Across the continent of Africa, a web of laws silenced African speech. On the eve of World War II, a small, impoverished group of Africans and West Indians in London dared to imagine the end of British rule in Africa. Printing gave oppositions a voice, initially through broadsheets, tracts, pamphlets, later through books and articles. The group launched an anti-colonial campaign that used publishing as a pathway to liberation. These writers included West Indians George Padmore, C. L. R. James, and Ras Makonnen, Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta and Sierra Leone's I. T. A. Wallace Johnson. They formed a part of International African Service Bureau (IASB), and the communists saw them as "generals without an army, they have no base and must depend on their pens". Padmore saw 'trusteeship' as a concept invoked as far back as the late nineteenth-century conferences that divided up Africa. Pan-Africa, a monthly periodical T. Ras Makonnen put out, reported that Richard Wright urged his listeners to form an international network of 'cultured progressives'. Labour-powered nationalism was to Padmore more than a drive for self-government. With the Gold Coast political ground so unsettled, neither Nkrumah nor the Convention People's Party (CPP) made Wright privy to their operations. Inspired by the movement for self-government in British West African colonies, French radicals like Leopold Senghor were rebelling against French political control. In 1969, when a small American publisher reissued A History of Pan-African Revolt , James added to it an epilogue explaining the 'rapid decline of African nationalism'.
Richard Wright had thought that he would be welcomed as a great man, and Africans did not even know who he was. To these reasons Wright biographer Hazel Rowley adds another: a genuine fear of communist influence in Africa. 'Nevertheless', Rowley has written, 'it was an act of betrayal, Kwame Nkrumah was no pawn of Moscow, and George Padmore unequivocally shared Wright's hostility towards Communism. With the Gold Coast political ground so unsettled, it is not surprising that neither Nkrumah nor the Convention People's Party (CPP) made Wright privy to their operations. Although the CPP was not directly affiliated with communist organisations, leaders acknowledged modelling their party on the Russian Communist Party. 'In short, it is a Communist minded political party, borrowing Marxist concepts and applying them with a great deal of flexibility to local African social and economic conditions.
ConventionPeoplesParty pursued a vigorous and militant selfgovernment
campaign. Special Branch and the police were heavily committed
to controlling large political meetings and demonstrations held
with increasing frequency throughout the colony after 1948.
Militant trade union leaders supported the campaign by
encouraging unrest amongst organised labour and
run-up to, and the immediate aftermath of,
the Gold Coast’s first general election in 1951. The political
history of this period of Ghanaian history is sufficiently well known to
make a lengthy prologue redundant. The brief and essential facts are
these: having initially rejected the constitution devised by the
all-African Coussey Committee as ‘bogus and fraudulent’, the
another way, as
historian of the Gold Coast revolution. In a letter written from Ghana
on 3 March 1957, James told friends that Nkrumah had encouraged him to
write about the building of the ConventionPeoplesParty. ‘N told
me that his autobiography told the story but nobody yet had
“philosophized it”.’ James had no apparent doubt that
he was the man for the job – with the assistance of Grace Lee