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African States have to Reconcile Nkrumah’s and Mazrui’s Approaches to Nuclear Arms

There are at least two traditions of African thought on nuclear weapons, traceable to their most vocal exponents: Kwame Nkrumah, the scholarly first president of independent Ghana, and Ali Mazrui, the renowned Kenyan scholar. Both Nkrumah and Mazrui associated nuclear weapons with imperialism and racism, but proposed different approaches to address the problem they present. Nkrumah’s was an abolitionist non-violent approach. He argued for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and saw nuclear imperialism as the exploitation of smaller states and indigenous people and territory for nuclear tests and uranium mining. Mazrui, on the other hand, argued for nuclear proliferation before nuclear disarmament could take place. His view was that the dominant policy towards nuclear weapons afforded some states the political privilege of having them, while denying this right to others. What he called nuclear imperialism. The achievement of an Africa Nuclear Free Zone treaty in 2009 was a direct outflow of Nkrumah’s approach. Mazrui’s approach never had much official traction.