Staging Unity, Performing Subjectivities

Nkrumah, Nation-Building, and the Ghana Dance Ensemble

Paul Schauert


This article explores how Kwame Nkrumah and subsequent Ghanaian leaders used Ghana’s state dance ensemble to create and solidify a sense of unity among this nation’s citizens by propagating ideologies of African Personality and Pan-Africanism. Performing a diverse repertoire of dances, the Ghana Dance Ensemble has continually encouraged individuals to cross ethnic and national boundaries. Examining how artists variously interpret, embody, and express nationalism through music and dance performance, I interrogate processes by which performers reconcile national identity within themselves as it comes into contact with a pre-existing set of beliefs, identities, memories, and ontologies. I argue that while nationalism largely pushes individuals into an objectifying unitary identity, it is nevertheless embodied subjectively, according to the will of individuals.

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