How Kennedy’s Years of Lightning, Day of Drums Stole The Heart Of Ghanaians

DePree 1People’s Republic of Mozambique President Samora Machel meeting with U.S. Ambassador Willard DePree in July 1980. Photo: Courtesy of Willard DePree

Years after waiting to get to Africa, WILLARD DE PREE, US Political Officer, finally had his chance. He was initially assigned to Kaduna, in Nigeria, but that appointment was cancelled  Bill Edmondson, who was head of the political section in Accra had to return to the United States for family reasons.

Oliver Troxel, the DCM, asked De Pree, if I would be interested in going out to replace Bill Edmondson. He was very pleased with the assignment, especially in a country under one of Africa’s strongest leaders, Kwame Nkrumah. America played a significant role in Ghana’s politics and which cost Nkrumah at the end, when he was overthrown-ed a coup orchestrated by the CIA.

Ambassador Willard De Pree born in Michigan in 1928 and received his B.A. from Harvard University and an M.A. from the University of Michigan in 1952, was assigned to Ghana from 1964 to 1968. During his tenure of office in Accra, the US embassy received copies of the film that USIA had put out entitled, “Years of Lightning, Day of Drums,” about the Kennedy Administration.

Shortly before that film was produced, the embassy had sent the regional governors of Ghana to the United States for a tour. They had been escorted by Jack Matlock, who was then an officer at the embassy in Ghana. When the film arrived, the embassy decided to show it around Ghana at each of the regional capitals.

De Pree together with Jack Matlock, went to Blogatanga, in the northern region of Ghana and the governor put the screen in the middle of the town square and thousands of people, seated on all sides of the screen, showed up to see it. It was incredible, the reaction and feeling of black Africa toward Kennedy and the Kennedy Administration.

Ken 1

Link of the film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvN5ecqCFk0

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