Kwame Nkrumah (21 September 1909 – 27 April 1972), P.C., was the leader of Ghana and its predecessor state, the Gold Coast, from 1951 to 1966. Overseeing the nation's independence from British colonial rule in 1957, Nkrumah was the first President of Ghana and the first Prime Minister of Ghana. An influential 20th-century advocate of Pan-Africanism, he was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity and was the winner of the Lenin Peace Prize in 1963.
Early life and education
Kwame Nkrumah was born in 1909  in Nkroful, Gold Coast. Nkrumah trained to be a teacher at Achimota School in Accra from 1925-1935 For the following 5 years he worked as a teacher in several schools in the Gold Coast including a Catholic school in Axim, whilst saving money to continue his education in the USA. In 1935 he sailed from Takoradi, the Gold Coast's main port, to Liverpool in England, and made his way to London where he obtained his student visa from the US Embassy. It was while he was in London in late 1935 that he heard the news of Fascist Italy's invasion of Abyssinia, an event that outraged the young Nkrumah and influenced his political development. In October 1935 Nkrumah sailed from Liverpool to the United States and enrolled in Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He graduated with a BA in 1939, and received a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1942. Nkrumah earned a Master of Science in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1942, and a Master of Arts in philosophy the fo
lowing year. While lecturing in political science at Lincoln he was elected president of the African Students Organization of America and Canada. As an undergraduate at Lincoln he participated in at least one student theater production and published an essay on European government in Africa in the student newspaper, The Lincolnian.
During his time in the United States, Nkrumah preached at black Presbyterian Churches in Philadelphia and New York City. He read books about politics and divinity, and tutored students in philosophy. Nkrumah encountered the ideas of Marcus Garvey and in 1943 met and began a lengthy correspondence with Trinidadian Marxist C.L.R. James, Russian expatriate Raya Dunayevskaya, and Chinese-American Grace Lee Boggs, all of whom were members of a US based Trotskyist intellectual cohort. Nkrumah later credited James with teaching him 'how an underground movement worked'. Nkrumah's association with these radicals drew him to the attention of the FBI and he was under surveillance by early 1945.
He arrived in London in May 1945 intending to study at the LSE. After meeting with George Padmore, he helped organize the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England. Then he founded the West African National Secretariat to work towards the decolonization of Africa. Nkrumah served as Vice-President of the West African Students' Union (WASU). Nkrumah's association with left wing radicals meant that he was watched by Special Branch whilst he was in England between 1945 and 1947.