Kwantlen hosts international conference to celebrate Africa’s Man of the Millennium

Mon, Aug 9, 2010

In commemoration of the centenary birthday of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, "Africa’s Man of the Millennium", Kwantlen Polytechnic University will host the Kwame Nkrumah International Conference from August 19-21, 2010. This conference will bring scholars and students from Canada and from the around the world to share research and ideas on Africa's place in the global community, and to discuss the life, achievements and shortcomings of Africa's foremost Pan-Africanist. 

“Nkrumah is the single most important African politician of the past century, said Molefi Kete Asante, professor at Temple University. "Almost all ideas that are vetted by contemporary leaders have appeared in Nkrumah’s writings or speeches. He is the seminal African political philosopher.” 

Asante—one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars, as well as the author/co-author and editor of 70 books and over 300 scholarly articles—will provide the keynote address in celebration of the conference with other scholars in the context of Pan-Africanism, post/neo-colonialism and globalization via cross-disciplinary, multi-centric, and international perspectives. 

As the first international conference dedicated to “Africa’s Man of the Millennium” in Canada—in a period of intense academic debate about the merits and demerits of the globalization and the place and role of the tri-continents of Africa, Asia and Latin America—Dr. Charles Quist-Adade, Kwantlen sociology faculty member and conference organizer, hopes the conference will provide Canadian scholars in general, and Kwantlen faculty in particular, a unique and timely opportunity to seriously engage and scrutinize Nkrumah’s intellectual and political legacy in the areas of international political economy and governance. 

"Looking at the sheer interest in the conference from all parts of the world and judging by the breadth and reach of proposed abstracts it is easy to conclude that Canadian scholarship stands to gain enormously from the conference," said Quist-Adade. 

This conference will also include student presentations which will provide an excellent opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students to showcase and discuss their research with peers and with faculty members from across Canada. An opportunity such as this is critical for students in developing their own interests and knowledge, in networking with faculty and students, and in building curriculum vitae to support graduate school applications and employment opportunities. 

When asked what relevance does a conference on Nkrumah have for Canadian students and scholars, Asante said, “Students should know one of the greatest African leaders of the 20th century. Nkrumah was a giant in terms of philosophical writings, political leadership and international vision. All students should listen to his ideas and judge for themselves about his relevance to today's politics." 

Additional topics to be discussed include the following:

  • Perspectives on African Decolonization and Development
  • African Intellectuals and Decolonization and Development
  • Leadership, Democracy, Citizenry, and African Development
  • Armed Struggle and Decolonization in Africa and the "International War" on Terrorism
  • Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Pan-Africanism
  • The Intellectual Traditions and the Many Stands of Pan-Africanism
  • The 5th Pan-African Congress and the First All-African Peoples Conference: Continuity and Change
  • The Architects and Pioneers of Pan-Africanism and Global (Pan) African Unity
  • Liberation Wars and Contemporary Forms of Armed Resistance and the US-led "War on International Terrorism"
  • AFRICOM, Militarization and African Security
  • Failed Unions: The Cases of the Soviet Union, India and Pakistan
  • The Creation of "The Perfect Union": Lessons from Canada, Europe, and the USA
  • Dafur and Other Internecine Conflicts as a Test for the African Union's Trans-Saharan Unity
  • Global African Unity in the Age of Globalization: Strategies and Tactics
  • Fifty years of Political Independence in Africa: Independent Africa in the Global Context
  • The Obama Presidency and Africa's Destiny
  • African Youth, African Women, and Africa's Future
  • The African Personality and Identity in Continental and Trans-Continental/Diasporic Contexts
  • Global African Dialogues: Factionalism as a Source of Strength
  • Globalization: A Curse or a Nirvana- Breaking Africa's Cycle of Underdevelopment

For more information about the conference or to register, please visit: 

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Backgrounder about Kwame Nkrumah: 
Kwame Nkrumah led Ghana to independence on March 6, 1957 after more than a century of British colonial rule, the first in independence in sub-Saharan Africa. Nkrumah is regarded as one of Africa’s greatest statesmen, if not the greatest. BBC listeners in Africa voted him “Africa’s Man of the Millennium” in 1999, and in 1978 the United Nations awarded Nkrumah a posthumous gold medal during a session of the UN committee against the racist regime in South Africa. 

In the political realm, his idea on the primacy of the political sphere is still important today in the discourse on development. He observed: "seek ye first the political kingdom and all else shall be added unto you." This widely quoted nearly religious invocation asserts that if the political system is developed first, it can serve as the instrument through which social and economic development is achieved. 

In addition, Nkrumah: 

  • was the only world leader to attempt a peace accord with America to end the Vietnam War 
  • built new schools and accelerated the education system in Ghana by introducing free and compulsory universal elementary education 
  • introduced free healthcare delivery system

But Nkrumah also had his flaws. His one-party state ‘democracy’ stifled different and divergent views from the other side of the political divide. His installation as “Life President” of the Convention People’s Party made him a dictator in the eyes of many. He also did nothing to discourage party cronies from turning him into a demigod. While he did not subject his opponents to the callous, brutal repression and bloody massacres symptomatic of other African dictators, Nkrumah did use the Preventative Detention Act (PDA) enacted by the British Colonial Administration to throw his political opponents into jail without trial. 

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Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist
Tel: 604.599.2883

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