The cry of many nations today is for effective leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. As the success of a family is tied to the leadership provided, so does the success of a nation depend on the quality of its leadership. Over the generations, many remarkable leaders have graced this planet. In recent times, we have had Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Benjamin Franklin, Nelson Mandela and many others. All these leaders had certain unique and distinguishing traits. Kwame Nkrumah also falls under this category of remarkable leaders we have had in the 20th Century. Let us now examine some of the traits he displayed, which is to a very large extent missing from the continent today.

1. Visionary

“I have also recently directed the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission to investigate and expand research on the possibilities of solar energy, which is already going on at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. It is estimated that even one-tenth of solar energy falling on the earth’s surface would be enough to produce an amount of energy several times the amount generated at present. In Africa, we have no lack of sunlight, and the development of solar energy should be one of our main scientific preoccupations.”

This short narrative is an excerpt from a speech delivered by Kwame Nkrumah in 1960 when he launched the construction of the Atomic Reactor in Ghana. Nkrumah in 1960 was thinking about solar energy whiles working on nuclear after having already built Akosombo Hydro Dam. Half a century later, many leaders on the continent do not even think about the prospect of nuclear energy and only a few are actually using solar. The key to meeting societal challenges 100 years from today lies with visionary leaders. Any level of success that transcends a generation is borne on the wings of vision. If there is one attribute of Nkrumah missing in today’s kind of leadership on the continent, then it has to do with leadership that sees far into the future, plans ahead into the future and takes pragmatic steps to bring the plans to life.

2. Very Influential

It is difficult to talk about Nkrumah and not talk about how influential he was on the world stage. Nkrumah’s voice didn’t only resonate across the four corners of the continent whenever he spoke but it reached as far as the Washington and Moscow. His influence brought about our independence and it was same influence that brought the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, J. F. Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, Queen Elizabeth and many others to the shores of Ghana. An influential leader is one whose words carries power and commands attention, because he means what he says and acts on what he says. After he published his book, Neo Colonization- The Last Stage of Imperialism, many in the West became very concerned about his in-depth understanding of their schemes on the continent and began to plot his eventual overthrow. Perhaps his influence was his downfall but definitely this is one trait about Kwame Nkrumah we miss in leadership across the continent of Africa today.

3. Incorruptible

Despite many rumors that were circulated as justification for the overthrow of Kwame Nkrumah, there were no findings of corrupt deals or practices he had engaged in during his reign. Indeed Kwame Nkrumah died without any significant property in Ghana other than his state provided residence. His wife and children eventually had to be taken care of by the then Egyptian government. True leaders put the challenges of their people first and they understand that leadership is not about amassing personal wealth but about service and solving problems in the society.

4. Patriotic Selfless Leader

Kwame Nkrumah as the pioneer of the Africa Unity movement vehemently sought the welfare of other African states. In his address to the National Assembly of Ghana in 1965, Nkrumah maintained that “Our freedom stands open to danger just as long as long as the independent states of Africa remain in apart,” He could have focused entirely on the challenges confronting Ghana then but he did otherwise. Selfless leaders, always see the big picture. They understand that the success of every team member is vital to the success of the entire organization. This leadership trait is on top of the list of the characteristic that many leaders lack on the continent today. In all, Nkrumah was a gem of a kind and set the path for exemplary leadership. It lies within all of us to follow the example he set in his six years as a leader of Ghana.


About the Author, G.K. Sarpong

G. K. Sarpong is an author and founder of Christian Thinkers Community (CTC), a multidimensional organisation headquartered in Accra, Ghana. Sarpong also writes for several media firms across the continent of Africa and a guest writer and editor for various international journals and newsletters including Light Magazine Africa, The Revolution Journal and Christian Thinkers Journal. Sarpong has authored over seven books and hundreds of articles, some of which include Entrepreneurship Africa, Develop the Master in You, Building Success and Answers to Life’s Foundational Questions.