In memoriam of the great mathematician and scientist; Prof. Allotey

General News of Thursday, 22 February 2018

Source: Zoure Stephen

2018-02-22

The late Prof. Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey

Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, a prodigy, was born on Monday, 9th August 1932, and so should have been called Kojo, but was instead called “Kofi,” since he was given the full name of the paternal uncle he was named after.

He was born to a humble parentage at Saltpond in the Central Region of Ghana, to the late Mr. Joseph Kofi Allotey of the Royal Sempe Mankrado We (House) Accra, a general merchant who owned a store and sold books, fishing nets and general goods, and the late Mrs. Alice Esi Nyena Allotey, a dressmaker from the Royal Dehyena family of Enyan Owomase and Ekumfi Edumafa, in the Central Region of Ghana.

Prof. Allotey had very humble beginnings whilst growing up, and as a young boy, he used to be sent periodically to his maternal grandmother at Ekumfi Edumafa, which is six (6) miles east of Saltpond, with some provisions.

In those days, there were no motorable roads, so he used to make the journey on foot. There, he often assisted his uncles in their fishing activities.

He also travelled many times with the father to work in his orchard, which was at the present location of Ankaful Prisons and Leprosarium, Cape Coast.

He recalled with laughter how he and an elder sister had to carry sacks full of coins as payment for the purchase of the farm, by the government, to give way for the establishment of the Ankaful Prisons and Leprosarium.

At Saltpond, though he was the pet of his father and was always with him, he was also involved in all household activities with his siblings, like any other normal child.

He assisted in fetching water for the house and took part in the carrying of sand and stones for the construction of the family house. He also went for firewood with his siblings and other children in the community on Saturdays.

During one of such events, his sister got sick, and he had to abandon his firewood to carry his sister home. He had a shock of his life when after explaining the reason for carrying the sister home, he was asked to go back to bring the firewood since it was an important item for cooking.

Education

Prof. Allotey started his early education at the St. John The Baptist Catholic School, Saltpond. After classes, his responsibility was to go to his father’s store to dust and arrange books.

There, he came into contact with, and read books including biographies of renowned scientists and mathematicians such as Isaac Newton, Hamilton, Gainow, Galileo, Pythagoras, Archimedes, Maxwell and Rutherford, and E. T. Bell’s book “Men of Mathematics”, to name but a few.

It’s from these books that he had the inspiration and decided to become a great scientist to learn more about the workings of the cosmos and to contribute to its understanding.

Before he could finish his elementary school education, he heard of the opening of the Ghana National College in Cape Coast and decided to attend that College, even though his senior brother was attending Adisadel College in Cape Coast.

With determination and persistence, he finally got his father to enroll him at the Ghana National College, when the College was established by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah the first President of Ghana, to absorb final year students and their teachers who had been sacked from other schools for supporting a political demonstration in 1948.

At the time, the College was yet to admit its Form One students, and as such, he became the only and the first Form One student.

He had fond memories of the pioneer teachers like the late Mr. J. J. Mensah-Kane, the late Mr. Sackeyfio, the late Mr. H. P. Nelson and the late Mrs. Faustina Daniels and others who in spite of all the challenges at that time, made it possible for him to begin his college education.

He pursued further studies at the University Tutorial College, London Borough Polytechnic, now called South Bank University, and London Imperial College of Science and Technology where he obtained the then – coveted Diploma of Imperial College (London) in 1960.

He returned in the same year to take up a lectureship position in the Department of Mathematics at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

He taught mathematics for two years and went to Princeton University, USA, where Albert Einstein had once been a lecturer, to study Mathematical Physics for his PhD. Whilst at Princeton University, he worked closely with distinguished Professors such as Wigner, Wheeler, Dicke, Oppenheimer, Goldberger and others who inspired him to greater heights.

As a graduate student, he occasionally assisted the professors in their work, especially Professor Dicke and his group, who were working on “measuring the oblateness of the sun, the cosmic background radiation of the universe and the gravitational constant to one part in 100 billion”. He returned to Ghana and KNUST after rejecting many attractive offers to stay in the USA.

Working and Public life

Establishment of a school at Saltpond

Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, the child prodigy, started his public life well before he even reached adulthood and started his University studies.

