A Kenyan Scholar in New York in a Legal Battle Over Kwame Nkrumah's Diary
A diary belonging to Ghana’s first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, which dates from the mid-1960s, and has been at the centre of a long legal battle between an American businessman and an African scholar from Kenya, will soon be returning home.
An American, New York businessman Robert Shulman is battling Vincent Mbirika, a Kenyan-born, New York-based scholar and amateur investigator, who doggedly tracked down and succeeded in retrieving the diary from the American who had it in his possession for many years.
The Kenyan, who describes himself as Africa’s “Indiana Jones” has convinced the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania in the US that the diary rightly belongs to Ghana and to the Nkrumah family and should be returned to Africa.
The judge ruled that the diary, which offers a rare look into the public and personal life of the great Pan-Africanist, was among the possessions of Dr Nkrumah when he died in Romania in 1972. The judge has ordered that the diary should be handed over to the Ghanaian ambassador in Washington for onward conveyance to Ghana.
Mbirika invited Sadick Abubakar, a Ghanaian living in Washington and a director of the United African Congress, a US advocacy group for African expatriates, to help in contacting Nkrumah’s relatives back home to provide the necessary backings.
The diary has travelled around the world over the last 40 years from Ghana to Guinea to Romania and America. Shulman has been keeping the diary for many years now and with the latest ruling Ghanaians will now have a feel of what their founding father wrote about his career.
The diary entries start from the mid-1960s, when the Osagyefo was president, and run to the late 1960s when he had been deposed and was living in exile in Guinea as a guest of President Sekou Toure.
One entry, from 1966, the year Nkrumah was ousted by the military, mentions the purchase of military equipment from the Soviet Union. In another entry, from 1968, when Nkrumah was living in Guinea, the former president instructs his wife, Fathia, to "take care" of their children - Gamal Gorkeh, Sekou, and Samia (who is now an MP in Ghana and chairperson of the Convention People's Party founded by her father).
Possibly the most compelling entry in the diary (which is about the size of a small paperback and has a bookmark with the colours of Ghana's flag stuffed in its pages), is one where Nkrumah, who had been Ghana's head of state since independence from Britain in 1957, reflects on the abrupt end of his presidency. It makes clear that Nkrumah was worried about Ghana and Africa's future. He wrote: "Things will not go well for Ghana" and said his "vision" for Ghana would now be "lost".