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Father of the Nation: Ghanaian Nationalism, Internationalism and the Political Iconography of Kwame Nkrumah, 1957 – 2010

by Harcourt Fuller


This article addresses the ways in which Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s prime minister and president, sought visually to propagandize the complementary, yet competing demands of nation-building, Pan-Africanism, and internationalism (most notably Cold War politics and Third World non-alignment) from 1957 to 1966. In order to illustrate the complexities inherent in juggling these three main pillars of his presidency, this article examines the iconography and symbolism of the postage stamps, and to a lesser extent, the national currencies produced during the Nkrumah era. It also notes how every regime that has succeeded Nkrumah, from the National Liberation Council that ousted him from power in a military coup in 1966, to the John Atta Mills administration that came to power in 2010, utilized postage stamps and currency to reevaluate and reinterpret the major milestones in post-colonial Ghana’s history. These “symbols of nationhood” and the archival documents that were generated as a result of their production provide scholars with another frame of reference to judge Nkrumah’s legacy in the first decade after the centenary of his birth, which was marked in 2009.

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Harcourt Fuller is Assistant Professor of History, Georgia State University. His research and teaching expertise include the history of Africa, West Africa (Ghana in particular), the African Diaspora, and Maroon nations in the Atlantic World. His publications include Building the Ghanaian Nation-State: Kwame Nkrumah’s Symbolic Nationalism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), the co-edited Money in Africa (London: Trustees of the British Museum, 2009), and articles in Nations and Nationalism as well as African Arts