Nana Joe Appiah
|Member of the Ghana Parliament|
Joseph Emmanuel Appiah
16 November 1918
|Died||8 July 1990 (aged 71)|
|Resting place||Tafo Cemetery, Kumasi|
|Political party||National Liberation Movement|
|Children||Kwame Anthony Appiah, Isobel Ama, Adwoa, Abena|
|Relatives||Jackie Appiah (niece)|
|Profession||Politician, lawyer and diplomat|
He was born in Kumasi to Nana James W.K. Appiah and Nana Adwoa Akyaa, members of the Ashanti imperial aristocracy. His father was a schoolmaster, Methodist leader, traditional nobleman and, finally, Chief Secretary of Asanteman - a position which gave him considerable influence in Ashanti affairs. Appiah was educated at Wesley College, Mfantsipim, and the Middle Temple.
During his time in the United Kingdom, he was closely involved with the West African Students' Union (WASU), eventually becoming its president. He came, through residence in London and involvement with WASU, to know many of the main players in the fight against imperial rule in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa. Not least among these was Kwame Nkrumah, to whom he became very close. Nkrumah was Appiah's first choice for best man at his wedding to Peggy Cripps in 1953 ("but the job went to arguably the more influential figure of George Padmore, a Trinidadian who was political mentor to African nationalist leaders, including Nkrumah and Jomo Kenyatta"). Their firstborn child, son Kwame, was born in London in 1954, followed by Ama (born 1955), Adwoa (born 1960) and Abena (born 1962).
The Appiah family returned to Ghana in late 1954. Soon after, Joe Appiah's friendship with Nkrumah was ruined. He joined the National Liberation Movement party and won the Atwima-Amansie seat in 1957. The NLM was later to merge with other opposition parties to form the United Party. After the General Afrifa-led coup that overthrew Nkrumah in 1966, he was asked to explain the new regime's motives to Ghana's friends and neighbours. Appiah was intermittently involved in public life as a diplomat and a government minister from then on until his retirement in 1978.
He returned to Kumasi, where he continued to fulfil his duties as a tribal elder. Following the death of his grand-uncle Yao Antony, he had become the head of their branch of the nobility of the Ashanti people. Prior to his own death, he served as the kingmaker and titular overlord of Nyaduom, a town that was founded centuries before by his ancestor Nana Akroma-Ampim I.
His autobiography Joe Appiah: The Autobiography of an African Patriot was published in 1990. Kwame Anthony Appiah's In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture was inspired by his father's easy cosmopolitanism.
Joe Appiah died in Accra after an illness and was buried at the Tafo cemetery at Kumasi in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. His widow would buy and occupy the adjacent plot after her death in 2006. His tomb was vandalised in 2008 by unknown persons.
- Eric Pace, "Joe Appiah Is Dead; Ghanaian Politician And Ex-Envoy, 71", New York Times, July 12, 1990.
- Susan Williams, Colour Bar: The triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, Allen Lane, 2006; Penguin Books, 2007, p. xxxiii-iv.
- Cameron Duodu, Obituary of Peggy Appiah, The Guardian, 6 March 2006.
- Ekow Nelson (2009-07-17). "Mr. R.R Amponsah was no innocent abroad". ModernGhana.com. Retrieved 2010-07-24.
- "Peggy Appiah" obituary, The Telegraph, 24 February 2006.
- Enoch Darfah Frimpong (2008-06-09). "Paa Joe Appiah's tomb vandalised". Retrieved 2010-07-24.