Whilst a student at Ghana National College, and as he was preparing to travel to the United Kingdom for further studies, he established a school at Saltpond called Fante State College.

He was the first Principal and taught General Science, Latin, Mathematics and English. He however had a brush with the Fante chiefs, since the name he used was the registered name of an umbrella movement of the Fante chiefs who were fighting the colonial Government at that time.

He however had to change the name to Mfantsiman State Secondary and Technical College.

The School had students such as Mr. Anthony Gozo, the only student still alive, the late Mr. N. K. Ofori (PNP), the late Mr. Oppon (Local Government/PNP), the late Mr. Eduanu and many others. Some of these students went on later in life to become prominent men in Banking, Education and Politics in Ghana. When it was time for him to leave for further studies in the UK, he left the school in the hands of his senior brother – the late Mr. Joseph Kweku Allotey. The school however did not survive in his absence.

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, the sweet-scented name that has for many decades, filled the scientific and academic world with its fragrance was a Professor of Mathematics, a Nuclear Physicist, a Scholar and a Consultant in Informatics for Development, Energy, Engineering to mention a few.

In Ghana, at KNUST, by dint of hard work he rose through the ranks as a lecturer to become the first Ghanaian full Professor in Mathematics in 1973.

For many years, he was the Head of the Mathematics Department, Dean Faculty of Science, Founder and First Director of the KNUST Computer Centre, and he was the first to introduce computer education into Ghana.

The Faculty Board between 1971 and 1980 elected him four times as the Dean of the Faculty of Science. During this same period, he was elected five times as a Representative of the Academic Staff.

He was ultimately appointed as the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University in 1978.

He became a world authority and an instant fame with his work on Soft X-Ray Spectroscopy which established the principle widely known as the “Allotey Formalism” for which he was the first recipient of the Prince Philip Gold Medal Award given by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1973.

Service and Leadership

He played no mean role in establishing the University of Energy and Natural Resources in the BrongAhafo Region.

Prof. Francis. K. A. Allotey, was the first founder member of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), establishing a Postgraduate Institute in Africa to train talented young Africans in mathematics and the allied sciences.

Consequently, he was the first Board member of AIMS Global, also a member of its Scientific Advisory Council, and a staunch adviser to the AIMS-Next Einstein Initiative, which has given birth to six AIMS Centres across Africa (South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Tanzania and Rwanda) as at now, after the establishment of the first centre in 2003.

At the international level, he gave several seminars in universities in the USA, Europe, Asia and Africa on his research work, participated in, and contributed to many International Conferences and Symposia by invitation. He published many papers in international journals. He has acted as external examiner and also as an external assessor for professorial appointments for universities inside and outside Ghana.

He was a Consultant to several international institutions, including the United Nations Organization, United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Intergovernmental Bureau for Information, and the United Nations Industrial and Development Organization (UNIDO).

He also visited many nuclear installations in Russia, Poland, East Germany, Iraq, USA, India, West Germany, United Kingdom, Sweden and former Yugoslavia among others.

He was involved locally and internationally on policies and issues related to science and technology for development. Thus, he was the focal person for the UN Advanced Technology Alert System when it was established. He was a Co-author of the Book “Comprehensive Study of Nuclear Weapons”, a UN Secretary General’s Report.

As part of his public engagement, he is quoted to have said that “We in the developing countries paid the price for not taking part in the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth century because we did not have the opportunity to see what was taking place in Europe. We now see that information and communication technology (ICT) has become an indispensable tool.This time we should not miss out on this technological revolution”.

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He is also widely known to have stated that, “Without mathematical training, Africa would be unable to access the full power of technologies to solve their countries’ numerous problems. … it is time we consistently urged our African youth to learn to contribute significantly by researching into extension of knowledge in Mathematical Sciences”.

This, he believed would lead to immense progress in Africa.

Prof. Allotey was and will continue to be an incredible role model. His love for Mathematics and Science, deep insight and ability to bring high quality professionals and people of diverse backgrounds together has always been his hallmark.

He has been a phenomenal source of inspiration and influence in the study of Physics and Mathematics in Ghanaian Schools, Colleges and Universities, and was a living legend.

