Mary Owusu

Killam Predoctoral Scholarship Recipient

Dalhousie University

Roads not Taken: J. B. Danquah and the Pursuit of Responsible Citizenship in Ghana 1895 – 1965

Mary hopes her doctoral study of Danquah in the intellectual history of Ghana will impact responsible citizenship and good governance practices in her country.

Extant accounts of Africa’s post-colonial history largely focus on the rise of nationalist leaders and their post-colonial crises. The wider story, of these leaders’ opponents, of other challenges Africans confronted through these tumultuous years, have not been woven into this longstanding narrative. In Ghana, the political and intellectual careers of J. B. Danquah (1895-1965) have been eclipsed by those of his rival Kwame Nkrumah. Danquah’s ideas — combining liberal ideals and African cultural nationalism — thus remain under-appreciated. My research traces the development of a Ghanaian search for good governance through Danquah, a search relevant in current efforts to re think and reshape Ghana’s political culture.

I believe history can contribute greatly to national development in Ghana and I aspire to prepare myself intellectually not only to contribute to the objective review of the course of history, but more importantly to further contribute to the making of history. I aim to seize every opportunity available while in Canada to develop my intellectual capacity to contribute as lucidly, dispassionately and comprehensively as possible to public dialogue on Ghana, Africa, and the global world.

Impact of Killam Funding
Being named a Killam Laureate is an honour. It has enhanced my position as a scholar and as a mother of three young children, this scholarship has allowed me to pursue academic objectives and goals by focusing less on financial encumbrance.

Why Dalhousie?
Dalhousie University has one of the oldest centres for African history in Canada.  In the field of African history in general, and African intellectual history in particular, my graduate supervisor, Dr. Philip Zachernuk has made a name as an academic of repute. His seminal book, Colonial Subjects (2000), explored in new and provocative ways the factors which shaped African intellectuals’ efforts, and laid down the broad framework of future research in this area. I also have the opportunity to work with Dr. Gary Kynoch and Dr Amal Ghazal, other leading Africanist scholars.

What interests you besides research?
Outside academia, I have worked in religious and secular circles to promote confidence in young women and to fight sickle cell anaemia. I served as a pageant committee member for the Miss Ghana Pageant, (2004-2009)  and chaired the programmes division of XYZ Agency to campaign against sickle cell anaemia (2008-2014) resulting in laboratory screening of over 1,500 people and the distribution of folic acid and b-complex tablets to over 600 people living with sickle cell anaemia.


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