Oku Ampofo, renowned physician, a pioneer in the use of herbal medicine and founder of the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine in Mampong-Akwapim and also He was an actor and sculptor. His sculpture sits in the Africa room of the Kennedy center in Washington.
Dr Oku Ampofo (1908-1998) is a world acclaimed sculptor and renowned allopathic medical practitioner from Ghana. In fact, the man excelled in both sculptural arts and medical practice so much that it is difficult to place him in one field of his life and leave the other. Another truth about this man is that he was one of the Ghana`s foremost Pan-Africanist cultural advocate who was a member of the council put together to to ensure the creation of the Institute of African Studies faculty at the University of Ghana. Dr Oku Ampofo could be described as a man of many parts with his sterling career spanning from Medicine, Sculpture and Cultural Studies.
Dr Ampofo was not only a physician, a pioneer in the use of herbal medicine and founder of the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine, but also an actor and sculptor. The Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine (CSRPM), Mampong-Akwapim was established by the Government of Ghana in 1975 as a result of the dream and vision of Dr. Oku Ampofo, a renowned allopathic Medical Practitioner.
In the seminal work “Reclaiming the Human Sciences and Humanities Through African …, Volume 1” edited by Helen Lauer and Kofi Anyidoho, the two authors quoted Professor Kwasi Yankah, the celebrated Ghanaian Linguist about Dr Oku Ampofo’s influence in creation of Center for Scientific Research Into Plant Medicine (CRSPM ) “In 1975 he established the Center for Scientific Research Into Plant Medicine in Mampong Akwapim, which has collaborative links with several reputable scientific institutions and industries worldwide, and which was designated in 1985 by the World Health Organization as a collaborating center for Traditional Medicine- the first in Africa.”
Dr Oku Ampofo started his carved work from African cedar, ebony and an exotic wood called afzelia. Dr Ampofo exhibited in Senegal, Nigeria, England, United States of America, Israel, Brazil, and Romania. He influenced many contemporary Ghanaian artists, painters, sculptors and ceramists alike.
Ampofo as an instigator and innovator in sculptural art produced one of the art best works during his lifetime.
“One of Ampofo’s sculptures, of a native woman mourning in the wake of Kennedy’s assassination in 1964, sits in the Africa Room of the Kennedy Center in Washington,” said Winn, who maintains a foundation in the physician’s honor.
He was born in 1908 at Amenase and was christened Edward Oku Ampofo. His father was a divisional Akuapim chief known as Kwasi Ampofo and his mother was Madam Akua Adwo. He had two brothers one called Nyamekye Ampofo Quashie and another called Kwesi Oku Asamoah.
Dr Ampofo started his basic school at Anum Presby. After his completion Ampofo proceeded to prestigious Mfantsipim School in Cape Coast where he had his form 1 to form five education between 1926-1929. From Mfantsipim, Ampofo moved to prestigious Achimota University College in Accra from 1930 to 1932.
It was at Achimota that Dr Ampofo met South African, anthropologist and sculptural art professor, H. V. Meyerowitz who had come to Gold Coast to teach art at Achimota college and whose exertion bestirred and encouraged a whole generation of Ghanaian artists and craftmen. After his memorable studies in Achimota, Dr Ampofo earned a scholarship to study medicine at the Edinburgh University and Royal College of Edinburgh and Glasgow – 1933-1939. Ampofo who was an exceptionally intelligent student qualified as doctor in 1939 with the diplomas, L.R.C.P. (EDIN), L.R.C.S. (EDIN), L.R.F.P. & S. (GLAS). In 1940 (March to July), he had his Post-Graduate studies in Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.
Whilst in England Ampofo did not neglect his longstanding love for arts. He made regular visits to museums and an attendance at lectures dealing particularly with traditional Arts of Africa. When at one time Ampofo`s bursary was cancelled and was on the verge of being sent home, he got enrolled as a sculptor in Edinburgh. It was here he concentrated much of his energies until the bursary crisis came to pass and he completed his medical education successfully.
On coming home, Dr Oku Ampofo established an art studio as well as clinic; moreover, he took an immediate and active interest in the work of others, and bent his effort towards their encouragement. His medical practice caused him to travel the length and breath of the country. This brought him into direct contact with various facets of changing social and economic conditions caused by modernization leading to the end of traditional way of life.