Kwame Nkrumah’s Birthday
As Ghana observes Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Day with a public holiday on September 21, we explain why this date may be incorrect and how it has become the official Kwame Nkrumah’s Birthday.
On September 21, 1909, Dr. Francis Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president and the steward of the country’s freedom from British colonial power, was born. However, this is most likely incorrect. Nkrumah himself has conceded that both his birth year and September 21 could be incorrect.
Kwame Nkrumah was born in a time and place where births, marriages, and deaths were not officially recorded.
The only ways parents marked the ages of their children was by festival celebrations. This is how Nkrumah became somewhat convinced that 1909 is an accurate-enough year of birth.
“The only certain facts about my birth appear to be that I was born in the village in Nkroful in Nzima around mid-day on a Saturday in mid-September,” he explained in his autobiography titled “Ghana: The Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah.”
Dr. Nkrumah believes that he was born three years earlier than the officially the recognized year of 1909.
“In the outlying areas of the Gold Coast nobody bothered to record the dates of births, marriages and deaths, as is the custom of the western world. Such happenings were remark able only because they provided a cause for celebration. By tribal custom it was enough for a mother to assess the age of her child by calculating the number of national festivals that had been celebrated since its birth. In most cases, however, even this was unknown as nobody was concerned very much with age: time did not count in those peaceful communities. The national festival of Nzima is called Kuntum. According to my mother’s calculations, forty-five Kuntums have taken place since I was born, which makes the year of my birth 1912.”