Biography

Author Picture

Kantinka Kwame Donkoh Fordwor

Kwame was born on August 29, 1933. He was baptised Alexius by Fr. William Meelberg on December 8, 1945, and confirmed by His Lordship Bishop Hubert Paulissen, the then Apostolic Prefect of Kumasi, on June 29, 1947. He was married to Ms. Cecilia Osei on October 29, 1960, and the marriage has been blessed with 6 children.

Kwame, has had humble beginnings. He started school trekking on foot, bare-footed from Breman to the famous St. Joseph’s Catholic Boys School in Ashanti New Town, Kumasi. His father died in 1943 but was blessed with a mother who, though poor and illiterate, was determined to see him achieve the pinnacle of learning and he helped her through the production and sale of charcoal.

He completed St. Joseph School in 1950 with Distinction and won a scholarship to St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast. He finished St. Augustine’s in 1954 with a grade one certificate, in spite of a very severe illness which would have incapacitated many a student. With his reliance on the power of prayer, he overcame this thorn in the flesh after one year and was able to utilise yet another scholarship from U.A.C., now Unilever, to the then Kumasi College of Technology in January 1956. He passed all his examinations first time and he was awarded the final certificate of the Association of Certified and Corporate Accountants (ACCA) in December 1959.

After serving as an Accountant in various subsidiaries of Unilever for 3½ years, he continued his academic career in the prestigious Wharton Graduate School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, U.S.A. He worked so hard that he won tuition-fee waivers and was able to complete his course work in the MBA in one year and a summer semester. He used the rest of the usual 2 years to do an M.A. in Economics in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. His theses for both i.e. “The Impact of Independence on Ghana’s Balance of Payments” and “A Critique of Statistics in Ghana’s Balance of Payments” were of exceptional quality. Because of his brilliant performance, his entry into the PhD programme in 1965 posed no problem whatsoever. He passed his PhD Preliminary Examinations in January 1966, and completed his dissertation on An Evaluation of Ghanaian State-owned Industrial Projects: A Study in Cost Benefit Analysis and earned a PhD in 1971.

While he was seriously doing his doctoral dissertation, he was at the same time working for the International Finance Corporation (an affiliate of the World Bank) as a Senior Investment Officer in Washington, D.C. With a Doctor of Philosophy degree, many a Ghanaian would have stayed on to earn hard cash, pursue greener pastures and educate their children in renowned schools abroad. He did not do that. He thought of his country and decided to come and contribute his quota to the development of his Motherland. His patriotism impelled him to prefer receiving in Ghana less than one-sixth of his remuneration in the United States of America. On the insistence of Hon. J.H. Mensah, the then Minister of Finance, who had discovered his capabilities, industry and incisiveness of mind, he came back to work for the Busia government as the Executive Chairman of the Ghana Capital Investment Centre. In disdain for cheap popularity, he quickly transformed an environment replete with favouritism and cronyism into an efficient running institution. Concurrently, he also served as the de facto Commissioner of Finance under the Acheampong regime.

He has served Africa even better. He was the first Ghanaian to become the President of the African Development Bank in 1976. In that position he made contributions yet to be equalled. He multiplied the capital of the bank which, at the inception of his tenure of office, was $200 million, more than 30-fold. This feat, instead of admiration, won him great animosity and envy from many African representatives at the Bank leading to his having to leave the Bank in 1979. In this way, he became a victim of his own success. The staff who saw him in action there still contend that there has never been a President as efficient, knowledgeable, original and insightful as Kwame. They regret that he was not allowed to pursue the policies that he had initiated, many of which have stalled in his absence.

As a man who has travelled the world over, he is not unfamiliar with the grim reality about abject poverty that has gripped the vast majority of humanity. He suffers with irredeemable impatience the false pretensions of attempts at eradicating the miseries imposed by dismal poverty; and he has suffered even more greatly at the hands of those who have not shared this vision or have not had insight into the same, and yet have taken upon themselves the responsibility of managing the affairs of countries of this continent with disastrous consequences. It can only be a tragedy that his frankness has been seen as arrogance, his sense of propriety as hard-heartedness, his sense of forthrightness as rudeness and his sense of urgency as intolerable impatience. Friends of him say that on occasions he may be too unyielding in fighting his corner instead of accepting a compromise but, at the end of the day, the same friends cannot fail to admire the strength of character, the dedication to principle and the sense of fair play, which underlie his refusal to tolerate dishonesty or accept injustice.

