Komla Agbeli Gbedemah(1913-1998), Ghanaian politician and Minister for Finance
Sitter in 1 portrait
Born in Warri, Nigeria of Ewe parentage, Gbedemah was raised between Cape Coast and Keta in the Gold Coast. By the age of 10 he had lived in four colonial cosmopolitan cities: Warri, Keta, Cape Coast and Accra. These lived-experiences would have given him early exposure to life in British West Africa. He attended the newly founded Prince of Wales College (later renamed Achimota College) where he was amongst the first batch to graduate. After a brief teaching career he began trading in timber. His business venture was successful because it came at a time when new amenities and infrastructures were being built to modernise West Africa. Gbedemah met Dr Kwame Nkrumah when both were members of the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), they both disagreed with the system of democracy which only appointed aristocrats and the elite to Legislative Assembly. They together formed the Convention People Party with their shared vision for Ghana to become a modern democratic Republic. When Nkrumah's government was elected, Gbedemah became the first Minister of Health and Labour. In 1954 he became the first African in post-colonial Africa to hold the position of Minister of Finance, a post he held for seven years. Gbedemah became critical of Nkrumah, in particular his financial spending. In 1961, when his relationship with Nkrumah became strained he was demoted to Minister of Health and when he fell out of favour completely, was asked to resign later that same year.
by Howard Coster
bromide print, 1954
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