|Adam and Eve and the Serpent: Breaking the Bonds to Free Africa's Women (Ghana Universities Press, 1995, 141 p.)|
to the 22nd Series of the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures by Dr George Benneh, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana
The Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures were instituted in 1957 to commemorate the very significant contribution made by Joseph Kwegyir Aggrey, Alexander G Fraser and Gordon Guggisberg to the founding of Achimota College and the advancement of education, particularly higher education, in Ghana.
Native of Anomabo, Joseph Kwegyir Aggrey of the Gold Coast and Africa, trained in the United States where he obtained a doctoral degree at the turn of the present century. He was a visionary who also became spokesman for Africa on the issues of his day, including the issue of race. His appeal to the world for racial equality and harmony is symbolized in the black and white piano keys which feature in the Shield of Achimota College of which he was appointed Vice-Principal at its founding in 1924. For Aggrey, neither the black nor the white keys by themselves alone can be relied on for harmony in music; it had to be both.
Alexander G Fraser was a courageous and far-sighted educationist who, in the face of scepticism, translated his faith in the capacity of the African to undertake advanced studies by becoming founding Principal of Achimota College, which in 1924 was among the best secondary school establishments going anywhere.
Last but not the least, Sir Gordon Guggisberg was Governor of the Gold Coast in the 1920s and, in advance of the official colonial thinking of his day and at considerable personal sacrifice, built the Takoradi Harbour, Korle Bu Hospital and Achimota College to provide the infrastructure for the modern State of Ghana.
Supposed to be delivered annually, there have been breaks in the series of lectures, which is easily explained. It is not easy to come by persons who have not only excelled in their careers but do also have a wealth of experience to share not only with Ghana but with the world at large.
This year we have been lucky to find one more candidate who answers to the required criteria in the person of Professor Fred Torgbor Sai.
At various times Professor Sai attended the Universities of London. Edinburgh and Harvard. He is an internationally recognized authority on health, nutrition, population and family planning. particularly in Africa. He is currently an honorary professor of community health in the University of Ghana Medical School. As Chairman of the National Population Council, he is adviser to the Ghana Government on family planning and population; he is consultant to the World Bank on population issues in Africa and President of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).
He has held important positions both in Ghana and internationally. He was Director of Medical Services as well as professor of community health in Ghana and was one of those who founded the Ghana Family Planning Association and helped develop Ghana's population policy. He continues to help the Association with its programmes, particularly those on adolescent reproductive health and improvement in the role and status of women.
He served as nutrition adviser to the FAO Regional Office in Africa for three years, during which he travelled extensively in Africa to stimulate the interest of governments in the importance of human nutrition in national development planning. In the late 1970s he worked as co-ordinator for Africa, Europe and the Caribbean for the World Hunger Project of the United Nations University and helped promote postgraduate training and research in food science and nutrition.
As vice president, and later assistant secretary general for forwarding planning and external relations for the IPPF, he was one of those who helped to initiate and then expand community-based family planning services within the Federation.
As senior population adviser at the World Bank he worked tirelessly to get the Bank to increase its commitment to population and family planning activities and to work more closely with NGOs.
He has consulted for many organizations in different parts of the world. He was participated actively in, and chaired or rapporteured many international meetings. Professor Sai chaired the WHO/UNICEF Infant and Young Child Feeding Conference in 1979 which led to the development of the International Code on Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes; he was moderator for the Safe Motherhood Conference in 1987 which started the Safe Motherhood Initiative; but his most noted conference role was his chairing of the Main Committee of the International Conference on Population in Mexico in 1984.
He has written extensively on family planning, health and nutrition issues in Africa and has received many international and regional honours and awards for his work in food and nutrition, population and family planning. He is the 1993 recipient of the United Nations Population Award.
Since delivering these lectures, Professor Sai has been awarded University of Ghana's degree of Doctor of Science DSc honoris causa. Finding suitable persons to sustain the lecture series is only one difficulty, the other is finding a benefactor to underwrite the costs. We are privileged to have in the Pioneer Tobacco Company such a benefactor. On this occasion as on previous occasions the cost has been borne in its entirety by the company whose Managing Director, Dr John Kobina Richardson is also Chairman of the University Council, only coincidentally.
For the 1994 series of the Aggrey-Fraser-Guggisberg Memorial Lectures, Professor Sai has chosen for his theme "Adam, Eve and the Serpent". Naturally we begin to wonder whatever happened to the Apple. We can be sure Professor Sai will tell us.
14th March 1994