A lot of brave men and women has fought to be make Ghana what it is today. From Yaa Asantewaa, The Big Six, Otumfuor Osei Tutu, Theodosia Salome Okoh, Afraim Amu and many others. Here we give you 4 heroes that aren’t celebrated enough for what they did.
DR. JAMES EMMANUEL KWEGYIR AGGREY (1875-1927)
One of the leading figures in the history of education in Africa was undoubtedly Dr James Emmanuel KwegyirAggrey, more popularly known as “Aggrey of Africa”. Noted as a great sociologist, orator, preacher, and a far-sighted politician, and equally famous for his witty and epigrammatic sayings, Aggrey, an apostle of inter-racial
co-operation, advocated and helped to cut the path of progress for the African race in many fields, particularly in the direction of Religion, Education, and Agriculture. Born on Monday, 18th October, 1875, at Anomabu in the Central Region of the Gold Coast, Aggrey was the son of Princess Abena Annuah of Ajumaku, and Prince Kodwo Kwegyir, Chief Linguist in the court of King Amonoo V of Anomabu. He was the fourth of eight children; his father had married three times, and Aggrey was a child last wife.
He was baptized on June 24th, 1883, with his brother Kodwo Awir when the Christian names of James and William, were by custom bestowed on him and his brother respectively. His father worked as a “Gold Taker” for several years in a company which belonged to George Kuntu-Blankson at Anomabu, his hometown, some fifteen miles east of Cape Coast. But the company went bankrupt and Aggrey’s parents moved to Cape Caost for his father to take up a similar job with John Sarbah. It was here in Cape Coast that Aggrey started his education at the Wesleyan School.
In no time, young Emmanuel distinguished himself in all branches of knowledge, and easily won the admiration of the Rev. Dennis Kemp, a Wesleyan missionary who had arrived in Cape Coast from Barbados, West Indies. In the spacious mission home, “the most palatial residence in Cape Coast,” Aggrey and twenty- three other lads received instruction in joinery, blacksmithery, home decoration and painting, in addition to formal literary education.
Two years afterwards, Aggrey completed his course at this college, and accepted the post of temporary pupil teacher at Abura-Dunkwa (20 miles east of Cape Coast) on a monthly salary of 35 shillings.
As a soldier in the Fanti-Ashanti war, we find Aggrey serving with the expedition under Colonel Sir Francis Cunningham Scott, a veteran of the Guinea and of the Indian Mutiny, who was the Inspector-General of the Gold Coast Constabulary, and who had on his staff two British princes, Prince Henry of Battenberg and Prince Christian Victor. Aggrey was an interpreter and was paid 7/6d. per day. He was attached to the Telegraph Unit under Captain R. S. Curtis and Lieutenant McInnes, who marched from
Cape Coast to Kumasi in December, 1896. He saw fighting in Kumasi the following year, and returned to Cape Coast unhurt. Immediately afterwards, his father’s people made him Tufuhene (Field Marshall) according to native custom, but although he accepted the honour he politely sought to be relieved of that office, as it would have stood in the way of his educational and other civic programmes. He was a co founder of the Achimota College and the Agrey Memorial School in Cape Coast was named after him.
TETTEH QUARSHIE (1842-1892)
It was due to the efforts of one man alone, whose wide experience and enterprise saved this country’s economy during the last quarter of the 19th century. During that time, the entire fiscal history of the Gold Coast ought to have taken a different course. It was an era in which rubber and palm-oil formed the staple industries of this country, but by 1880 these crops had failed miserably; and the supply of gold, ivory and pepper which had been the strong pillars of the country’s economy had also proved
fluctuating, meager and unreliable. The individual whose travels saved the situation was Tetteh Quarshie, an Accra man, born in 1842 at Christiansborg.
His father was Mlekuboi of Teshie and a farmer by occupation, and his mother was named Ashong a native of Labadi. Neither he nor his parents could read nor write, according to western standards, but nonetheless they came from good homes, and had considerable intelligence and wit. At the age of twelve, young Tetteh Quarshie was apprenticed to a leading blacksmith in a Basel Mission Workshop at Akropong where he learnt his trade with great diligence, soon establishing himself as a master blacksmith, and commanding a great reputation and respect in the Akwapim State. He established his central workshop at Akwapim- Mampong, but took short trips to various parts of the country to do repair works as we for government offices.
He subsidized his meager income as a blacksmith with farming which he undertook as a hobby, so that when in 1870, he visited Fernando Po, he maintained his interest in agriculture and returned home six years later, bringing back with him, seeds of the cocoa plant. These he plantea at Akwapim-Mampong, and they were later sold to many farmers of the district at two shillings per pod.
BABA YARA (1936–1969)
Baba Yara was one of the greatest football geniuses Ghana has produced. A great winger, his originality and dazzling dribbling talent made Sundays one of the most enjoyable times in the 1960s. He thrilled spectators with his prowess and charmed football fans with an uncanny ability to get goals from almost impossible angles. Being of unassuming and affable personality, his gentlene conduct and behaviour either on or off the field of made him a hero in his lifetime. So popular was many years after his death his image lingers on the of the sporting public in Ghana as well as other parts of Africa.
Baba Yara was born on October 12, 1936 at Kintampo. His father was Seidu Mardah, a farmer and tailor who hailed from Zini in the (now) Upper West Region; but became more or less a native of Kintampo becaus father, Ibraham Mardah, on being discharged from Gold Coast army after the Second World War had there. Seidu Mardah had two wives, Amina, the eldest wife, had five children. Her youngest, who happen be her only boy, was called Baba Yara. Baba Yara s sisters were: Shietu, Zinabu Fulera and Rahimatu. As
son of his mother, he was named after his unce Mardah. Osumanu was affectionately called Baba Yara therefore, by extension, young Baba Yara came to inherit this nickname also.
MRS. THEODOSIA SALOME OKOH (1922 – 2015)
From her childhood days in the back streets of Anum, her hometown, where she began drawing on any paper that came her way, Theodosia knew she was destined to become a painter. What perhaps she did not know was that her artwork would one day fly high on many buildings in her motherland, as well as be the best
ambassador of her country. Her talents are many and varied but she owes a great part to her parents.
Born on June 13, 1922 to the Very Rev. Emmanuel Victor Asihene (Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, 1951-1954), her father was an outstanding artist and one of the first teachers taken to do the Special Art Course, or the Hand an Eye course, as it was then called, in Accra. Her mother, Mrs Dora Asihene (nee Akyea) was also an artist in her own right, specialising in baking, weaving and design of her children’s dresses. Theodosia’s elder brother, Emmanuel Victor Asiy the professor and head of the Art Faculty of the KNUST Kumasi. Her elder sister, Emily (1915-1957), began education officer and Vice-Principal of the Winneba Specialist Training College.
Theodosia’s younger Letitia Asihene (now Dr. Letitia Obeng), was also an artist and now is an Aquatic Biologist of note and was Ghana’s first female scientist. Mrs. Theodosia Okoh designed the Ghana flag of which she says she derived the idea from the rich vegetations of Ghana, the blood of our fore fathers and mineral riches of Ghana.