By H. Fuller

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

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

Sample text

Few other organizations can compete: ethnic groups may be able to produce music, masks, clothing, and dances; churches and mosques use their rituals, architecture, and vestments; opposition groups may carefully choose a color and symbol for public manifestations. But as these examples suggest, their resources, reach, and organization are limited compared with that of most states. Another part of the power of the state flows from an international order that naturalizes states as expressions of the will of the people.

As opposed to a literary one (although this would develop later), it would not only take political nationalism, but also symbolic nationalism to achieve this goal. As the postage stamp depicted on the front cover page of this book illustrates, Nkrumah espoused the idea that he needed to use public signs or symbols to convince the “largely illiterate” Ghanaian masses that they were independent of British colonialism. ” 9 Nonetheless, these public symbols of nationhood were to be designed for mass consumption both at home and abroad.

The British Colonial Office also disapproved of Nkrumah’s use of symbolic nationalism, which officials argued was unprecedented in the former British colonies. They complained that it usurped and overshadowed the imagery of the British Queen as head of state of the new Ghana—which at the time of independence (and before it became a republic three years later) was a Dominion within the British Commonwealth. Building the Ghanaian Nation-State tells the story of Kwame Nkrumah’s problematic use of symbolic nationalism to construct a national identity for Ghana, as well as to solidify his power in the process.

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