He played no mean part in the establishment of the Laser Research Unit in the Physics Department of the University of Cape Coast, projected to be a Centre of Excellence, to serve the whole of the West Africa Sub-Region.

In the area of rural development, he, in his modest way, assisted in the establishment of two elementary schools at Ekumfi Edumafa and Enyan Owomase both in the Central Region. For Ekumfi Edumafa, he, with the support of his long-time friend Prof. Karl Eriksson (Nana Edu II) are putting up a Vocational and Technical School for the community. He also founded and stocked the only library in Saltpond located at the St. John Baptist Catholic School.

He was also a fellow of several professional and learned societies such as the Third World Academy of Sciences, the British Computer Society, the Nigeria Solar Energy Society, the Institute of Physics (UK), the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences, where he was the President for four years, and the Ghana Institution of Engineers.

He was a founding Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. He was the Patron of the Computing Association of Ghana, the Science Teachers Association of Ghana, the Ghana Physics Students Association, and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (South Africa).

For his role in the development and promotion of mathematical sciences in Africa, the African Mathematical Union gave him an award and a medal He received awards and medals from the Mathematical Association of Ghana and the Ivory Coast Mathematical Society.

He also received the Deserving Scientist Award from the Ghana Science Association and the first World Bank-IMF African Club Award in 1999. He was awarded the Martin Luther King Jnr-Cesar Chevaz Parks Visiting Professorship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA (1997) for his contribution to physical sciences and the promotion of international relations in sciences.

His most recent award was the coveted Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Genius Award, a lifetime achievement award, and though awarded before his death, was received posthumously as the event happened soon after his death.

Before this, on 12th June, 2017, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Nigerian Mathematical Society by members of the Society, led by their President who travelled from Nigeria to perform the induction ceremony.

Being human, he had his weaknesses; he had a slow-to-anger nature, and it is difficult to understand his accommodation of his antagonists and the unfriendly.

He literally, dined with his enemies using a short spoon or no spoon at all, instead of a long one, as the saying goes. He was wont to say in Fante “?to fa bi a, ?w?d?ey?wo ho d? ma egyim, ama wo nsa aka adze a ?rehwehw?. Osiand?/?namd?nny? adze nyinaanaenya no ho mfasosiesiara.” Which means, sometimes, you must act with soberness, and as though you were a fool, in order to accomplish what you have in mind, while knowing that you may not receive the benefits instantly.

On two separate occasions in his life, he was forced to act against his will; at one time, he had to walk a persistently notorious student out of a Mathematics class at KNUST. He also had to confront and silence a colleague Lecturer at KNUST who had taken advantage of his demeanour to create problems for his family.

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Religious Life

The parents of Professor Allotey were staunch Catholics and so he was born into the Catholic faith and practised his Christian faith till death. The Sunday before he passed away, he attended church service at Christ the King Catholic Church, Cantonments, Accra.

Growing up as a Catholic in Saltpond where his father was one time the President of the Church Advisory Board, his active interest in the serving of the mass grew. He became a mass server and always narrated with joy, the first time he served mass as an acolyte.

He was a benefactor to many churches in many places in Ghana, especially the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church at Saltpond where he was honoured with a citation during the 125th anniversary of the founding of the church.

He was made the Chief Patron of the Catholic Men Fellowship of the Archdiocese of Cape Coast where he was on a number of occasions their guest of honour during annual conferences.

He was also instrumental in the formation of the Christians in Science Association in Ghana. At KNUST, he was a pioneer member of the KNUST branch of the Sierra Club.

Married Life

“He who finds a wife finds a good thing” (Proverbs 18:22). Whilst studying in London, Prof. Allotey found the woman of his heart and a bone of his bone in the person of Edoris Enid Chandler from Barbados, West Indies and got married to her.

They had two children, Francis KojoEnu Allotey and Joseph KobinaNyansa Allotey. She passed away in November 1981.

In line with Genesis 2:18, that man should not be alone, Prof. Allotey married Ruby Asie Mire kuwa Akuamoah, who already had two children, Cilinnie and Kay. She also passed away, in October 2011.

Family Life

Opanyin Kofi Ampenyin, was no doubt a family man. He loved his family – both the nuclear and the extended.

