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GEORGE PADMORE

George Padmore

George Padmore was a very instrumental figure in Africa's struggle for independence eventhough he was a native of the West Indies(Trinidad). He had a very close relationship with Kwame Nkrumah of the Gold Coast(later Ghana), mainly because they were both proponents of the Pan-Africanism movement. He also shared a similarly close relationship with Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta and Tom Mboya.

Padmore was born in 1901 in Trinidad, one of the Carribean Islands. Padmore's political activity can be traced to the 1920's when he was a student in the United States. During this time he joined the Communist Party and quickly rose within its ranks. He was a strong proponent of black labour rights, and was head of the Negro Bureau of the Communist Trade Union International. In 1931, he wrote The Life and Struggles of Negro Toilers to expose the plight of black labourers throughout the world. While a student in Russia he had a disagreement with his Communist allies and broke ranks with them. The disagreement was about Russia's colonial policies, which Padmore oppossed. He came back to London where he relaunched his fight against colonialism only this time, not as a Communist.

This move by Padmore to switch his alliances away from the communists to the capitalists was a very monumental one, and would re-shape his political future henceforth. After the switch for example, he became very critical of other black Communist leaders, in particular black subscribers of Marxism. He became rather intolerant by making it a race between Pan-Africanism and Communism. He argued that Communism was just another European ideology that black people should shun wholesale like any other colonial ideology. His attention became focussed on english speaking colonies in the Carribean and in Africa. He established the International African Service Bureau that connected Carribean political activists, trade Unionists and intellectuals with their African counterparts. Padmore himself became a sort of mentor for the budding black nationalists around the world. He achieved this through his informative journal The International African Opinion. His efforts in Africa were loudest in Ghana(former Gold Coast) under Kwame Nkrumah. His ideas of Pan-Africanism were largely adopted by Nkrumah, but as was later discovered, these policies were good only on paper but quite unrealistic to fulfill.

Padmore died in 1959, without realising his ideal of Pan-Africanism. The mark he left behind however is indellible, and any black history scholar worth his salt will tell you that Padmore, alongside other black nationalists like Marcus Garvey form an elite group of non-native Africans whose impact on the Independence struggle was immeasurable. Africa will forever be greatful to these great Carribean warriors.

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