AN INTELLECTUAL WHO ALWAYS DRESSED IN HER AFRICAN DRESS: Prof Mariama Ewurama Addy (c. 1941 – 14 January 2014) an astute culturalist and Ghanaian biochemistry professor who was the popular host of the Ghana National Science and Maths Quiz in her trademark Kente dress and ancient ethnic Fante-style head wrap.
Professor Marian Ewurama Addy, was the first woman Professor of Science at the University of Ghana, In January 2008 she was appointed President of the Anglican University College of Technology, a newly launched private initiative for higher technical education in Ghana. Professor Addy’s interest and extension activities are in bridging the gap between scientific and indigenous knowledge and in the popularisation of science. In her autobiography (Rewards: An Autobiography), Ewurama Addy takes us through the various stages of her life, culminating in her rise up the academic ladder and an affirmation of her Christian faith.
Tribute In Honour Of The Late Professor Marian Ewurama Addy
I BELIEVE I represent the voice of many students of Professor Marian Ewurama Addy who may not have had the privilege to say their last words to the great scholar mother and a friend. Perhaps, I remain the most closest to Prof. among all her students.
I joined the Department of Biochemistry, University of Ghana in 1993 when Professor Addy was the Head of Department.
It was a period when the University had just adopted the Course-Credit System (CCS). Some of the old practices such as examining students on all laboratory practical work they had done in the semesters/terms at the end of the year were still in force.
I recall leading a delegation from my class to register our protest against the practice to the Head of Department, Professor Addy. She welcomed us nicely, and agreed to have the system abrogated and that took effect immediately. I was humbled by her acceptance of the views of her first year Biochemistry students and agreeing to take immediate action against the old practice when she was logically convinced by the arguments we advanced. A woman of respect for the young is what I am talking about.
I enjoyed her classes and performed well in all the courses she taught me. I remember an incident where a colleague lecturer openly confronted Prof Addy on an issue while she was in a class with us. She gently left the class mentioning the name of the colleague lecturer and saying “don’t bring yourself”. That was the gentle Prof who would not pick up a fight before students and thus, avoided the conflict by walking away.
She encouraged two of us to keep to Biochemistry and Botany as combined majors for time in the University’s history when the two departments involved would not make any special concessions for us from what their single-major students were doing.
It was a period of clash lectures and uncertainties for us because of the newly introduced CCS. When I enrolled unto the Masters programme in the same Department and made known my research interest to Prof. she was quick to share a research proposal she had just secured funding for. I developed an aspect of that proposal for my Masters research.
So high was the Prof.’s confidence in me that she assigned me to be directly responsible for guiding the research of some of her undergraduate students and even some postgraduate students as well. Among these were Kisha Green l and Maame Efua from the Duke University in the United States of America. I recall Prof. driving the three of us to Akosombo where we got on board the ferry, The Dodi Princess” to the Dodi Island.
We indeed had fun (food, drinks, jokes, live band etc.) and enjoyed the high speed ride on Prof.’s Mercedes Benz saloon car. I am talking about a scholar who could adjust to socialize so well with her own students.
Professor Addy, impressed by my research findings, sought to upgrade my MPhil work to a PhD but was discouraged by a colleague lecturer. As my supervisor, she would not give me the headache a number of supervisors gave their students by taking days, months and even years to give feedback on their work. Prof. Addy took hours to comment on various chapters of my thesis. This made me complete my Masters programme within two (2) years at a time when the earliest time one completed the MPhil programme was three (3) years. A wonderful trait of making life easy for others is what I am talking about.
Our friendship was crowned when Prof. was nominated by the government in 2009 to serve on the National Accreditation Board where I worked as the Deputy Executive Secretary. She was proud of her little boy grow to become a man. Our relationship became even stronger when Prof. was made the Chairman of the Quality Assurance Committee (QAC), a committee of the Board which was directly serviced by the Quality Assurance Department (QAD) which I also headed.
Although my former lecturer, Prof. at this point engaged me as a colleague and not a student an attitude a lot of elderly people lack including parents who refuse to accept that their children are of age.
I also had the privilege of serving with Prof. Addy on the Presidential Committee for the establishment of the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS) in the Volta Region and, the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
She was proud of my successes and mentioned to some members of the QAC of NAB how good a student I was and how my MPhil Thesis she supervised won the Ghana Academy of Art and Sciences Silver Award in 2002 ahead of PhD entries.
She also told members how I remained unchanged with regard to making a case for what I believed in unless proven wrong. She often made such comments whenever I submitted and defended draft technical papers to the Committee. A person that appreciated the efforts of others and celebrated them is what I am talking about.
As a mother, she encouraged me and advised me to live the Christian faith we all subscribed to in all circumstances (she gave me a Bible as my wedding gift).
No wonder after we had shared a word of prayer by her hospital bed on November 23,2013, she said in Fante: “Ma Onyame beka biara” (whatever God says). Even there, we talked about the progress of our country Ghana. Three days after my visit she was discharged and I visited her again at home with a colleague. She looked gorgeous as always.
My telephone call to her two weeks after the visit was not responded to. She also did not return the call as was typical of her. My Season’s Greetings message to her by text on December 25, 2013 was also not responded to. I started feeling uneasy. Joyfully, her call came through at 10:35pm on December 31, 2013 during the Watch Night service.
When I stepped out of the chapel to call in just about 3 minutes’ time, Mr. Oko Addy, Prof.’s husband, indicated she was asleep and would, therefore, convey my message to her the following day. I missed what perhaps, would have been her last words to me.
I had decided to, visit the home to find out what was happening when the sad news came to me on January 14, 2014: “John! Have you heard the news going round about your mother?” this was how all three friends who first called to inform me on phone put it.
Demirifa due Prof. Due, due ne amane hun. Nyame nfa wokra nsei. Amen