In fact, the whole world became his family as he extended a helping hand to all who came into contact with him personally or through intermediaries. We stumbled upon something Prof. Allotey wrote in one of his diaries of the ‘60s whilst doing his PhD.

It was this prayer “God … help me to succeed in my endeavour and career and when successful, I will use my achievement and success to help my family, country and the world and to serve humanity”.

It seems God heard this prayer of his, and granted him the prayer request, and for more than 60 years of his life on earth, Prof. Allotey dedicated life in doing just that.

Despite his busy local and international schedules, and public engagements, he still had time for his family. He made sure the family stayed united and brought his nephews and nieces to meet the family at Ekumfi Edumafa and Enyan Owomase.

When he visited the family at Saltpond for the first time after his Doctorate degree, his mother heaved a sigh of relief and remarked that “now that my son is a Doctor, the family now has someone who is going to look after their health needs,” having in mind the circumstances of his father’s death. He just smiled and said “I am a Doctor of books and not of medicine,” and his mother was a bit taken aback, but he quickly assured her that though a Doctor of books, he would be able to look after her and the family, and take care of their health needs.

Through constant interaction and visits to these places, he consciously made the family history known to everyone. Throughout his life after returning from studies abroad, he found time to visit his Mother and siblings at Saltpond and the Uncles and Aunties at Ekumfi Edumafa, Aboadze, Enyan Owomase, etc.

It was very pleasant each time he visited Saltpond. As soon as he arrived, the whole of Appiakwaa where the family house is, would go giddy with excitement.

He made all the houses in the area have a share of what he brought. His home – C53, became the centre of action as long as he was around. He always came with a screen projector and showed films like Woodie Wood Pecker, Popeye, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, and many others.

His home at Saltpond was the first to have a black and white television, and the viewing was extended to all in the area. Knowing the value of education, he ensured that all his nephews and nieces and their children went to school and attained the highest qualifications possible. He extended a helping hand to all.

One only had to contact him, and if the help was within his reach, it would be given instantly, or at a later time. He got many people admitted to secondary schools and universities in Ghana and overseas.

In fact, till the time of his death, he had a special file for admissions.He communicated with people who made contact with him at their level, be it a child or an adult, educated or uneducated, religious or traditionalist. He interacted with all.

Prof. Allotey, being a family man, did not only concentrate on his maternal family but made contact with his father’s Ga roots, the Royal Allotey Mankrado We of Sempe.

Even though his father came with him on many occasions to his uncle’s house near Palladium, James Town, Accra, he lost contact with them, since the only grand uncle he knew was on his deathbed when he visited upon his return from London.

He did not give up until he made contact with Mr. Parker-Allotey, a former postmaster, who was then the Mankrado of Sempe. He ensured that the bond remained strong until his passing away.

To bring the family together, on many occasions, he organised Christmas parties for all family members, both nuclear and extended. During such occasions, he ensured that some family members travelled from outside Accra to attend.

He used such occasions to catch up with the happenings in the family, to see and interact with them and their spouses and children. He personally attended every family event, be it weddings or funerals when he could.

He was selected by family elders to sit on the stool of his late uncle who was the Chief of Enyan Owomase, his ancestral town, and the Baamuhene of the Enyan Dankyira Traditional area, but due to his heavy commitment both locally and internationally, rather nominated one of his nephews to occupy the stool on his behalf.

Leisure Time

Even though Prof. Allotey by the nature of his work and engagements was a very busy man who travelled the whole world over, he found time in his leisure period to have good conversations with all who made contact with him. He listened to classical, jazz and Ghanaian music.

He also liked musicals such as The King and I, Sound of Music, and Oklahoma to name but a few. He had great interest whenever the Black Stars were playing, and also watched Arsenal, his favourite club, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hot Spur, Barcelona and Real Madrid play.

Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, Opanyin Kofi Ampenyin, of the Royal Dehyena family and the Royal SempeMankrado We, passed on peacefully to his Maker and the family who had gone before him on 2nd November 2017, the feast of All Souls in the Catholic calendar.

Indeed, the family has lost a son, who was “a native of Saltpond, a son of Ghana and a citizen of the World”, who served humanity with all that God endowed him with.

