University of Notre Dame
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Bright Gyamfi

Bright GyamfiMajor: History/Political Science

Advisers: Jaimie Bleck & Paul Ocobock

Thesis Title: Teaching African History through the Lion’s Perspective: An Analysis of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s Institute of African Studies
My research examines the significant roles that educational institutions such as the Institute of African Studies have played in our understanding of decolonization, African nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and post-colonial nation building. My research posits that the liberation of Ghana in 1957 enabled Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, to advance his agenda for Pan-Africanism and African nationalism through higher education thus empowering Africans to write their own history. This claim rests, first on an analysis of Nkrumah’s political and educational experiences abroad between 1935 and 1947, and second, on an evaluation of his establishment of the Institute of African Studies, a semi-autonomous Institute within the University of Ghana in 1961. My research project highlights the manner through which the history curriculum has had an impact on Ghanaian citizens’ understanding of their nation, citizenship, cultural norms, and political rights. This exploration aims to contribute to the literature on higher education, Ghanaian nationalism, and Pan-Africanism by revisiting and reevaluating Nkrumah’s educational policies, speeches, and experience abroad. Thus, this study approaches existing interpretations of Ghanaian history, but more specifically, the development of higher education through new and largely unexplored avenues. Overall, this research adds to a growing literature on the histories of education and national development in Ghana and the ways in which these dynamics continue to influence Ghanaians’ impressions of their own history.

Bright Gyamfi is a senior majoring in History and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. Advised by Professor Paul Ocobock, Bright’s research explores the development of the Ghanaian history curriculum and he has conducted archival research in both Ghana and England. His project has received funding from a number of on-campus grants including Experiencing the World Research grant, UROP Comprehensive Summer Grant, Balfour Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Nanovic Institute Fellowship.  As a Gilman Scholar, Bright has also received research funds from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In early 2015, he presented his research project titled “Teaching African History through the Lion’s Perspective” at Notre Dame’s Undergraduate History Research Conference. This year, he received the Kellogg/Kroc Research Grant to continue his research in Trinidad and Tobago to study works of George Padmore, a renowned Pan-African scholar who was later appointed as the head of African Affairs in Ghana. This summer, Bright was a visiting research fellow at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill through the Moore Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program (MURAP). While there, under the supervision of Professor Kennetta Perry, his research examines the philosophical objectives of higher education during colonial rule (1900-1957) and postcolonial (1957-1966) rule in the twentieth century. Additionally, he presented his research at the MURAP 2015 Conference: Colonialisms: A Global Perspective.




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