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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Let us rally around the flag': football, nation-building, and pan-Africanism in Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana
Author:Darby, PaulISNI
Year:2013
Periodical:The Journal of African History (ISSN 0021-8537)
Volume:54
Issue:2
Pages:221-246
Language:English
Geographic term:Ghana
Subjects:football
politics
pan-Africanism
nation building
About person:Francis Nwia Kofie Nkrumah (1909-1972)ISNI
Link:https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021853713000236
Abstract:The nationalistic fervour that greeted Ghana's performances in the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa powerfully evoked memories of an earlier period in the history of the Ghanaian State that witnessed Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana, draw on the game as a rallying point for nation-building and pan-African unity. This article uncovers this history by analysing Nkrumah's overt politicisation of football in the late colonial and immediate postcolonial periods. Given the popularity of football in colonial Gold Coast and Nkrumah's place at the vanguard of political opposition to British rule, the game slowly became entwined with populist mobilisation and agitation for independence. On achieving independence, football had become embroiled in regional political chauvinisms, and the government quickly identified the game as invaluable in building a sense of 'Ghanaianness' that they felt would transcend all divisions. Nkrumah was able to wring significant political capital from football, however, during the 1960s, he was unable to control the extent to which political opponents managed to draw on the game to support their own agendas. The article also assesses some of the unintended, contradictory consequences of Nkrumah's efforts to employ football to galvanise national identity, particularly the role that the game played in helping to build powerful centrifugal forces in the Ghanaian polity that ran counter to Nkrumah's vision. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]
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