KWAME NKRUMAHS CONSCIENCISM: A PHILOSOPHICAL ANALYSIS
It is popular knowledge that most counties in Africa were at one time or the other under the control of foreign countries after the Berlin conference that partitioned the continent into various parts and acted as guides for the colonial masters. However, the true sons of the soil who happened to be nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah, Obafemi Awolowo, Kenneth Kaunda and others fought bravely for the independence of these countries and hence came self-governance.
After the granting of independence and the leave of the colonial masters, these educated nationalists went ahead to forge for Africa an ideology that would carry them to the Promised Land. One of these ideologies is the ‘Consciencism’ of Kwame Nkrumah which is to pave way for the economic and political emancipation of the African continent.
In this work, the ideology will be under the spotlight, alongside it will be Kwame Nkrumah himself and finally a critical evaluation will be provided with us supporting either side of the coin, that is, whether or not the ideology is good enough for us in Africa.
1.1: BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
According to African statesmen, the whites even after granting independence to the colonies they were governing left as a parting gift to the Africans the concept of neo-colonialism. Neo-colonialism is a situation whereby the black man feels inferior to the Europeans and derives psychological satisfaction only by associating with them. Even till today, traces of neo-colonialism are still visible. The African never values any product that is of African origin. He prefers the product which has the label “made in China” or “made in America” and other foreign seals.
This predicament was what prompted African thinkers like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Leopold Senghor, Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and others to embark on the search for the ‘African identity’ and this they expressed in their works.
Kwame Nkrumah, one of the African statesmen, postulated an ideology known as ‘Consciencism’. This ideology is an exercise in anti-colonialism. It advocated for a social revolution which was to be brought about by an intellectual revolution. This was clearly articulated in the first sentence of the first chapter of the book. He noted that “practice without thought is blind; thought without practice is empty”1.
This project work will have as its focal point ‘Consciencism’ as presented by Kwame Nkrumah. It must be noted that Consciencism is a summary of Nkrumah’s ideological viewpoint geared towards the economic and political emancipation of the African. It was marked that Consciencism arrived at a stage of development where the vigorous African search for freedom; unity and identity need to be expressed in the form of philosophical statesments2.
Furthermore, the concept; ‘Consciencism’ has been subjected to some criticisms; hence there is need for an overview of the concept with a view to presenting it in the very spirit of African revolution.
1.2: STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Kwame Nkrumah’s ideology which he propounded for the development of the African is based on a foundation of materialism. The minimum assertion of materialism is the absolute and independent existence of matter3. Looking at it singly from this view, it becomes apparent that ‘philosophical consciencism’ as Nkrumah calls it cannot be reconciled with the religious realities found in the African society as the roles of spirits and souls cannot be over-emphasized as far as the African is concerned.
As pointed out by Paulin Houtondji, “consciencism is wrong in treating any political system as interdependent with some specific metaphysical theory”4. For him, if political theories are to need justification, “it must be political justification, belonging to the same level of discourse”5. In other words, there is a problem with bringing metaphysics into the realm of political discourse.
Another problem is that of the realization of Nkrumah’s ideology. Nkrumah himself said that “Colonialism and its attitude are die hard, like the attitudes of slavery, whose hangover still dominates behaviour in certain parts of the western hemisphere”6. For the above reasons, the problem arises as to whether or not philosophical consciencism is not merely a theoretical concept, which will fail in practice.
All these problems are associated with the concept of ‘consciencism’ and its application.
1.3: PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
A key purpose of this project work is to attempt an exposition of Nkrumah’s solution to the African predicament brought about by colonial presence on African soil.
Another important purpose of this work is that it will evaluate Nkrumah’s proposed solution with a view to deciding whether or not it will be useful in the African quest for moving forward in every sense of it.
1.4: SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The significance of the study is to show that if ‘philosophical consciencism’ is approached in the way Kwame Nkrumah postulated it, then there will be no stopping the growth and development of Africa.
1.5: SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The work in its scope will be limited to an overview of Nkrumah’s ideology for de-colonization. Nevertheless, in the process of over viewing his ideology, cognizance will be taken of the influences on him, the work “Consciencism” itself, and circumstances surrounding the postulation of the ideology.
The method we shall adopt in this project work shall be analytical and critical. It shall be analytical in that every concept used shall be broken down into simple words.
1.7: LITERATURE REVIEW
In this work, we shall be making use of textbooks and also information sourced from websites.
The first book under review is one written by Kwame Nkrumah himself and is titled “Consciencism: A Philosophy and Ideology for De-Colonization”, published in London in 1964. In this book, Nkrumah makes a case for a re-structuring of the African society away from colonialism and towards economic and political success. He posits an ideology that is capable of processing the old metropolitan ideologies of capitalism and European socialism and according to him “consciencism is the map in intellectual terms of the disposition of the forces which will enable African society to digest the Western, the Islamic and the Euro-Christian elements in Africa and develop them in such a way that they fit into the African personality”.7
The second book to be reviewed is also by Kwame Nkrumah and is titled “Axioms of Kwame Nkrumah”, published in London in 1967 by Thomas Nelson. The book brings together various quotes of Kwame Nkrumah from various books by him and addresses delivered by him either in his official capacity as president of Ghana or simply as Kwame Nkrumah.
Another book that will be used in this work is by Gideon-Cyrus M. Mutiso and S.W Rohio titled “Readings in African Political Thought”, published in London by Heinemann in 1975. The book as the name suggests contains selected topics from various political thinkers and the writings from Kwame Nkrumah featured prominently in the book.
C. Okadigbo’s book titled “Consciencism in African Political Philosophy”, published in Enugu by Fourth Dimension Publishers in 1985 is also under review. In this book, the author provided a review of contemporary African philosophy with Nkrumah’s ‘consciencism’ under the spotlight and according to him “there is here an evaluation of the solution proposed by the same spirit of the African revolution”8.
Another book here under review is Kwame Nkrumah’s “Towards Colonial Freedom”, published in London by Heinemann Educational Books in 1962. Here the author describes this book as “a rough blueprint of the process which colonial people can establish the realization of their complete and unconditional independence”9.
The sixth book under review is Kwame Nkrumah’s “Africa Must Unite”, published in London by Panaf Books in 1963. Here the author makes a case for Pan-African unity. He also urged the people of African descent in the West Indies and in the United States of America to strive for this unity as it will be a very important factor in the political and economic emancipation of the African.
These mentioned books and others written by Kwame Nkrumah and other authors will be used.