CIA activities in Ghana
Facing international protests and internal revolution, the United Kingdom decided to leave its Gold Coast colony and organize the first general election to be held in Africa on 5–10 February 1951. Though in jail, Kwame Nkrumah won the election by a landslide, and his party gained 34 out of 38 seats in the Legislative Assembly. Nkrumah was released from prison, and was summoned by the British Governor Charles Arden-Clarke and asked to form a government.
Ghana became the first democratic sub-Sahara country in colonial Africa to gain its independence in 1957. President Nkrumah was not only the first African head of state to espouse Pan-Africanism, but he was also an anti-colonialist. He generally took a non-aligned Marxist perspective on economics, and believed capitalism's malign effects were going to stay with Africa for a long time.
"Kwame Nkrumah remains the pivotal factor in Ghana. Considering himself the messianic deliverer of his country, he has used authoritarian means to reinforce his personal control at home and continues political adventures abroad to promote his claim to be Pan-Africa's leading figure...Challenges to his political position have recently developed and Ghana faces severe economic problems. As a result of dissension within the ruling Convention Peoples' Party (CPP) Nkrumah has replaced many of the moderate figures in the government. On October 26, Russell reported that Gbedemah had fled Ghana several days earlier. He noted that there was little doubt that the government had planned to place him under preventive detention and that he had undoubtedly decided to get out while still free. The more radical elements are now in positions of importance in government and will continue to be so in the immediate future. He has also imprisoned large numbers of critics outside the party. These moves, plus unpopular steps the government has taken to alleviate Ghana's economic troubles, have increased the number but weakened the power of his opposition.
"...Nkrumah will be successful in suppressing any elements within or without the CPP which might challenge his pre-eminence, at least over the next year or so. But the internal strains will remain and may erupt into sporadic disorders. We believe that he will retain the support of the army and the police during the period of this estimate. If he should be assassinated, an all-out struggle for power would be almost certain.
"Ghana's economic problems arise principally out of the fall of the price of cocoa, coupled with the continuing use of income and reserves for development projects, extravagances at home and sizable expenditures and adventures in other African countries. Nkrumah is not likely willingly to reduce any of these activities but will probably not be able through his attempted forced savings and austerity measures to mobilize sufficient internal resources to finance them. He will look to foreign aid to fill the gap.
"We do not believe that President Nkrumah has decided to align himself completely with the [Soviet] Bloc. The Bloc has been assiduous in cultivating Nkrumah, recognizing in him an invaluable instrument for furthering its ambitions in Africa...Nkrumah and the extreme radicals among his followers are attracted by the apparent success of the Communists in promoting rapid economic development, and their avowed anticolonialism. He almost certainly believes that he can use the Bloc to further his own objectives without becoming inextricably committed to the Communists. Nevertheless, Nkrumah will probably try to maintain a Western presence in Ghana to offset the Bloc and to improve his prospects for aid from both sides...
His "leftist policies and positions will probably increase the difficulties of his obtaining private or governmental investment and aid from the West. If this trend is aggravated by the West's refusal to honor what is in his view a commitment to finance the Volta River project, Nkrumah will almost certainly react violently and turn even more to the Bloc. Even should the Volta project be backed by the US, we do not believe that Nkrumah will significantly change the present policies of his regime. We believe that he will continue his attempts to reduce the dominating influence which private Western interests have in many sectors of the Ghanaian economy and will continue to develop close economic and political relations with the Bloc."
Nkrumah was clear on distancing himself from the African socialism of many of his contemporaries. On February 24, 1966, Nkrumah was overthrown by an allegedly CIA-backed coup. However, no documentary evidence implicating the United States in the coup exists, while claims of involvement may have been based on KGB disinformation.
- Special National Intelligence Estimate 64.1-61: Prospects for Ghana, XXI, Foreign Relationsof the United States, 1961-1963, Africa, United States Department of State, FRUS XXI-238
- Adam Curtis (22 June 1992), "Interview with John Stockwell on "Black Power"", BBC Two series, "Pandora's Box":
- John Prados, Safe For Democracy: The Secret Wars of the CIA (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006), p. 329.
- Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World (New York: Basic Books, 2005), pp. 452-453, 583.