Ghana’s first female journalist Akua Asabea Ayisi
The column will be kicked off by my favourite profession, journalism, and favourite kind of empowerment, women empowerment. Therefore, today Akua Asabea Ayisi known as Grandma lawyer to her grand nieces and nephews, Ghana’s first female journalist will feature. Tradition, History and Culture will give an insight to the public heroine and the private woman.
“Akua Asabea Ayisi my great aunt was born on April 3, 1927 and was the 8th child of 10 of Mercy Adebra Mensah and Okyeame Kofi Ayisi. Kofi Ayisi was a royal and linguist for the King, his relative. Some of Akua's uncles were royal fetish priests. Kofi Ayisi had 70 children, Mercy Adebra had 10 of those. Akua Asabea Ayisi was born in Mampong Akwapem. Her mother Mercy Adebra's grandfather Tetteh Quarshie planted the first coco tree in Ghana. Akua’s mother Mercy Adebra was a fierce woman who demanded independence, and soon left Kofi Ayisi and travelled to Accra to be closer to her Ga family.
My Dad John Darko's greatest gift from her was her saying that " people shouldn't be cynical, good people have character." He said she was a kind, honest and good woman. She really was full of love for those she did love. Nevertheless, I have heard you did not want to be on her bad side. She was a beacon of love and positivity to her family, but to the rest of the Ghana she was a revolutionary.
Akua was called Hannah at her first school, Presbyterian Primary Mampong. After she went to the Presbyterian Girls School, Osu Accra. She was lucky, it was rare for a woman to be educated to her level in those days, who came from a large family, who had brothers. Mercy Adebra believed in a girl’s education. Akua then went to the Government Secretarial School to complete her education. After, she joined the CCP party, led by Kwame Nkrumah, and became the first female journalist recorded in Ghana.
She became Kwame Nkrumah's first private secretary (1950- 1956) and helped Nkrumah write all the inflammatory things about the British, such as "die with the imperialists." As well as wrote books like, “British colonial misrule, an exploitation. The struggle continues" and "Regretted love." Akua was put in the trenches and later jailed during the Pre-independence upheavals because of her work with Nkrumah. Yet the struggle was worth it, when Ghana gained independence in 1957.
Shortly after independence, Akua went to Newham College Cambridge to obtain a law degree, when she finished, she was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn. In 1963, she came back to Ghana however, she did not join the government. My dad said perhaps it was because Akua had a distaste for dishonesty, corruption and was very independent. And could not go with the flow. Therefore, she started work as a barrister in Ghana.
Thankfully because of her decision, Akua was not harmed when the military overthrew Kwame Nkrumah's government. In 1968, she was giving the honour of being part of the constitutional assembly who wrote the new constitution after Kwame Nkrumah's overthrow. Then in 1978 she helped draft the new constitution, when Ghana changed from SMC to Democratic rule. In 1969 She was one of the first women to run for member of parliament, she run in Akuapem North and lost- most of her siblings did not support her.
Akua did not adhere to societal pressure. She smoked, refused to get married, not wanting a man to impinge on her freedom and thought children were too noisy, so she would rather not have them. This woman managed to build her own two-story house in Roman Ridge with a lot of land surrounding it. She named it in Adebra's house, after her mother, who made it possible for her, a woman, to become whoever she wanted.
Akua Asabea Ayisi, my great aunt was a woman who fought for Ghana because she believed in the black star. She sadly died on April 21, 2010 at the age of 83. She was definitely a citizen not a spectator.” (Akua Asabea’s grandniece, I may even be the grandniece)