Wednesday, November 13, 2013

DR ROBERT PATRICK BAFFOUR: THE FATHER OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN AFRICAN SOIL AND INVENTOR OF GHANAIAN-MADE AUTOMOBILE "BOAFO" MOTORS.

The father of engineering education on African soil, scientific inventor, institution builder, administrator extraordinaire, adroit negotiator, lover and patron of the arts, leading (pioneer stage) and film actor, sportsman, philanthropist, mystic and family man, DR ROBERT PATRICK BAFFOUR, was born to greatness and achieved greatness. He was the the first man to identify that Ghana has an oil potential and also inventor of famous Ghanaian-made automobile "Boafo" motors.
Dr R P Baffour

Dr Baffour was born at Elmina on May 14, 1912. His father named him Papa Kweku Andoh, after the father's father, as Fante-Akan tradition demanded. To his many admirers, friends and students, he was to be known simply as Bob or R.P. R.P. Baffour Jnr was a scion of four royal houses.

The young would-be Dr R P Baffour standing at an extreme corner in this picture with his family taken in the 1920's. His Father,Snr R P Baffour sits in the middle as it was very typical of our very respectable Fante tradition. Little did old Mr Baffour knows that his boy at the extreme corner was gonna be his Gold Coast (Ghana's) first engineer and an inventor,scholar and scientist of international repute. — with Dr. Robert P. Baffour, Master Baffour (Robert P. Baffour Andoh), Francis Baffour, Josephine Baffour, Maria Frederica Okai, Magdalene Baffour, Victoria Baffour and Joseph Eminsang Baffour.

His grandfather was celebrated Chief Kweku Andoh, the regent of Elmina from 1872-1897 who served in Sir Garnet Wolseley's military campaign against Prempeh I, Chief of the Ashanti. He was made regent of Edina State upon the expulsion of Chief Kobina Gyan by the British.
Chief Kweku Andoh of Elimina

His father's mother was the eldest daughter of  Ya Na Yakubu I, the Chief of Yendi in the 1870's, named Napari.  She was rescued from the Ashanti by Chief Andoh during the campaign against Prempeh and was given the name Efua Yendi. She was also known as Nana Awuyea.
R.P.’s mother, Mrs Frederica Baffour (Nee Okai), an educated lady more popularly known as Maame Fritsiwah, hailed from the royal house of Techiman and the stool house of Gbese in the Ga State.
His mother`s grandfather was Chief Kofi Nii Okai of the Gbese quarter, Accra, who was commonly known as Joseph H. Kane. He had a career as a scholar and a merchant. R.P. Baffour was also a great grandson of George Emil Eminsang, who was the very first Western educated lawyer on the Gold Coast.

He began his formal schooling in 1917 at the Catholic School in Elmina. In 1924, his father took him to Nigeria where for two years he attended the Okar Government School. He came back home and in 1926 entered Richmond College (later Mfantsipim), joining in Form 2, a privileged band of brilliant mates, many of whom became prominent figures in Ghanaian national life. He sat his senior Cambridge Examination in 1930, obtaining exemption from the London Matriculation examinations.

Following the death of his father in 1931, he sat the competitive civil service entrance examination and came first in the whole of the Gold Coast. He received an invitation to proceed to Achimota to join the late Charles Deakin who was then starting an engineering school at Achimota. Upon completing his course in 1935, R.P. Baffour passed his B.Sc. Engineering examination, one of only three to pass the examination from the then British Empire outside the United Kingdom. He became the first Ghanaian to obtain a University of London degree in Mechanical engineering on Ghanaian soil.

He produced original designs and inventions which would have given him wealth and worldwide fame but for his colour. He designed the “Descender gear' for use on locomotives to prevent the slipping on wet rails. He followed this up with the design of a locomotive (250 Classes). However, the marvel of his inventions was a clockwork device which in those early days of aeronautic engineering provided a means of determining the flight path of an aeroplane. This navigational aid amazed the British Air Force.

