The Pioneers of Africa

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To celebrate Africa Day, we need to look at the pillars in which African Independence and Good African Leadership can be laid on.

This is not to say we don’t have other leaders who have and are giving their best to make sure Africa moves forward. Because the likes of Robert Mugabe, Jomo Kenyatta have done their part. Paul Kagame and the likes are on theirs.

Kwame Nkrumah, Haile Selassie, and Nelson Mandela have been leaders who made a huge difference in their respective nations. One could say, without them, there wouldn’t be the Africa we know today.

Kwame Nkrumah

He is the first Ghanaian prime minister and President who infamously said, “We face neither East nor West, we face forward.”

Kwame Nkrumah spearheaded the Gold Coast’s independence movement and its transformation into modern-day Ghana. 

Movement, Leadership and Bread & Butter

In order to expedite political change, He was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s Positive Actions – demonstrations, strikes, and boycotts to press for independence.

Due to his charismatic nature and his identification with the struggles of ordinary people, he endeared himself to the youth who became his main supporters.

Self-government was his aim, Pan-Africanism was his bread and butter.

Nkrumah hosted the first All-African Peoples’ Conference in Accra. A conference to discuss Non-alignment, African unity, and economic development in Africa. 

As said in “Kwame Nkrumah: Harbinger of African Independence” by Beatrice Mate-Kodjo, “Kwame Nkrumah driven by his vision of a united Africa, and his unmatched enthusiasm in the struggle for Ghanaian independence is testament to the idea that one person can make a tremendous impact in the global system.

Nkrumah defied racial and social conventions of his time to challenge the oppressive colonial system. Nkrumah took it upon himself to relegate cultural traditions to minimal importance for the betterment of his countrymen.

As the “father of modern Ghana” he had to act against his own culture to bring Africans forward into international affairs. 

Nkrumah was at the forefront in establishing a new world order in which Global South countries had political clout.

He didn’t defeat a country, per se, but he defeated the tangible colonial imposition that had forced itself onto millions of Africans. He introduced to the global system an Africa that was no longer passive and in which Africans were willing to fight for self-determination.”

Vision for Africa

It was his hope that Ghana would be a part of the discussion of African problems as a whole with the cooperation of all other African territories.

He hoped Ghana would be able to foster a common attitude to local problems and world problems.

To ensure that problems peculiar to Africa will receive the attention which they have no had for so long. He aimed at working with others to achieve an African personality in international affairs. 


Like many great men, Nkrumah’s legacy is not uncontested. His detractors accuse him of progressively running down Ghana’s economic gains at independence, gagging the press, curtailing the freedom of speech and being an authoritarian.

His Critics resent the fact that he ruled in a one-party state and passed laws that landed his opponents in jail.

Undisputable, He was the voice of Africa. His fight made way for other African Nations to gain Independence. Till today, most development and infrastructure projects he embarked on are still in use. Most notably, the traditional halls of KNUST, and some structures in the University of Ghana.

He had a love for The Growth of Ghana and Africa at large. One every African Leader must have to attain a better Africa.

Haile Selassie

Amongst followers of the Rastafari movement, he is a legend. He was born, Ras Tafari Makonnen before he took the name “Haille Selassie” after he was crowned leader of Ethiopia. 

Known for modernizing his country, for helping to establish the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union). He served as its first chairman.

Without him, Ethiopia wouldn’t have been a part of the League of Nations nor the United Nations. Due to his influence, Addis Ababa is the major center for the African Union.

He was a progressive leader who became the focus of the aspirations of the young generation in his time.

As stated in Britannica “From the late 1920s on, Haile Selassie in effect was the Ethiopian government, and, by establishing provincial schools, strengthening the police forces, and progressively outlawing feudal taxation, he sought to both help his people and increase the authority of the central government.”

After the 1935 war in Ethiopia, he had to rebuild. He again implemented social, economic, and educational reforms in an attempt to modernize the Ethiopian government and society on a slow and gradual basis.

His leadership wasn’t without contradictions, oppositions, and or wrong-doings. But, this doesn’t change the fact, he is one of the Pioneers of the African Nation.

Nelson Mandela

As said in The National Geographic, Nelson Mandela dedicated his life to fighting for equality—and ultimately helped topple South Africa’s racist system of Apartheid. Like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, his protests were inspired by The Mahatma Gandhi’s way, peaceful protests.

He became the first president to be elected to a fully representative democratic poll in South Africa. He instigated and supervised needed change from apartheid to apartheid and minority rule. Winning international respect for his advocacy of national and international reconciliation. A winner of the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize, His life is one categorized by resistance, imprisonment, and leadership.

As President, he fought to eradicate racial injustice. Notably, he installed the institution “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” to investigate past human rights abuse.

In His Administration, he also introduced structures to fight poverty, improve healthcare services, and encourage land reforms to prevent farmers and/or tenants from being evicted from their lands without a court order. His ever charitable “Nelson Mandela Foundation” is still championing those goals. 

He faced criticisms over the high rate of HIV/AIDS, high Crime Rates, and failure to curb corruption.

But, one thing cannot be disputed, He was an icon of social justice. He is held in deep respect in South Africa and the world at large, and gained international acclaim for his activism.

He was a man of peace, who always chose to come to negotiations on the best way forward, so as to reduce/remove the violence and killings of people.

He is indeed Madiba, a Father of The Nation.

Today, the 25th of May 2021, we celebrate Africa Day. Without our pioneers, we wouldn’t have the Africa we have today. In order to give future generations a better Africa, we need to take a stand. To choose to do better or to choose dystopia.

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