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Susan Barbara Gyankorama Ofori-Atta also de Graft-Johnson, DRCOG, DRCPCH, FGA (1917 – July 1985) was a Ghanaian medical doctor — the first female doctor on the Gold Coast.[1][2][3][4] She was the first Ghanaian woman and fourth West African woman to earn a university degree.[1][2] Ofori-Atta was also the third West African woman to become a physician after the Nigerians Agnes Yewande Savage (1929) and Elizabeth Abimbola Awoliyi (1938).[5][6][7][8] In 1933, Sierra Leonean political activist and higher education pioneer, Edna Elliot-Horton became the second West African woman university graduate and the first to earn a bachelor's degree in the liberal arts.[1] Eventually Ofori-Atta became a medical officer-in-charge at the Kumasi Hospital, and later, she assumed in charge of the Princess Louise Hospital for Women.[1] Her contemporary was Matilda J. Clerk, the second Ghanaian woman and fourth West African woman to become a physician, who was also educated at Achimota and Edinburgh.[1] Ofori-Atta was made an Honorary Doctor of Science by the University of Ghana for her work on malnutrition in children, and received the Royal Cross from Pope John Paul II when he visited Ghana in 1980, in recognition of her offering of free medical services at her clinic.[9] She helped to establish the Women's Society for Public Affairs and was a Foundation Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.[10] Her achievements were a symbol of inspiration to aspiring women physicians in Ghana.[10]

Susan Ofori-Atta

Susan Ofori-Atta.png
Kyebi, Ghana
DiedJuly 1985 (aged 67–68)
Alma mater
Known for
Spouse(s)E. V. C. de Graft-Johnson
AwardsRoyal Cross
Medical career

Early life and educationEdit

A member of the prominent Ofori-Atta royal dynasty, Susan Ofori-Atta was born in Kyebi, Gold Coast (present-day Ghana), in 1917 to Nana Sir Ofori Atta I, the Okyenhene and Paramount Chief of the Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, and his wife Nana Akosua Duodu.[10][11]

Susan Ofori-Atta received her primary education at St. Mary's Convent in Elmina around 1921 and enrolled at Achimota School in 1929 for her secondary education.[10] She was one of the pioneer students after the opening in 1927 of the college, where she was the Girls' School Prefect in her final year and sat for the Cambridge School Certificate.[10] She studied midwifery at Korle-Bu Midwifery Training School, graduating in 1935, and she had further training in midwifery in Scotland.[10] After her tertiary education, she practised midwifery at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. She further continued her education at Edinburgh University Medical School, where she obtained her MBChB degree in 1947.[10][3] Her education abroad was sponsored by her wealthy father, Ofori Atta I.[10]

Career and advocacyEdit

Ofori-Atta began her career as a midwife and then studied to become a pediatrician, making her the first female doctor in the Gold Coast (now known as Ghana).[10] In 1960, she volunteered her time at a Congolese hospital that was understaffed.[12] During her time as a medical officer at the Princess Marie Louise Hospital, she was dubbed "mmofra doctor" (children's doctor).[11] She left the Princess Marie Louise Hospital to join the University of Ghana Medical School, where she was a founding member of the Paediatrics Department before starting her own private medical practice for women and children at her clinic, the Accra Clinic.[10] She was also a Diplomate of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecology (1949) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (1958).[3]

She was an advocate for women and children causes and opposed the Akan system of inheritance, advocating legislation to address the issue and give right to the spouses and children to inherit their deceased spouses and fathers who died intestate.[10] Her efforts led to the PNDC Intestate Succession Law promulgated in 1985.[10] She was a member of the 1969 Constituent Assembly which drafted the Constitution for the Second Republic of Ghana.[10]

She was honoured by the University of Ghana in 1974 with an honorary Doctor of Science for her pioneering research work into childhood malnutrition — "Kwashiorkor", a term she coined that became a medical term in the global community.[10][11] She was an active in the Catholic Church in Ghana, especially the Accra Diocese.[10] She was an executive member of the Federation of Association of Catholic Medical Doctors and a member of the Ghana Catholic Doctors Association.[10]

