President John Evans Atta Mills at the weekend unveiled the statue of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President at the forecourt of the new African Union (AU) building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He was assisted by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, out-going Chairman of the AU, and Dr Jean Ping, Chairman of the African Union Commission, moments after the building was inaugurated.
The building stands at the former site of Ethiopia’s maximum security prisons.
President Mills was the Guest of Honour at the ceremony, which was performed in the presence of a number of African leaders attending the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU.
The ceremony was also attended by Professor Francis Nkrumah, a medical biologist and Madam Samia Nkrumah, Chairperson of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), children of Dr Nkrumah, who were invited by President Mills to the ceremony.
Also in attendance were former President Jerry John Rawlings, Mr Allan Kyerematen of the largest minority New Patriotic Party , Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse, former Special Advisor to former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Dr Don Arthur of the Office of the President, and Mr Kwesi Quartey, Ghana’s Ambassador to Ethiopia.
The unveiling of the statue was in recognition of the leaders of the 54-nation continental body of the leading role of Dr Nkrumah in the African liberation struggle.
Dr Nkrumah was also founding member of the Organisation of African Unity, now the AU, as well as the Pan Africanist Movement.
The brain behind the statue was Dr Don Arthur, who is also an architect and a sculptor. Work was done on it by Mamphey Developers in Accra, when the Government of Ghana insisted to the AU for the statue to be done in Ghana.
Cast in bronze, the 3.5 metre statue of Dr Nkrumah who was overthrown in a coup in 1966 depicts the late leader wearing a short sleeve shirt in an African design with a pair of trousers and shoes to match.
The first president of Ghana had raised his right hand with a short walking stick in the left hand, with the head raised and looking into the heavens.
Underneath the statue is the inscription: “Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hands unto God, Africa must unite,” a statement on the founding of the predecessor of the AU, the Organisation of African Unity in May 1963.
Shedding tears of joy, Prof Nkrumah told the Ghana News Agency that the unveiling of the statue was a significant honour to the memory of his father and his family.
He described the moment as historic, and said the family was very proud of the recognition given to their father, and proud of being a Ghanaian.
Samia, who said the representation of the family at the ceremony was fair, expressed happiness about the event, describing it as a restoration of the previous recognition given to Dr Nkrumah.
She however called for Africa’s emancipation to go beyond politics to the economic, stressing more intra African trade from the current 10 per cent.
Mr Kyerematen, described the event as historical and very symbolic and called for the review of the notes by people who do not acknowledge Nkrumah as a great African.
He said Nkrumah inspires vision and hope for Ghana and called for more commitment to the national cause as a people with one destiny.
Mrs Chinery -Hesse said the statue of Nkrumah was a symbolic continuation of the journey to free Africa.
She said the lesson that could be learned was for hard work, which would be recognised at the right time. Dr Don Arthur said the greatness of Nkrumah has led to the celebration, not only for himself, but also to Ghana, Africa and the rest of the world.
African leaders, had in 2009, accepted the proposal of President Mills to declare September 21, the birthday of Nkrumah as Founders Day.
Source: Benjamin Mensah, GNA Correspondent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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