The Eyes of the World Were Watching: Ghana, Great Britain, and the United States, 1957-1966

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2004-01-08

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This study explores the relationship that developed amongst Ghana, Great Britain, and the United States from Ghana's independence in 1957 to the coup d'état that ended the regime of Ghana's first post-colonial leader, Kwame Nkrumah in 1966. Ghana's position as the first self-governing nation in sub-Saharan Africa captured the attention of the world. Aspiring nationalists, colonial rulers, and Cold Warriors anticipated the impact of Ghana's experience on colonial Africa, and the global balance of power. For Ghana, the transition to independence brought tremendous possibility and complex challenges. While possessing the economic, political, and administrative resources for success, the management of those resources posed rigorous obstacles for Kwame Nkrumah. Nkrumah attempted to unify and strengthen Ghana, making it a leader in African affairs and the world community. For Great Britain, the transfer of power in Ghana began the dismantling of its African empire. The peaceful transition to self-government across British Africa depended upon the results of the Ghanaian experiment. Britain intended to prepare Ghana for success and stability by providing training and governmental models before independence, and securing Ghana's introduction to Western society during its transition. To provide longer-term support for Ghana, Britain enlisted the assistance of the United States. This coincided with an increased US interest in Africa, especially Ghana, as the newest vulnerable front in the Cold War. The United States hoped that positive relations with Ghana would prevent a Soviet foothold in Africa. Despite a rhetoric of support for democracy and self-determination, the United States favored stability above all else in Ghana, even when this came at the price of decreasing freedoms for Ghanaians and the growing authoritarianism of Kwame Nkrumah. The relationship amongst the three nations continued to develop across the 1960s, bringing periods of prolonged mutual interest and success as well as intervals of heightened tension, culminating in the CIA-aided overthrow of Nkrumah's regime. By exploring the goals and strategies of each country, this narrative contributes to an understanding of the transition from colonial rule to independence; the international context of American foreign relations; and the impact of the Cold War in Africa.

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