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Today in History: How Kwame Nkrumah died in Bucharest in 1972


On April 27, 1972, exactly 49 years ago,Kwame NkrumahGhana’s first president who led the big six to gain independence for the nation died in Bucharest.

He the pan-Africanist played a pivotal role in the formation and development of the Africa Union(A.U).

Kwame Nkrumah, died in Bucharest, Romania after six years in exile in Guinea far away from his birthplace of Nkroful at the age of 62.

Kwame Nkrumahplayed a pivotal role in the formation of the African Union (A.U) previously called the Organization of African Unity (O.A.U) and led his country to independence in 1957.

PresidentKwame Nkrumahwas unconstitutionally ousted from office through a military coup. The Coup was launched by the National Liberation Council (NLC) with the code name “Operation Cold Chop,” on February 24, 1966 whiles he was in Peking (today’s Beijing) en route to the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, with plans to end the American war in Vietnam.

Kwame Nkrumaharrived in Conakry, Guinea after being invited by Sekou Toure just after the Military Coup that unconstitutionally ousted his Government from Power.

He is said to have died of cancer.

His death, of cancer, was announced by President Sekou Toure of Guinea, one of the militant nationalist’s closest friends. Mr Nkrumah had been living in Guinea since his overthrow in a military coup in 1966.

Several African Heads of State and the representatives of 25 other countries paid their last tributes to Ghana’s former President, DrKwame Nkrumah, on Saturday, May 13, 1972, after a funeral ceremony in Conakry, the Guinean capital.

Also represented at the funeral ceremony was Ghana’s new ruling military body, the National Redemption Council. But in Accra, there was no word of when Dr Nkrumah’s body would be flown back for burial — and there were some misgivings that it would not be returned by the Guineans.

The return of his body to Ghana followed lengthy negotiations between Ghana’s military rulers and the government of Guinea. DrKwame Nkrumahwas buried in his home town of Nkroful, 240 on Sunday 9 July 1972. While the tomb still remains in Nkroful, his remains were transferred to a large national memorial tomb and park in Accra, Ghana.

Today, the place is known asKwame Nkrumah’s Mausoleum and has become a tourist destination for Ghanaians and those in the Diaspora.

The idea of erecting a monument in honour of Nkrumah dates back to 1972, when the African Students Union sent a memorandum asking the Government of Guinea, then under President Sekou Toure, to send the mortal remains of the Ghanaian leader to Ghana only if the military leaders at that time denounced coup d’état and re-erected the statue of Nkrumah which was destroyed during the 1966 coup.

Although the remains were later returned to Nkroful, his birthplace, it was not until 1992, that the image of Nkrumah was restored on the Old Polo Grounds during which the erstwhile Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), decided to build theKwame NkrumahMausoleum.

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