Kwame Nkrumah was born in 1909 to Madam Nyaniba iin Nkroful, Gold Coast. Nkrumah trained to be a teacher at Achimota School in Accra from 1927 to 1930 . For the following 5 years he worked as a teacher in several schools in the Gold Coast including a Catholic school in Axim, whilst saving money to continue his education in the USA. In 1935 he sailed from Takoradi, the Gold Coast's main port, to Liverpool in England, and made his way to London where he obtained his student visa from the US Embassy. It was while he was in London in late 1935 that he heard the news of Fascist Italy's invasion of Abyssinia, an event that outraged the young Nkrumah and influenced his political development. In October 1935 Nkrumah sailed from Liverpool to the United States and enrolled in Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
He graduated with a BA in 1939, and received a Bachelor of
Sacred Theology in 1942. Nkrumah earned a Master of Science in
education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942, and a Master
of Arts in philosophy the following year. While lecturing in
political science at Lincoln he was elected president of the
African Students Organization of America and Canada. As an
undergraduate at Lincoln he participated in at least one student
theater production and published an essay on European government in
Africa in the student newspaper, The Lincolnian.
During his time in the United States, Nkrumah preached at black Presbyterian Churches in Philadelphia and New York City. He read books about politics and divinity, and tutored students in philosophy.
Nkrumah encountered the ideas of Marcus Garvey and in 1943
met and began a lengthy correspondence with Trinidadian Marxist
C.L.R. James, Russian expatriate Raya Dunayevskaya, and
Chinese-American Grace Lee Boggs, all of whom were members of a US
based Trotskyist intellectual cohort. Nkrumah later credited James
with teaching him 'how an underground movement worked'. Nkrumah's
association with these radicals drew him to the attention of the
FBI and he was under surveillance by early 1945.
He arrived in London in May 1945 intending to study at the LSE. After meeting with George Padmore, he helped organize the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England. Then he founded the West African National Secretariat to work for the decolonization of Africa. Nkrumah served as Vice-President of the West African Students' Union (WASU). Nkrumah's association with left wing radicals meant that he was watched by Special Branch whilst he was in England between 1945 and 1947.
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