Genoveva Esther Marais

Born Genoveva Esther Marais- meet the South African woman, who, according to several reports, is believed to be a close friend and an alleged lover of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

Per reports, she was so close to the radical political reformist than any other individual he had come across in his entire adulthood period. She discovered a part of him rarely experienced by anyone else.

Genoveva attended the Fort Hare and Rhodes Universities, where she received a Diploma and Bachelor of Arts degree in education, respectively. After her undergraduate studies, she began her professional career as an English teacher at the William Pescod High school.


After successful completion of her education in South Africa, Genoveva moved to New York, where she lived for over three years. During her stay in America, she joined the Columbia University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where she was awarded a Masters of Art certificate after successful completion. Aside from being a student, she also became a model during her stay in Columbia.

Before Ghana then Gold Coast attained political independence from the British colonial masters, Genoveva moved to Ghana- where she served as Inspector of Schools. As part of her appointment, she received an expatriate appointment from Michael Dei-Anang, a recruitment officer at the Colonial Civil Service, during the colonial era. She arrived in Ghana on February 22nd, 1957.

Post attaining political freedom, Kwame Nkrumah and Ms. Marais met at an Independence State Ball where the beautiful damsel caught the attention of Nkrumah while on the dancefloor with another lady.

Upon seeing her, the gallant Prime Minister Nkrumah focused on her as he made sure he never lost focus her. With time, Nkrumah gathered courage as he asked her for a dance. Awed by Nkrumah’s invitation for a dance, it was an offer the delightful debutante just couldn’t want; and that’s how the relationship between the latter and former began.

Upon accepting the offer for a dance with the daring Prime Minister, Genoveva, in a flash, succumbed to Kwame’s irresistible chuckle; it allured her. Kwame discovered solace in the glow of Genoveva’s grip.

Genoveva was a well-trained woman of numerous abilities with refined individual taste. Amongst her several talents, Genoveva was believed to have played the piano remarkably and had an unflinching desire for interior decor.

Kwame Nkrumah and Genoveva frequented the sport, Tennis, and they were known to have played at dawn. As cultured as she was, Ms. Marie became Nkrumah’s stylist and hired the Prime Minister’s tailor. She fashioned what became his subversive iconic dandy look.

In Genoveva, Nkrumah found an honest and trustworthy partner who was blunt with him. After several attempts to assassinate him, Nkrumah grew paranoid. In fact, Nkrumah was a marked man.

Assassination attempts and plots on Kwame Nkrumah were numerous, and as time went by, so did the call to glory also gain momentum. As he battled for his life: he also combated sorrow and melancholy. He needed unconditional loyalty, and Genoveva filled that void. As a result of her companionship, he shared his grand ambitions and deepest fears with her, without the slightest iota of skepticism.

In light of the strong bond they had, Genevova was convinced the special relationship they revered withstood because it was centered on “love and friendship as opposed to by law.”

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah smiles cheerfully

Gradually, Nkrumah fell head over heels for her and proposed marriage. But she brutally rejected him. She feared her marriage to Kwame would compromise her professional career.

Due to her ambitious nature, Genoveva wasn’t prepared to assume the job of a customary African spouse who was required to remain at home. Genoveva was an independent woman.

Genoveva later picked up work at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation as Head of Television Programs while she acted and delivered theater for radio and TV.

In the phase of her time with Nkrumah, she believed he was so engrossed with his ideals of a united tactless African society that “a spouse was an obstacle instead of a benefit.” Kwame once told Genoveva, “African solidarity should consistently start things out. If I have to sacrifice my mother for that, I would, however much I love her.”

Nkrumah was significantly political in each progression he took; indeed, the choice to break his virginity was most presumably impacted by politics as well.


Upon finally deciding to settle down, he married Fathia, a Coptic Christian Egyptian woman; it was merely after an exchange of photos. The marriage was arranged by close companions who, by and large, concluded it was not perfect for the senior-most citizen to hold the most elevated office of the land without a superior half.

They were so eager for him to settle down and nurture a family for which Fathia gave him precisely what he lacked his entire life – a stable home.

On February 24, 1966, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown as the President of the Republic of Ghana, which was due to a coup spearheaded by General Kotoka. After the coup, Nkrumah went into exile because of Ghana’s political situation as he lived the rest of his life in Guinea.

As a close companion of Nkrumah, Genoveva Marais tried visiting him, but on her way to Guinea, she got arrested and was detained in custody by the coup makers. In captivity, she was continually raped and expelled from the Republic.

16th March 1966, there was an expose release by Life Magazine, which described Genoveva as “Nkrumah’s slender mulatto mistress.” The public, for the first time, got a glimpse into their carefully hidden love affair. After a brief stop in Togoland, the Chief of Security paid her a visit to the hotel and summoned her to the Sûrete, the police headquarters. There, Genoveva was interrogated by six men, which included two Ghanaian nationals.

Her luggage was thoroughly searched, and a portion of her assets undermined with confiscation. She was held under house arrest before they permitted her to leave. Upon an upsetting outing to meet her lover, she lost the original copies for the book on the plane but recovered the reports afterward with the help of Miriam Makeba.

After meeting Genoveva, Nkrumah strongly insisted his she, Genoveva, documented his life since she knew him much better than his closest associates. He was vulnerable to Genoveva and never hid his emotions from her.

It was a result of Nkrumah’s desire to document his life that led to the publication of an autobiography on Nkrumah, which she titled Nkrumah as I knew him. The book isn’t about his unprecedented political feats; it’s an official account of a political genius’s personality.

In his entire adult life, Nkrumah only disclosed his affection for Genoveva to his spouse, Fathia Nkrumah, and two other close associates, namely Ayeh Kumi and Professor Dei Anang. The personal relationship between Genoveva and Kwame remains an unexplored part of the man, the legend.

Genoveva discovered love and wedded Victor S. Kanu, beneficiary to one of Sierra Leone’s imperial families, the Chieftaincy of Malal. He served as the High Commissioner to the United Kingdom for Sierra Leone until he was excused from his post for his union with her.

Vintage picture of Victor S. Kanu and Genoveva Esther Marais

By Kwesi Appiah

Appiah Kwesi Anokye Dennis Jnr, professionally known as Kwesi Appiah is a Ghanaian celebrity blogger and writer.

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