A Diplomatic Rendezvous: Ghanaian and Soviet Relations, 1957–66

Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:30 AM
Virginia Suite A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Nana Osei-Opare, University of California, Los Angeles
On April 18, 1960, after three years of failed Soviet overtures to create diplomatic ties with Ghana, Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev, expressed his extreme delight and optimism to Ghana’s president, Kwame Nkrumah, at the arrival of Ghana’s first ambassador and Ghanaian parliamentary delegation to the Soviet Union. Both leaders identified this moment as an opportunity to promote the “further development and expansion of friendly relations between the two countries.” These interactions, from 1957-1966, have largely been framed within a Cold War framework or from the purview of the time’s major Western and European powers. This paper breaks from those paradigms, and (re-)centers Ghana’s relationship with the USSR through a Ghanaian perspective at local and government levels. It argues that despite pressures from international and internal forces, the Ghanaian state requested economic and technical assistance from the Soviet regime in specific areas—such as an atomic reactor and cotton mill factory, lambasted faulty Soviet equipment and unqualified Soviet personnel sent to Ghana, and delicately forged its own diplomatic and ideological path during the Cold War and Soviet-Sino conflict. To outline my claims, I use English and Russian language sources such as letters, state documents, cabinet meeting minutes, newspaper articles, inter-departmental communications, and state industry reports from Howard University’s Dabu Gizenga and Kwame Nkrumah collections, the British national archives, the Russian archives of RGASPI, GARF, AVPRF, the Ghanaian archives in Accra and Tamale, and tap into the growing secondary literature on Ghana and the Soviet Union during Nkrumah’s reign.
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