Today In History: Dr Kwame Nkrumah Meets John F. Kennedy In Washington D.C. on 8th March 1961

The 8th of March, 1961 is a significant day in the histories of Ghana and the United States of America. It marks another milestone in the burgeoning relationship between the African continent and the United States at the time.

President John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States was the first president to court African nationalism in a bid to contribute to the development of the continent but most importantly, to sow the seeds that would tip the balance in his favour in the Cold War. 

After being elected to power in 1960, President Kennedy invited and hosted the presidents and prime ministers of the newly independent countries in Africa, discussing development and partnerships in a bid to win one over the Soviet Union, who were also working hard to gain footing on the continent.

President John F. Kennedy greeting Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, President of Ghana, on his arrival at Washington International Airport, Washington, D.C.

In a joint statement by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, then President of Ghana and John F. Kennedy, ‘they reviewed economic and political problems of common interest and reaffirmed their desire to work together toward increasing the existing fund of respect and good will shared by the Governments and peoples of Ghana and the United States.’

Here is the full statement:

March 08, 1961

PRESIDENT John F. Kennedy and President Kwame Nkrumah exchanged views this afternoon regarding the general situation in Africa as well as various aspects of current relations between the United States and the Republic of Ghana.

The two Presidents reviewed economic and political problems of common interest and reaffirmed their desire to work together toward increasing the existing fund of respect and good will shared by the Governments and peoples of Ghana and the United States. The importance of mutual confidence and understanding was emphasized by the two Presidents.

The two Presidents recognized the central importance of the role of the United Nations in Africa and the importance of the African countries and their leaders working together for the peaceful development of that great continent. In particular, they are convinced of the need for unflagging and genuine support, both moral and material, of United Nations efforts to bring peace to the people of the Congo and to promote peace and stability in the continent as a whole. They also agreed that the nations of Africa should be supported in the development of their natural resources so as to benefit the continent as a whole and provide a promising future for their peoples in full and unfettered freedom.

Both expressed gratification at this opportunity occasioned by Dr. Nkrumah’s visit to the United Nations, for this informal meeting.

In spite of this meeting, Nkrumah will, in later years lean completely into the ideologies of the USSR, making him an opponent instead of an ally to the United States in the Cold War, leading to a CIA-backed coup to overthrow him in 1966.

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