|BORN||KOFI NYAME, after a fetish called NYAME|
|CONVERTED CATHOLIC||FRANCIS ODURO after Father's Name|
|UNIVERSITY||KOFI ABOAGYE-NYAME OR KOFI NYAME|
DATE & PLACE OF BIRTH
I am told, I was born on or about 13th September, 1934 At Abirah Kumaa, a farming village situated between Barekese and Offinso, where my father had large stretches of cocoa farms. I say I was told of my birthday by some of my educated relatives who were present at my birth. Both my father and mother were illiterates who could not have had any records on the exact date at which I was born. These educated relatives gave me these facts when I grew up.
I am the fifth child of my mother and third of my father. My mother had a first marriage and had two children with her first husband who died before she got married to my father.
Asante Mampong; from the Boahen Anantuo Abobonoo family in the Royal Bretuo Clan of Asante Mampong. My great great grandfather was Nana Boahen Anatuo, who led the Asante army in the Denkyira war of liberation and the first Bretuo member to occupy the Asante Mampong Silver Stool. My great great maternal grandmother, Gyimafra, was one of the junior sisters of Nana Boahen Anantuo. She was given in marriage to Nana Osei Kwadwo, Asaamhene of Abira, in the Kwabre No 1 district of Asante, and as a result her descendants settled in Abira where I was born and raised.
The Late Opauyin Kwasi Duro of Abirah. He was from the Asona Clan and a wealthy cocoa farmer and trader. He was also a cocoa agent for U.A.C a British Trading Company. The Late Opanyin Kwasi Oduro popularly called "Oduro Frikyi", was a n example of a typical Asante traditionalist who believed so much in matrilineal inheritance and was therefore more interested in his nephews than his own children. He also did not have any interest at all in education, particularly girls' education. He did not send any of his nephews nor his own children to school. All his children were either sent lo their uncles or engaged on his cocoa farms. Any of his children who got any education at all had it through their very close relatives, uncles, brothers or mothers. My father had a total of sixty-nine children with a total of ten wives. At one time he had nine wives at the same time. He died on 1st March, 1979 at a very mature age of 92 years, leaving behind five wives.
Yaa Aboraah Sika also called Nana Yaa Birago of the Boahen Anantuo Abobonoo family in the Royal Bretuo Clan of Asante Mampong, whose maternal ancestral grandfather was Nana Boahen Anantuo, past Omanhene of Asante Mampong. My mother died at a very mature age of 105, on 12th December, 1995. Leaving behind five children.
My toddler years were spent in Kumasi where my father was trading in beads at the Kumasi Central Market. He was also a cocoa buyer or agent for U.A.C. At about age two, the marriage between my father and mother was dissolved. Then after my mother went to stay for a couple of years at Kinah, a suburb of Abirah before joining her uncle and her elder son, all bearing the same name, Kwasi Aboagye at Amanfrom, a farming village near Hwidiem in the Ahafo district of Brong Ahafo Region. Opanyin Kwasi Aboagye my mother's uncle and my grandfather, was also a wealthy cocoa farmer. My tender age of about four were spent in this farming village with my mother and her uncle and her senior son, Kwasi Aboagye.
When I was about seven years old my mother and senior brother decided to send me to school. Accordingly, in January 1943, I was registered at the Methodist Primary School at Hwidiem in Ahafo. Amanfrom, where I was staying with my mother and my senior brother was a distance of three and half miles away from Hwidiem. We were six children that were staying at Amanfrom and attending school at Hwidiem. We used to walk the 3½ miles everday, starting at about 5:00am to school and back in the evening arriving home at about 7:00pm.
As a relief for me my mother got married again to one of the wealthy cocoa farmers in Hwidiem at that time, called Opanyin Kofi Sarbeng who already had three other wives. My mother therefore moved from Amanfrom to stay in one of the houses of her new husband, at Hwidiem. I therefore went to stay with her. Unfortunately for me my mother's marriage to this man lasted for only a couple of years, and my mother moved back to stay at Amanfrom. However, I was left in the care of one of the nephews of my mother's former husband, until I completed primary class three in December 1947.
These couple of years or so that I stayed with this man at Hwidiem were a real tough training for me and a friend that was with me in the house. Water was very scarce in this town and to get good drinking water one had to construct wells. We used to wake up every morning at about 2:00am to fetch water to fill a drum each. After this we went to work on his farm, come back home at about 6:30am before going to school. Most of the time we could not even take breakfast before we went to school. We only took lunch after closing from school at 12:30 in the afternoon. Our lunch was mostly a finger of plantain, some times with gravy of kontonmire or sometimes with no gravy at all. We used to do the cooking ourselves.
SENIOR SCHOOL EDUCATION
During our time there was no senior school at Hwidiem, i.e. the classes ran up to primary class three only. Therefore, one had to look for a senior school either at Kenyase, Goaso or Acherensua, towns which are near Hwidiem.
