Building the Ghanaian Nation-State: Kwame Nkrumah’s Symbolic by H. Fuller

By H. Fuller

Ghana has constantly held a place of primacy within the African political and old mind's eye, due in no small half to the indelible effect left president Kwame Nkrumah. This research examines the symbolic ideas he used to build the Ghanaian nation via foreign money, stamps, museums, flags, and different public icons.

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Extra info for Building the Ghanaian Nation-State: Kwame Nkrumah’s Symbolic Nationalism

Sample text

These included everything from the party and national flags, anthem, pledge of allegiance, coat of arms, crest, public seal, National Assembly speaker’s chair and desk, to police officers’ badges and insignia. Nkrumah’s use of symbolic nationalism to give the Gold Coast an identity and to achieve nation-building was unique in that there was virtually no precedence or model in sub-Saharan Africa on how to create a new, modern nation-state out of a formerly colonized territory. Therefore, he had to look mainly (though not exclusively) outside of his own territorial and continental boundaries for cues.

In Ghana’s case, previous works have focused on the country’s political path to decolonization, as well as the political rivalries between Kwame Nkrumah, traditional leaders, and their respective political parties, as previously shown. However, Nkrumah’s contested use of politically inspired signs and symbols has been neglected. The analysis of the symbolic nature of nationalism in the Gold Coast/Ghana relating to the Nkrumah era is important for several reasons. 32 Second, an understanding of Nkrumah’s use of symbolic nationalism is an important starting point to interrogate how and with what level of success or failure did his contemporaries in other newly independent African states implore such methods of nation-building.

Even before the design and colors of Ghana’s national flag were considered, Nkrumah had previously faced the challenge of creating a suitable emblem and flag for the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). However, his ideas were met with skepticism and outright rejection, which put him at odds with UGCC leader J. B. Danquah and his cohorts. As Nkrumah consolidated his political powers, he replaced the national flag with that of his CPP and personalized the national anthem to make indicative references to his role in attaining Ghana’s independence.

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