Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Charles Adu Boahen and siblings honor late father with a library in Ghana

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Staff Writer
Staff Writer
Africa Feeds Staff writers are group of African journalists focused on reporting news about the continent and the rest of the world.

Breaking new ground, Albert Abu Boahen, Charles Adu Boahen’s father and well-known scholar, was the first Ghanaian to receive a Ph.D. in African History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK.

That was a landmark move. But his impressive academic feats don’t end there. Years later, he would become the first African to head the Department of History at the University of Ghana.

While Prof Emeritus Albert Adu Boahen had been teaching at the University of Ghana since 1959, the same year he completed his Ph.D., he held the head of department position between the years of 1967 and 1975.

During his scholarly career, Albert Abu Boahen gained recognition from all around the world, becoming known for his prolific writing and academia. Fast forward to 2006, and the then well-known African figure was awarded the Order of the Star of Ghana.

Since his passing, his children have strived to ensure that the great man’s name is never forgotten. In a recent interview, his son sheds light on the family life he enjoyed and the lessons that he learned along the way, thanks to having two strong and passionate parents.

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“I come from a relatively middle-class family back in Ghana,” explains Charles Adu Boahen. “My dad was a professor of history at the main university in Ghana called the University of Ghana. My mother worked for the Bank of Ghana.”

Albert Abu Boahen enjoyed an illustrious career at the University of Ghana, gaining promotion to professor in 1971 and swiftly stepping into the position of Dean of Graduate Studies in 1973.

Thanks to his ongoing commitment to the institute and his countless service to the country, he was promoted to emeritus professor in 1990. The scholar also received international acclaim for his work, both in the community and academically.

​​”On my dad’s 10-year anniversary of his passing, we thought, as his kids that it would be good to do something in his honour,” says Charles Adu Boahen. The result was the Adu Boahen Foundation.

The many objectives of the Foundation include sponsoring an annual lecture series on various pertinent topics, sponsoring a scholarship for students pursuing a PhD in History and an annual prize for penmanship.

Another initiative was the construction and establishment of an archival library to house a multitude of literary and historical works including those of Prof Adu Boahen.

In June 2023, more than 15 years after his passing, the Adu Boahen Memorial Library and Archive was opened on the University of Ghana campus right next to the History Department.

The library was proposed by the family and the Department of History and paid for by the Adu Boahen Foundation as a fitting memorial to the man and his legacy. It includes books, journals, magazines, tapes, manuscripts, and papers, donated by Albert Abu Boahen’s family.

The facility is also home to a number of rare books and limited collections that will help future generations better understand the history of both Ghana and Africa.

“One of the projects we did was to build a library at the University of Ghana because when my dad died, he had a whole huge collection of books and files and articles and manuscripts and stuff that, in his will, he donated to the school, to the university,” explains Charles Adu Boahen.

“But the university didn’t have anywhere to keep it. So, we built the library, which we just completed and handed over to the University.  However, the Foundation will cover the operational expenses for the first year and hire and train a Librarian to manage the Library.”

Over the course of his life, Albert Adu Boahen wrote a myriad of books and articles that now take pride of place in the reference library. Charles Adu Boahen and his siblings are keen to ensure that this passion for penmanship continues in the years to come.

Concerned by the growing trend of young people not writing, the family has created an inspiring lecture series to support creativity and scribing in new students.

“We set up the foundation, and we had a lecture series. We did the first one on his anniversary, and the idea was that we are going to support writing courses, including penmanship, because people don’t write anymore,” explains Charles Adu Boahen.

“We thought that was important for people to write,” he continues. “My dad wrote maybe six, seven books during his lifetime and all on African history and was a big contributor to the whole volume of wax on African history that is there today.

He was actually the editor for the UNESCO series, the volume on Africa. We all grew up reading and have always been avid readers and hence my siblings and I are very keen to support the arts and writing.”

Aside from that, Charles Adu Boahen would like to see a new wave of African literature in the coming years.

“There’s no way people don’t capture their experiences and their history,” he says. “And even on the literature side, we haven’t seen anything interesting come out of Ghana lately.

The idea was to raise funds through the Adu Boahen Foundation to maybe fund a Ph.D. program at the University of Ghana and also to support promising up-and-coming writers who submit articles to the Foundation and then to support projects.”

With more than 19 years in Corporate Finance, Investment Banking, Asset Management, and Private Equity, Charles Adu Boahen is a renowned public figure. The politician and public servant is the former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance in Ghana and a member of the New Patriotic Party.

Having followed in his father’s academic footsteps, he traveled to the United States to undertake his studies. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BSc in Chemical Engineering from the University of Southern California.

His father, Albert Adu Boahen, is known around the globe for his contributions to the realms of academia and his written work. He was also the New Patriotic Party flagbearer during the Ghanaian general elections back in 1992.

 

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