Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana

nrumache.jpg

Canada played a part in the leading pan-Africanist’s downfall. In February 1966 Ghana’s Canadian-trained army overthrew Nkrumah, a leader dubbed “Man of the Millennium” in a 2000 poll by BBC listeners in Africa.

Washington, London and Ottawa backed the coup. In an internal memo to External Affairs just after Nkrumah was overthrown, Canadian high commissioner in Accra, C.E. McGaughey wrote “a wonderful thing has happened for the West in Ghana and Canada has played a worthy part.” After Nkrumah’s removal the Canadian high commissioner boasted about the effectiveness of Canada’s Junior Staff Officers training program at the Ghanaian Defence College. Writing to the under secretary of external affairs, high commissioner McGaughey noted, “all the chief participants of the coup were graduates of this course.”

Less than two weeks after the coup, Ottawa informed the military junta that Canada intended to carry on normal relations. In the immediate aftermath of Nkrumah’s overthrow, Canada sent $1.82 million ($15 million today) worth of flour to Ghana and offered the military regime a hundred CUSO volunteers.

Two months after Nkrumah’s ouster the Canadian high commissioner in Ghana wrote to Montréal-based de Havilland Aircraft with a request to secure parts for Ghana’s Air Force. Worried Nkrumah might attempt a counter coup, the Air Force sought parts for non-operational aircraft in the event it needed to deploy its forces.

Six months after overthrowing Nkrumah, the country’s new leader, General Joseph Ankrah, made an official visit to Ottawa as part of a trip that also took him through London and Washington.