Africa to the World! Nkrumah-era Philatelic Images of Emerging Ghana and Pan-Africanism, 1957-1966

by Kenneth Wilburn


Kwame Nkrumah was one of the most fascinating, revolutionary Africans in world history. From humble origins, US-educated Nkrumah led the effort to overthrow colonial rule in Ghana and Africa, sought vast sums of economic aid from the West for Ghana”s Volta River Project, and as the leading Pan-Africanist and vocal member of the world”s non-aligned leadership worked to create the United States of Africa. Nkrumah promoted these goals, and more, in a novel form of historical evidence – philately. This article examines Ghanaian stamps and argues that Nkrumah used them overtly and symbolically to advance his national and international agendas. It also compares and contrasts Nkrumah’s use of stamps to promote Pan-Africanism with the approaches of Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Sékou Touré of Guinea. Additionally, the philatelic reflections of Nkrumah-era Ghana illustrate the brilliant colors, stunning beauty, clever art, enduring optimism, and African themes of the Nkrumah era stamps.

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Kenneth Wilburn is Assistant Professor of History at East Carolina University in North Carolina, and is a web editor for SERSAS, SERSAS-L, and H-Africa. To view stamps discussed but not reproduced, click here.