Kofi, Vincent Akwete (1923–1974) By Kwami, Atta
Vincent Akwete Kofi was born in Odumasi-Krobo, Ghana. After training at Achimota College, which had the first and foremost art department in West Africa, he continued his studies at the Royal College of Art, London (1952–1955), and Columbia University, New York (1959). While in New York, he learned metal casting and, with the assistance of the Harmon Foundation, produced a film on bronze casting. Upon his return to Ghana he taught at the Winneba Teacher Training College (1961–1969) and was Head of Fine Art, College of Art (KNUST), Kumasi (1969–1974). He was a member of the Ghanaian delegation at the First World Festival of Negro Arts, Dakar, 1966, and in 1971 he visited India at the invitation of the Government. His early influences were his Krobo environment and his artistic father, the Presbyterian minister James Kofi (1890–1976), who made drawings and teaching aids for Nature Study classes. During the mid point of his career Kofi drew inspiration from his days at Achimota College (c. 1945–1951), where the pervasive atmosphere of optimism and hope for a new Africa fired Ghanaian nationalism and the independence struggle. Kofi believed that he could fuse lessons from the history of modernism in the arts, “creatively and objectively,” only by an immersion in his Ghanaian heritage. His sculptures, Awakening Africa (1959–1960) and Blackman’s Stoicism (1964), highlighted Pan-Africanism, and the decolonization process that was spreading across Africa.