Dr Kwame Nkrumah

Dr Kwame Nkrumah

Highlights of the life of Dr Kwame Nkrumah

<h2 style="text-align: center;">The glorious birth of the legend</h2>
21 September 1909

The glorious birth of the legend

He was born Francis Nwia Kofi Ngonloma on September 21, 1909, to Kofi Ngonloma of the Asona Clan and Elizabeth Nyanibah of the Anona Clan at Nkroful in the Western Region of what was then known as the Gold Coast.

He would later change his name to Kwame Nkrumah in 1945 in the U.K., preferring Kwame since he was born on a Saturday.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Family life as a young man</h2>
06 June 1916

Family life as a young man

Nkrumah’s father did not live with the family because he worked in Half Assini, a town in the Western Region. Nkrumah was just a boy when his father passed away.

Raised by his mother and extended family, Nkrumah spent his childhood “in the village, in the bush and on the nearby sea”, according to one account. His mother later sent him to the elementary school run by a Catholic mission at Half Assini, where he performed incredibly well.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Pupil teacher days and Achimota School influence</h2>
06 June 1925

Pupil teacher days and Achimota School influence

By 1925, Nkrumah was already a student-teacher in the school and even got baptized into the faith before he met Reverend Alec Garden Fraser, principal of the Government Training College (which would become Achimota School) in the Gold Coast’s capital, Accra.

Fraser made arrangements for Nkrumah to train as a teacher in his school, where Nkrumah met the Columbia-educated deputy headmaster Kwegyir Aggrey, who highlighted the ideas of Pan-Africanists, Marcus Garvey and W. E. B. Du Bois.

Historical accounts state that Aggrey, Fraser, and others at Achimota believed that there should be close cooperation between the races in governing the Gold Coast. However, Nkrumah, following the footsteps of Garvey, would later believe that there could be unity between the races only when the black race governed itself.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Achimota School graduation and start of teaching career</h2>
06 June 1930

Achimota School graduation and start of teaching career

In 1930, Nkrumah graduated from Achimota and got a teaching post at the Catholic primary school in Elmina. The following year, he was made headmaster of the school at Axim, where his interest in politics developed, leading him to create the Nzima Literary Society.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Full-time teaching opportunity before emigration to the U.S.</h2>
07 June 1933

Full-time teaching opportunity before emigration to the U.S.

In 1933, he was appointed a teacher at the Catholic seminary at Amissa but he left to further his education in America in 1935 after saving enough cash.

Before the journey, Nkrumah had heard journalist and future Nigerian president Nnamdi Azikiwe speak while a student at Achimota.

Nkrumah met Azikiwe, who inspired him to gain massive interest in black nationalism. Azikiwe had attended Lincoln College, a historically black college in Chester County, Pennsylvania, south of Philadelphia, and he advised Nkrumah to enrol there.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Lincoln University</h2>
01 June 1939

Lincoln University

In 1935, Nkrumah finally sailed from Gold Coast to London and applied for an American visa from there. In the same year, he got admission to the Lincoln University of Pennsylvania.

He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Sociology in 1939 and earned a Sacred Theology degree.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Master's degree from University of Pennsylvania</h2>
04 June 1942

Master's degree from University of Pennsylvania

Nkrumah pursued further studies at the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics where he earned a Master of Science degree and the following year another Master’s degree in philosophy respectively.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Political activism while in school</h2>
07 June 1945

Political activism while in school

While studying at Lincoln University, Nkrumah was elected as the president of the African Students Organization of the United States and Canada, and later continued his schooling in England, where he helped to organise the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester in 1945.

Later serving as Vice-President of the West African Students’ Union (WASU), Nkrumah founded the West African National Secretariat to work for the decolonization of Africa.

<h2 style="text-align: center;">Return to the Gold Coast to continue political activism</h2>
07 June 1947

Return to the Gold Coast to continue political activism

Nkrumah was invited to become the General Secretary of the newly formed United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). In 1947, he returned home and took up that position.

03 September 1948

Dismissal from UGCC and launch of newspaper

Kwame Nkrumah published the first edition of the Accra Evening News which appeared as a one-sheet paper on September 3, 1948, when he was dismissed from his post as General Secretary due to his radical views.

11 June 1949

Formation of CPP party

Kwame Nkrumah formed the Convention People's Party (CPP) and his newspaper became the party's mouthpiece until the colonial government banned it the following year.

11 June 1950

Arrest and imprisonment

Nkrumah launched the Positive Action campaign, advocating nonviolent protests and strikes to demand self-governance. This led to his arrest and imprisonment by the colonial authorities.

11 June 1951

Political ascendency while in prison

While in prison, Nkrumah's CPP won a significant victory in the Gold Coast's first general election. He was released from prison to become the Leader of Government Business and later Prime Minister.


06 March 1957

Independence from colonial rule and first Prime Minister of Ghana

Under Nkrumah's leadership, the Gold Coast gained independence from British colonial rule, becoming the nation of Ghana. Nkrumah became the first Prime Minister of Ghana and a symbol of African liberation.

31 December 1957

Marriage and family

Nkrumah sent his friend, Alhaji Saleh Said Sinare, who was one of the first Ghanaian Muslims to study in Egypt, to find him a Christian wife from Egypt, and Fathia, born Fathia Halim Rizk, was one of the final five women chosen. At that stage, Kwame Nkrumah proposed to marry her. Nkrumah married Fathia at Christiansborg Castle, Accra on the evening of the 1957 New Year's Eve upon her arrival in Ghana. They had three children Gamal (born in 1958), Sékou (born in 1964) and Samia Nkrumah (born in 1960). There appear to be two more sons who claim to be Nkrumah's children—Onsy and Francis—and a daughter—Elizabeth.

11 June 1958

All African People's Conference and advocacy for Africa's independence

The All-Africa Peoples Conference was conceived by Kwame Nkrumah, his advisor George Padmore, and others to continue the tradition of the Pan-African Congress, which had last met in 1945 in Manchester. It represented the opinion that the end of European colonial rule was near. It was held in Ghana in 1958, Tunisia in 1960, and Egypt in 1961. In 1963, the 32 African states that had achieved independence agreed to establish the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nkrumah continued to push for a united Africa until his death. 


01 July 1960

First president of Ghana

Ghana became a republic, and Nkrumah was elected its first President. He pursued ambitious policies of industrialization, education, and African unity, envisioning a united Africa free from colonialism.

24 February 1966

Overthrow in a military coup

While on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, Nkrumah was overthrown in a military coup orchestrated by the National Liberation Council. He went into exile in Guinea, where he was granted asylum by President Ahmed Sékou Touré and given the title of honorary co-president.

11 June 1966

Exile in the Republic of Guinea

In exile, Nkrumah continued to write and advocate for African unity and socialism. His influence persisted in many parts of Africa, despite his political downfall. He was honoured as a co-president in Guinea by President Sekou Toure. 

27 April 1972

Death in Romania, burial in Guinea, reburial in Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah died of prostate cancer in Bucharest, Romania. His body was returned to Guinea where was embalmed and buried briefly following a diplomatic tussle. His body was exhumed and flown to Ghana, where he was buried in Nkroful, his birthplace.

01 July 1992

Final burial at the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum

His body was exhumed again and interred at a mausoleum in Accra built in his honour. 


Similar Timelines to Explore

Expolore similar timelines on Timepath and dive deeper into the subject of Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Your journey through connected events and stories starts here. Missed something? We would love to hear your suggestions for additional timelines.