243. Letter From President Nkrumah to President Johnson1

Dear President Johnson,

I wish to take the opportunity of the return of my Ambassador to Washington, after a brief visit to Accra, to send you this personal note concerning one or two matters which are of interest to Ghana and the United States.

In the first place, I should like to repeat the expressions of regret already conveyed to your Government over the recent incidents in [Page 426] Accra, and to reaffirm the assurances I gave to the late President Kennedy in regard to my Government’s policy of non-alignment. As you are probably aware, we have pursued this policy unflinchingly from the very day of our independence.

In my first meeting with President Kennedy,2 I explained how dangerous it is for the emergent States of Africa to take sides in the diplomatic manoeuvres and political disputes among the Great Powers. One of our principal aims has been to protect ourselves from the dangers of involvement in these manoeuvres and disputes. It follows from this that Ghana must establish good relations with all countries of the world, irrespective of the political systems of their governments.

You will appreciate, Mr. President, that the success of this policy depends on the extent of mutual respect which can be shown in the relationships that subsist between ourselves and the Governments which wish to maintain links with us.

It is on this issue that I must express some concern about that which has come to notice within recent times as a result of the activities of certain United States citizens in Ghana. There appears to be two conflicting establishments representing the United States in our part of the world. There is the United States Embassy as a diplomatic institution doing formal diplomatic business with us; there is also the C.I.A. organisation which functions presumably within or outside this recognised body. This latter organisation, that is, the C.I.A., seems to devote all its attention to fomenting ill-will, misunderstanding and even clandestine and subversive activities among our people, to the impairment of the good relations which exist between our two Governments.

If my analysis of this situation is correct, and all the indications are that it is, then I could not, Mr. President, view this without some alarm. Neither will any other Government in a developing State, however weak its economic position, accept this situation without demur. We of the Independent African States wish to be left alone to pursue policies and courses which we know to be in the best interests of our people, and at the same time conducive to the maintenance of good relations with other governments of the world.

Mr. President, permit me to say a few words here about Ghana’s socialist ideals and the place of foreign investment within the socialist structure which we intend to build. It should be obvious to any one who has followed the history of Africa’s development with impartiality that a planned economy and rapid industrial and agricultural development can be best achieved through a socialist course.

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Mr. President, the ravages of colonialism and its effect upon the territories now emerging from colonialism make it difficult and almost impossible for us in Africa to follow the traditional path of capitalist development. We must therefore ensure that the public sector of the productive economy expands at the maximum possible rate, especially in the strategic areas of production upon which our economy essentially depends. It is my primary ambition, therefore, to secure and maintain the economic independence of Ghana in such a manner as to forestall the danger of the growth of those social antagonisms which can result from the unequal distribution of economic power among our people.

Within the framework of this position there is an open door for foreign investment in Ghana. The Ghana Investment Act—the best in all Africa yet—makes this quite clear. Ghana welcomes foreign investors in a spirit of partnership; they can earn their profits here, provided they leave us an agreed portion for promoting the welfare and happiness of the majority of our people, as against the greedy ambitions of the few. From what we get out of this partnership we hope to be able to expand the health facilities for our people, to give them more and better educational institutions and to see to it that their housing conditions are improved and that they have a steadily rising standard of living. This is, in a nutshell, what Ghana expects to achieve from our socialist objectives.

I am sure, in these circumstances, Mr. President, that you could appreciate the aims and aspirations of Ghana. It seems to me, however, that a large section of the American Press either does not understand our way of life, or is unwilling to appreciate the changing scene in Africa. This section of the Press continues to indulge in scurrilous and unjustified attacks, not only on the policies of my Government, but also on me personally. As long as this continues, we can be sure that a kind of Press warfare between Ghana and the United States will continue to be an embarrassment to our two Governments.

In the interests of good relations between Ghana and the United States, I, Mr. President, will do whatever in my power lies to ensure that Party papers follow courses which will improve the relationship between our two countries.

Mr. President, I have attempted to write as frankly as I can to let you appreciate Ghana’s position. I hope I have been able to indicate that all we wish to do in Ghana is to establish a happy and prosperous State for the good of our people. In this endeavour, all that we wish to do in Ghana, which I know you, Mr. President, generally support, is to establish a happy, prosperous and stable State for our people. In this endeavour we expect nothing but understanding and goodwill from our friends.

I am asking my Ambassador, Mr. M.A. Ribeiro, to deliver this message to you personally.

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Wishing you and Mrs. Johnson continued health and happiness, and with my most sincere and respectful regards,

Kwame Nkrumah
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence File, Ghana—Presidential Correspondence. No classification marking. Ghana’s Ambassador Miguel Augustus Ribeiro delivered the letter to Johnson on March 11; see Document 245. In a March 7 memorandum, Harriman forwarded the text of Nkrumah’s letter, as telegraphed by the Embassy, and recommended that the President receive Ambassador Ribeiro. (Department of State, Central Files, POL GHANA–US)
  2. A record of Kennedy’s conversation with Nkrumah is printed in Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. XX, pp 9598.