Client Florida State University Graduate Symposium
Categories Conferences
Location Tallahassee, FL
Date 2014
URL Launch Project

Any form of nation-building involves myth-making in the production of a revitalized past pertinent to the present. In Anthony D. Smith’s words, “a popular living past has been, and can be, rediscovered and reinterpreted” (Smith 1999, 9). On the African continent, Kwame Nkrumah was one of the first to tussle with the colonial legacy in his determination to build a new liberated Ghana. Navigating between his Western education, African traditions, and Christian religious background, Nkrumah reconstructed history to grant sufficient authority and legitimacy to his nationalist program. He set out to erase colonial memory and supplant it with a drastically different vision of Ghana that was imbued with religious symbols and mythology. This paper argues that the “civil religion” developed during Nkrumah’s regime contests the role of religion in modern nation states as outlined by Ernest Gellner and his contemporaries, and represents a lucid proof that religious symbolism can be easily combined with the modern nationalist discourse.