Mythological heroism in the discourse of Kwame Nkrumah

Mark Nartey, Aditi Bhatia

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper critically explores how an African independence leader uses his language to simultaneously construct heroes and villains, protagonists and antagonists forming part of an ideological mechanism that realizes an anti-imperialist rhetoric and a discourse of resistance. It combines discourse-historical analysis with discourse-mythological analysis to examine a number of speeches delivered by Kwame Nkrumah, a pioneering Pan-Africanist and Ghana's independence leader. The analysis demonstrates that archetypal traits of mythological heroism in Nkrumah's discourse are constructed through his identification of a ‘conspiratorial enemy’ and his sculpting of identities such as a ‘valiant leader’ and a ‘noble revolutionary’. The analysis also reveals that Nkrumah's language has identifiable features of Ghanaian English, including the use of Ghanaianisms, coinages/neologism, and idiomatic expressions, that helped him to (emotionally) connect with his audience and strengthen the persuasive impact of his speeches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-593
Number of pages13
JournalWorld Englishes
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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