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    Cinema and highlife in the Gold Coast: The Boy Kumasenu (1952)

    Sandon, Emma (2013) Cinema and highlife in the Gold Coast: The Boy Kumasenu (1952). Social Dynamics: A Journal of African Studies 39 (3), pp. 496-519. ISSN 0253-3952.

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    The Boy Kumasenu (Sean Graham, Gold Coast, 1952) produced by the Gold Coast Film Unit during the 1950s, before independence in Ghana, had a public impact and success with local Ghanaian audiences that other colonial films never achieved. About a boy, Kumasenu, who moves from a rural village to the city of Accra, the film attempts to represent an African experience of modern life, using a local cast. This article explores the film’s popular reception by drawing on advertisements, newspaper coverage, reviews, awards it received, as well as contemporary personal correspondence and retrospective interviews with the filmmakers. It proposes that the film’s appeals lay in its inclusion of highlife, its fashions, styles and music, popular in the Gold Coast, alongside cinematic conventions of documentary, drama-documentary, neorealist film styles and the Hollywood gangster genre, already familiar to urban Ghanaian audiences. Furthermore, its theme of urban youth and citizenship evoked the concept of the “African Personality,” an identity that Kwame Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party would link with highlife music at independence. By tapping into the popularity of cinema and highlife, the film promoted nascent nationalist sentiments, and became associated with anti-colonialism and social change in the newly emerging independent Ghana.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): audiences, cinema, colonial film, Gold Coast, highlife, Nkrumah
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Research Centres and Institutes: Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2014 09:28
    Last Modified: 09 Aug 2023 12:34


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