“Our Experiment”

Nkrumah’s Ghana in British Diplomatic Correspondence


  • Matteo Landricina Università Roma Tre, Italy




Ghana, Britain, Nkrumah, Decolonisation, Commonwealth, Post-Colonial, Democracy


Ghana’s independence in 1957 was a milestone for African decolonisation, as well as for the winding up of the British Empire. While the years of Kwame Nkrumah’s government, as well as Britain’s decolonisation, have each been widely discussed, the perspective of bilateral post-colonial relations between Ghana and Britain has so far been underemphasised in literature. In this article, these relations are observed mostly from the perspective of British diplomats and civil servants who interacted with Ghana in the first years after independence between 1957 and 1966. The relationship is analysed through four most significant dimensions in the bilateral relations: Britain’s disagreement with Ghana on internal policies and international standpoints in the light of its Commonwealth membership; the economic level and the backlash to the 1961 budget, which was shaped by a British economist; the military assistance provided by Britain to Ghana, as a significant area of British influence; and the quarrel about Britain’s policies in Southern Africa, which in the course of the Rhodesia crisis led to the severing of diplomatic relations. As Ghana’s first President cracked down against internal opponents and stepped up the support for anticolonial movements and armed groups throughout the continent, Britain’s idea that Ghana might act as a role model for post-colonial relations and nation-building in Africa, as well as Ghana’s expectations for more British support, were equally disappointed.


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How to Cite

Landricina, M. . (2023). “Our Experiment”: Nkrumah’s Ghana in British Diplomatic Correspondence. Southern Journal for Contemporary History, 48(2), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.38140/sjch.v49i1.8067