Nkrumah & the Chiefs
The Politics of Chieftaincy in Ghana, 1951–1960

By Richard Rathbone

“This really is a pleasure to read, in every respect. It presents very distinguished scholarship, the writing is not only clear but stylishly crafted, and the story it tells is about a major aspect of modern Ghanian political history, an aspect which has been surprisingly neglected until now.… The end of independent chieftaincy must be one of the most fundamental changes in the long-term history of Ghana.”

Gareth Austin, Senior Lecturer in the London School of Economics and Political Science

Kwame Nkrumah, who won independence for Ghana in 1957, was the first African statesman to achieve world recognition. Nkrumah and his movement also brought about the end of independent chieftaincy—one of the most fundamental changes in the history of Ghana.

Kwame Nkrumah's Convention Peoples' Party was committed not only to the rapid termination of British colonial rule but also to the elimination of chiefly power. This book is an account of Kwame Nkrumah and his government's long struggle to wrest administrative control of the Ghanaian countryside from the chiefs. Based largely upon previously unstudied documentation in Ghana, this study charts the government's frustrated attempts to democratize local government and the long and bitter campaigns mounted by many southern chiefs to resist their political marginalization.

Between 1951 and the creation of the First Republic in 1960, Ghanaian governments sought to discard the chiefly principle in local government, then to weaken chieftaincy by attrition and eventually, by altering the legal basis of chieftaincy, to incorporate and control a considerably altered chieftaincy. The book demonstrates that chieftaincy was consciously and systematically reconstructed in the decade of the 1950s with implications which can still be felt in modern Ghana.

Richard Rathbone is professor of modern African history at University of London.

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In Series

Western African Studies

Related Subjects

African History · African Studies · History · Monograph · Ghana · Western Africa · Africa · 20th century



Retail price: $26.95, S.
Release date: Jun. 2000
200 pages
Rights:World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom


Retail price: $49.95, S.
Release date: Jun. 2000
154 pages
Rights:World (exclusive in Americas, and Philippines) except British Commonwealth, Continental Europe, and United Kingdom