Kwame Nkrumah was born Francis Nwia-Kofi on 21st September, 1909 to a gold smith father and retail trade mother in Nkroful now in the Western Region of Ghana. He was baptised a Catholic and like most of the children of his time, the missionary schoold offered one of the surest ways of getting primary education. He attended the Roman Catholic elementary school at Half Assini. He later went to Achimota College in the 1930s from where he became a teacher teaching mostly in the Catholic schools at Elmina and Axim.
He took an enthusiastic interest in politics and this led him to pursue a Master’s degree in Lincoln University from the 1935-1942 taking devoted interest in the writings of Karl Max and Vladimir I. Lenin and that of Marcus Garvey and other outspoken black leaders in the US during the 1920s. After this immersion into the works of those greater leaders and thinkers, it is accounted that Nkrumah described himself as a non-denomintaional Christian and Marxist Socialist.
His early political life can be traced back to the days when he was president of the African Student’s Organization of the USA and Canada and later in London where he was the vice-president of the West African Students Union. It was in London that he changed his name from Francis Nwia-Kofi to Kwame Nkrumah.
His major influence in shaping the political landscape of Ghana, Africa and the world at large started when he returned to the Gold Coast at the invitation of J.B. Danquah who formed the United Gold Coast Convention to serve as the General Secretary to that party. Many Nkrumahists have argued that the UGCC was actually formed by Pa Grant and not J.B. Danquah (that’s a subject for another day). The most monumental happenings in the later part of the 1940s and the early 1950s changed Nkrumah forever.
There was a split between the middle class and the upper class leaders of the UGCC. Nkrumah who had then become popular with the masses went on to form the new Conventions People’s Party.
It is a known fact that the CPP won the first general elections in the Gold Coast in 1951 and when Ghana gained independence from the British, he became the Prime Minister. When republican status was attained in 1960, he became the first president of the new republic.
Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in 1966 by the military and the police. He went to Guinea to become a co-president of that country, got sick and died in a Romanian Clinic in 1972.
The idea of erecting the monument in honour of Nkrumah is not a recent one. It all started when the African Students Union sent a memo to the Guinean Government of that time to send the mortal remains of Nkrumah to Ghana only if the military leaders at the time will denounce coup d’etat and erect the statue of Nkrumah that was destroyed during the coup.
Although the remains were later returned to Nkroful, it was not until 1992 that the image of Nkrumah was restored on the old polo grounds. his kicked in the building of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum.
Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum is located at the old polo grounds to the east of the Accra Cultural and Arts Center and to the west of the offices to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly. It is also directly opposite the old Parliament House now housing the Commission For Human Rights And Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).
The memorial park covers a total area of 5.3 acres and contains two main edifices in the musuem which is subterranean and the mausoleum which provides the front to the bronze statue of Nkrumah. Visitors should not be worried about the conflict of interest arising from havind those two eddifices at the same park since they offer different cadences, contrast and synchronization and does not compete for the attention of visitors in any way.
The park itself is an attractive masterpiece and a futuristic creation. Welcoming you into the park are two springs of water on either side of the pavement/walkway. The springs have 7 bare chest squatting statuette flute blowers literally blowing springs out.
The two main features of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum are the museum and the mausoleum. The mausoleum is the actual place that the mortal remains of this true son of Africa have been interred for the third time in the past 39 years, considering the fact that the body was first buried in Guinea before being brought to Nkroful and later the Mausoleum for a final resting place.
The edifice resembles swords that have been turned upside down, which many say signifies peace. Others also see it as an uprooted tree siginfiying the unfinished work of Nkrumah. The mausoleum itself is built on a beautiful man made island. The island is connected the mainland by two bridges.
Visitors to the park will find the catalogue under which the remains of Nkrumah has been buried raised in the middle of the park. This is decorated with carefully selected symbols reflecting the rich cultural history of Ghana and Africa.
The musuem on the other hand houses the personal belongings of Dr. Nkrumah. These include books written by him, photograph archives and official photographs. The photo collection features pictures of Nkrumah with several renowed leaders of his time. Some of them include Pope Pius XII, Queen Elizabeth II and John F. Kennedy just to mention a few.
Also in the musuem is the metal coffin donated by the people of Guinea when the remains of Nkrumah was returned from Romania to Guinea and then later to Nkroful.
In the park itself is the bronze statue of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah clad in cloth with his hand symbolically pointing forward. It stands at the same place that Nkrumah stood to declare Ghana’s independence from British colonial rule on 6th March, 1957.
There is also the memorial park where international dignitaries can plant a tree to commemorate their visit to the park.
Since the park is right at the heart of Accra, the capital of Ghana, visitors will not find it difficult locating it. By asking of the arts centre or the old polo grounds alone, visitors should be able to find their way to the mausoleum.
On arrival you will have very knowledgeable guides who will make your visit an informative and interesting one.