The family and the world at large feel the tremendous loss of such an esteemed thinker, mentor and friend who had a seemingly infinite amount of patience and infectious enthusiasm for mathematics, science and technology for sustainable development.

May your gentle and humble soul rest in peace in the bosom of the Father.

Damirifa due, da yie, Nyamemfawokransie, Yaa W?Odjogban, y?Ts?l?mli?.

A list of some of Prof. Allotey’s professional affiliations

He held numerous appointments, including the following:

Memberships:

1. Africa Mathematical Union – Member of the Executive

2. African Union of Physicists – Vice President

3. Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden – Visiting Scientist

4. Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South – Member, Technical Advisory Committee

5. Executive Secretariat Responsible for Sensitizing African Leaders on Modern Technology for Development – Member

6. International Atomic Energy Agency, Governor

7. IBM team of professors touring Computer Science Centers in Universities in USA and Canada – Member

8. International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) – Visiting Scientist

9. Scientific Council of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics – Member

10. Society of African Physicists and Mathematicians – President

11. Steering Committee for the Energy Agency Beyond The Year 2000 – Member

12. Summer College of Teaching of Physics at the Tertiary Level, (International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy) – Director

13. Transborder Data Flow (TDF) Consultant to IBI Centers in Africa – Member of International Consultative Committee

14. UNESCO Physics Action Council – Member

Key roles in conferences:

1. 7th General Assembly of Intergovernmental Bureau of Informatics (IBI) – Vice President

2. Advisory Planning Committee of the 1984 International Conference on the Physics of Super Lattices, Super Structure Interfaces and Micro devices, USA – Member

3. Annual Abidjan Symposium of Mathematics Series (the development of the Entebbe Mathematical Series which was part of the effort to standardize and improve the standard and teaching of mathematics in High Schools in Africa) – Co-Founder and Joint Organizer

4. First Addis Ababa School of Applicability of Environmental Physics and Meteorology in Africa – Organizer and Chairman

5. IFIP CONGRESS 80″ section on Computer Education in developing Countries in Australia-1980 – Organizer and Chairman

6. Information Economy Risks and Opportunities, Atwater Institute, Quebec, Canada – Discussant and Member of Panel

7. Information Technology for Development, Williamsburg Conference on International Information Economy, USA – Chairman

8. International Commission on Mathematical Instruction – Member, organizing panel for the 3rd Congress held in Karlsruhe

9. International Panel on Requirements of Developing Countries Regarding Informatics Education in Switzerland – Member

10. International UNESCO and IBI Conference on Informatics for Development – Organizer and Chairman

11. International Working Party for the Analysis of Economics and Commercial Impact of Transferred Data Flow in Italy – Chairman

12. Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in Geneva, Switzerland, Appointed by the Secretary-General of United Nations to be among a group of 12 experts commissioned to advise the United Nations on Nuclear Weapons – Member of the Preparatory Committee and Vice-President of the Conference

13. Panel Discussion on Financial and quantitative aspects of Computer Education in developing in France -1975 – Chairman

14. Preparatory Committee of the UN Conference for Promotion of International Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy – Vice President

15. Scientific and Technological Communication, a USA-sponsored Regional Seminar for Africa – Rapporteur

16. State of Physics and Mathematics in Africa – Organizer and Chairman

17. Sub-Committee on Technology Transfer of the UN Conference on New and Renewable Energy Sources – Member

18. UNESCO/ANSTI International Conference on Renewable Energy – Organizer and Chairman

19. Workshop on Curriculum Development and Design in Physics, Mathematics and Computer Science for Universities in Africa – Organizer and Chairman

Key roles in publications:

1. “Band Spectroscopy of Metals and Alloys” in honor of the 70th birthday of Sir Neville Mott, a Nobel Prize Winner – Contributor to the book

2. Entebbe Mathematics Series for Africa – Member

3. Ethiopian Journal of Science – Member of the Editorial Board

4. Innovation and Discovery (journal) – Member of International experts who did feasibility studies for publishing a journal of science for Africa

5. Journal of Information Technology for Development – Member, Editorial Board

6. Transnational Data Report in Amsterdam, Holland – Member of Advisory Panel

7. UNCSTTD Editorial Workshop in Rome for Advanced Information Technology Trend and Global Implications – Member

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