VISIT TO KUMASI
During the Christmas of 1947, my senior brother Kwasi Kwarteng invited me to spend the Christmas holidays with him in Kumasi. Kwarteng was then an apprentice motor mechanic at UAC Motors. I had never been to Kumasi since about 1939 that I was taken to Amanfrom village. No doubt this invitation by my senior brother was very pleasant and welcome news indeed though my senior brother Kwasi Aboagye was not happy with it.
ENCOUNTER WITH JOE KONADU-BONSU IN KUMASI
Konadu Bonsu, a nephew of my father who was attending school at Roman Catholic Primary School at Abira, had also come to spend the Christmas holidays in Kumasi and was also staying in my father's house. Joe who was a little older than me took great interest in me and used to take me round the city to show me interesting places. We became very good friends.
When I told him that there was no senior school at Hwidiem and that I was looking for a senior school to attend, he readily agreed to take me to a school at Jamasi where he himself had just got admission in standard four, to help me get an admission in that school also. Consequently, I went with him to Jamasi and I had no problem in getting admission to standard four. Joe told me that he had heard that it would be difficult for us, as school children to get a family to stay with in Jamasi for free, to attend school. He therefore decided that we should find accommodation in a students' hostel in the Roman Catholic Mission.
This student's hostel was meant to accommodate students who were being prepared to enter the seminary to be trained as catholic priests.
We had no problem getting accommodation in this Catholic Mission at Jamasi. All the boys that were staying in this hostel were boys that were being prepared to become priests and were therefore being cared for by the church. Since we were not seminarians we had to feed ourselves. Therefore as we went back to school we had to carry along with us large quantities of food items that can last for an appreciable part of the school term. When our stocks of food got depleted we had to find a way to get some more. On Saturdays we used to go to work on peoples farms and they in turn would give us food in exchange for our labour. From January 1948 to December 1949 we lived like this attending school in Jamasi Roman Catholic Senior School.
At the hostel there were six other older pre-seminary students. These students were sponsored by the Catholic Mission and had their meals in the local priest's house. One of them by name Paul Asante took great interest in me and used to talk to me about the Catholic faith. I was at that time baptized in the Methodist Church, since the school I attended at Hwidiem was a Methodist School. So I started attending Holy Masses with him every morning and on Sundays.
KUMASI STATE SCHOOL
Joe suggested to me and I agreed that we should seek admission in a school at Kumasi. He knew a teacher from our home town Abira who was teaching at Kumasi Division School, now called Kumasi State School. We went to this teacher, Mr. Afiasu and he agreed to help us get admission into the school if only we could pay seven pounds each, an equivalent of about ¢100,000.00 today. I had to go to Amanfrom to tell my senior brother Aboagye, who was then responsible for my upkeep. With difficulty he was able to raise the amount for me. I quickly went back to Kumasi and paid the amount and got the admission into standard six.
Meanwhile Joe had already paid his money and got the admission. From January 1950 to December 1951, we attended school at Kumasi State School staying in my father's house at Asante New Town Kumasi.
BAPTISED INTO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
In Kumasi I continued to attend catechism classes on Saturdays at St. Peter's Cathedral Church and also continued to attend morning Masses everyday of the week. Because I was attending daily morning Masses my classmates used to call me "the saint".
On 25th November 1950, I was accepted into the Catholic Church at St. Peter's by Rev. Fr. H. Smeele, and on the following day 26th November, I received the first Holy Communion. I was confirmed on 17th December 1950 by His Lordship Rt. Rev. H.J. Paulissen, First Bishop of the newly created Kumasi Diocese.
In Kumasi my cousin Joe Konadu Bonsu and I were staying in my father's house under the care of my father' wife, Maame Abena Dufie. The two of us were given "Sempoa" three pence, an equivalent of about six hundred cedis today, for our meals every day. We used one and half pence to buy koko, sugar and bread, for our breakfast. The remaining one and half pence were used at school during break time for our lunch. This money that was given us was not enough to feed us well during the day.
At the Kumasi Division School, one of the Senior Prefects by name J .E.K Taylor, who was also my classmate, took interest in me and we became very good friends. He helped me in several ways. He was aware that I was not taking enough money to school, so he used to share his meals with me during break time. He even bought me a pair of canvas shoes when he saw that I was not wearing shoes to school. I usually walked on barefoot. In fact that was the first time that l ever wore shoes in my life time. Mr. J.E.K. Taylor Snr. is now the Executive Chairman of Vodi Technic Motors Ltd., Accra.
OPOKU WARE SCHOOL
I completed the Standard Seven in December 1951 and obtained the Primary School Certificate. At that time, there was pressure on the Bishop of Kumasi by the people to establish a Catholic Secondary School in Ashanti since there was no such school in the region. The Bishop agreed to establish one in Kumasi and it was first named Yaa Asantewah School. Joe Konadu and I went for an interview at Prempeh College and both of us were admitted. My school number was K45.
