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By Kwesi Atta Sakyi 15th September 2014
Professor Alexander Adum Kwapong was born Kwabena Sei (Osei) on 8th March 1927, and he died on 9th August, 2014 at the age of 87. He attended Akropong Salem School, and Achimota College, before proceeding to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated with First Class Honours in Classics in 1951.
In 1953, at the young age of 26, he started lecturing in Greek, Latin, and Ancient History at the University of Ghana, Legon, which was established in 1948. At the age of 39 years in 1966, he had risen to become the first Ghanaian Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, after having serving as Pro-Vice Chancellor under his Irish predecessor, Cruise Connor Obrien.
He retired from the post in 1976 during the Aluta Continua stormy days at Legon, and took up the post of Vice-Rector of the UN University in Tokyo, Japan, where he was till 1988 and he left for Dalhousie University in Canada. Earlier on from 1961 to 1962, he was a Visiting Professor of Classics at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA. He became a full professor in 1962, at the tender age of 35 years. What a meteoric rise of a genius and prodigy! He had received his Phd in 1957 at the age of 30.
There is a Ghanaian proverb which states that if you are lucky to be born on a hill, it does not take long for you to grow tall and overshadow all, but in the case of Kwapong, he did not need to grow on a hill because he was already born big bone, and big brain. He was descended from his paternal grandfather, one Reverend Opoku of the Presbyterian Church in Akropong. In physical stature, Kwapong was a very tall, elegant, affable, genial, humble, easy-going and handsome man who had a veritable presence and aura. He could easily have made any famous basketball team in the USA NBA League. He left behind six daughters.
After his retirement from the Diaspora, and settling back home in Ghana, he was made the Chairman of the Council of State from 2001 to 2005. He served on several boards of international associations such as the Commonwealth Universities Association, Association of African Universities, The Commonwealth of Learning for Higher Education and Distance Learning, Chairman of the Education Reforms Committee in Ghana, World Philosophy and Humanities Council, among numerous others.
He was conferred with many honorary doctorates from around the world, including those ones from the University of Ife in Nigeria, Warwick University, and Princeton in the USA. He has left an enviable legacy of selfless service to humanity, patriotism, and extraordinary contribution to knowledge by his numerous publications in renowned journals. We Ghanaians should feel proud that God gave him as a gift to us. Let us emulate his exemplary dedication to duty, his passion for excellence, and above all, his shining example of humility and patriotism to the cause of Ghana and Africa..
I was very much touched when one alumnus of Legon paid tribute to him, stating that in 1978, he was given a lift at the entrance at Legon by an unknown gentleman, to Accra Central, and later the man revealed himself to him that he was Kwapong, the former VC of Legon. What a man! May his soul rest in eternal peace!
‘Asomdwee mu na m3ko na makoda na mada pr3ko komm’ D.C
Some notable Akoras or Achimotans:
Prof John Atta Mills
Dr Kwame Nkrumah
John Dramani Mahama
Mr Robert Mugabe
Sir Dawda Jawara
Kofi Ghanaba a.k.a Saka Acquaye (Guy Warren)
Prof A.A. Kwapong
Akufo Addo, Nana Addo Dankwa PaeanTo Alexander Adum Kwapong
Mensema, Akadu 2009 Korle Lagoon Mosquitoes as Professors in Ghana
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