R.P. also participated in the initial surveys to determine the potential of the Volta Hydro-electric project, in particular the best site for the proposed dam.  In 1941, he was seconded to Achimota to assist Mr Deakin in the Engineering Department, thereby achieving the unique distinction of not only being the first African engineer trained on Ghanaian soil but also the first African engineering lecturer to teach Africans on African soil.

From 1946 to 1953, R.P. worked with the Accra City Council, designing and building new vehicles (Ewurakua and King Kong). In 1952, with internal self-government in place, Nkrumah acted upon his recommendation and the government began the construction of prefabricated houses at the Kaneshie Estate. In 1958, as the first African Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communication, he produced the plan for the Tema township as an integral part of the Tema Harbour Project. He was key in the establishment of the Nautical College and the Black Star Line.

Fully supported by Osagyefo, he realised in his term a university that would turn the wheel of progress in Africa. He initially took up the post of Principal of the Kumasi College of Technology, then became the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Science and Technology, a post he held till the overthrow of the CPP government in 1966. The lecture rooms, the scientific laboratories, the student flats and administrative buildings, the assembly hall, the swimming pool and the stadium stand as abiding monuments to his vision.

In 1961, while administering KNUST, R.P. was appointed by Osagyefo to chair and establish the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, an indication of the measure of confidence Dr Nkrumah had in R.P, who he simply refered to as "Komfo". All these investments he made in the university raised questions from some quarters and the overthrow of Nkrumah in 1966 gave his detractors the chance to accuse him not only of misuse of public funds but also abuse of his office. Despite being cleared by a Commission of Public Enquiry, that attempt to destroy his good name remained his greatest sorrow.
Dr. R.P. Baffour with Queen Elizabeth II 1961 Kumase College/KNUST
His daughter Winifred Amma Baffour gave the Queen a bouquet of flowers on her visit.

He had outstanding achievements in the promotion of the arts and acted in the pioneer developmental films- "Progress in Kojokrom", "The Boy Kumasenu" and the BBC production, "A Day in the life of an African". He was a great sports enthusiast and was one of the patrons of the Gold Coast team to the 1956 Helsinki Olympic Games.

                R.P BFFOUR IN CLOTH IN MOVIE bOY kUMESENU

R.P. loved Elmina and is credited with actively organising the Edina Korye Kuw and the Edina Mpuntu Fekuw with such high personalities as the late Messrs F. F. Plange, Wattenburg and M.E. Adams. He worked tirelessly for the town's development, playing an instrumental part in securing the Elmina Fishing Harbour Project and was an exemplary Captain to the No.7 Asafo Company, Nyampafo.

While in England to treat his threatened blindness in 1953, R.P. came into contact with a renowned homeopath in the UK who introduced him to the use of the pendulum for dowsing and that led to his active involvement in the practice of homeopathic medicine as a hobby.  For an active man, retirement had no meaning and in 1979 he entered the presidential race as an independent candidate and lost. Undaunted, he directed greater efforts to negotiating and finding the resources for the establishment of an industrial complex with the Opon Manse Steel Works as its centre-piece.

Dr RP Baffour addressing a committte on Nuclear science in Moscow early 1960's. Look how attentively they listen. Dont mind his colour. He broke barriers with his mind. A genius without question!

R.P. Baffour won an OBE for his service in 1953. On the 18th September, 1962, RP was elected, by acclamation, as President of the 6th regular session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). At the end of the 72nd plenary session on 26th September, 1962, after thanking the delegates, the Director General and the Secretariat, RP in accordance to the tradition of Ghana recounted a fable with a powerful message for the delegates to ponder upon when they returned home.

RP as President of the IAEA at a Dinner Ball in Vienna, Austria early 1960's. Yes - head of delegation!

