Today In History — March 3, 1966 — Kwame Nkrumah Fled To Guinea

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Ghana’s first president, “Osagyefo” Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, fled to Guinea on this day in 1966 after his government had been overthrown in a military coup.

Led by Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and the National Liberation Council, the coup took place three days after Nkrumah had left Ghana on a state visit to North Vietnam and China.

Not only was the Nkrumah regime toppled, his very party was outlawed.  Kotoka announced, “The myth of Kwame Nkrumah is ended forever,” to the jubilation of the Ghanaian populace who had grown weary of Nkrumah’s totalitarian style of rule and the economic hardship and international isolation his policies had plunged the country into.

Statues of Nkrumah were destroyed and streets, buildings and institutions bearing his name were renamed.

Learning what had occurred, Nkrumah did not return to Ghana. Instead, he fled to Guinea where he was named ‘co-president’ upon arrival as a gesture of sentiment.

Leaders of the new regime also realigned Ghana internationally. They cut ties to Guinea and the Eastern Bloc of communist countries and accepted new friendships with Western democracies.

In his 1969 memoir Dark Days In Ghana, Nkrumah alluded to his belief in American complicity in the coup that deposed his government.

He tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to rally Ghana against the new regime wile in exile. He soon found himself watched, isolated and even had to live without his wife of 8 years.

Five years after his exile, he died in Conakry on April 27, 1972.

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