African Humanities Program Honors Prof Yankah
The 4th Regional Assembly of the African Humanities Program ended in Abuja last Thursday, with a special ceremony at which Professor Kwesi Yankah, Ghana’s Minister of State for Tertiary Education was honoured for his distinguished service to the Program.
The event, attended by several distinguished fellows and scholars of the AHP, took place at the plush auditorium of the Petroleum Technology Development in Abuja, as part of the AHP annual regional workshops and conferences organized in five participating countries: Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Earlier in the week the celebrated Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, had delivered a keynote address calling for the retrieval of Africa’s misconstrued and forgotten histories.
The African Humanities program, on which Professor Yankah served as Associate Director for 8 years, is a project of the American Council of Learned Societies, that offers fellowships to young faculty to pursue high quality doctoral and post-doctoral research in the African humanities.
Since 2008, AHP has through grants and mentorship schemes, supported young and brilliant scholars across Africa and admitted more than 400 African scholars to its prestigious fellowship.
Prof Frederick Hendricks, Associate Director of AHP, who presented the award saluted Professor Yankah for his ‘inestimable contribution to the African humanities program.’
“He was there at both the design and execution stages of the program. Whatever success the AHP is currently enjoying, rests on the solid foundation for which Kwesi Yankah was the chief mason. And when Yankah left the AHP a few years ago, our intellectual compass was disturbed,” he said.
Prof Hendricks who is also a Professor Emeritus of History at Rhodes University, South Africa described Prof Yankah, a scholar in linguistics, as a passionate pillar in the promotion of scholarly works in the arts and humanities, and a prolific writer in his own right, who as well possesses several skills and talents including song writing.
“His determined desire,” according to Hendricks, “has always been to ensure that his professional legacies in academia allow humanities to flourish on the continent of Africa. He has mentored many young graduates to pursue doctoral and post-doctoral programs in diverse areas under the humanities program, edited many works and published several books and journals.”
Receiving the award, Prof Yankah expressed gratitude for the kind gesture by AHP, and his peers, in recognizing his modest contribution to the humanities.
He dedicated the award to the ‘silent voices in the African humanities, the sages, orators, performers, cultural activists indeed the real producers of knowledge who create the raw material and make it available for critical engagement.’
The day ended with the formal launch of new books in the humanities by four African scholars including one on the legendary boxer, Azuma Nelson, written by Professor Valerie Botchway of the University of Cape Coast.