Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Kwaku Addo, December 4, 2013

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:08 - Growing up, family, and schooling in Ghana

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Partial Transcript: I am Angene Wilson interviewing Kwaku Addo who was born in the nation of Ghana for the Africans in the Bluegrass Oral History Project at the University of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Addo was the sixth of eleven children. He describes his father working for Anglican schools as head teacher, then principal teacher who inspected schools, thus moving his family to different towns and regions. His mother was a homemaker with some adult education. He lived with a teacher in another town to go to an experimental school for grades 5 and 6. He took the common entrance exam at the end of primary school 6, skipped the four years of middle school, and got a Cocoa Purchasing Board scholarship to go straight to boarding secondary school. Then he did more years at a school in Accra for A-levels. After getting admitted to all three public universities, he chose to get a degree in biochemistry at Kumasi School of Science and Technology.

Keywords: A-level exam; Adult education; Anglican school system; Asamankese; Ashanti region; Biochemistry; Cade; Common entrance exams; Kibi; Kumaning; Kumasi; Kumasi School of Science and Technology; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology; Nsawam; Principal teachers; Secondary schools; University of Ghana research station

Subjects: Education; Ghana; Schools; Teachers

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
GPS: Accra, Ghana
Map Coordinates: 5.55, -0.2
GPS: Kumasi School of Science and Technology (now called Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology)
Map Coordinates: 6.684908, -1.570519
00:10:36 - Stories from childhood

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Partial Transcript: Um, what are a couple of stories that you remember from your childhood?

Segment Synopsis: Addo tells story about his dad being sick with a peptic ulcer when he was about 11, and beginning to appreciate him much more. He also tells a story about his dog named Patience which was lost when he took her to his grandfather's farm.

Keywords: Dad; Dogs; Fathers; Peptic ulcers

Subjects: Childhood; Families.

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
00:14:59 - Different languages and ethnic groups

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Partial Transcript: What was it like--you, you grew up in a number of places--

Segment Synopsis: Addo describes living with different ethnic groups and languages and meeting his wife, who is Krobo, in high school.

Keywords: Akan; Ethnic groups; Ewe; Ga; Krobo; Languages; Twi; Volta Region

Subjects: Ethnicity

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
GPS: Volta Region, Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7, 0.5
00:17:33 - Jobs after university: Germany, Switzerland, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada

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Partial Transcript: Okay so then go back to the--Germany, right?

Segment Synopsis: Addo spent six months in Giessen, Germany on DAAD scholarship and then six months in Basel, Switzerland. Then he returned to Ghana to do national service for a year, teaching biology and chemistry at Kumasi Girls High School. Because of the bad economic situation in Ghana, from 1980 to 1982 he went to Nigeria and taught at St. Mary's Grammar School near Ibadan. Then he went to the , invited by a professor he had worked with in the Swiss lab. He was married in absentia, his brother standing in for him in Ghana.

Keywords: Basel (Switzerland); Endocrines; German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD); Ibadan (Nigeria); Kumasi; Marriage in absentia; National service; Research; Switzerland; University of Alberta, Canada

Subjects: Education; Ghana; Teachers

GPS: Giessen, Germany
Map Coordinates: 50.583333, 8.666667
GPS: Basel, Switzerland
Map Coordinates: 47.554722, 7.590556
GPS: Kumasi, Ghana
Map Coordinates: 6.666667, -1.616667
GPS: Ibadan, Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 7.396389, 3.916667
GPS: University of Alberta
Map Coordinates: 53.524444, -113.524444
00:22:58 - Coming to the U.S. for graduate work

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Partial Transcript: And had you thought about, you know, when you were, when you were younger or when you were growing up or when you were in secondary school or college, had you ever thought about going to Canada or the U.S., or?

Segment Synopsis: Addo tells about going to visit friends in Austin, Texas, then driving through Colorado on his way to Moscow, Utah where they spent three years while he got a masters in biochemistry. Then he went to Washington State University and finished his PhD in food science in three years with top scientist, Pomeranz. Thinking he was interested in working in the corporate world, he interviewed with Frito-Lay in Dallas and got a job offer there, but a friend linked him to Hazel Forsythe at the University of Kentucky and UK offered him a job, too, which he accepted.

Keywords: Austin (Tex.); Frito Lay; Hazel Forsythe; Moscow (Utah); University of Idaho; University of Kentucky; Washington State University; Yeshajahu Pomeranz

Subjects: College students.; Education; Occupations

GPS: Austin, Texas
Map Coordinates: 30.266667, -97.733333
GPS: Washington State University
Map Coordinates: 46.73, -117.16
GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
00:32:00 - Coming to Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: So what was it like to come to Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Addo describes falling in love with Lexington, Kentucky. He was the first African faculty member at the University of Kentucky. The department chair was very supportive. He became the adviser to the African Student Association.

Keywords: Bluegrass; Lexington (Ky.); Preston Mercer

Subjects: College teachers.; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
00:34:47 - Identity and acculturation

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Partial Transcript: So when somebody asks you, uh, who you are or where are you from, what do you say?

Segment Synopsis: Although Addo is a naturalized U.S. citizen, when people ask, he says he is a Ghanaian. Being in Germany, Canada, and other places in the United States as well as moving around in Ghana gave him many cross-cultural experiences before coming to Lexington. He mentions his daughters' experiences.

Keywords: Cross-cultural experiences; Daughters' experiences; Ghanaian; Naturalized Americans

Subjects: Africans--Race identity; Travel

00:38:31 - Family and study / Service tour connections to Ghana

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Partial Transcript: Um, so do you have, do you have other relatives in the United States? Or are you--

Segment Synopsis: Addo describes relatives in the U.S. He talks about going back to Ghana by himself and with his family to visit in their home villages and to show his daughters the country; talking with family there two or three times a week; and checking Ghana news on the computer every day. He describes his annual study/service learning tour to Ghana for students at UK and Prairie View University, including visiting his village and his wife's village where he and she have established the Kentucky Academy. He explains why he could not be enstooled as a chief.

Keywords: Adjeikrom; Ashanti; Cape Coast; Durbar; Elmina; Kakum; Kentucky Academy; Obuasi; Service tour in Ghana; Study; University of Legon

Subjects: College students--Social conditions; College teachers.; Ghana; Travel; Universities and colleges--Faculty.

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
00:54:30 - Contributions to Americans' learning through study tour and career

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Partial Transcript: So obviously all these folks who have gone with you to Ghana have learned a lot from you--

Segment Synopsis: Addo says people have learned from him about the history and culture of Ghana, and how friendly the people are. He describes his administrative service as Associate Dean in Graduate Studies for eight years and three years as interim chair of a department restructuring. He was nominated for Chancellor's Award for Teaching twice. He describes how he came to move to Prairie View University and his plans to move back to Ghana to retire.

Keywords: Hospitable people; Prairie View University; Retire in Ghana; Teaching

Subjects: College teachers.; Ghana; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky

GPS: Ghana
Map Coordinates: 7.816667, -1.05
GPS: Prairie View University
Map Coordinates: 30.09194, -95.98944