at Achimota and later in the United States, where he obtained a bachelor of Divinity degree from Lincoln University and a Masters of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. During his years in America and a later stay in England he had gained considerable experience in leadership by participating in various political organizations and in associations designed to promote Negro advancement or self-government in Africa. The U.G.C.C. hoped to make the best out of his knowledge and experience.
Although they were highly mature in what concerned politics, the constitution didn’t grant them the freedom of having self-government. The executive power still remained in the hands of the governor, to whom the legislative government was responsible. The constitution faced trouble, although it had been greeted with enthusiasm. Many Gold Coast Veterans upon return, meanwhile WWII had ended, came back to a country in which shortages, inflation and unemployment ruled. So veterans started to form into a group of discontent people who were at the brink of creating disruptive action. Soon they were joined by farmers and many others who expected economic improvements, since the war had ended, but didn’t receive any. So the tensions were still increasing since the war had ended.
These Riots then resulted in having all of the U.G.C.C. members, including Nkrumah, arrested. Through this these men became known as the “Big Six”. The big six were the release again upon the arrival of the commission.
4. To what Extent was Nkrumah successful in gaining Support for Ghana and how?
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was a political leader and icon throughout Africa. We are able to thank him for liberating the Gold Coast and form it into the Ghana, which we know today. As he watched independence beginning to start in Africa, Nkrumah was anxious during that entire stage, simply due to his thought that imperialist rulers had “ingeniously” postponed their ultimate demise by granting sovereignty to the colonies, which they had previously done. Our hero had devised many political objectives to fight these imperialists and implemented them at the perfect time.
Nkrumah was able to present his political beliefs already at an early stage, already as a graduate student in Great Britain. He had joined a student club and brought his messages through the local newspapers, during his studies at LSE (London School of Economics). Later on Nkrumah then was able to publish a pamphlet which set its focus on showing the downside of the imperialist rule on the African continent. Included were also thoughts, by him, towards colonial freedom and a way in which it could be obtained. This leadership role of his, progressed further, while in the meantime he had been elected to the executive board of the West Africans Student Union, at the college he was attending. The later on as Vice President he continued to criticize outlandish rule. The passion, which turned out to be so strong, towards ending the foreign rule in Africa, that he even considered forming the group named, Circle Union of Socialist African Republics. This confidential group was looking to liberate Africa from the foreign rule.
Nkrumah had officially founded the CPP to aid the liberation of Ghana on the 12th of June 1949. Most members were pulled out from the Committee of Youth Organization. This program looked to be very promising as spread his ideas of self government to farmers, unions, women’s unions, and many younger people. In Nkrumah’s eyes the only way the citizens of Ghana would be able to take control of their government would be through political unity. Nkrumah argued that cultural and economic independence would follow close behind. The policies and the formation of Nkrumah’s CPP brought a positive influence to the people in Ghana and seemed to be destructive to the British Governments chance of maintaining control. Many factors help him gain support from the people some of them were, Propaganda in the form of signs, and he also found that coming up with party songs that give hope to the nation, was effective. All these things were used to make Ghanaian citizens aware and to gain support in the removal of the foreign power in charge. Nkrumah’s campaigning began the 8th of January in 1952.
5 key ways in which Nkrumah could fight the imperialistic forces where: political education, nationalist aid, propaganda, dipl. Cooperation and by implementing a new policy in which the country of Ghana would not get involved with any form of Imperialist. Every stage was positive from Nkrumah’s point of view. He even tried to remove the temporary regional assemblies, which were the safeguards in the constitution which would help the opposition. The Preventive Detention Act was introduced 1957.
This act was laws, which allowed the police officers to arrest and possibly detain people that his government thought to be working against them. Another point was that Nkrumah had a feeling in his gut that the only way to maintain an imperialist free country was to become economically independent as well. The best way was to become an industrialized country.
In my opinion Ghana had reached their goal by gaining Independence from the British, but while doing this they had cut their own flesh. I will have to name the good things first before I come to the bad things. Ghana had decided to deport foreigners who were perceived as threats to Ghana in the Deportation Act of 1957, which I think is a reasonable choice to make since having foreigners in ones parliament might have different effects on people. In addition to that in 1960 Ghana had officially become a republic, namely on the 1st of July. But now to the bad side of things, the Ghanaians now had cut the connection of to the British and by doing this they might have forgotten the fact that they were still slightly dependent on them. With dependent I mean that their economy was dependent from the British. Once they had cut the cord there was no way back and so they lost their biggest trading partner Britain. The consequences followed shortly and it is one that you still can feel today. The economy had plummeted since the loss. Nkrumah had made almost all the right decisions for his people, but he had forgotten about the economy. He was so concerned with the maltreatment of his country by the “white” man, which he, instead of considering the actions he was taking, wanted to get rid of them once and for all. Nkrumah didn’t consider the advantages they had through the white imperialists, but saw them as a problem to the people of Ghana and other African countries. I myself, in Nkrumah’s position of course, would have been upset about the ongoing suppression of the imperialists in the country and would have wanted to send them to the moon with a one way ticket. Things just don’t work that way and it would have been a lot smarter to just consider the options and possibilities, of how to get rid of the imperialist, but maintain a stable country at the same time.
Bourret, F.M.: Ghana-The Road To Independence; Oxford University Press, 1960
Buenor Hadjor, Kofi: Nkrumah and Ghana; Kegan Paul International Limited, 1988
Gocking Roger S.: History of Ghana; Greenwood Press, 2005
Nkrumah Kwame: Consciencism
7.1 Internet sources
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