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Mythological heroism in the discourse of Kwame Nkrumah

Nartey, Mark; Bhatia, Aditi


Mark Nartey

Aditi Bhatia


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.


Nartey, M., & Bhatia, A. (2020). Mythological heroism in the discourse of Kwame Nkrumah. World Englishes, 39(4), 581-593.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 1, 2020
Online Publication Date May 22, 2020
Publication Date 2020-12
Deposit Date Jan 8, 2022
Journal World Englishes
Print ISSN 0883-2919
Electronic ISSN 1467-971X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 39
Issue 4
Pages 581-593
Keywords Language and Linguistics
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