Aggrey Fraser Guggisberg 2017/18

Theme: “Nkrumah and the Making of the Ghanaian Nation-State.” 

Speaker: Emmanuel K. Akyeampong, Ph.D. Ellen Gurney Professor of History and of African and African American Studies, Oppenheimer Faculty Director Harvard University Center for African Studies.

Date: 15 and 16 March 2018

Time: 4:30pm 

Venue: Great Hall, University of Ghana


Lecture One - 15 March 2018

Topic: “Nkrumah, Cocoa, and the United States: The Vision of an Industrial Nation-State.”


Nkrumah’s vision of creating an industrialized Ghanaian economy hinged on the new Akosombo hydroelectric dam, which Nkrumah viewed as key to his industrialization scheme. The dam would be financed primarily by American interests, a country very much at the centre of Nkrumah’s formative experiences as an intellectual. The cost of this scheme was to be borne by the cocoa industry. While Nkrumah appreciated the cash cow that was cocoa, he was ambivalent about its pre-modern infrastructure and the dominance of small family farms, which he considered inadequate as a driving force for his industrialization schemes. The balance between agriculture and industry, and the role of smallholder farmers have remained perennial issues in Africa’s developmental agenda. Nkrumah’s policies undercut the cocoa industry, though the results would not be evident until the 1970s, as Ghana declined as the world’s leading producer of cocoa and the Ivory Coast emerged as the premier producer. Nkrumah’s state-led industrialization scheme was not successful either, leaving Ghana handicapped in both its agricultural and industrial sectors. What are the lessons for the present and future? Below is the video of the first lecture.


Lecture Two - 16 March, 2018

Topic: “African Socialism; or the Search for an Indigenous Model of Economic Development in Ghana?”


Few African countries explicitly choose "capitalism" on independence, and for those who followed capitalism it was a default model or a residual pattern. On the other hand, "African socialism" was popular in the early decades of independence and pursued by several countries including Ghana, Guinea, Senegal, and Tanzania. African socialism had multiple meanings, and its advocates were quick to stress that they were not communist, some that they were not even Marxist. What did socialism mean to Nkrumah and how did he pursue a socialist economic agenda? This paper explores the argument that African socialism was a search for an indigenous model of economic development for a generation that was justifiably ambivalent about capitalism, but wary of being put in the communist camp in an era of Cold War. Importantly, advocates of African socialism, particularly Nkrumah, often proposed bold and transformative visions for their countries that might be worth revisiting devoid of the paradigm of socialism. Below is the video of the second lecture.



Emmanuel Akyeampong is the Ellen Gurney Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the Oppenheimer Faculty Director for the Center for African Studies.

He was appointed a Loeb Harvard College Professor from July 2005 through June 2010. Akyeampong is a Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (FGA), and a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK). He sits on the Advisory Council of the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellows Program.

Akyeampong serves as the president of the African Public Broadcasting Foundation (US), a partnership of academic researchers, African broadcasters and African producers dedicated to the production of development oriented programs for broadcast on television, radio and the Internet. He is a co-founder of the International Institute for the Advanced Study of Cultures, Institutions and Economic Enterprise based in Accra, Ghana.

He served as chair of the Committee on African Studies at Harvard from July 2002 to June 2006. He is the author and editor of several books and articles including Drink, Power, and Cultural Change: A Social History of Alcohol in Ghana, c.1800 to Recent Times (1996); Between the Sea and the Lagoon: An Eco-Social History of the Anlo of Southeastern Ghana, c.1850 to Recent Times (2001); and editor of Themes in West Africa’s History (2006); with Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Dictionary of African Biography 6 Vols. (2012); and with Alan G. Hill and Arthur Kleinman, The Culture of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Practice in Africa (2015). His research interests are social history, comparative slavery and the African diaspora, environmental history, the history of disease and medicine, economic and business history.

Akyeampong has been an editor of the Journal of African History (2006-2010), was founding co-editor of African Diaspora and has served on the editorial advisory boards of African Arguments, African Affairs, the International Journal of African Historical Studies, Journal of African History, Journal of the Social History of Medicine, Ghana Studies, the Transactions of the Historical Society of Ghana, and Research Review. He was a member of the board of directors for the African Studies Association in the United States, and a former Council Member of the International African Institute.

Akyeampong holds a Masters in Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School (2014), and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.


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