Between 1979 and 1983 soldiers, workers, and students in Ghana launched a revolution to destroy the neo-imperial order. In the Ghanaian historical imagination that era is not remembered for its radical populism but as a time of violent chaos before the nation-state followed the road to purported neoliberal stability. The sudden rise and fall of revolutionary Ghana reveals both the possibility of alternative modes of political power in Africa and how these forms have been contained through both violence and the control of representational practices. In the contemporary moment, it is hard to theorize alternate ideas of freedom and political difference. If we start a study of twentieth-century revolution with a coup d’état in 1979 Accra, Ghana—rather than student upheavals in 1968 Paris, for example—it reorients our understanding of power by showing how young radicals sought an African-grounded sovereignty, an alternate future now forgotten.

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