Source: the East African Standard.
First Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah's widow, Fatiha, passed away last week in Cairo, her home town, where she has lived for most of the years since her husband was overthrown in February 1966.
As to be expected, all kinds of tributes have poured in from all corners, including people and institutions that have never cared what became of her and her three children since Nkrumah died. Many conspicuous mourners did not even realise that Fatiha was alive all these years.
The worst of the hypocrites is Government. Those in power had the power, if the will was there, to have honoured Fatiha, recognised and provided for her and her family. But successive Ghanaian governments pursued a policy of benign neglect, outright hostility or opportunistic association and gestures towards the family.
This is not because Fatiha has lived outside Ghana. The same treatment was experienced by the oldest of Nkrumah's children, Dr Francis, the first son of Nkrumah with his Ghanaian first wife, or Sekou (Fatiha's second son) who live in Accra. The government announced that it would give Fatiha a State funeral befitting a former First Lady. But of what benefit is this posthumous honour when she was neglected while alive?
African hypocrisy transforms a dead person into a friend of everyone, with nobody saying anything negative about the departed. Some of this is due to guilt. We tend to over compensate by making all kinds of commitments and gestures after death. However, the guilt soon subsides and life continues as before.
The loved ones are left behind to pick up the pieces, as they must. Tears of some of the politically correct mourners go dry as soon as the TV cameras are turned off.
The way we treat the families of national and Pan-Africanist heroes does not inspire confidence that devotion to Africa means anything. Their families suffer: Absent fathers and husbands. The children grow up feeling victimised by the 'struggle' and after the hero has gone or is no longer in power, the family might as well have been dead.
Fatiha was much younger than the Osagyefo when he married her in a union that typified Nkrumah's refusal to accept the Saharan African divide. The three children they had together were all toddlers when Nkrumah was overthrown, and only teenagers when he died in 1972. Fatiha was barely in her mid 30s.
With no husband, father or State provisions, the family survived on goodwill, sometimes from strangers who never met Nkrumah, but treasured his contribution. The family could not live in Ghana, but thanks to President Gamal Abdul Nasser (after whom Fatiha's first son, Gamal Gorkeh, was named) of Egypt, the family got a befitting home on the banks of the Nile.
That house progressively became damaged for lack of maintenance since the family could not afford to maintain a modest but stately building. The Ghana for which Nkrumah laboured and the Africa he toiled for ignored his family. It is an insult to shed crocodile tears at the passing of his widow. It is an insult to the family for Ghana to offer a State funeral to a person largely ignored in life.
The State showed similar hypocrisy when Nkrumah died in exile in Conakry, Guinea, and later brought his remains to Ghana for State reburial! The embalmed body was for many years left to deteriorate in his home village before shame, political expediency and influence of Nkrumahists forced former President Jerry Rawlings to accept a mausoleum for Nkrumah in central Accra. Even then, most of the money came from Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi!
The spirit of Nkrumah continues to haunt opportunists and ideological parasites who use his name in vain. It should shame us into honouring heroes and heroines in life and death, especially the widow and children they leave behind.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Source: the East African Standard.