A nation that does not honour its heroes, they say is not worth dying for, a clear case in Ghana. But the Akufo-Addo led government has tried to reverse this situation by naming certain institutions and other monumental infrastructure after some of the heroes of our land – all these people are related to the Danquah-Busia-Dombo tradition of which NPP was born out.
These include Tamale Sports stadium renamed after Alhaji Aliu Mahama, UMaT renamed after Paa Grant, Navorongo and Wa campuses of UDS renamed after C.K. Tedem and S.S. Dombo respectively, UENR renamed after Dr. Busia, and the recently renamed Akenten Appiah-Menkah University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development (AAMUSTED) – formerly UEW-K and UEW-M being renamed after Akenten Appiah-Menkah, among others.
Akenten Appiah-Menkah seems to be the least known among these heroes and as your authoritative and authentic blogger, I bring you all you need to know about him.
Akenten Appiah-Menka was a Ghanaian lawyer, politician, businessman, and industrialist. He was born on 3 July 1933 at Aboabogya, a town in the Kwabre district near Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.
In 1960 he married Mrs. Rosemond Appiah-Menka (née Gyamfi). His hobbies included golf, football, and cartoon reading
He had his middle school education at Aboabogya Methodist School. He proceeded to Abuakwa State College, Kibi for his Cambridge certificate, and Adisadel College for his advanced level certificate. He stowed away from the Takoradi Port through a French cargo and landed in Marseille. He was sent to England on a train in 1954. There, he enrolled at the Northwestern Polytechnic, London (now University of North London) that same year and obtained his GCE advanced level certificate in 1955. He continued at the University of Manchester in 1956 to study law and graduated in 1959. He was called to the bar at Lincoln’s Inn.
He returned to Ghana in 1960 and entered private legal practice as a barrister and a solicitor working as an associate of the Yaanom Chambers which was then headed by Nicholas Yaw Boafo Adade. He worked as a legal practitioner until 1969 when he entered politics
That same year he was appointed Deputy Minister for Trade. In 1971 after the reshuffle he was made deputy Attorney General. He served in this position until 1972 when the Busia government was overthrown. He was detained by the Supreme Military Council (then National Redemption Council) after the overthrow and was released in 1973.
In 1993 he was a founding member of the New Patriotic Party, he later became a member of the council of elders of the New Patriotic Party and also Chairman of the council of elders of the party’s Ashanti Regional branch. During the Akufo-Addo administration, he was appointed chairman of the party/government committee; a committee whose core mandate was to ensure that there was a coordinated and cordial working relationship between the incumbent party (New Patriotic Party) and the government.
He also served in the Atta Mills administration when he was appointed a member of the Constitution Review Commission. As an astute businessman, he acquired a 600-acre land in Akrofum near Obuasi and started a palm oil plantation which became the Ashanti Oil Mills. The company produced edible oil. The business grew to become the Appiah Menka Complex Ltd that manufactured Appino soap; a popular detergent soap of the 1980s and crocodile pale. The soap production began in Kumasi through a joint venture with the National Investment Bank.
He was Managing Director and later Chairman of the Appiah Menka Complex Ltd, the Ashanti Oil Mills, and the Appiah Menka plantations. He was in jail from 1983 to 1984 over a land dispute in the Nzema area of the Western Region. Due to his industrial exploits, he was once made President of the Association of Ghana Industries.
He died on 13 February 2018 and his burial ceremony was held on 24 May 2018 in Kumasi. He was buried in his hometown Aboabogya.
In 2020, a bill was passed to make the two campuses of the University of Education, Winneba (Kumasi and Mampong) autonomous and name it University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development. The then-second Deputy Majority Chief Whip, Moses Anim on the floor of parliament proposed the university be named after the late Akenten Appiah-Menkah. Some MPs from the minority side also asserted that “It’s a laudable initiative’ while the then Wa West MP, Joseph Yieleh Chireh too made a case for the University to be named after the late Appiah-Menkah.
The purpose of the University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development Bill, 2020 is to establish an outstanding internationally acclaimed educational institution dedicated to the training of teachers to equip them with the relevant competencies for teaching in technical and vocational education and training institutions.
The bill comprises 45 clauses, and it seeks to prioritize the training of teachers to provide them with the relevant knowledge and aptitudes to create the necessary condition for effective and efficient training of students.