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Friday, December 31, 2004

Fathia Nkrumah: A Biography

I hope everyone had a good Christmas (if you celebrate it of course!), and has a good New Year's tomorrow. I've been away from the blogosphere for a bit, so as a return here's this biographical article about the first First Lady of Ghana, Fathia Nkrumah, written by her son. She was the wife of Kwame Nkrumah, the legendary anti-imperialist and pan-Africanist who led the Gold Coast (now known as Ghana) to become the first sub-Saharan African nation to achieve independence from European colonialism. I took a course on Ghana at university and I wrote a couple essays about Kwame Nkrumah - if I can locate the computer files I might post (edited) versions.

It was not meant to be a marriage made in heaven. It was a political union between Mediterranean-oriented North Africa and the rest of the continent, often pejoratively termed sub-Saharan or Black Africa. Yet Fathia Nkrumah's life story is a modern fable representative of a certain era. For fleeting moments in the late '50s and early '60s, it captured the public imagination throughout Africa. The young Egyptian woman who left her country to marry the most illustrious African anti-colonial leader of his time was inevitably invested with iconic qualities.

Fathia is my mother, of course, and my memories of her life as Mrs Nkrumah are necessarily skewed. She was thrust onto centre stage -- that much I know. In many respects she was rather ill-equipped for her role, but she coped reasonably well with being in the public eye. Her official persona was more demure Diana than imperious Eva Peron, although stardom did come naturally to her. After her husband's death, she seemed to disappear; I know she has handled that quite well too.

Cross-posted from The Dictionary of Received Ideas

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