Akua Asabea Ayisi (NC 1959)


Akua Asabea Ayisi began her career in 1948, as the first woman journalist in Ghana, then under colonial rule. She came from a distinguished family, with a forthright mother who valued women’s education highly. With her mother’s support, she attended secondary school and the Government Training School in Accra, a training course for secretaries for the Civil Service.

Meanwhile, she was writing for the Accra Evening News, and writing political pamphlets demanding Ghanaian independence. She took part in a country-wide lecture tour, took part in protests, and was arrested and imprisoned for her campaigning.

Shortly after independence, Akua Asabea Ayisi came to Newnham, where she studied history as a mature student. She was called to the Bar at Lincolns Inn in 1963, and subsequently worked for a year at the Paris-Sorbonne University.

However, her distinguished legal career was to take place not in Paris, or in London, but in Accra. Akua began work as a barrister, and would ultimately become a High Court Judge. In 1968, she took part in the constitutional assembly responsible for writing the new constitution, and the subsequent year was one of the first women to run for parliament. In 1978, once again she helped draft a new constitution for Ghana, this time on its transition to democratic rule.