skip to content

Political hospitality

Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister of independent Ghana

Dr Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister of independent Ghana visits the headquarters of the Royal Empire Society in July 1957, a mere three months after independence
United Empire (1957) 48:4,  p.157

In July 1957, the Society hosted Kwame Nkrumah, Prime Minister of Ghana. This visit took place a mere three months after Ghana’s independence, and marked the first of many receptions held at the Society for dignitaries from newly independent countries. A photograph in the journal (the picture on the right) shows Nkrumah, dressed in traditional Ghanaian attire and flanked by other guests. Once Nkrumah was co-opted into the political establishment and accepted as a Commonwealth leader, he was welcomed at the Society; indeed it was important for the Society to be seen to be providing hospitality to him. The image of the guests conversing together worked to present a vision of the Commonwealth as polite, welcoming and friendly, especially important as a few years before Nkrumah had been imprisoned by the British authorities in the Gold Coast. For the Commonwealth to succeed it had to be based on mutual regard amongst nations and on a smooth transition from Empire; disruptions to this performance threatened the association’s future viability. These hospitable performances were, then, a complex interplay. Both host and guest could offer and refuse invitations, be polite or snub. However hospitality took place under a watchful eye; failure to give or receive hospitality had wider implications for reputations beyond the occasion.

Contact us

Please address enquiries about RCS holdings to:

RCS Curator
Cambridge University Library
West Road


Please note that we are unable to provide valuations.  We recommend you contact a specialist antiquarian bookseller or auction house.