Taken from the minutes of that session (IAEA website):
“In the far-distant past, all the animals created by Nature had lived in a beautiful garden, where each had his own fruit tree or meadow to provide food. Then, through ill-will and perversion, the animals had developed a taste for their neighbours’ food, and had begun to prey on each other. One day, Nature had returned to explain that her intention had been for each to enjoy his own food, without interfering with the liberty of his fellows. Afterwards, peace had reigned again.
However, one bright day by the side of a big lake, an elephant and a rhinoceros were basking in the sun. The elephant suddenly turned to his neighbour and mischievously said that the rhinoceros was without doubt the ugliest beast in the whole world. Infuriated, the rhinoceros denied the charge. There could be no doubt, he said, that of all God’s creatures the elephant was the most repulsive. A quarrel thereupon arose, which quickly developed into a fight.
The other animals ran in terror to a quiet corner of the forest and held counsel there. The lion’s opinion was that when the two biggest animals fought, the lesser ones ought to take sides. He and the tiger aligned themselves with the elephant, while the hippopotamus and the alligator stood firm behind their friend the rhinoceros. Finally, they decided to send the spider, noted for his wisdom, and the monkey, famous for his diplomatic tricks, to intercede. Unfortunately, the two enemies were in no mood for peace-making, and the mission failed.
Finally, up spoke the mosquito. Though neither wise nor strong, he had a plan. So, as a last resort, the animals sent him. Arriving at the scene of combat, he flew straight into the elephant’s ear where he began to buzz. The elephant grew frantic at the noise. He tried to blast the mosquito out with his trunk, but only forced him in further. He beat his ear against a tree till it bled. But all to no avail. Eventually, in a state of exhaustion, he agreed to listen to reason, stopped fighting and stood in silence. Meanwhile, the mosquito repeated the performance with the rhinoceros, till he too was reduced to silence. Then the mosquito addressed them both.
When inside their ears, he said he had seen their brains. Both were white. So were their hearts; so were their intentions. Though different in appearance, they were the same underneath. Whatever a person’s size, his body covered only one soul and each had an equal right to live free and unmolested.”
RP hoped “all delegates would think about that primitive fable. The cloak, the mask and the frightening hat with which a scarecrow was adorned represented political considerations. Underneath, all were brothers of a single nation, a single people and a single creation. He earnestly hoped that the cordial spirit in which the General Conference had met would be an omen for the future, and that politics would be laid aside for the good of mankind.”
After a minutes’ silence dedicated to prayer or meditation in accordance with the Rules of Procedure RP then declared closed the sixth regular session of the General Conference."

The "BOAFO" automobile. Its an invention of a Fante engineering genius from Elmina,Dr Robert Patrick Baffour. Its was the best creation from an African in his own homeland in the 50,s and 60's. This car was durable and some people still have some in their possession. Before Kristo Asafo's apostle Kojo Sarfo started his Kantanka Nsoroma brand inventions recently there was Dr R P Baffour with his "Boafo" motors way back. Dr R P Baffour was the first Ghanaian engineer and first black and Ghanaian to be vice chancellor of KNUST.

 The government of Ghana deigned to bestow on him the national honour of the Order of the Volta in 1979. History being his arbiter, his academic colleagues and products invited him to receive the degree of Doctor of Science (Honoraris Causa).

He was an immense source of sustenance to his family. He pursued with determined vigour his responsibility to his children. With the span of 81 years, R.P. Baffour adorned his life with such glittering achievements and until sickness silenced his great voice, his soul never ceased to proclaim how kind God had been to him.

R.P. found his final rest at his family home in Elmina on June 6th, 1993.

Dr. R.P. Baffour (Kweku Andoh Snr) and baby Kweku Andoh!

All the photos are courtesyDr. R.P. Baffour@100 https://www.facebook.com/DrRPBaffour
source:http://www.knust.edu.gh/about/knust/past-vcs/rpbaffour






Dr R P baffour and his relative Dr K E Blay

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