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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 May 2019


The first intimation that I might be asked to go to Ghana as Governor General came in a 6d Air Letter hand-written by Kwame Nkrumah from the Prime Minister's Office in the Castle at Accra, and dated May 5th, 1957. There was something rather pleasantly informal about the use of the cheap Air Mail service for such an important communication. The letter, in green ink, read as follows:

My dear Lord Listowel,

It is the intention of the Government of Ghana to appoint the next Governor-General from the United Kingdom. I know the part you have played in the socialist struggle in Great Britain. I also know of your services as Chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau while I was in London during my student days. In these circumstances, I would be very pleased to know whether it would be possible for us to consider your name among those from whom we might choose a Governor-General. It would a privilege for Ghana if we were able, by appointing you, to honour the work which you did in the achievement of Indian Independence and which you have done in the cause of colonial freedom. As you will realise the matter is urgent and I should greatly appreciate an early reply.

Yours very sincerely,

Kwame Nkrumah

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Copyright © Royal Historical Society 2019 

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528 Christianborg Castle, the seat of government in Ghana.

529 I was never Chairman of the Fabian Colonial Bureau although I was a member.

530 Francis Rodd, 2nd Baron Rennell of Rodd (1895–1978).

531 I am now certain that Bing suggested to Nkrumah my invitation. Geoffrey Bing (1909–1977), Labour MP, and later attorney general of Ghana, 1957–1961.

532 Actually, Alexander succeeded Jowitt, not Addison, as Labour leader in the House of Lords in 1955.

533 Sir Michael Adeane, later Lord Adeane (1910–1984), private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, 1953–1972.

534 It was at the Imperial Conference of 1926 that this convention was accepted.

535 James Scullin (1876–1953), Labor prime minister of Australia, 1929–1932.

536 John Baird (1874–1941), 1st Viscount Stonehaven, Conservative MP and minister; governor general of Australia, 1925–1930.

537 Lieutenant General Sir Douglas Packard (1903–1999), army officer and administrator; military adviser to West African governments, 1956–1958.

538 I suspect the offer of ‘a country residence’ was used as bait.

539 J.E. Hagan, Ghanaian politician; regional commissioner under Nkrumah.

540 Krobo Edusei (1914–1984), Ashanti and Ghanaian politician; minister of the interior, 1957–1958.

541 Sir Robert Jackson (1911–1991), UN and Australian official, special commissioner of the Preparatory Commission of the Volta River Project, and chairman of independent Ghana's Commission for Development, 1957–1962.

542 Barbara Ward, later Baroness Jackson of Lodsworth (1914–1981), British economist and academic.

543 Michael Dei-Anang (1909–1977), Ghanaian official and writer; secretary to the governor general of Ghana, 1957–1959, and principal secretary, Ghana Ministry of External Affairs, 1969–1961.

544 Simon Ramsay, 16th earl of Dalhousie (1914–1999), Conservative peer and colonial administrator; governor general of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, 1957–1963.

545 Sir K. Arku Korsah (1894–1967), chief justice of Ghana, 1957–1963; summarily dismissed in December 1963 by Nkrumah on acquitting defendants accused of plotting a coup and of attempting to assassinate Nkrumah.

546 The stool is the symbol of chiefly or royal authority such as the Ashanti Golden Stool of the Asantehene.

547 Prempeh I was exiled to the Seychelles after a defeat at the hands of the British in 1900.

548 A suspected conspiracy directed by Opposition MPs R.R. Amponsah and M.K. Apaloo to assassinate Nkrumah and carry out a coup d’état.

549 Listowel is referring here to Justice W.B. Van Lare (1904–1969), who was a judge of the Supreme Court of Ghana, 1957–1963, and served as acting chief justice for a period between 1957 and 1958.

550 E.R.T. Madjitey (1920–1996), Ghanaian police officer and later diplomat and opposition politician; inspector general of police, 1958–1964, and leader of the opposition, 1970–1972.

551 Kojo Botsio (1916–2001), Ghanaian politician; minister of foreign affairs, 1958–1959, and 1963–1965.

552 Komla Agbeli Gbedemah (1912–1998), Ghanaian politician; minister of finance, 1957–1961.

553 Justice Gilbert Granville Sharp (1894–1968), Liberal politician and barrister; justice of appeal of the Supreme Court of Ghana, 1957–1962.

554 The Order of the Companionship of Honour was founded in 1917. Membership confers no title. Churchill was a Companion, but did not found or instigate the Order.

555 The Queen was undoubtedly a ‘mother’ figure for Nkrumah. The invitation to Balmoral was a superb example of royal tact.

556 Arthur Lewis (1915–1991), later Sir Arthur Lewis, economist and educator, born on St Lucia; chief economic adviser to the Ghanaian Government, 1957–1958.

557 ‘Seek ye first the political kingdom and all things shall be added unto you.’

558 Sylvanus Olympio (1902–1963), first president of Togo, 1960–1963.

559 Félix Houphouët-Boigny (1905–1993), first president of the Ivory Coast, 1960–1993.

560 Sir Martin Charteris (1913–1999), later Lord Charteris of Amisfield, courtier, assistant private secretary, 1953–1972 and private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, 1972–1977.

561 Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh (b.1921), consort of Queen Elizabeth II.

562 Rear Admiral (later Sir) Christopher Bonham-Carter (1907–1975), naval officer and courtier; treasurer to Prince Philip, 1959–1970.

563 Gamal Nkrumah (b.1959), eldest son of Kwame and Fathia Nkrumah.

564 Kofi A. Busia (1913–1978), Ghanaian politician and academic; opposition leader; went into exile and returned, on Nkrumah's fall, to be prime minister of Ghana, 1969–1972.

565 This distinction would go a few months later to Nnamdi Azikiwe, commonly known as ‘Zik’, who became governor general of Nigeria, 1960–1963.

566 C. Rajagopalachari (1878–1972), Indian political leader and official; last governor general of India, 1948–1950.

567 J.B. Danquah (1895–1965), leading Ghanaian politician and political opponent of Nkrumah; later arrested twice on charges that he was subverting the government. Died in prison in 1965.

568 Henry James Scrymgeour-Wedderburn, 11th earl of Dundee (1902–1983), Conservative peer and junior minister; minister without portfolio, 1958–1961.

569 Quotation from late 19th-century writer John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton.

570 Mrs Nkrumah was Egyptian. It was impossible for Nkrumah to marry a Ghanaian as the ‘market mammies’ (main shop-owners in Accra) would have been madly jealous. So his marriage was arranged by a mutual friend in Egypt. He wanted a son. Fathia Nkrumah, née Ritzk (1932–2007).

571 Jerry Rawlings (b.1947); Ghanaian air force lieutenant and politician; led a coup d’état in 1979; head of state, 1979, 1981–2001.

572 John Maginnis (1919–2001), Ulster Unionist MP.

573 Trevor Skeet (1918–2004), later Sir Trevor Skeet; Conservative MP.

574 James Tinn (1922–1999), Labour MP.

575 Bruce Millan (1927–2013), Labour MP and minister; secretary of state for Scotland, 1976–1979.

576 J.A. Braimah, Ghanaian politician; MP and later Northern Region administrator, 1969–1972.

577 Nii Amaa Ollennu (1906–1986); Ghanaian judge and politician; justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana; and acting president in 1970.

578 Joe Appiah (1918–1990), Ghanaian politician; MP who was once a close ally of Nkrumah before falling out with him in the 1950s.