“This is a biographical study of one of the most complex African leaders of the twentieth century colonial era. The book admirably traces the problems Nkrumah faced as a student and aspiring politician…. The book is a colorful biography and assists the reader in understanding the tribulations and aspirations of Third World leaders in guiding their countries through the uncertain transition from colonialism to independence.”
African Studies Quarterly
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.
David Birmingham lived in Switzerland from 1947 to 1954 as a child and returned there in the 1990s as a visiting historian. From 1980 to 2001 he held the chair of Modern History in the University of Kent at Canterbury in England. He is the author of many books, including Portugal and Africa. More info →
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Rebellions broke out in many areas of South Africa shortly after the institution of white rule in the late nineteenth century and continued into the next century. However, distrust of the colonial regime reached a new peak in the mid-twentieth century, when revolts erupted across a wide area of rural South Africa. All these uprisings were rooted in grievances over taxes.
When a group of young political activists met in 1944 to launch the African National Congress Youth League, it included the nucleus of a remarkable generation of leaders who forged the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa for the next half century: Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Jordan Ngubane, Ellen Kuzwayo, Albertina Smith, A. P. Mda, Dan Tloome, and David Bopape. It was Anton Lembede, however whom they chose as their first president.
This bold, popularizing synthesis presents a readily accessible introduction to one of the major themes of twentieth-century world history. Between 1922, when self-government was restored to Egypt, and 1994, when nonracial democracy was achieved in South Africa, 54 new nations were established in Africa.
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