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 – February 24, 1966
Preceded by Herself
as First Lady of Ghana
Succeeded by Mildred Christina Akosiwor Fugar
Personal details
Born Fathia Halim Ritzk
(1932-02-22)February 22, 1932
Zeitoun, Cairo, Kingdom of Egypt
Died 31 May 2007(2007-05-31) (aged 75)
Badrawy Hospital, Cairo, Egypt
Political party Convention People's Party
Spouse(s) Kwame Nkrumah
Children Gamal (born 1959)
Samia (born 1960)
Sekou (born 1963)
Profession Teacher, Bank teller, First Lady
Religion Coptic Christian

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

Fathia Nkrumah was born and brought up in Zeitoun, a district of Cairo to an Coptic Christian family. She was the third daughter of a civil servant who died early and 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 have 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.[7]

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.[8]

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]


External links[edit]