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Andy Manomey writes: What if Kwame Nkrumah had become a Catholic Priest?

Ghana joined the rest of the world to observe Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day on Monday, September 23, 2019. Though the actual day for the celebration fell on Saturday, September 21, 2019, the birthday of Ghana’s first President was observed on the nearest working day which was a Monday.

The name Dr. Kwame Nkrumah generates or should I say has generated some mixed reactions in recent times in regarding his achievements; whether he is the founder or part of the founding fathers of Ghana among others.

But did you know that Osagyefo, as Ghanaians, past and present affectionately call him, was a Roman Catholic?

There is little literature about the Catholic background of the man celebrated worldwide as Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Records have it that he was baptized a Roman Catholic and was educated in a Roman Catholic school in Awiane, Half Assini, in the Western Region of Ghana.

It is also recorded that a German Catholic Priest, Fr. George Fische (religious congregation not stated), significantly influenced his elementary school education.

In 1931, Osagyefo taught at the Roman Catholic school in Elimina (Central Region) and later became the Head teacher of the Roman Catholic Junior School in Axim (Western Region). In 1932, Osagyefo taught at the St. Teresa’s Seminary, Amisano, the first Roman Catholic in Ghana, (Central Region) before leaving the shores of Gold Coast to the Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, U.S.A., to further his education.

One other literature indicates that Osagyefo “… considered becoming a Jesuit”. Jesuits or the Society of Jesus (S.J; latin: Societas Iesu) is a religious order of the Catholic Church, founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1534 which Pope Francis belong to. He became the first Jesuit to be elected Pope in 2013.

So I ask, what if Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah became a Jesuit Priest? Would he have endured the seminary formation and gained “favour” in the eyes of formators and his Bishop?

If Osagyefo had become a Jesuit Priest, would Ghana have gained independence on 6th March 1957?  As a Jesuit priest, Kwame Nkrumah would have properly ended up teaching in one of the Catholic Schools in the world or pastoring a Church.

Would Ghana have missed or delayed the establishment of these monumental projects and achievements in the early days?

  • The building of the Harbour, Tema Motorway and new township of Tema
  • The construction of the gigantic hydroelectric Volta Dam at Akosombo.
  • The development of a progressive housing scheme.
  • Suppression of sectionalism and tribalism in Ghana and a sense of national unity among Ghanaians.
  • The national unity which he forged was an envy of many African states.
  • Relentlessly pursuit of Pan-Africanism and contribution to the formation of the OAU in 1963.
  • Lead his people to overthrow colonial power in black Africa which inspire other Africa countries in West Africa to do the same.
  • Constructed the nation’s best teaching hospitals like Komfo Anokye in Kumasi and Korle Bu in Accra.
  • Educational infrastructures such as the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, many polytechnics and secondary schools across the country.

If Osagyefo had become a Jesuit Priest, I am sure he would have risen to become the first Ghanaian or African Superior General of the congregation, maybe ahead of Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J. in 1965. Maybe, just maybe.

Osagyefo, a Jesuit priest in Ghana would have lectured, probably at the St. Peter’s Regional Seminary, Pedu, near Cape Coast, and laid a strong foundation for Fr. Donald Hinfey S.J. to take over from him in the formation of the next generation of priests.

Perhaps, “Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Kwame Nkrumah, S.J.” would have been the first director of a Jesuit institute in Ghana and Africa then, long before the conception and birth of the current and first director of a Jesuit Institute in Accra Ghana, Rev. Fr. Kpanie Addy S.J.

The institute would most definitely not have been called Arrupe Jesuit Institute. Not at all. Perhaps Kwame Nkrumah Jesuit Institute.

Could Osagyefo have risen to become a Bishop, Archbishop or Cardinal? I can only imagine and wonder how the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference would have received him as a member.

As we celebrate a colossal figure of our motherland my prayer is:

May Osagyefo’s soul and the soul of the faithful departed, especially the founding fathers of our dear country Ghana, through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Nkrumah indeed lives on.

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