Attended Professor Horace Campbell’s inauguration as Kwame Nkrumah Chair of African Studies at Ghana University. An impressive array of dignitaries: high-ranking university personnel, members of Parliament, foreign ambassadors, delegations of students from China and the UK alongside local undergrads, attended. Among them were program organizer, Professor Esi Sutherland, Samia Nkrumah, members of the arts and cultural elite, but not as many Rastafari as InI would have expected.
Campbell’s maiden speech focused on the need for reconstruction, transformation and unity for the future of Africa – which he said was integrally tied to the future of humanity. We need to utilize new technologies, he urged, harvested from primordial elements of village life, rather than buy into the theory of linear western development, which would leave us lagging behind in the race to catch up with the mythical ‘First World’ and its death-dealing notions of progress.
We need a Green Wall to stop the encroachment of the Sahara and the ‘overheating’ of Africa leading to our self-incineration! Our search for water should focus on untapped resources – the lakes beneath Africa’s surface that could serve to refill our dwindling reserves and create transportation canals for home-grown produce, industry and linkage. Solar power and wind-farming could help us achieve the quantum leap that would revitalize Africa’s hopes, status, and regenerate our planetary future. Our attitudes to education, social equality, health, agriculture, diversity, should be transformed to fuel a new vision of Nkrumahism fitted to the 21st century. The University needed to become a key player in that process of transformation, providing the intellectual energy that would drive positive indigenous change.
Campbell’s delivery was measured, unhurried and expansive. Within it was a revolutionary message that rekindled the ideals of Pan African thought and action in the spirit of Nkrumah. He was bold and invited us to reconsider Donald Trump’s motto: Make America Strong Again in the light of Make America White Again! He referenced his recent work Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya – a treatise on circumstances surrounding the political assassination of Quadafi by people and systems that were threatened by his Pan African agenda. He called on all present to support him in fulfilling the great task at hand, while giving specific respect to Rastafari and the importance of freeing ourselves from “mental slavery”.
Perhaps it was not what was expected of the third Occupant of this Chair, the first non-Ghanaian, non-‘African‘, to take up this prestigious position. At the end of his discourse a slightly shell-shocked audience slowly rose to its feet to acknowledge a new champion of Nkrumah’s legacy, with a lengthy and sustained ovation.
During the post-ceremony reception Horace Campbell, when asked by Rastafari, “How can we help?” responded warmly, “Let’s have a grounation.”