On the 14th of January 2021 a dear member of the UNU-INRA family, Dr Konadu Acheampong passed away at the age of 74. In 1997 Dr Acheampong stepped into the roles of Senior Program Manager and Research Fellow at United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) and served for eleven years. In the wake of Dr Acheampong’s passing our colleagues, both past and present, pay tribute to our friend’s life and legacy. Read their tributes below.
Dr Fatima Denton – Director
Dr Acheampong was a supporter, ally and friend of UNU-INRA. A former INRA staff member, he retained his dedication and passion for INRA’s continued success and was always available to lend a hand. He participated in several of our interviews and behind the tough questions, he was consistently fair and always wanted candidates to put their best foot forward.
Recently, I called him to seek his views on a certain matter and as always he provided good counsel. Dr Acheampong will be sorely missed and his friendly and readily available support to all things INRA will be remembered.
We pray for his family and ask the Almighty to guide his journey to the Hereafter!
Rest In Peace, Dr May God keep you in his embrace and may He bring solace to your family as they remember you.
Dr Elias Ayuk – Former Director
My path crossed with Dr Acheampong’s in 1990. Konadu had just finished his two-year assignment as a Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Fellow at the International Fertiliser Development Centre (IFDC)-Africa office in Lomé, Togo. He was in the first cohort of fellows (recent PhDs) for the highly competitive and prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Fellowship, which was open to candidates from North America (USA and Canada) and Sub-Saharan Africa. In his cohort of about 12 fellows out of over 300 candidates, Konadu was one of four Africans – the other three were from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Ethiopia. The objective of the fellowship was to enable recent PhDs to acquire experience for two years working at one of the centres of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). So, when I joined IFDC-Africa in 1990 under the same fellowship program as a member of the third cohort, we shared a common affiliation.
Dr Konadu Acheampong and I were colleagues at IFDC-Africa until I left IFDC to join the International Centre for Agroforestry Research (ICRAF) in 1992 as IFDC had offered him a full-time position. During this time, Konadu was a sounding board for ideas and discussions on socio-economic dimensions of technology adoption in West Africa. I cherish very much the support he provided me as a new post-doc at IFDC-Africa.
Fast forward to 2010, when I joined UNU-INRA as the Director, it was my pleasure to have Konadu’s support again. He had left UNU-INRA, where he served as an Academic Officer. His knowledge about the Institute guided me in the early years of my tenure. Konadu was always available whenever we needed him, be it for our staff retreats where we discussed our strategic plans or in the recruitment of new staff. He was always ready to serve in the recruitment panel and always volunteered to be the Rapporteur of the Panel.
I mentioned Konadu’s passing to a colleague from Nigeria who was in the first cohort of Konadu’s group of the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship program. And his words were ‘Konadu was a nice and decent fellow’. Yes, indeed he was! He was a real gentleman in any sense you could think of. May his soul rest in peace.
So long Dr Konadu Acheampong.
Eugina Aggrey – Former Secretary
I cannot believe I am penning a tribute to our beloved former colleague, Dr Konadu Acheampong. How could Konadu, as we all so fondly called him, send a Christmas eve wish to me on WhatsApp on the 24th of December and kick the bucket on Christmas day? What a shock!!!
Such was Konadu’s devotion to INRA that, during his tenure at INRA and before a substantive position was created, he willingly combined his work as a Research Scientist with the arduous task of Finance and Administration, without ever complaining. He would often advance his own funds to get things moving when on occasion, the cheque from UNDP was delayed. All he was interested in was getting the work done, and in good time.
Konadu was good-natured and had excellent human relations. He always expressed interest in the welfare of staff. One would always find him admonishing staff in wisdom and giving pieces of advice. His sense of humour was phenomenal and would always spice up a conversation and enjoy a good laugh himself in the process, whilst cracking our ribs with laughter.
He was so affable, kind, considerate and always ready to offer a helping hand. He was a man who always had INRA at heart. Even after retirement from the Institute, Konadu never failed to answer any call from the office to assist whenever called upon to do so. There was virtually no interview panel composed at INRA without him. He always willingly responded to such invitations, just as long as he was in town and available. Additionally, he constantly kept in touch with the office to get informed about INRA’s progress. One could safely say that Konadu was still working unofficially for INRA without demanding any form of remuneration whatsoever for his tireless efforts.
Your death was too sudden, Konadu. Saying goodbye is so hard to contain. Fare thee well, my kind friend and colleague. You will forever be in our hearts.
Dr Joojo Baidu-Forson – Former Research Fellow
It is still so hard to come to terms with the sudden passing of Konadu Acheampong, a gentle soul full of wisecracks that lightened up tense situations at UNU-INRA. Even after funds were stolen from his account in the USA, he kept his cool and worked out the issues.
A scientific colleague who came to UNU-INRA from IFDC-Lomé, he ably took on the task of Administrator. A role he easily, skillfully and effectively discharged. Konadu was so adept at his administrative work that he gained friends in the UNU Administration in Tokyo, although never meeting physically), who trusted his judgement on administrative matters at UNU-INRA.
Agona dehye damirifa due. Due, due, due ne amanehunu. Da yie. Onyame mfa wo kra nsie.
William Briandt – Liaison Officer
I met Dr Acheampong around 1986 when he was working with IFDC in Lomé Togo. At that time the Director, Dr Uzo Mokwunye, used to be the Director of IFDC and joined INRA, so we had a very good relationship with IFDC, and would always pass by the office in Lomé each time I drove Dr Mokwunye to Benin and Nigeria.
My relationship grew with Dr Acheampong when he joined INRA in 1997 as the research and Administrative officer. He was a very quiet and hardworking admin person with rich experience and a lot of patience. He was so simple and very approachable and sometimes he wouldn’t want to mention his doctorate degree. If you asked of his name he would tell you “my name is Acheampong”. While working for UNU-INRA and on retirement, Dr Acheampong would attend any invitation from any staff member and was so committed to UNU and INRA in particular.
I had the opportunity to drive him on official trips out of Accra to Burkina Faso and Tamale where he was working on the Challenge Programme which produced some PhD students. This was his baby project together with the tissue culture lab at the botany department at the University of Ghana. Of all the trips I made with Doctor Acheampong our trip to Benin city Nigeria and to ICRISAT in The Republic of Niger. No matter how long the trip was, Dr Acheampong would make you feel at home. He would crack endless jokes so that you wouldn’t feel tired.
He came from Agona near Kumasi and each time we had a trip to Kumasi he would make sure to visit his hometown and make you feel at home, calling it “Agona hospitality”. Dr Acheampong gave his children, who are all women, the best education and they now reside in the United States. This motivated me to give my only daughter Mary a good education by sending her to the Akosombo International School of which Acheampong was so proud.
One rich advice he gave, and I will forever keep is that never overreact. If you get angry in the office, go home sleep over it till the next day. This has helped me a lot. I will miss him a lot. May God be with him. Great gentleman.