Martin Glaberman

Nkrumah’s Sponsors

(January 1968)

From The New York Review of Books, Vol.9, No.12, 4 January 1968.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

To the Editors:

I would like to correct one false impression given in the otherwise very valuable Letter from Ghana in your issue of Oct. 12, 1967. This is that the origin of Kwame Nkrumah as a revolutionary stems from the initiative of the Ghanaian elite which went searching “for a suitable ‘boy.’” The article continues with, “His instructions were to organize the people solidly behind the elite ...”

The facts are quite different. Nkrumah had been a student at Pennsylvania University when he met in New York C.L.R. James, the West Indian Marxist. Learning that he was going to England to study law and impressed with Nkrumah’s nationalist fervor, James gave Nkrumah a letter of introduction to George Padmore, another West Indian with whom James had collaborated for many years in the London-based African Bureau. It was with Padmore and the African Bureau that Nkrumah matured as an African revolutionary. It would be impossible to identify either Padmore or James with “the Ghanaian elite.”

This is not simply a matter of correcting the facts for their own sake. A significant political and historical issue is involved. No matter what the ultimate failure of Nkrumah to maintain and develop his ties with the Ghanaian masses, it should not be permitted to conceal the truly popular and revolutionary character of the struggle for independence from England. Otherwise the events are given a manipulative cast which is both unwarranted by the facts and demeaning of the revolutionary capacity of those same Ghanaian masses.


Martin Glaberman
Detroit, Michigan


Last updated on 9.7.2004