Fellow African Freedom Fighters, Ladies and Gentlemen,It is my considerable pleasure to welcome here today many official delegates who have come from all over this vast continent of ours to confer together in this All-African People’s Conference,as well as the fraternal delegates, observers and other visitors to Ghana. My country is once again host to a gathering of Africans speaking for Africa and Africans, and in welcoming you as Prime Minister of Ghana I am deeply conscious of this fact. Yet my real role here today is that of the Leader of a Political Party, and it is as the Chairman of that Party that I want to address you.
As I look round this hall, my pride overflows at the sight of so large a number of African comrades-in-arms who, imbued with the fervent desire to see Africa free, unfettered and united, have gathered here together on African soil for the first time in the history of our Continent. This assembly marks the opening of a new epoch in our Continent’s history and it will be recorded in our annals in illuminations worthy of its significance as the First All-African People’s Conference.
We have had Pan- African Congresses before—in fact, five of them —but all of these, by force of circumstances, were carried on outside Africa and under much difficulty. Never before has it been possible for so representative a gathering of African Freedom Fighters not only to come together, but to assemble in a free independent African State for the purpose of planning for a final assault upon Imperialism and Colonialism.
Congratulations for making this possible are due in large measure to the organisers, the sponsoring nationalist and trade union bodies; but without the ready response and determination of the participants to make their way here, in many instances against great odds, our Conference would certainly not be so fully representative of the African’s aspiration to freedom and independence. This fact is in itself a wonderful achievement, and I know that it will be written into the records of Africa’s chequered history when the last bastion of Colonialism has been rased to the ground.
Invitations were sent out to all bona fide political and trade union organisations regardless of their political complexion or the relationships which exist between them in their various countries, for if we are to attain the major objective to which we are all committed —the total liberation of Africa —then it is necessary to bury our political hatchets in the interest of Africa’s supreme need.
Only eight months ago I had the honour to welcome to our country political delegates on a different level—that is, the official representatives of the Governments of the independent African States. That Conference, unlike this one, was sponsored, organised and confined in its participation to heads of Govern ments and their representatives. The idea of that Conference arose out of informal talks at the time of Ghana’s Independence Celebrations on the 6th March, 1957. A preparatory committee composed of the Ambassadors of the participating States held a series of meetings and as a result a provisional agenda was drawn up and a date was fixed for the convening of the Conference. The date fixed was April 15th, 1958, and the venue chosen was Accra.
There is one point in connection with that Conference which I would particularly like to elucidate for the benefit of the repre sentatives of the non-independent territories who are here today. That is the decision to confine the April Conference to govern mental level. We did so with the greatest reluctance, as we were well aware of the desire of our comrades still under the yoke of foreign imperialist domination to be present.
I would like to mention here that the matter that concerned us most in connection with the convening of the April Conference
was the question of inviting representatives of political parties in the dependent territories to participate with the representatives of the independent countries. We were only too conscious of our commitment to helping, by all possible means, the speedy achievement of independence by Colonial territories in Africa. That Conference was thus sponsored collectively and organised collectively by the eight independent African States who had decided to call it. The only distinctive role which Ghana played was to act as host to the delegates. This present Conference is the consummation and affirmation of that decision.
You will have read the declarations and resolutions unanimously reached at the Accra Conference, which pledged Ghana, in communion with her fellow African independent States,to support the struggle of the dependent peoples for' the speedy determination of Imperialism and Colonialism and the eradication from this Continent of Racialism. As I have always declared—even before Ghana attained her present sovereign status —" the independence of Ghana will be meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa." We have not moved from this premise nor shall we budge one jot from it until the final goal has been reached and the last vestiges of Imperialism and Colonialism have been wiped off this African Continent. We disdain to hide these aims and objects of ours. We proclaim them freely to the world.
We have pride in our determination to support every form of non-violent action which our fellow Africans in Colonial territories may find it fit to use in the struggle for their legitimate rights and aspirations. We make no apology to anyone and we will not allow ourselves to be deflected from this just Cause, a Cause wholly in consonance with the principles enunciated in the Charter of the United Nations.
It was in this spirit that I suggested to the representatives of several African nationalist and trade union organisations who happened to be in Accra during the first anniversary celebra tion of Ghana's Independence in March this year, that they should take the initiative in organising a conference at which they could air as they liked their views on Colonialism, Imperialism, Racialism and the other subjects on our agenda. I assured them that such a conference would have the full moral support of all the Governments of the independent African States ; an assurance which I am happy to say was fully endorsed by the resolutions unanimously adopted by the Accra Conference in April this year.
Out of this informal suggestion, there was set up by the representatives of the various political parties and trade unions then present in Accra, a preparatory committee charged with arranging the present Conference. That your labours are well rewarded is evident by the presence of this large assembly here today, and you are to be warmly congratulated. The Cause we embrace is a noble and irresistible Cause. As long as we remain true to that Cause—the Cause of national freedom and independence we have nothing to fear but fear itself. As the call sent out by the preparatory committee exhorts," Peoples of Africa unite ! We have nothing to lose but our chains. We have a Continent to regain. We have freedom and human dignity to attain !"
As I said earlier on, this Conference opens a new era in our African history and our struggle is to -wipe out Imperialism and Colonialism from this Continent and erect in their place a union of free, independent African States.
The climax of our earlier Pan-African Congresses was the Fifth, which was held in Manchester in 1945, where I had the good luck to be made a joint secretary with Mr. George Pad'more, who is now my Adviser on African Affairs. That Congress was perhaps only less historic than' this first All-African People's Conference. For that Conference brought together for the first time Africans directly delegated and springing directly from nationalist and trade union organisations in Africa, as well as having Africans among its organisers. All previous Pan-African Congresses had been organised and made up largely of those outside Africa who had the cause of African freedom at heart. The moving spirit in those congresses was Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, and he played no small part in our 1945 Congress, where we laid down the programme of action for the various territories in Africa for continuing the struggle against Colonialism and Imperialism.
Now a new situation has arisen in Africa. Some of us have since 1945 thrown off the trammels of Imperialism and set up independent sovereign States. Other territories are drawing near to freedom. Nationalist ferment in Africa is gaining momentum. Therefore this Conference must make a new appraisal of the position which exists in Africa today. We must here work out the new strategy and tactics for gaining our hoped for aspiration and objective, namely the freedom and independence of Africa.
Our deliberations must be conducted in accord and our resolutions must flow out of unity. For unity must be the keynote of our actions. Our enemies are many and they stand ready to pounce upon and exploit our every weakness. They play upon our values and flatter us in every kind of way. They tell us that this particular or that particular country has greater or more favourable potentialities than the other. They do not tell us that we should unite, that we are all as good as we are able to make ourselves once we are free. remember always that you have four stages to make:
Source: Ghana National Archives