NKRUMAH, Kwame (1909-1972)
Plaque erected in 2005 by English Heritage at 60 Burghley Road, Kentish Town, London, NW5 1UN, London Borough of Camden
Politics and Administration
KWAME NKRUMAH 1909-1972 First President of Ghana lived here 1945-1947
Kwame Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and a prominent figure in the campaign for its independence from British rule. He is commemorated with a blue plaque at 60 Burghley Road in Kentish Town, where he lived from 1945 until 1947.
Born in what was then known as the Gold Coast (now Ghana), Nkrumah moved to London in spring 1945, and began to study philosophy and law. However, this academic work was soon eclipsed by his political activities. By autumn 1945, Nkrumah had been elected Vice-President of the West African Student Union, Regional Secretary of the Pan-African Federation, and was made joint Secretary of the organising committee of the fifth Pan-African Congress, held in Manchester in October of that year.
Initially Nkrumah had found it hard to find accommodation. He recalled that, because of his colour, countless doors were slammed in his face. Eventually he found a room at 60 Burghley Road and stayed there from June 1945 until November 1947, when he returned to the Gold Coast. Nkrumah’s time at Burghley Road was happy; his landlady, Mrs Florence Manley, looked upon him ‘as a member of my family’, and made a point of opening her home to his friends. It was also productive; here, he was ‘always working, till 3 or 4 in the morning’.
PRESIDENT OF GHANA
Back in Africa, Nkrumah’s charisma and visionary ideas led him to become a figure of major significance. In 1957, the Gold Coast (renamed Ghana) became the first black African colony to achieve independence, partly owing to Nkrumah’s campaigning. He was made the country’s first Prime Minister and three years later he became President.
This period of his career was fraught with controversy, and his leadership was ended in 1966 by a military coup. Nkrumah did, however, leave a lasting legacy, providing Ghana with benefits such as free elementary education and a network of roads.