Letitia Obeng, first Ghanaian woman scientist dies at 98

Obeng was the first Ghanaian woman to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in science (1952), as well as the first to be awarded a doctorate in science (1964)

Dr Letitia Obeng, also known as “the grandmother of female scientists in Ghana” has died, family sources have told

Obeng was the first Ghanaian woman to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in science, earning that distinction in 1952, as well as the first to be awarded a doctorate in science (1964).

She was the sister of the late Theodosia Okoh, who designed the Ghana flag.

About Letitia Obeng

Obeng was notable not only as a female Ghanaian scientist but as a high achiever among high achievers.

The native of Anum in the Eastern Region was born on 10 January 1925, and came to be described as “the grandmother of female scientists in Ghana”.

Obeng first attended primary school in Abetifi, Kwahu and then attended middle school in Kyebi. She won admission to Achimota School to pursue her secondary education, and was a student at Achimota between 1939 and 1946.

While still in school, Obeng took the London University International Examination to continue her education, courtesy of a government scholarship. She moved on to study at the University of Birmingham in England from 1948 to 1952 and graduated with a degree in zoology, making her the first Gold Coast/Ghanaian woman to be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology and botany.

Obeng earned her Master of Science degree in parasitology in 1962 and a PhD in tropical medicine, also from the University of Birmingham, in 1964. The PhD was awarded to her by the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, where she studied the black fly and its connection to river blindness.

Letitia’s father, Very Reverend E V Asihene Anad, was the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana and her mother was Dora Asihene.

She was married to George A Obeng, who died in 1953. Obeng launched her first book, Anthology of a Lifetime, in July 2019.

Reporting by Fred Dzakpata in Accra

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