Akua Asabea Ayisi

Akua Asabea Ayisi
Personal details
Akua Asabea Ayisi

3 April 1927
Mampong Akuapem, Ghana
Died21 April 2010
ParentsMercy Adebra and Okeayme Kofi Ayisi
RelativesTetteh Quarshie, Akosua Tuntum Nahana
EducationNewham College, University of Cambridge
Known forFirst female journalist and High Court Judge in Ghana

Akua Asabea Ayisi (3 April 1927 – 21 April 2010) was a feminist, former High Court Judge and the first female Ghanaian journalist.[1][2] During the rise of the Ghanaian independence movement, Akua Asabea Ayisihe trained as a journalist with Mabel Dove-Danquah and Kwame Nkrumah, who would later become the country's first prime minister and president.

Ayisi's position as editor of the women's column, which focused on women's issues, in the Accra Evening News newspaper was considered radical action at that time.[3]

Early life and activism

Akua Asabea Ayisi was born on 3 April 1927, in Mampong Akwapem and was the eighth child of ten by Mercy Adebra Mensah and Okyeame Kofi Ayisi.

Kofi Ayisi was a royal and linguist for the King, who was also his relative. Some of Akua Asabea Ayisi's uncles were royal fetish priests. Kofi Ayisi had 70 children, Mercy Adebra had 10 of those. Ayisi's mother, Mercy Adebra's grandfather, Tetteh Quarshie planted the first cocoa tree in Ghana.

Akua Asabea Ayisi attended at her primary school at Presbyterian Primary in Mampong. After, she went to the Presbyterian Girls School in Osu Accra. Akua then went to the Government Secretarial School to complete her education. In those days, although it was rare to receive such a high level of education as a woman. However, her mother strongly believed in a girl’s education.

After joining the Convention People's Party (CCP), led by Kwame Nkrumah, Akua became the first female journalist recorded in Ghana (1948).[4] She worked alongside Nkrumah on the Accra Evening News, a daily newspaper established by the former president in 1948, and wrote political pamphlets which demanded independence and mobilized the Ghanian people to oppose colonial rule.[5] She particularly edited the women's column on the front page of the newspaper - a section introduced by Kwame Nkrumah as part of his aim to elevate women in Ghana via expanding the educational provision of girls.[6] The launching of the Accra Evening News on 6 March 1949 coincided with Nkrumah's removal from the office of the General Secretary of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC) Party. Through the newspaper, Nkrumah wanted to fight for "full self-government, not in the shortest possible time, but now."[7] Having created several newspapers and publications during his time as a student activist, Nkrumah considered the press a key instrument for education and political mobilization.[6]

In August 1948, along with Kofi Baako, editor of Cape Coast Daily Mail, and Saki Scheck, editor of the Takoradi Times, Ayisi embarked on country-wide lecture tours, promoting resistance against imperialist rule.[8] She later became Kwame Nkrumah's first private secretary (1950–56) and helped Nkrumah write pro-independence slogans to combat British imperial rule, such as "die with the imperialists."

She took part in a series of political protests dubbed "Positive Action Campaign" and was subsequently arrested and imprisoned for her involvement.[9] The protests included strikes that called for a boycott of foreign businesses, which encouraged several rebellions throughout the Gold Coast colony.[3][10]

Ayisi is considered to have played a key role in the formulation and implementation of Nkrumah's cultural policies[7]


Shortly after independence, Akua Asabea Ayisi went to the Newham College at the University of Cambridge, where she studied Law, matriculating in 1959.[11] She was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn. In 1963, she returned to Ghana. However, she did not join the government, but rather started working as a barrister in Ghana. Due to her apolitical occupation, Akua was not harmed when the military overthrew Kwame Nkrumah's government.

In 1968, she was giving the honour of participating in the constitutional assembly responsible for writing the new constitution following Kwame Nkrumah's overthrow in 1966. In 1969, she was one of the first women to run for parliament, doing so in the Akuapem North District, and ultimately losing. In 1978, she helped draft the new constitution instituted by General Akuffo, when Ghana changed from Supreme Military Council (SMC) to democratic rule.

Akua Asabea Ayisi died on 21 April 2010.[2]


  1. ^ "22 Amazing Females Who Hold The Title Of "The First Ghanaian Woman" - Ghanaguardian.com". Ghanaguardian.com. 2017-01-05. Retrieved 2017-11-02.
  2. ^ a b Tuntum Nahana, Akosua (9 February 2019). "Ghana's first female journalist Akua Asabea Ayisi". modernghana.com. Retrieved 23 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kwarteng, Francis. "Mabel Dove-Danquah: A Trailblazing Author, Feminist, Politician, Activist & Journalist". Modern Ghana. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  4. ^ "22 Amazing Females Who Hold The Title Of 'The First Ghanaian Woman'". The Ghana Guardian News. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  5. ^ Adomako Ampofo, Akosua (2008-10-01). "Collective Activism: The Domestic Violence Bill becoming Law in Ghana". African and Asian Studies. 7 (4): 395–421. doi:10.1163/156921008X359597. ISSN 1569-2094.
  6. ^ a b Biney, Ama. (2011). The political and social thought of Kwame Nkrumah. Palgrave Connect (Online service). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9780230118645. OCLC 714088713.
  7. ^ a b Kwame Nkrumah's Politico-Cultural Thought and Politics: An African-Centered Paradigm for the Second Phase of the African Revolution. Routledge. 2005-03-08. doi:10.4324/9780203505694. ISBN 9780203505694.
  8. ^ Vieta, Kojo T., 1962- (2000). The flagbearers of Ghana (School edition 1 ed.). Accra: Ena Publications. ISBN 9988004621. OCLC 48093337.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ The Ghana reader : history, culture, politics. Konadu, Kwasi,, Campbell, Clifford C.,. Durham. ISBN 9780822359845. OCLC 906010731.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
  10. ^ "Nkrumah and Ghana's independence struggle". iacenter.org. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  11. ^ Newnham College Roll of Alumnae