Saturday, 25 January 2014

Remembering Komla Dumor, a Great Ambassador for Ghana

BBC World Service/Flickr
We lost Nelson Mandela and Prof Ewurama Addy recently, and now we've lost iconic BBC world service presenter Komla Dumor, aged 41. His death was received with shock in Ghana, Africa and other parts of the world. He discharged his journalistic duties with enthusiasm, style and excellence to the admiration of all. Komla was an inspirational figure and ultimate role model for many young Ghanaians, so his death was painful indeed.

I've never met or interacted with Mr Dumor. Everything I know about him was derived from his work on radio, TV and online. Back in our university dorms at Legon, where Joy FM super morning show was a staple, we relied on the incisive questions and analyses of Komla and his colleagues to gain understanding of the everyday issues of Ghana and beyond. The kind of broadcasting practised by the likes of Komla Dumor, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, and Stan Dogbe at the time was hard to come by in Ghana. Watching Komla Dumor play leading roles at BBC through Focus on Africa, World News, FIFA World Cup and Nelson Mandela funeral coverage was a source of pride for me as a Ghanaian. He eruditely discharged his duties to wide acclaim, again demonstrating that Africans can excel in any endeavour when given the opportunity. It is therefore not surprising that Komla is widely celebrated by all who know him and his work, amidst the grief of his passing. Ghana's online community has been forthcoming with fitting tributes, which Jemila Abdulai and I compiled together for BloggingGhana. Read our compilation on

 Komla Dumor's success was achieved through hard work and perseverance. This is an important lesson for all ambitious young people: experiencing failures and trials on the journey of life is akin to the refinement process gold goes through in fire. You can only get better! Komla gave similar insights through his talk on "going global" during Springboard 2013 road show (Koforidua).

Did you ever meet Komla Dumor or follow his work? What is the most important lesson that you picked up from his life? Komla, dzudzɔ le nutifafa me!

Friday, 17 January 2014

MISE Mathematics Tournament 2014

MISE Foundation is currently accepting application from 11-17 year old students in Ghana for their 2014 mathematics tournament.
The tournament is an international mathematics contest designed to challenge students beyond the normal school curriculum and to help identify gifted young mathematicians for further development... Ultimately the best students will represent Ghana at the international event the following year.
Unlike other competitions, this contest comes with training opportunities for the participants. MISE also has an international mathematics summer camp that gives the opportunity for motivated students to engage world class mathematicians and technologists from diverse backgrounds.

According to Joel Dogoe of MISE:
any student interested in math can apply but our selection programme will look for the best out of all applicants. We de-emphasise the competition bit of the programme when we identify students for the training programme. So far our alumni are a testimony of the programme's success and we are still working hard to identify more of such talents here in Ghana.
I think the MISE initiative is a brilliant way to engage young students in mathematics. Any student passionate about developing a career in the mathematical sciences or merely intent on building their analytical skills should give this a shot!

In Memoriam: Professor Marian Ewurama Addy

RIP Prof Marian Ewurama Addy. (Pic taken from
I first learnt of Professor Ewurama Addy's passing on through a friend's wall on Facebook. I quickly googled around to find the news, and was totally disheartened to find that she was indeed gone.

Most Ghanaians, especially those interested in the sciences, will remember her as the quiz mistress of the popular National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) programme on TV. In fact, my first encounter with her was through that medium back in the day. I would say NSMQ was likely one of the factors that swayed me to take the scientific path, as I was interested in so many different subjects in Junior Secondary School. 

In the biochemistry department at University of Ghana, Legon, she was highly respected by both staff and students. I was always curious to have a taste of the substance behind the aura. I got to know Prof Addy better in my final year when she taught us BCHM 409, "biochemistry of hormones." The class was interesting and engaging and she always drew on her wide experiences in teaching and research to illustrate key points (stuff about cyclic AMP, G-proteins and cholesterol). I dozed off a few times during her early morning lectures, and thought she didn't notice.Well on the last but one day of the course, she finally asked why I was often sleepy and promised giving me a special T-shirt if I don't sleep off in her last class!

She encouraged her students to pursue graduate studies, especially if we wanted to become biochemists. She was right. You can't really call yourself a biochemistry without at least a masters degree in the field. Since I left university I've been involved in research, technology and education. Although I'm not centrally located in biochemistry any more, the training received from the department, from people like Prof, is helping me to hold my own in the world.

The last time I met her was back in 2009 at a public forum for Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the worldwide web at AITI-KACE. During that time, she was working on the Anglican University of Technology project. She will always be remembered as a great scientist, teacher, science champion, quiz mistress and role model.

Also read this beautiful tribute to her at Levers in Heels, celebrating what she means for women in science. What do you think is Prof Addy's greatest legacy and what should be done to remember her?