Kofi Abrefa Busia (1914-1978) was a Ghanaian political leader and sociologist. A scholar by inclination and temperament, he symbolizes the dilemma of the intellectual in politics, the man of thought forced by events to become the man of action.
Kofi Abrefa Busia was born a prince in the kingdom of Wenchi, in the Brong Ahafo Region, one of the four Gold Coast Territories, then under British rule and now called Ghana.
Educated at church missions and at Mfantsipim School, he became a teacher at Achimota, Ghana’s leading secondary school. After three years he attained his goal of a scholarship to Oxford, where he went in 1939.
He served as a district commissioner from 1942 to 1949, and was appointed first lecturer in African Studies. He became the first African to occupy a Chair at the University College of the Gold Coast (now the University of Ghana).
In 1951 he was elected by the Ashanti Confederacy to the Legislative Council. In 1952, he was Leader of Ghana Congress Party, which later merged with the other opposition parties to form the United Party (UP).
As a leader of the opposition against Kwame Nkrumah, he fled the country on the grounds that his life was under threat. In 1959 Busia became a Professor of Sociology and Culture of Africa at the University of Leiden near the Hague, Netherlands.
He returned to Ghana in March 1966 after Nkrumah’s government was overthrown by the military to serve on the National Liberation Council of General Joseph Ankrah, the military head of state.
He served as the Chairman of the Centre for Civic Education. He used this opportunity and sold himself as the next Leader. He also was a Member of the Constitutional Review Committee. When the NLC lifted the ban on politics, Busia, together with friends in the defunct UP formed the Progress Party (PP).
In 1969, the PP won the parliamentary elections with 104 of the 105 seats contested. This paved the way for him to become the next Prime Minister. Busia continued with NLC’s anti-Nkrumaist stance and adopted a liberalised economic system.
There was a mass deportation of half a million Nigerian citizens from Ghana, and a 44 percent devaluation of the cedi in 1971, which met with a lot of resistance from the public.
While he was in Britain for a medical check-up, the army under Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong overthrew his government on 13 January 1972. Busia remained in exile in England and returned to Oxford University, where he died from a heart attack in August 1978.
He left behind four sons and four daughters: Kwasi Osei, Afua Safoa, Nana Gyasi, Yaw, author Abena, yoga guru Kofi, Nana Frema, and actress Akosua Busia.
Martin, G. (23 December 2012). African Political Thought. Springer. ISBN 9781137062055.[permanent dead link]
“Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, Ex-Prime Minister: 1969 – 1972”. ghanaweb.com. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2016.
Lentz, Harris M. (4 February 2014). Heads of States and Governments Since 1945. Routledge. p. 320. ISBN 978-1-134-26490-2.