Fathia Nkrumah

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Fathia Nkrumah
Fathia Nkrumah with son Gamal.jpg
Fathia Nkrumah with son Gamal
First Lady of Ghana
In role
1957/1958 – 24 February 1966
Succeeded byMildred Christina Akosiwor Fugar
Personal details
Fathia Halim Ritzk

(1932-02-22)22 February 1932
Zeitoun, Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
Died31 May 2007(2007-05-31) (aged 75)
Badrawy Hospital, Cairo, Egypt
Political partyConvention People's Party
Kwame Nkrumah
(m. 1957; died 1972)
ChildrenGamal (born 1959)
Samia (born 1960)
Sekou (born 1963)
ProfessionTeacher, Bank teller, First Lady
ReligionCoptic Christian

Helena Ritz Fathia Nkrumah (/nərˈkrʊˈmɑːr/ nər-KRUU-MAR) (22 February 1932 – 31 May 2007);[1][2] born Fathia Halim Ritzk; Arabic: فتحية حليم رزق‎), was a Coptic Egyptian and the First Lady of the newly independent Ghana as the wife of Kwame Nkrumah, its first president.

Fathia Nkrumah was born and brought up in Zeitoun, a district of Cairo, to a Coptic Christian family. She was the third daughter of a civil servant who died early; Fathia was raised by her mother single-handedly after her husband's death.

Early life and marriage[edit]

She was born Fathia Halim Ritzk in Zeitoun, Cairo, in 1932. Her father worked as a clerk in an Egyptian telephone company and died early, leaving her mother widowed and had to raise Fathia single-handed. She is the eldest of five children in the family.[3] After completing her secondary education, where she studied French.[4] she worked as a teacher at her school in Zeitoun, Notre Dame des Apôtres. As teaching did not appeal to her, she took a job in a bank. Frederick, an American journalist, who published her book in 1967, said Nkrumah sent his friend, Alhaji Saleh Said Sinare, who was one of the first Ghanaian Muslims to study in Egypt, to find him a Christian wife from Egypt, and Fathia was one of the final five women chosen.[4] At that stage, Kwame Nkrumah proposed to marry her. Her mother was reluctant to see another of her children marry a foreigner and quit the country, as Fathia's brother had left Egypt with his English wife. Fathia explained that Nkrumah was an anti-colonial hero, like Nasser, yet her mother refused to speak to her or bless the marriage. Nkrumah married Fathia at Christianborg Castle, Accra on the evening of the 1957 New Year's Eve upon her arrival in Ghana.[5]

Leaving Ghana and later life[edit]

Fathia Nkrumah was a very young wife and mother of three very young children when her husband was overthrown in Ghana's first successful military coup d'état on February 24, 1966.[6] She had to take her children to Cairo, Egypt, to be raised there while her husband went into exile.


Fathia died on May 31, 2007 at Badrawy Hospital in Cairo due to a stroke after a period of illness.[2]

Her memorial mass was held in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral Church in Cairo by Pope Shenouda III on Friday, June 1, 2007. Subsequently, Fathia Nkrumah's bodily remains were flown to Ghana for a funeral at the State House and, following her "lifelong request", she was buried next to her husband at the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park.[7]

Her daughter, Samia Nkrumah was the CPP Member of Parliament for the Jomoro Constituency in the Western Region of Ghana, from January 7, 2009 to January 6, 2013.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ modernghana.com ::: Fathia Nkrumah Unwell
  2. ^ a b Ghanaweb
  3. ^ "Nkrumah, Fathia (c. 1931—)". Encyclopedia.com. 2002.
  4. ^ a b "The Insufficiency of Pan-Africanism as We Know It". The Nation. 7 July 2016.
  5. ^ Fathia Nkrumah by her son Gamal Nkrumah
  6. ^ Myjoyonline.com Ghana News :: Fathia Nkrumah is dead ::: Breaking News | News in Ghana | politics
  7. ^ "copticafrica.org :: Photo Gallery ::: Bishop Antonious Markos, Bishop of African Affairs of the Coptic Orthodox Church (COC) from Egypt being assisted by his members to officiate at the Burial Service. ::: Ghana Photos Online". Archived from the original on 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2009-06-13.

External links[edit]