St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast (Augusco), has lost one of its principal benefactors, Emeritus Professor Joseph K. Adjaye, one of Ghana’s foremost historians and eminent scholars in African Studies.
He passed away in the United States on June 27.
Prof Adjaye, an active member of the alumni class of 1957 (APSU), was affiliated with the Department of Africana Studies, University of Pittsburgh, USA, as well as the University of Ghana, Legon. In 2014, he set up scholarships in the history department of his alma mater, University of Ghana, with an initial seed money of GHS 40,000, to support both undergraduate and graduate students.
Additionally, he has been a primary donor to his high school alma mater, Augusco, where he initially donated a set of sports trophies, and in 2014, together with his younger brother, Dr Robert E. Adjaye (APSU ’64), donated 63 computers to set up the Adjaye Computer Centre for students.
More recently, he had been spearheading an effort to upgrade the school’s sports facility, including building a stand at the sports stadium.
St Augustine’s has held a special place in the hearts of successive generations of Adjayes over the years. Notably, Prof Adjaye was the Guest Speaker at the school’s 80th anniversary Speech and Prize Giving Day.
His extensive publications include the award-winning books, “Diplomacy and Diplomats in 19th Century, Asante,” and “Language, Rhythm and Sound: Black Popular Cultures into the 21st Century”.
He has written numerous essays and reviews on History in Africa, The International Journal of African History Studies, Journal of Ethnic Studies, American History Review, Journal of Black Studies, and African Historical Review.
His Research Interests include – African History and Culture (e.g. classical, pre-colonial, modern, diplomatic, pan-Africanism, historical methodology, African spirituality, popular culture, time in Africa and its diaspora, Akan language, history and culture); Caribbean history (slavery, African retentions , and Maroon history).
His father, Robert E. K. Adjaye, (Senior), was one of the founding members of St Augustine’s at Amisano in 1930, and was the longest surviving member of the founding group until he passed away in 2002, at the age of 89.
His mother, Mrs Elizabeth Adjaye, was the Domestic Bursar at the school from 1965-68, while his uncles Jacob and Edward Ulzen also attended Augusco before the baton was passed on to them. Following Joseph and Robert, their nephews also studied at the school and kept the tradition alive.
Prof Adjaye was educated at Augusco, the University of Ghana (Legon) and Northwestern University (Evanston, USA). He previously held teaching and administrative positions at St. John’s School (Sekondi), Asanteman Secondary School (Kumasi), University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), the University of Wisconsin (Madison), and the University of Pittsburgh, where he was Director of African Studies for over 10 years.
He is the author of six books and dozens of articles and book chapters on African history and the diaspora. Prof Adjaye has given over 400 invited lectures in cities and at campuses throughout the world and is a recipient of numerous prestigious awards including Fulbright’s, National Endowment for the Humanities and Hewlett.
His latest book titled: “Elmina, ‘The Little Europe – European Impact and Cultural Resilience”, offers a brief introduction to the history of Elmina, its castle, the people, and their traditions. It outlines the town’s 500-year relationship with Europeans, with special emphasis on the transformations that have developed out of these interactions.
The book is based on original archival information and orally-derived sources. It is also richly informed by the writer’s own personal knowledge as a Nyampa Safohen and citizen of Elmina.
Notwithstanding the tremendous changes engendered by the European contact, Elmina’s historical development demonstrates an amazing degree of cultural continuity and resilience in its political institutions, social organisation, economic systems and worldview.
Prof Adjaye’s works will live on and his contributions to his beloved alma mater, and mother Ghana will forever be cherished.
By Peter Martey Agbeko (APSU ’80)