On Thursday 28th February 1952, the first batch of sixty students including me, entered the school. After a couple of months, since it was an all boys school, the name was changed from Yaa Asantewah to Opoku Ware School. I completed my Secondary education in December 1956.
KUMASI COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY (KCT)
At the time the Kumasi College of Technology was a higher institution of learning that offered non-degree professional courses such as Sixth Form, Teacher Training, Physical Education, Engineering, Pharmacy, Architecture, Building Technology, Fine Arts etc. In January 1957, I entered the Kumasi College of Technology (K.C.T) to do a two year Sixth Form course in science, i.e. Physics, Chemistry, Biology and General Paper. I passed in all the subjects.
In January 1959, I was admitted at the same college to do a two-year diploma course in pharmacy. At the end of the 2 year course at KCT, I was attached to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), to do a one year housemanship, to qualify to be registered as a pharmacist. Accordingly, in September 1961 I was registered. After my registration I continued to work in the Pharmacy Department of KATH.
In October 1963, I was transferred to the Tarkwa Government Hospital in the Western Region. It was in Tarkwa that I bought my first car in March 1964. It was a brand new Vauxhall De Lux, with registration number GE 1991. It was really tough for me as a bachelor in a bubbling mining town like Tarkwa. Therefore, in May 1964, I decided to spend my annual leave in Kumasi. I was determined to go back to my station after my leave with a wife. Low and behold, I met a beautiful young girl by name Margaret Arthur who agreed to marry me. All the necessary customary rites were performed and she joined me in Tarkwa in December 1964. We had our first issue, a boy, on 5th March 1965, who was named Kofi Aboagye after my senior brother.
UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The Kumasi College of Technology was upgraded to a full degree-awarding university in June 1962. It was named the University of Science and Technology (UST) and subsequently renamed Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). In October 1966 I entered the UST to pursue a 3year degree course in pharmacy, on study leave. I obtained the B. Pharm. Degree in December 1968. I was then posted back to Komfo Anokye Hospital, Kumasi in January 1969.
On the 5th of April 1969, I had my marriage to Miss Margaret Arthur solemnized in the St. Mary's Catholic Church at South Suntreso in Kumasi, in a very simple group wedding ceremony. We were six couples who went through this wedding ceremony that day.
In October 1969, I proceeded to London on a British Council Scholarship to do a One-Year attachment course in Hospital Pharmacy in various hospitals in the U.K. I was attached to St. Mary's Hospital Paddington in North London from where I went round other hospitals such as St. George's Hospital and Royal Infirmary at Aberdeen in Scotland. I stayed at Aberdeen for three months. Ward Pharmacy was very well organized at this hospital in Aberdeen. At the end of the course I wrote a dissertation on Ward Pharmacy. My wife joined me in London in December 1969. She also did a One-Year diploma course in dressmaking.
In January 1971, I came back home to Ghana and was posted to Nsawam Hospital as Pharmacist-in-charge. In October of the same year I was transferred to Bolgatanga Regional Hospital in the Upper Region. I also served as the Pharmacist in charge of the Region. I did a lot of trekking to all the Hospitals and Clinics in the region.
In April 1975, I was transferred back to Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi as the Pharmacy Superintendent for almost three years. I resigned from the service in January 1978 to go into private practice.
I worked briefly as a Managing Director for a drug manufacturing company, Tropical Laboratories Ltd. This company encountered many problems in the allocation of Import License to enable it to obtain raw materials to commence production.
In January 1979, I resigned from Tropical Laboratories Ltd. and moved to Accra where I established the Komarco Pharmacy Ltd. This company was registered and began full business in February 1979, and has been operating till today. Now Accra is my final and permanent home of business and residence.
The main business of Komarco at the beginning was the bulk preparation of mixtures. We used to prepare large quantities of mixtures such as Magnesium Tricilicate, F.A.C, Kaolin, Paracetamol Syrup, Chloroquine Syrup and many others for sale to Clinics, Hospitals and a number of retail shops country wide. We used to import our own raw materials from Europe especially London (UK), Hamburg (Germany) and Amsterdam (Holland). I therefore used to travel regularly to London, Hamburg and Amsterdam on business.
ACTIVITIES DURING SCHOOL DAYS
OPOKU WARE SCHOOL
In my school days I used to play volleyball very well and was the captain of my school team. As far as indoor games were concerned I was very good in playing chess and draughts.
OFFICES HELD: SCHOOL PREFECT
I was elected one of the first three school prefects of the pioneer group when the Opoku Ware School was opened in1952. The other two prefects were Joseph Bayala and Owusu Afriyie. In my final year I was elected the Assistant Hose Prefect for St. Mark's House. Osei Peter K14 was the House Prefect.