High-risk start, but it's out of the way. I've recently read a Malcom Gladwell book (again), and recently seen the murder-of-stowaways movie, Deadly Voyage. Both book and movie led me irresistibly to think about Kwame Nkrumah.
The book argues that high fliers owe their cachet to various elements: circumstances of birth; time and place of birth; a little ability; a little opportunity; a little luck; a lot social support.
The macabre movie re-enacts the true-life tale of Kingsley Ofosu, his brother and their more-than-a-handful colleagues who stowed away on a Russian or Ukrainian ship to France. Only Kingly made it (barely). His brother and fellow stowaways were bludgeoned, hacked and shot do death and fodder-flung to sharks or whatever lurks in the deep.
But I almost digress.
Nkrumah was born at a time when slavery had been abolished. Education in Gold-Coast-Ghana was possible to the level just before university. He had a reasonably rich uncle in Lagos, Nigeria. He obtained admission to an American university. He oozed oodles of ambition and whatever-it-takes.
Nkrumah saved some money; oh, just enough to buy him a few meals outside of home. He needed to get to America. What did he do? He stowed away on a boat. He was a risk-taker. But, he was not an non-calculated-risk junkie. He did not take the trans-Atlantic deadly voyage. The landlubber 'lotteried' his life only as far as Lagos. His uncle gave him loads of money. He returned to Gold-Coast-Ghana and paid for his passage to Britain, en route to America. He got his B.A., then M.A., the PhD.
Did Kwame Nkrumah commit peccadilloes (like travel without paying)? Yes. Was he jailed for any misdemeanour in America? Find out. Was his leadership of Ghana cruel at times? I think so.
But, in spite of everything, (or rather because of them, to think like Gladwell), Kwame Nkrumah was nothing short of an Outlier. A man with a lot of savoir faire and (to repeat) whatever-it-takes. Happy Birthday, Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah.
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