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Independent Ghana, Nkrumah’s Regime

socialist programs, Organization of African Unity, military coup, Nkrumah, OAU

Nkrumah began his tenure as Africa’s first black national leader with ambitious socialist goals and high hopes. He advocated the rapid modernization of the nation’s economic sectors and pursued several expensive developmental schemes. From 1961 to 1966 Nkrumah spearheaded an ambitious and highly successful hydroelectric project on the Volta. A fervent pan-Africanist, he declared that it was Ghana’s brotherly responsibility to help Africa’s remaining colonies achieve independence. He was instrumental in the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as an African political forum. He sent Ghanaian soldiers on United Nations (UN) assignments and supported freedom fighters in countries such as South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

At the same time, however, Nkrumah’s rule became increasingly authoritarian. Soon after coming to power, the CPP-controlled Parliament passed laws to increase the power of the prime minister. The Deportation Act of 1957 made it legal for the government to expel all foreigners who were deemed a threat to the nation. The Preventive Detention Act of 1958 allowed the government to detain persons for up to five years without trial. Nkrumah used these laws to silence the opposition, forcing many dissidents into exile. The constitution was revised in 1960 to make Ghana a republic. Nkrumah was named president, and the CPP was declared the only legal political party. Opposition to Nkrumah grew in the early 1960s, and when Ghanaians felt economic hardships at home, many blamed Nkrumah for his ambitious and socialist programs. He was overthrown in a military coup in February 1966.



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