The 21st Century and Challenges to the Nkrumah Independence Project

Towards a Renewal: A View from the Caribbean

  • Tennyson Joseph University of the West Indies
  • Maziki Thame University of the West Indies


Ghana’s historical place in the experience of global decolonisation as being the first British controlled African nation to win formal independence, and Nkrumah’s work on decolonisation have given his ideas a prominent place among formerly colonised states in understanding the practical and intellectual necessities of the post-colonial project of the 21st Century.  One of Nkrumah’s main contributions was his detailed exposure of the limits of independence through the mechanics of neo-colonialism which severely compromised Ghana’s formal statehood.  Given the deeply transformed world-economy and the rise of a new hegemonic ideology of neo-liberalism, which has unfolded after Nkrumah, this article seeks to engage in a critical assessment of the continuing validity of Nkrumah’s reflections for present efforts at post-colonial, independent development.  The central claim of the paper is that while Nkrumah’s warnings against neo-colonialism remain valid, both the specific challenges which he identified and his corrective proposals, have been negated by the ideological assumptions and practices of neo-liberal capitalism.  The paper seeks to: engage in a balance sheet assessment of the on-going relevance of Nkrumahism; identify the new challenges confronting the independence of formerly colonised states; identify how elements of Nkrumah’s political project are being reflected in some elements of Caribbean and African politics in the 20th Century; and identify ways in which Nkrumah’s radical project can be renewed.