An Academic in Politics: A Study of Emeritus Professor Albert Adu Boahen, 1932-2006

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


University of Ghana


The mid-twentieth century undoubtedly marked a watershed in African history and historiography. One striking feature of the period was the emergence of a new crop of African historians who were poised to challenge the hegemony of Eurocentric scholarship. Kenneth O. Dike, a prominent Nigerian historian blazed the trail with his magnum opus Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta, 1830-1885. In Ghana, the trailblazer was Prof. Albert Adu Boahen who was a teacher, scholar and an astute politician. As a teacher, he taught and mentored students while researching and writing about the Ghanaian and African past. He was a staunch critic of military rule and always laid emphasis on constitutional governance, the freedom of speech, and freedom of the individual. In spite of his remarkable contribution to the country, existing literature has only had a cursory look at him. Thus, a specific scholarly study devoted to his life and career is yet to be written. This study therefore provides a scholarly biography of Prof. Albert Adu Boahen. The study maintains that Adu Boahen was not just a renowned historian who contributed to pioneering Ghanaian and African historiography; but was also instrumental in attempts to consolidate democratic culture in Ghana. This study makes use of archival evidence from the private archives of Adu Boahen and PRAAD in Accra. In addition, secondary sources including relevant books, dissertations, academic articles and photographs are interrogated. These sources are augmented with extensive interviews conducted with relatives, friends and colleagues of Adu Boahen. Overall, this study provides a scholarly biography of Adu Boahen in order to show his contributions to Ghanaian and African historiography, academic institutions and professional associations. In addition, the study shows Adu Boahen’s place in Ghana’s struggle for democracy and constitutional governance since the early years of independence.


MPhil. History


Politics, African, History, Ghana