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We need to try the ‘Nkrumah Option’

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Philip Matogo

Kwame Nkrumah was a preeminent pan-Africanist. 

In the newly released book, An African History of Africa: From the Dawn of Humanity to Independence by Zeinab Badawi, Nkrumah’s passion for African unity is underscored. 

Badawi writes that Nkrumah believed the Sahara Desert should not divide Africa between the Arab and persons more generously endowed with melanin. 
So he forged ties with leaders such as Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. 

At Nkrumah’s urging, Nasser arranged a marriage for Nkrumah with an Egyptian Coptic woman called Fathia. 

This union served as a gesture of solidarity in the spirit of pan-Africanism. 

Samia Nkrumah, one of Nkrumah’s three children from this marriage, recounted to Badawi how Kwame and Fathia became an item on the ledger African unity. 

“Mother…meets this man Kwame Nkrumah, who was waiting for her…and she says he was the most charismatic man she had ever met, very charming. After the pleasantries, the two sit together, and mind you what is remarkable is that they could not speak the same language – they did not have a common language at the time. Mother spoke Arabic and, of course, French and our father spoke English and, of course, our African languages,” Samia said.

“So, they had to sit and communicate with interpreters and dictionaries – she tells us – and after hours they decided there and then to get married. Love at first sight, destiny, call it what you will, because obviously it was a politically arranged marriage, but it worked. That marriage contributed so much to bringing North Africa closer to the rest of Africa,” she added. 

I am a firm believer that if one is to get married, they must do so for love. Whether that love is the love between two persons or it issues from a love of one’s wider community. 

It must be love. 

And this is what Nkrumah did. 

His love was for Africa and it blossomed into a pairing which spoke of this love, at full flower. 

Such marriages are what may unite Uganda, Africa and the world. 

In Uganda, we must encourage interethnic marriages. The State should not only extol the virtue of marriage and larger-scale initiatives, such as a nationwide effort to end tribalism. 

Campaigns must be launched to promote marriage-building across ethnic lines. 

One of these campaigns should be reflected in policy whereby a $50 or more incentive payment is made monthly for a year to newlyweds as a cash benefit to multi-ethnic marrieds.

You are probably asking where the government would get such money to incentivise interethnic marriages. 

Well, Parliament could enact special tax laws that apply to churches, religious organisations and spiritual leaders in recognition of their special status in Ugandan society. 

Here, certain income of a church or religious organisation may be subject to tax, such as income from the businesses churches own.

To make sure the church does not view marriage as a millstone around its neck and thereby instigate divorce or discourage marriage as means of avoiding said tax, churches which reach a certain threshold of marriages could receive rebates, among other incentives. 

This would ensure that what God has joined together, no man can separate. That’s because the church would have a vested interest in seeing Ugandans married across ethnic divides. 

This proposal could be called the Nkrumah Option. 

Out of this, tribalism would be tamped down in favour of ramping up nationalism. Nepotism, corruption’s unhandsome stepchild, would also be destroyed in one fell swoop. 

Naturally, there are no guarantees that this experiment would work. But then again, a life of guarantees is a life devoid of the daring which informs this option.

Mr Philip Matogo is a professional copywriter  
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