The United States of Africa

Before I traveled to Ghana last December for the Year of the Return trip, I knew very little about Kwame Nkrumah (Click here to read about my Year of the Return trip-link). After learning a little about him when I visited his memorial park and mausoleum in Accra, I became eager to learn more. It baffles me that neither in high school nor in college did his name ever come up in any of the world history classes. I am sure many of you can relate. Honestly, this fact is pretty ridiculous the more I think about it. How could our education be deprived of someone like Kwame Nkrumah, one of those most influential revolutionaries and Pan-Africanist of all time who worked intimately with prominent African Americans like Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X?

His story is too rich and packed with interesting details to be adequately summarized here. This is a just small introduction to Nkrumah's legacy and the Pan-African movement. I have listed numerous resources at the bottom of this page where you can explore more in-depth. 

Nkrumah became a school teacher after he graduated from a private Catholic college in Ghana. When he turned 26 he traveled to the United States to study at Lincoln University. During his studies in the U.S, he found socialism very appealing and was particularly influenced by Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, and other key thinkers that were constructing the Pan-African consciousness. In short, Pan-Africanism is the cultural and political ideology for Africans and people of African descent to unit as one for the economic and political independence of Africa. 

Early seeds of the Pan-African movement were planted in London in July of 1900, where the first Pan-African conference took place. It was organized by the British-based African Association founded by a South African named Alice Kinloch. At this conference, the 'Address to the Nations of the World' was drafted under the chairmanship of W. E. B. Du Bois. The main messages in the address were to demonstrate that Africans and people of African descent can speak for themselves, to condemn racial oppression in the U.S. and Africa, and to demand self-government for Britain's colonies. 

In 1914, Marcus Garvey established the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica with the goal of consolidating a universal confederacy amongst the race.' It was re-established in New York in 1917, where it reached the peak of its membership with approximately four million members. It was the largest Pan-African political movement of the 20th century. 

The fifth and often considered the most important Pan-African Congress met in Britain in 1945. Several future African leaders attended including Kwame Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta. Its participants were limited to representatives of workers and farmers who were considered the masses that would hopefully bring an end to colonial rule in Africa. The Eurocentric political institutions, as well as the colonial borders imposed on Africa, were both publically condemned at this conference.

After being away from his country for 12 years, Kwame Nkrumah was invited to be the first secretary-general of the first political party in the Gold Coast, the United Gold Coast Convention, or the UGCC. Nkrumah and this group of 5 chiefs, academics, and lawyers became known as the Big 6 (founding fathers of Ghanaian Independence). The UGCC took immediate action towards liberating Africans from British colonialism through boycotts and mass protests. As a result, the British arrested Kwame and the rest of the UGCC members. 

Nkrumah later formed the Convention People's Party (the CPP). The CPP had a huge following especially amongst the youth, who actively campaigned for his release from jail. They succeeded in breaking him out of jail and Nkrumah was unanimously elected to be the Prime Minister of the Gold Coast. This was the first time an African became a Prime Minister in history. 

On March 6th, 1957, Nkruma had successfully led the Gold Coast to its independence from Britain. On that historical day, the Gold Coast became Ghana, the first African country south of the Sahara to gain its independence. The incredible speech he gave that day not only inspired Ghanaians but the rest of Africans and the diaspora at large. He made his vision very clear that day in which he famously said, "We dedicate ourselves to liberate other countries in Africa. Independence is meaningless unless it is linked with the total liberation of the African continent." 

Nkrumah hastened to achieve his vision by immediately hosting the first Conference of Independent African States in Accra in December of 1958. It was the first time in history that such a meeting took place in which the largest gathering of representatives from independent African countries discussed ways to work together to end colonial rule throughout the continent. Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Sudan, and the United Arab Republic - Egypt, the Occupied Gaza Strip and Syria were all represented at the conference. In Nkrumah's speech, he took Pan-Africanism to an unprecedented level by laying out concrete strategies that would fight neocolonialism and unite Africa as a single political entity with its own currency, central government, military, and policies.  

Pan-Africanism was not just an ideology for Nkrumah, it was his life. His Daughter Samia Nkrumah is a living testimony to this. She is currently the head of the Kwame Nkrumah Pan-African Center in Ghana, where she strives to revive the legacy of Pan-Africanism her father lived. According to Samia, "His friendship with Egypt's President Gamel Abdel Nasser inspired him to choose a wife from that region of Africa." Nkrumah sent emissaries to Egypt to look for a suitable wife. As Samia later states, "My mother agreed to meet my father in Ghana through the support of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who convinced my mother's family."  Upon Fathia's arrival in Accra and meeting Nkrumah for the first time, Samia describes her mother saying "He was the most charming man I had ever met." Just after a few hours of meeting each other, Nkrumah and Fathia got married on December 31, 1957. Fathia became the First Lady of Ghana and never returned to Egypt. 

Nkrumah opened a Ghana Embassy in Egypt as a symbol of his commitment to his marriage with Fathia. His commitment to Pan-Africanism was reflected in his intercultural marriage with someone on the other side of the continent. As Samia states, "The circumstances of my birth made me understand how and why we should unite as people. My father decided to marry a woman from North Africa to promote Pan-Africanism." As an Egyptian Pan-Africanist that visited Ghana and loved its people and culture, you can imagine why I find this story particularly fascinating. Yet, there is so much more to know about Kwame Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism. In fact, the movement lives on with many incredible contemporary leaders that carry the torch. As I mentioned in the beginning, this was merely an introduction and I urge you to explore more. Please find more information about this topic below. Also, show your solidarity with Pan-Africanism with the Year of Return A-rag!   


"I speak of freedom" by Kwame Nkruma

"Africa: The Politics of Independence and Unity" by Immanuel Wallerstein

"Pan-African and East African Integration" by Joseph S. Nye Jr.


Nkrumah's critical role in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)

Kwame Nkrumah's iconic speech at the inaugural ceremony of the OAU Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 24th, 1963

Kwame Nkrumah and Pan-Africanism by Kani Saburi Ayubu

Why Kwame Nkrumah married an Egyptian? Interview with Nkrumah's Daughter Samia 

"The United States of Africa?" The Legacy of Pan-Africanism by Hakim Adi

Africa’s newfound love for Kwame Nkrumah and Pan -Africanism by Zaya Yeebo

"Where is Nkrumah's United States of Africa 50 years on?" By Samwin Banienuba

Significant Black South Africans in Britain before 1912: Pan-African Organisations and the Emergence of South Africa's First Black Lawyers by David Killingray

Malcolm X's  OAAU speech about fighting for the human rights of African Americans and promote cooperation among Africans and people of African descent in the Americas. 


Recording of Kwame Nkrumah's speech at the conference of African freedom fighters in Accra on a United Africa. 

Recording of Kwame Nkrumah's iconic speech at the first conference of the Organization of African Unity 

Faces of Africa. An abridged history of Kwame Nkruma 

Recording of Kwame Nkrumah's speech on African Unity in Accra, in the company of leaders of newly independent African states. 

A short BBC feature on Ghana's day of Independence 

Ted Talk on Panafricanism by Thomas Wakiaga

Why Pan-Africanism is essential for Africans Today

Ted Talk Where are the contemporary Pan-African intellectuals by Tutu Agyare

Ted Talk Bridging the Diaspora Divide by Teresa H. Clarke - founder of

Ted Talk Using African history as a tool for change by Zeinab Badawi

 Donate to Dunk and get the Year of Return A-rag 


AragAcademy is a collection of travel blog posts and academic resources. We invite you to read about the personal experiences people have had in different African and Arab countries, as well as places influenced by these cultures. 
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