With the passing into eternity of Bro Ofosu, we have lost one of our most influential cousins who played his part both in the family and beyond in the wider Ghanaian community. He was a polymath, competent in most fields of study, interested in the traditional as well as the modern, and ambidextrous. He blazed a trail and settled on the most important field of health, preventative medicine.
Everyone in the extended family was excited and proud when Bro Ofosu returned to Ghana from Scotland after qualifying as a medical doctor. We now had our own doctor in the house. He would diagnose and treat our many ailments and equally importantly, he would be on hand to advise on the care and management of our chronic health problems.
I remember that he owned a swanky car, and lived in a flat at Korle Bu Hospital where he worked for a few years before he disappeared again. This time he went back to England for further training, staying for what seemed a very long period and then eventually returning home as a specialist doctor in childrens’ health. He was based at the Children’s Block.
The younger cousins in the family all had access to his flat under different pretexts and it was Bro Ofosu who gave some of us our first vacation job in the early to mid-1960s. We travelled with him to Oyarifa where he held outdoor clinics for young mothers and their children. Our main tasks included recording the weight and height of children and other such data on white index cards. It was exciting and quite easy but what we did not realise then was that this was our introduction to working as research assistants for what would then emerge as the Danfa Project. This was during the period that he was transitioning from being a childrens’ doctor to becoming a public health specialist.
It was such a good way of getting the family to bond. When he got married at Greenhill during that period, it was truly the wedding of the century, an occasion that brought the extended family together. We all have the pictures to show for it.
With him, one could sense that you were in the presence of an academic high achiever whose achievements we were inspired to emulate as we navigated through our academic work but in his case, the bar was set too high for some of us. He was a brainbox and as I recollect, he was totally unimpressed with our O-level results mainly because he must have aced all the subjects he studied both in the arts and the sciences.
He was an early adopter of modern technology and I remember his surprise when I turned up as part of a team to evaluate how some scientific analysis he was doing on an electronics machine could be ported into one of the IBM machines, an 11130 that was available at the University of Ghana and VRA. Unfortunately, because I was then not fully competent in FORTRAN, it was my colleague who helped him with the programming. When he asked how I managed to transition from a banker to a systems engineer, it was my turn to explain things to him!
An all-rounder, he was into gardening. I remember his attempt at getting me to understand the seasons, and when he started talking about the stars I realised that he was more into astronomy than astrology. I know that his late brother Paatii must have bought some books to better understand the subject.
Family was very important to him and he knew all the links and connections between different relationships and he navigated comfortably through these becoming for me my personal link to the family of my in laws. One of the most illuminating of discussions he had with me was about genealogy, explaining how his roots spanned Akwapim and Akyem. However, what impressed me most was what he did as a consultant or advisor for many foreigners who had come to write books about the culture and heritage of the Ga people. He actually took his time to introduce these academics to the villages where he had done his community health work.
I remember the many times when my late mother had imposed on him because I was down with a sickle cell crisis and his explanation made me understand the science of the genes., He never did manage to convince my late father to do a test for his blood type though, something that I think is now very vital in all the work that is being done on sickle cell disease. He worked hand-in-hand with and alongside Dr Portuphy-Lamptey and Dr Felix Konotey-Ahulu to help me identify some indicators that triggered my crises. I am also ever grateful to him for explaining to my mother that those regular doses of Mist Alba and Castor Oil were unnecessary. The Cod Liver Oil and Livibron would just really boost my immune system and not do much else. but that the Folic Acid and the Penicillin V would be more beneficial for me considering my then-unhealthy lifestyle.
Bro Ofosu was also interested in politics; serving his people and his community at the Assembly level and yet content to practice his medicine. I had slated him for higher office when I learnt that it was he who had proposed Professor Busia for the leadership of the Progress Party.
Bro Ofosu was mild-mannered, I never heard him raise his voice or utter any word in anger. He had a listening ear to those who approached him with problems.
His passing certainly leaves a vacuum in heart of the family and he will be sorely missed by all
Bro Ofosu – rest well in the bosom of the Lord