University of Ghana History Professor (Emeritus) J. K. Fynn
(September 21, 1935-August 25, 2005)
by A.B. Assensoh (African American & African Diaspora Studies) & Yvette M. Alex-Assensoh (Political Science), Indiana University-Bloomington, USA.
On August 25, 2005, University of Ghana History Professor (Emeritus) John Kofi ("J. K.") Fynn passed away suddenly. According to a family spokesman, he died peacefully in his sleep at his Accra (Ghana) residence, barely 21 days before his 70th birthday that his family as well as friends and professional colleagues in and outside Ghana had initially planned to travel to the Ghanaian capital to celebrate. Professor Fynn is survived by his wife of 41 years (Mrs. Theodora M. Fynn, nee Amorin); his seven children: Mr. Kojo Fynn; Dr. Jennifer Fynn-Owusu; Attorney Patricia Fynn-Bentum; Mr. John T. Fynn; Nana Ewusiwa Fynn; Dr. Theodora Fynn; and Dr. Theresa F. Gyan; and many other relatives and friends. Funeral rites have, tentatively, been scheduled for October 21, 2005 in Ghana.
Although Professor Fynn retired from active teaching at 60 years old, he was still on contract to teach his beloved history courses at University of Ghana, Legon, where he had earlier served in varied distinguished capacities between October 1964 and August 2005. From 1951 to 1956, he studied at the famous Mfantsipim School, Cape Coast, in the former Gold Coast (which became Ghana on March 6, 1957). Between October 1957 and June 1961, he studied History at University of Ghana, Legon but -- through external then existing degree arrangements -- he earned his B.A. degree (with high honors) from University of London. After that, the young Fynn used the University's 1961-1964 postgraduate scholarship award to enter its School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), to study History. He earned the Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) in the subject in 1964.
Former African students at SOAS, who knew Dr. Fynn very well, often recalled how in the very week that he defended his doctoral dissertation (or thesis at SOAS) on the "Asante and its Neighbors, circa 1700-1807", Longmans Publishing Company of the UK approached him and asked to publish the manuscript as a book of a similar title. He followed that publication, in 1975, with another Longmans book titled "A Junior History of Ghana." His other numerous publications included "History for Senior Secondary Schools" (co-authored with Professor Addo-Fening), published in 1991 by Evans Brothers Limited of London. At the time of his untimely death, Professor Fynn had book manuscripts and chapters in press, including "The Fante of Ghana, circa 1600-1874"; "A New History of the Gold Coast (Ghana)". Indiana University Press, for example, was negotiating to publish one of his African history manuscripts. Apart from publishing in numerous historical journals, Professor Fynn also served on countless editorial boards and held membership in professional (and historical) associations, including African Studies Association of the USA, which extended a travel fellowship for him to attend its annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA (November 20-23, 1993).
Professor Fynn's numerous local and international honors have been many up of Honorary Citizenships of many international cities, including Sioux City, Iowa, USA (1970); as a recipient of Ghana Book Development Award (1982); and Senior Fulbright Research Award at University of Wisconsin (1992-1993).
University of Ghana Appointments:
From October 1964 to October 1981, Dr. Fynn held such University of Ghana academic appointments as Lecturer; Research Fellow; Senior Research Fellow; and Associate Professor in African Studies and History. In December 1989, he was promoted a full Professor of History at University of Ghana, Legon. His numerous distinguished administrative positions included those of Head of University of Ghana's Department of History (October 1981-September 1984); Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences (October 1982-September 1984). Again, he became Head of the History Department at University of Ghana (October 1988-September 1992; September 1993). Between 1982 and 1982, Professor Fynn served on numerous prestigious University of Ghana Academic as well as Scholarship Boards, and was a Tutor of Commonwealth Hall (1965-1968). For several years, Professor Fynn served as an external Examiner in History abroad and at local institutions, including University of Cape Coast (1987-1990), and Ghana's Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST, 1990-1992).
Partial List of National Service:
Through Progress Party, the political group that was headed by the late Prime Minister (Professor) Kofi Abrefa Busia, several Ghanaian intellectuals tried their hands at national politics. Professor Fynn was consequently elected a Member of Parliament for Abura Constituency of Ghana's Central Region, after which he was appointed by the Government of Professor Busia as Ministerial Secretary (or Deputy Minister) of Local Government Administration (November 1969-Januray 1971); and Ministerial Secretary (Deputy Minister) of Ghana's Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (January 1971-Januray 13, 1972). As part of his ministerial duties, Professor Fynn led numerous governmental delegations, including visiting the USA at the invitation of the American government (September-November 1970); and serving as the head of the Ghana Government delegation to Paris (France) on the occasion of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of UNESCO (November 1-6, 1971).
Hailing from the royal house of Ghana's Abura Dunkwa Traditional Area (where he was born), Professor Fynn received a chieftaincy title from the area. He has, since 1985, been duly selected, enstooled and recognized by the Government of Ghana as the Nifahene (Leader of the traditional Right Wing) of the Abura Traditional Area in Ghana's Central Region.
*Information for the obituary/appreciation came from Mr. John T. Fynn (New York, USA); Attorney Patricia Fynn-Bentum (Accra, Ghana); and Dr. Jennifer Fynn (Floriday, USA). We are grateful to them!