Kwame Nkrumah’s Midnight Speech For Independence
Picture Book / Ages 5 up / Ghana
September 21, 2021
On a humid March night in 1957, Kwame Nkrumah made history. While thousands of people cheered, including dignitaries from round the world, he announced his country's independence. After many years of British rule, Ghana, formerly the Gold Coast, became the first sub-Saharan African nation to break free from colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah's Midnight Speech for Independence shares the story of Nkrumah's historic declaration of Ghana's independence and the years of struggle that led to that celebrated event.
I was gripped by the look of this book when I received it! For one so close to the Ghana story, I was intrigued to read about that moment when Kwame Nkrumah – wiping tears from his eyes – proclaimed Ghana’s independence from Britain. That moment is one never to be forgotten and it is wonderful so see it brought to life for a young audience.
It is not only the line, “At long last, the battle has ended, and Ghana your beloved country is free forever!“It is the even more memorable line, that makes this moment unforgettable, prescient, and timeless, “Our independence is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.”
Useni Eugene Perkins should be commended and applauded for penning a kids’ book that focuses on such a momentous event as an introduction to an equally momentous story, the Global African story! It brings a welcome simplicity to a story that is complex and extremely difficult to capture and comprehend by scholars and activists.
Kwame Nkrumah’s story is symbolic of the larger African story: an African who, after traveling far afield, begins to connect with others like him generally occupying the lower rungs of many societies across the world. Like Nkrumah, seeing beyond geography and history, Africans wherever they may begin to see and understand that one major way to change their negative conditions into positive ones is to come together! It is a concept called Pan Africanism, and this book does an excellent job in using Nkrumah’s story to illustrate it.
The incredibly beautiful, alluring illustrations by Laura Freeman contribute to this effort to make a knotty story relevant to young people. As I read the delightfully engaging words by the author, I kept wondering how I could have these illustrations captured and framed for my house!
I cannot imagine any reader, young or old, not being captured by this book! It is a story worth telling, and this book tells it well!
Akwasi Osei, Ph.D.
Delaware State University
Published in Africa Access Review (January 21, 2022)
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