Personal life and familyEdit

She was married to E. V. C. de Graft-Johnson, a barrister-at-law based in Accra and a close relation of Joseph W.S. de Graft-Johnson, Vice-President of Ghana from 1979 to 1981.[10] During the 1960s, E. V. C. de Graft Johnson held a one-man protest on a matter of legal principle outside the Supreme Court buildings.[13] In 1979, E.V.C. de Graft-Johnson was the Vice-Chairman of the centre-left party, Social Democratic Front (SDF).[14]

Susan Ofori-Atta's older brother was William Ofori-Atta, the Gold Coast politician and lawyer, former foreign minister and one of the founding leaders of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) as well as a member of "The Big Six", the group of political activists detained by the British colonial government after the 1948 Accra riots, kicking off the struggle for the attainment of Ghana's independence in 1957. Her other brother was Kofi Asante Ofori-Atta, a Minister for Local Government in the Convention People's Party (CPP) government of Kwame Nkrumah and later Speaker of the Parliament of Ghana. Her younger sister was Adeline Akufo-Addo, the First Lady of Ghana during the Second Republic.[15]

Death and legacyEdit

Susan Ofori-Atta died of natural causes in July 1985 in the United Kingdom.[10] A girls' house at her alma mater, Achimota School, was named after her.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Adell Patton (1996). Physicians, Colonial Racism, and Diaspora in West Africa. University Press of Florida. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-0-8130-1432-6. Archived from the original on 15 April 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  2. ^ a b Richard Rathbone (1993). Murder and Politics in Colonial Ghana. Yale University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-300-05504-7. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ a b c Tetty, Charles (1985). "Medical Practitioners of African Descent in Colonial Ghana". The International Journal of African Historical Studies. 18 (1): 139–144. doi:10.2307/217977. JSTOR 217977.
  4. ^ Ferry, Georgina (November 2018). "Agnes Yewande Savage, Susan Ofori-Atta, and Matilda Clerk: three pioneering doctors". The Lancet. 392 (10161): 2258–2259. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32827-7. ISSN 0140-6736.
  5. ^ "CAS Students to Lead Seminar On University's African Alumni, Pt. IV: Agnes Yewande Savage". Postgrads from the Edge. 16 November 2016. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Retrieved 5 August 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  6. ^ "Tabitha Medical Center | Celebrating African Women in Medicine". Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ Anibaba, Musliu Olaiya (2003). A Lagosian of the 20th century: an autobiography. Tisons Limited. ISBN 9789783557116. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Mitchell, Henry (November 2016). "Dr Agnes Yewande Savage – West Africa's First Woman Doctor (1906-1964)". Centre of African Studies. Archived from the original on 5 August 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  9. ^ Cecilia J. Dumor (August 2002). Nelson Thornes West African Readers Junior Readers 3. Nelson Thornes. pp. 124–. ISBN 978-0-7487-7034-2. Archived from the original on 21 April 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "National Commission on Culture". Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  11. ^ a b c "Tabitha Medical Center | Celebrating African Women in Medicine Part 2". Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "Friends in Deed". Jet. 19 (3): 44. 19 November 1960. Archived from the original on 14 May 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^ "Hats off to Martin Amidu". Archived from the original on 22 November 2016. Retrieved 7 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  14. ^ "Dr. J.W.S. de Graft Johnson; Vice President Elect". WikiLeaks. 20 July 1979. Archived from the original on 7 December 2018. Retrieved 7 December 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  15. ^ Nana Kwame Asamoa-Boateng, "Otumfuo Storms Ofori Panie Fie" Archived 29 September 2018 at the Wayback Machine , Daily Guide, 9 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Old Achimotan Association". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

Merged content from Susan Gyankorama de Graft-Johnson. See Talk:Susan Gyankorama de Graft-Johnson.