Kwame has been a great resource person for the Church of Ghana. He accepted to advise the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference on investment. He is currently the Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University. He has set up an endowment of ¢500 million for the University. He has also contributed ¢100 million for the Catholic Training College being established at Kobreso in Ashanti. His contribution to the progress of the sub-regional Church has been equally significant. He continues to give help and advice to the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Anglophone West Africa (AECAWA). The papers coming out of these encounters with the Bishops, namely, Towards a Self Reliant Church in the West African Sub-Region in 1998, Divestiture, Free Market and the Social Teachings of the Church in 1999 and in 2001, What Kind of Priest do we the Lay Faithful Want, which he so kindly undertook to print, are being meticulously studied, and their proposals being followed. He also readily accepted to address the first joint meeting of CERAO-AECAWA in November 2000 in Ouagadougou on Building the Family of God in West Africa – the Challenges and Resources of the Church in the 3rd Millennium. There too, he approached the topic in his own inimitable way to the amazement of the Anglophone and Francophone Archbishops and Bishops of West Africa.

For his commitment to faith and to the Church, the Holy Father Pope John Paul II received him in audience in 1979. In 1995 he received the Bishop’s Award on the occasion of the Celebration of the Silver Jubilee of the Bishop of Kumasi. In 1998, he received a certificate of honour from the Bishops of Anglophone West Africa for his outstanding contribution to the AECAWA. In 1999 and 2000, the Jubilee Year, he received papal blessings and a letter of appreciation from Archbishop Peter K. Sarpong of Kumasi, the then President of AECAWA, and Archbishop Robert Sarah, the then Archbishop of Conakry and President of CERAO. Additionally, in the year 2000, he was awarded a papal honour for meritorious and devoted services – Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.

Kwame is well known for his religious fervour. He has had a lifelong attachment to the Christian religion and, particularly, the Catholic faith. This attachment has won the respect of many, including persons of other religions and even those with no religion. What is more, his religious belief is actually put into practice in many aspects of his life. For example, he is extremely generous, always ready and willing to come to the aid of family, of friends and, in many cases, of people he barely knows. His generosity is demonstrated in many ways: in the care and concern for the welfare of his immediate family; in his commitment to the material and emotional needs of members of his wide extended family; and in the unfailing support and ready help that he extends to the many friends that he has acquired in his social life and professional career. Every friend of his, those alive and those no longer with us, has had good reason to appreciate why Kwame is one of the most dependable and helpful friends anybody can be fortunate to have. His generosity is summed up in his often repeated saying that “We are each of us our brother’s keeper”; and his constancy as a friend is reflected in his favourite Shakespeare quotation which is from Polonius’s advice to his son in the play Hamlet:

“The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to your soul with hoops of steel”.

If you have the good fortune to be a friend of Kwame, you soon come to appreciate not only that you are grappled to his soul but also that you can depend on him to provide you with needed moral and material support, at all times and in all circumstances.

He stands tall in the world of economics, finance and banking. Some of his publications can easily be classified as textbooks even at the university level.
These include:

“The African Development Bank: Problems of International Co-operation”, Pergamon Press, New York, 1981, 342 pages

World Development, Oxford: “Some Unresolved Problems of the African Development Bank”, November/December 1981

“The Church and Human Rights: Lessons of PNDC Era” in “A Christian and An African”, Essays in Honour of Most Rev. Dr. Peter K. Sarpong, Catholic Archbishop of Kumasi, edited by Most Rev. Dr. Joseph Osei Bonsu.

“Swimming Upstream: The Story of Southern Cross”, Dorrance Publishing Co. Pittsburgh, 1997, 350 pages.

The Busia Foundation Memorial Lectures “Africa in Search of Democracy: The Contribution of Dr. K. A. Busia”, July 13-15, 2004

It is for these and for many other accomplishments, all of which cannot be recounted here and now, that the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, in his usual fatherly solicitude for the encouragement of the virtues that Kwame has demonstrated, in a Bull dated 3rd July, 2001, very graciously deigned to accept the request made to him by the Most Rev. Peter K. Sarpong to appoint him a Knight of St. Gregory the Great, Pope. It is also these reasons and others that Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, found it expedient, on the 10th Anniversary of his coming onto the throne, to honour him on May 6th 2009, with the title of KANTINKA. He is the fourth to receive the award, the first three being Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the UN), Ex-President J. J. Rawlings and Ex-President J. A. Kufuor.