Banal Symbols of the New Nation-State

  • Harcourt Fuller
Part of the African Histories and Modernities book series (AHAM)


One common feature of all independent nation-states—both Western and non-Western—is that they possess unique national symbols such as a national flag, a national anthem, a coat of arms, and other banal insignia and emblems to distinguish them from other nation-states. For the newly independent countries that want to emerge from international obscurity, the creation of unique symbols of nationhood is even more pressing. Cerulo notes, “Since the inception of nations, national leaders have embraced and adopted national flags and anthems, using them to create bonds, motivate patriotic action, honor the efforts of citizens, and legitimate formal authority.”1 As Ghana prepared to join the dysfunctional family of nations-states in the late 1950s, Kwame Nkrumah utilized the time-tested symbols of nationhood to announce its entry onto the world stage. The Convention People’s Party cabinet proposed, commissioned, and supervised the design and selection of official symbols for the party and the nation. These included everything from the party and national flags, anthem, pledge of allegiance, coat of arms, crest, public seal, National Assembly speaker’s chair and desk, to police officers’ badges and insignia.


National Identity Gold Coast Asante Nation Cocoa Tree Golden Eagle 
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