Joseph W.S. deGraft Johnson
Date of Birth: October 6, 1933
Time of Birth:
Place of Birth: Cape Coast
Joseph de Graft-Johnson, born on October 6, 1933, in Cape Coast, Gold Coast, emerged as a distinguished figure with notable achievements in the fields of engineering, education, and politics.
His academic journey began at Mfantsipim School, and he went on to obtain a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Leeds in 1960. Furthering his expertise, he earned a master's degree in Highway Engineering from the University of Birmingham in 1960 and a Ph.D. in Soil Mechanics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1965.
In the realm of engineering, de Graft-Johnson initially worked with a London-based engineering firm, contributing to projects such as the construction of a Brazilian power plant and the expansion of a London airport. Returning to Ghana, he served as a lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, rising through the ranks to become a Senior Lecturer and eventually an associate professor in 1968. His leadership extended to becoming the Director of the Buildings and Roads Research Institute in 1969.
Active in professional bodies, he played a pivotal role in the founding of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE) and served as its President from 1977 to 1978. Additionally, he lent his expertise as a consultant to the Government of Zambia, contributing to the establishment of the Building Research and Development Institute in Lusaka.
In the realm of politics, de Graft-Johnson opposed military rule during the era of the Supreme Military Council. He faced personal attacks but remained resolute in his opposition. He was a member of the 1978 Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting the 1979 Constitution of the Third Republic. Joining the People's National Party (PNP) in 1979, he became the first Vice President of Ghana in the Limann government after the party's victory in the elections. Unfortunately, the government was overthrown in a coup d'état on December 31, 1981, leading to de Graft-Johnson seeking exile in London, England.
In his personal life, he was married to Lily Anna Sekyi, and together they had five children. Joseph de Graft-Johnson passed away on April 22, 1999, in London at the age of 65. After a funeral service at the Wesley Methodist Cathedral, he was laid to rest in Cape Coast.
Beyond his contributions to engineering and politics, de Graft-Johnson's legacy lives on through publications such as "Lateritic Gravel Evaluation for Road Construction," co-authored with Harbhajan Bhatia and A. A. Hammond in November 1972. Additionally, Letitia de Graft Okyere authored "The First Vice President: A Biography of JWS de Graft-Johnson" in 2022, shedding light on his impactful life and career.