The Gold Coast

An Experiment in Partnership

Courtesy Reuters

THE government returned to power in the Gold Coast after the general elections being held in June 1954 cannot fail to be something of a test case for the whole of Africa. In the entire continent, it is the third independent government composed entirely of Africans. Otherwise only Ethiopia and Liberia enjoy that status. It is the first independent African administration to be set up in an area once ruled by a European colonial Power. These factors alone would give the experiment some special significance. Since, however, the crucial question throughout Africa is now and will be for decades to come whether or to what degree the African can take responsibility for his own destiny, the Gold Coast experiment has more than the simple interest of novelty. It will inevitably be watched by Africans and by non-Africans as the proving ground of African maturity.

The comparisons made are, it is true, likely to be misleading and the judgments not always soundly based. In Africa, one region varies from other regions as greatly as in any other continent. But since in such crucial areas as South Africa or--to a lesser extent--in Central Africa, the issue has been fixed so firmly on a White-Black basis, local differences tend to be left to one side. The Gold Coast has become a symbol. Achievements and failures will be judged in this strong and often misleading light.

The present government is the successor to the government elected in 1950 as a result of the first general elections conducted under adult suffrage in the Gold Coast. The successful party, the Convention People's Party, came to power under somewhat unexpected circumstances. Its leader, Dr. Nkrumah, had been called back to the Gold Coast from his studies abroad--in the United States and Britain--to act as Secretary to the solidly established middle-class African nationalist party, the United Gold Coast Convention. This group contained most of the colony's educated and politically conscious leaders, men who confidently expected at some point to be given

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