Dr. Ebenezer Ako Adjei (17 June 1916 – 14 January 2002) was a Ghanaian lawyer, journalist and politician who served as a foreign minister and in other leading cabinet roles during the first Republic of Ghana as a member of the Convention People’s Party.He was a founding member of the United Gold Coast Convention and is one of the “Big Six“, who were arguably some of the most famous people in Ghana’s fight for independence from British rule.
Ebenezer Ako Adjei was born on 17 June 1916 in Adjeikrom in Akyem Abuakwa land. Adjeikrom is a small farming community found in Eastern Region of Ghana (then the Gold Coast). His father was Samuel Adjei, a farmer and trader, whom Ako Adjei’s place of birth is thought to be named after, and his mother was Johanna Okaile Adjei. Both parents were from La, a settlement near the coastal sea at Accra. He had many brothers and sisters but was the youngest of his father’s children.
His early education began in the Eastern Region at the Busoso Railway Primary School. He was taken to Accra where he continued his education at the Presbyterian Middle, Junior and Boarding schools in La. He entered the Accra Academy for his secondary school education in 1933. In December, 1936 he was one of the candidates presented by the Accra Academy for the Cambridge Senior School leaving Certificate Examination. Among the candidates who passed the examination, only two obtained exemption from the London Matriculation Examination Board. One of these students was Ako Adjei.
From June 1937 to December 1938 he was a Second Division Clerk in the Gold Coast Civil Service. He was assigned to assist Harold Cooper, a European Assistant Colonial Secretary, and J. E. S. de Graft-Hayford to organise and establish the Gold Coast Broadcasting Service. These were the beginnings of what is now the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
In December 1938 he resigned from the Gold Coast Civil Service to travel to the United States of America to attend Lincoln University, Pennsylvania. In January 1939, he arrived at the university to the welcome of K.A.B. Jones-Quartey, a student from the Gold Coast whom Ako Adjei had know due to his work with the Accra Morning Post. Jones-Quartey had been accompanied to welcome him by another Gold Coast student who was introduced as Francis Nwia Kofi Nkrumah (Kwame Nkrumah). At Lincoln University he was housed at Houston Hall. He registered for courses in Political Science, Economics, Sociology, English, Latin and Philosophy.
Ako Adjei shared the same room at Houston Hall with Jones-Quartey and their room was opposite Nkrumah’s room, which was larger in size due to Nkrumah being a postgraduate student. Ako Adjei formed a close relationship with Nkrumah despite the age gap that apparently existed between them. Together with a group of students, they often had long heated discussions (known as bull sessions) about the emancipation of African countries from colonial domination. Among the African students who regularly took part in these discussions were Jones-Quartey, Ozuomba Mbadiwe, Nwafor Orizu and Okechukwu Ikejiani.
After one and half years at Lincoln, he won a Phelps-Stokes Fund scholarship to attend Hampton Institute in Virginia, and transferred there to complete his university degree. He won another scholarship to the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and obtained a master’s degree in June 1943. He gained employment as a lecturer at the African Studies Department at Fisk University through the assistance of Dr. Edwin W. Smith, a missionary. Dr. Smith had come from Englan to establish the new department and invited Ako Adjei to be his assistant at its founding.
Ako Adjei moved to the United Kingdom to pursue his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. His teaching job at the Fisk University had provided him finances to enroll at the Inner Temple in early May 1944. While at his law studies, Ako Adjei took an interest in politics and became president of the West African Students Union.
He was instrumental in introducing Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to the political scene in Ghana and Nkrumah later became the first president of Ghana. However, in 1962 President Nkrumah had him imprisoned.
On the eve of his release from the Nsawam Prison in 1966, Ako Adjei completely forswore politics. He spent the remainder of his long life in relative obscurity. Ako Adjei died in Accra on 14 January 2002.
“Ghana is our country. We have nowhere to go. This is where God has placed us and the earlier we realized this the better for all of us.”
|Minister of the Interior|
|Minister for Justice|
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|hidevte The Big Six (Ghana)|
|Ebenezer Ako-AdjeiEdward Akufo-AddoJ. B. DanquahKwame NkrumahEmmanuel Obetsebi-LampteyWilliam Ofori Atta|