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Kwame Nkrumah
The Father of African Nationalism
Jeffrey S. Ahlman
Ohio University Press, 1998
The first African statesman to achieve world recognition was Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), who became president of the new Republic of Ghana in 1960. He campaigned ceaselessly for African solidarity and for the liberation of southern Africa from white settler rule. His greatest achievement was to win the right of black peoples in Africa to have a vote and to determine their own destiny. He turned a dream of liberation into a political reality. He was the leader of Ghana who urged Africa to shed the colonial yoke and who inspired black people everywhere to seek their freedom. This revised edition of Birmingham’s fine and accessible biography chronicles the public accomplishments of this extraordinary leader, who faced some of the century’s most challenging political struggles over colonial transition. African nationalism, and pan-Africanism. It also relates some of the personal trials of a complex individual. As a student in America in the late 1930s, Nkrumah, shy, disorganized, but ambitious and persistent, earned four degrees in ten years. For political training he then went to England. Nkrumah found writing difficult throughout his lifetime, but once back in his African homeland, with its oral heritage, Nkrumah blossomed as a charming conversationalist, a speechmaker, and eventually a visionary and inspiring leader. Nkrumah’s crusades were controversial, however, and in the 1960s he gradually lost his heroic stature both among his own people and among his fellow leaders. He lived his last years in exile. This remarkable life story, which touches on many of the issues facing modern Africa, will open a window of understanding for the general leader as well as for graduate and undergraduate classes. In this new edition, Birmingham also examines Nkrumah’s exile and provides insight into the image of Nkrumah that has emerged in the light of research recently published.

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Kwame Nkrumah
Visions of Liberation
Jeffrey S. Ahlman
Ohio University Press, 2021
A new biography of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah, one of the most influential political figures in twentieth-century African history. As the first prime minister and president of the West African state of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah helped shape the global narrative of African decolonization. After leading Ghana to independence in 1957, Nkrumah articulated a political vision that aimed to free the country and the continent—politically, socially, economically, and culturally—from the vestiges of European colonial rule, laying the groundwork for a future in which Africans had a voice as equals on the international stage. Nkrumah spent his childhood in the maturing Gold Coast colonial state. During the interwar and wartime periods he was studying in the United States. He emerged in the postwar era as one of the foremost activists behind the 1945 Manchester Pan-African Congress and the demand for an immediate end to colonial rule. Jeffrey Ahlman’s biography plots Nkrumah’s life across several intersecting networks: colonial, postcolonial, diasporic, national, Cold War, and pan-African. In these contexts, Ahlman portrays Nkrumah not only as an influential political leader and thinker but also as a charismatic, dynamic, and complicated individual seeking to make sense of a world in transition.

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Living with Nkrumahism
Nation, State, and Pan-Africanism in Ghana
Jeffrey S. Ahlman
Ohio University Press, 2017
In the 1950s, Ghana, under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah and the Convention People’s Party, drew the world’s attention as anticolonial activists, intellectuals, and politicians looked to it as a model for Africa’s postcolonial future. Nkrumah was a visionary, a statesman, and one of the key makers of contemporary Africa. In Living with Nkrumahism, Jeffrey S. Ahlman reexamines the infrastructure that organized and consolidated Nkrumah’s philosophy into a political program. Ahlman draws on newly available source material to portray an organizational and cultural history of Nkrumahism. Taking us inside bureaucracies, offices, salary structures, and working routines, he painstakingly reconstructs the political and social milieu of the time and portrays a range of Ghanaians’ relationships to their country’s unique position in the decolonization process. Through fine attunement to the nuances of statecraft, he demonstrates how political and philosophical ideas shape lived experience. Living with Nkrumahism stands at the crossroads of the rapidly growing fields of African decolonization, postcolonial history, and Cold War studies. It provides a much-needed scholarly model through which to reflect on the changing nature of citizenship and political and social participation in Africa and the broader postcolonial world.

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Nkrumah & the Chiefs
The Politics of Chieftaincy in Ghana, 1951–1960
Richard Rathbone
Ohio University Press, 1999

Kwame Nkrumah, who won independence for Ghana in 1957, was the first African statesman to achieve world recognition. Nkrumah and his movement also brought about the end of independent chieftaincy—one of the most fundamental changes in the history of Ghana.

Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention Peoples’ Party was committed not only to the rapid termination of British colonial rule but also to the elimination of chiefly power. This book is an account of Kwame Nkrumah and his government’s long struggle to wrest administrative control of the Ghanaian countryside from the chiefs. Based largely upon previously unstudied documentation in Ghana, this study charts the government’s frustrated attempts to democratize local government and the long and bitter campaigns mounted by many southern chiefs to resist their political marginalization.

Between 1951 and the creation of the First Republic in 1960, Ghanaian governments sought to discard the chiefly principle in local government, then to weaken chieftaincy by attrition and eventually, by altering the legal basis of chieftaincy, to incorporate and control a considerably altered chieftaincy. The book demonstrates that chieftaincy was consciously and systematically reconstructed in the decade of the 1950s with implications which can still be felt in modern Ghana.


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Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution
C. L. R. James
Duke University Press, 2022
In this new edition of Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution, C. L. R. James tells the history of the socialist revolution led by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president and prime minister of Ghana. Although James wrote it in the immediate post-independence period around 1958, he did not publish it until nearly twenty years later, when he added a series of his own letters, speeches, and articles from the 1960s. Although Nkrumah led the revolution, James emphasizes that it was a popular mass movement fundamentally realized by the actions of everyday Ghanaians. Moreover, James shows that Ghana’s independence movement was an exceptional moment in global revolutionary history: it moved revolutionary activity to the African continent and employed new tactics not seen in previous revolutions. Featuring a new introduction by Leslie James, an unpublished draft of C. L. R. James's introduction to the 1977 edition, and correspondence, this definitive edition of Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution offers a revised understanding of Africa’s shaping of freedom movements and insight into the possibilities for decolonial futures.

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Saul Alinsky and the Dilemmas of Race
Community Organizing in the Postwar City
Mark Santow
University of Chicago Press, 2023
A groundbreaking examination of Saul Alinsky's organizing work as it relates to race.

Saul Alinsky is the most famous—even infamous—community organizer in American history. Almost single-handedly, he invented a new political form: community federations, which used the power of a neighborhood’s residents to define and fight for their own interests. Across a long and controversial career spanning more than three decades, Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation organized Eastern European meatpackers in Chicago, Kansas City, Buffalo, and St. Paul; Mexican Americans in California and Arizona; white middle-class homeowners on the edge of Chicago’s South Side black ghetto; and African Americans in Rochester, Buffalo, Chicago, and other cities.

Mark Santow focuses on Alinsky’s attempts to grapple with the biggest moral dilemma of his age: race. As Santow shows, Alinsky was one of the few activists of the period to take on issues of race on paper and in the streets, on both sides of the color line, in the halls of power, and at the grassroots, in Chicago and in Washington, DC. Alinsky’s ideas, actions, and organizations thus provide us with a unique and comprehensive viewpoint on the politics of race, poverty, and social geography in the United States in the decades after World War II. Through Alinsky’s organizing and writing, we can see how the metropolitan color line was constructed, contested, and maintained—on the street, at the national level, and among white and black alike. In doing so, Santow offers new insight into an epochal figure and the society he worked to change.

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