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Building a nation: Symbolic nationalism during the Kwame Nkrumah era in the Gold Coast/Ghana.

Fuller, Harcourt (2010) Building a nation: Symbolic nationalism during the Kwame Nkrumah era in the Gold Coast/Ghana. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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"Many of my people cannot read or write. They've got to be shown that they are now really independent. And they can only be shown by signs. When they buy stamps they will see my picture - an African like themselves-and they will say "Aiee...look here is our leader on the stamps, we are truly a free people" (Kwame Nkrumah, 'Why the Queen's head is coming off our coins,' Daily Sketch, 20th' June 1957,12). For almost two decades (1951 - 1966), Kwame Nkrumah was the major nationalist leader in the Gold Coast/Ghana and the living personification of the Ghanaian nation-state. In this thesis I analyse the dynamics of how Nkrumah attempted to construct a homogenous national identity for Ghana, the first country in Sub- Saharan Africa to gain independence from a European imperial power. His nation- building strategies encompassed the propagandistic use of political iconography, expressed through what I call "symbols of nationhood," including money, postage stamps, monuments, museums, dress, non-verbal maxims (Adinkra symbols), the national anthem, emblems, and both national and party flags. The premiership of the self-proclaimed Civitatis Ghaniensis Conditor - Founder of the State of Ghana -was also characterized by the 'cult of personality' where he branded the nation with his image by personalizing these public symbols of nationhood. Despite these efforts, much of his nation-building projects became quite contentious and contradictory within the country and with foreign nations. They were consistently countered by alternative historical narratives and competing symbolisms from the departing British colonial officials (from whom he inherited much of these symbolisms), as well as traditional leaders, opposition parties, the military, merchants and intellectuals in Ghana. Since the 1966 coup that toppled him, many of the symbols of nationhood that Nkrumah constructed have been debated, demolished, reconsidered and reengineered by successive governments to rewrite the Ghanaian historical narrative and the legacy of Nkrumah himself. The examination of symbols of nationhood has largely been neglected in the literature on anti-colonial nationalism. The thesis is based on archival research conducted in the Public Record Office, the British Museum, the British Library, the British Postal Museum and Archive, the National Archives of Ghana, the Ghana Post Archives, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum (USA).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, General, History, African
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International History

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