1950s >> 1957 >> no-634-june-1957

Black Masters For White

Communists and half-baked “progressives” have hailed the inauguration (on March 6th) of the State of Ghana as a great step towards the freedom and independence of colonial peoples. We of the Socialist Party, however, have always maintained that changes in constitution such as have taken place in Ghana do not fundamentally alter the class basis of that society: in place of British masters the Ghanian workers will be exploited by a rising, home-grown capitalist class. Indeed, within a matter of weeks of the showy inauguration of the State of Ghana, there are signs that its rulers are acting much as their well-established contemporaries do elsewhere.

Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah said (Life magazine, 15/4/57) that he is convinced that “his newly free citizens will prove that African people can build a state based on democracy . . .  and racial equality.” But the democratic base of the State of Ghana cannot be very secure, because, according to the Manchester Guardian (23/4/57), Dr. Nkrumah said that “His government would not tolerate the activities of certain religious bodies. He cited Jehovah’s Witnesses, who, he said, excluded themselves from voting and ignored activities pertaining to affairs of State.” Perhaps Dr. Nkrumah has learned the gentle art of suppressing inconvenient minority groups from rulers (past and nresent) of the “police states” such as Soviet Russia, that the Ghana government is prepared to use force against sections of its people is confirmed by Mr. Ako Adjei (the Minister of the Interior), who was to ask the Ghana Parliament to “approve steps taken by the Government to deal with a recent outbreak of lawlessness in parts of the Trans-volta Togoland region.” (Manchester Guardian, 23/4/57), which paper goes on to report: “The Opposition has sent a delegation into the troubled area to investigate allegations of brutality by the authorities.”

The spectre of the witch-hunt, which has in recent years haunted American political and academic circles under the direction of a notorious senator who has just died, has apparently found a welcome in the newly formed State of Ghana. Mr. D. M. Balme recently resigned as Principal of the Achimoto University College partly, according to the Observer (28/4/57), because of alleged political interference with the University College’s academic freedom. In a farewell speech, Mr. Balme declared that “many undergraduates had expressed deepening concern about their future careers in the new State of Ghana. He added that undergraduates had told him that they feared their political activities might bring them into conflict with the country’s leaders and jeopardise their opportunities to serve the country.”

Dr. Nkrumah boasted that racial equality would be built in Ghana. Maybe, but it’s pretty evident that some of his supporters do not believe in building economic equality. According to the Manchester Guardian (24/4/57), “The Loral Government Minister, Mr. Atta, told Parliament today (April 23) that Accra councillors owed £2,114 to the council at the time of the suspension. Mr. Edusei (the Minister Without Portfolio) pointed out that the majority of the councillors were members of the Convention People’s Party—the Government Party.” Apparently the’Accra Council was suspended “following allegations that it had not collected rates or submitted accounts and had advanced loans to councillors.” The rising Ghana politicians seem quick to learn one of the basic mottoes of capitalism, “Blow you, Jack, I’m all right ’’—sorry, we mean “ private enterprise,” of course.

The eve of “independence” for the states which have recently broken away from the influence of colonial powers has been the occasion for much celebration by the workers; the dawn has invariably brought the “hangover” of reality. Workers in Israel, India or Pakistan have no more freedom or less poverty under their own rulers than they had under their erstwhile Imperialist masters, and we can confidently prophesy the same about the workers in Ghana. A cartoon in a recent edition of Punch neatly sums up the situation. A large, prosperous Ghanian capitalist waves a banner denouncing the rule of the white capitalist; he is securely seated on the thin shoulders of a bemused Ghanian worker.

Michael La Touche