The Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War: The West African National Secretariat (1945-48)

The Kwame Nkrumah and the Dawn of the Cold War: The West African National Secretariat (1945-48)

by Marika Sherwood


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The West African National Secretariat (WANS) has largely been forgotten by history. Founded by Kwame Nkrumah in London in 1945, and enduring for only three years, the scope of its influence as an organization is perhaps eclipsed by its significance in the story of the Cold War in Africa. Marika Sherwood shares this story: drawing on unprecedented archival research, and newly released MI5 files, she looks at the role played by Kwame Nkrumah, the WANS, and other pan-African organizations in bringing Cold War politics to bear on anti-colonial struggles. Contrary to the belief held by liberation movements at the time that it was only their respective colonizers they had to deal with, Sherwood demonstrates that colonial powers colluded with the US in order to control the burgeoning struggles for independence. By (often wrongly) labelling African nationalists as ‘communists’ in their efforts to contain decolonization, Western powers exacerbated the development of the Cold War. Providing a rich exploration of a neglected history, this book sheds light for the first time on a crucial historical moment in the history of West Africa and the developmental trajectory of West African nationalism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780745338910
Publisher: Pluto Press
Publication date: 06/15/2019
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.25(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Marika Sherwood is a historian, researcher, and author, and co-founder of the Black and Asian Studies Association. Her articles have been published through Middle East Monitor and Open Democracy, and she has also contributed to numerous journals including Race & Class and International Studies

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 The 'Relevant' World, 1940-5 4

World War II and 'British' West Africa 4

The UK 6

France 7

The World Federation of Trade Unions 8

USA and Africa 10

The Office of Strategic Services 11

US Interest from 1944 13

Relations Between the USA and the Allies Regarding Africa 14

1941-2: The Atlantic Charter 14

1942: Lend Lease 16

1943-4: Ongoing Discussions 17

1945-6: The Anglo-American Loan 17


The USSR and Africa, Prior to World War II 18

The Communist Parties in the 'Mother Countries' and the USA 19

World War II: The USA and the USSR 20

The Founding of the United Nations 20

2 Campaigns for Independence, Unity and Pan-Africanism by Africans in the USA, UK and Africa, 1930s-1945 23

In the USA 23

The African Students Association, 1942-5 23

The Council on African Affairs 25

Activism regarding the Atlantic Charter 26

Regarding the founding of the United Nations Organisation 27

In the UK 29

West African Students Union 30

The International African Service Bureau (IASB) 32

The Pan-African Federation and 1945 Congress 33

Activism Regarding the Atlantic Charter 36

Regarding the founding of the United Nations 37

In West Africa: A Very Brief Glimpse 38

Activities Regarding the UN 39

3 1945: The Formation and Aims of WANS 41

Formation 41

WANS's Aims 42

Contacts with Francophone Africans 43

Contact with the Gold Coast 44

Contact with Nigeria and Gambia 46

Contacts within the UK 46

Contacts with the USA 47

4 WANS's Activities, 1946 48

The New African 48

WANS's Resolutions, 1 February 1946 49

Supporting the Gold Coast Farmers 51

Meetings Around the UK 52

Working with WASU - and the Proposed Congress 52

Working with Other Black Organisations Regarding South Africa 57

Working with the Fabian Colonial Bureau 58

Working with Fenner Brockway and the British Centre Against Imperialism 58

Maintaining Contact with the Gold Coast 59

Maintaining Contact with Nigeria 60

Contact with Sierra Leone 61

The USA and the United Nations 61

5 WANS's Activities, 1947-8 63

In the UK 64

WANS Under Surveillance 66

Visit by the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons 67

Working with the Coloured Workers' Association 69

Working with the LCP, PAF and WASU 70

Working with the Communist Party of Great Britain CPGB 71

Response to the 'Riots' on the Gold Coast 73

Relations with French African Deputies, 1947 75

Maintaining Contact with the Gold Coast 1947-8 78

Contact with Nigeria 81

Contact with Gambia 82

WANS Dies 84

6 Nkrumah's Activities, 1947-8 85

Returning Home 85

Visit to Sierra Leone and Liberia 86

Back on the Gold Coast 87

The 1948 'Riots' 89

Ghana National College 90

Youth Organisations 90

Nkrumah and the UGCC 90

Accra Evening News 91

The Proposed Unity Congress 92

The 'Intelligence' Agencies and Nkrumah 94

Allegations of Being a Communist 97

UK's Co-operation with France and Belgium Regarding WANS 97

UK's Collaboration with the USA Regarding WANS 99

7 The Gold Coast, Nigeria and Francophone West Africa, 1945-8 101

Gold Coast 101

Strikes, Trade Unions and Political Organisations 103

Fear of Radicalisation? 105

Actions Taken Against 'Radicalism' 105

Servicemen 109

The 1948 'Riots' 111

The Government's Response to the 'Riots' 114

Nigeria 121

National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons 124

Surveillance 124

How to Deal with Communism - and Nationalism? 125

Travel Restrictions 125

Unwanted Workers 125

The Press: Gold Coast, Nigeria, Uganda 126

A New British-Owned Newspaper 129

Francophone West Africa 132

The World Federation of Trade Unions 135

8 The 'Relevant' World, 1945-8 136

The UK 136

The Labour Party and the Colonies 136

Britain's Debt to the USA 138

Communist Party 139

Fear of Communism - i.e., of the USSR 140

The Colonial Office Tackles Communism 141

The Foreign Office Works with the Colonial Office to Battle Communism 144

France 148

Relations between France, Belgium and Britain on Colonial Issues 149

Regarding WANS 149

Regarding Other Issues 150

Exchange of 'Security' Information 151

The USA: Increasing Interest in Africa 151

Attitude to Communism and the USSR 154

The CIA 155

The State Department, and Consuls in Africa 157

Commercial Interests 159

Scholarships and 'Technical Assistance' 159

Relations between the USA, the UK and France Regarding Africa 160

The Marshall Plan 162

The USSR 164

The WFTU and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions 166

The United Nations 167

9 Conclusion: The Cold War 168

Appendix: Publications by WANS and its Members - Summaries 171

Bankole Awoonor-Renner, West African Soviet Union, WANS Press, 1946 171

Kwame Nkrumah, 'Dominion or Co-operation: the relationship between British and Colonial Peoples, 1946 171

Kwame Nkrumah, Towards Colonial Freedom, London (WANS?) 1947 172

Kwame Nkrumah, 'Education and Nationalism in West Africa', WASU Magazine, Summer 1947 173

The New African, issues 1-5, 1946 173

Index 179

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