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Arden Clarke and Nkrumah in reciprocitypdf print preview print preview
07/07/2010Page 1 of 1

Arden Clarke and Nkrumah in reciprocity



        Information Services Department


Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Sir Arden Clarke, the then Governor of the Gold Coast, co-operated with an unusual political understanding and skill although the two of them came from two different ideological positions; one was a Capitalist and the other a Socialist.


The result was that despite some conservative and traditional opposition, especially in the regions, the Gold Coast had by 1957 been converted into an independent member of the British Commonwealth and the United Nations and eventually into a Republic on July 1, 1960.

Sir Arden Clarke, referred to as “The Guv” or “noble Charles” by the CPP Cabinet, was a forthright person who genuinely desired the Gold Coast to be independent through an orderly transfer of power. He did this by ensuring that the Joint Cabinet team worked in a sound and meticulous way.

Arden Clarke also gave the highest priority to the training and recruitment of Africans for the highest posts in the civil service, to the establishment of effective Local Government and the expansion of Teacher Training Education in order to provide free primary education and the positive encouragement of Technical Education. This was the best way to prepare the Gold Coast for independence and self determination.

In his autobiography, Nkrumah recalls his relationship with Arden Clarke.

Although Sir Charles Arden Clarke and I had been opposition each other for so many months past. I had no idea what he looked like, for we had never met. I wondered how I should be received. Had I known this man before, I should not have doubted the courtesy that would be shown me.

A tall broad-shouldered man, sun-tanned, with an expression of firmness and discipline but with a twinkle of kindness in his eyes came towards me with his hand outstretched, a hand that I noticed with large and capable looking.

He welcomed me and asked how I was. As we both sat down, I sensed that he must be feeling as alert and suspicious of me as I was of him. We lost little time, however, in coming down to the business in hand. I did my best to make it clear to him that I would be prepared at all times to place my cards face upwards on the table because it was only by frankness that mutual trust and confidence could be established.

He agreed with me wholeheartedly on this and I sensed immediately that he spoke with sincererity. He was, I thought, a man with a strong sense of justice and fair play, with whom I could easily be friends, even though I looked upon him as a symbol of British imperialism in the country”.

Nkrumah was faced with a dilemma that, having taken on the responsibilities of office, there was the need to assure his extreme followers that he had not sold out to the imperialists and at the same time he had to restrain the party form attacks on British civil servants, especially the District Commissioners. As a great tactician, he also did his best to reassure the British colonial administration, from the Governor downwards, that the continuing attacks at local CPP meetings were not condoned by the party leadership.

Nkrumah, as it were was wedged between the colonial administration and the CPP party leadership and had to walk the tightrope to harmonise relations between these two parties. This cordial relationship established helped Nkrumah and Arden Clarke to ensure a smooth administration of the Gold Coast.

In keeping with the give-and-take policy, Governor Arden Clarke announced, as a matter policy, that Britain did not want to impose British officers on the Gold Coast if they were not wanted.

This declaration brought some calm to the CPP Cabinet, but Nkrumah saw it as an opportunity to emphasise publicly the urgent need for the skills and experience of expatriate staff. The colonial administration felt relieved because this time me, the request for expatriates was from the CPP Cabinet and not an imposition and this made the CPP more tolerant of the expatriates to ensure a peaceful working environment.

Although Nkrumah and Arden Clarke had contrasting characters, on the economic front, two of them were able to synergise in an amazingly perfect manner. The latter was an initiator and the former an implementor.

For instance, the development plan of 1951 and the subsequent Volta River Scheme were initiated by Arden Clarke before Nkrumah came to power but were both implemented with the full support of Nkrumah.

Again, Sir Arden Clarke advocated a sound and restrained development as seen initially in the 1951 development plan which curtailed capital investment to prevent sudden inflation. Nkrumah on the other hand, was a man in a hurry. He stood for massive capital investment and accelerated development. Nkrumah wanted the 10 year development plan to be completed in five years.

However, a middle ground was reached as seen in the implementation of the 10-years development plan. £2million was allotted to the enlargement of Takoradi Harbour, and a further £16million to the building of a major new port at Tema. Several capital commitments were made in other areas of infrastructure development. This was a gradual but steady preparation of the Gold Coast for independence through the innovative and visionary leadership of Arden Clarke and Kwame Nkrumah.

The Arden Clarke and Nkrumah partnership ensured an increase in the number of primary schools from 1,000 to 3,000 and the number of pupils in both Primary and Secondary schools increased from 2000,000 to over 500,000 from 1951-1956.

Again, the co-operation between the two, led to the establishment of Kumasi College of Technology in 1951 and later the National Broadcasting Service.

The Akosombo Dam, which was Nkrumah’s Flagship Project had its origins from schemes initiated by Arden Clarke, this clearly demonstrates, again, an initiator and a finisher.

It is instructive to note that the reciprocal harmony that existed between Nkrumah and Arden Clarke ensured a smooth transition of the Gold Coast from its colonial status to Independence of 6th March 1957 and eventually to a Republic on 1st July, 1960.

Compared to some British colonies that had turbulent transitions to independence, the Gold Coast was blessed with an open minded Governor who did not want the colony to descend into chaos and lawlessness.

Sir Arden Clarke, therefore, co-operated with Nkrumah and his colleagues to ensure an almost seamless transition.


Daily Graphic            page: 21                   Wednesday July 7, 2010

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