Tribute to Professor
5 March 1932 - 23 February 2002
I had known of Professor Orraca-Tetteh through his scientific publications long before I met him. He was one of the pioneers in food science and nutrition in Africa, where he worked extensively on food and nutrition issues and concerns relevant to the region - particularly Ghana, where he worked untiringly on investigating food and nutrition problems, and advising on possible solutions. During his sabbatical at the University of Maryland, College Park, United States, in 1990-92, he undertook a comparative research project on the food habits of African-Americans in relation to their cultural origins. In addition to his achievements as a researcher, he was also a teacher; he taught both undergraduate and graduate students in England, Ghana and the United States. Thus, his former students are now found all over the world.
Professor Orraca-Tetteh was educated both in Ghana and abroad. He attended Accra Academy from 1948 to 1952. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1959, and in 1960 he gained admission to the University of London, where he earned his Ph.D. in nutrition.
He worked briefly as a Nutrition Officer at the Ministry of Health, Accra but, after his postgraduate training, he transferred his services to the University of Ghana, Legon, where he spent his professional life in teaching and research until his retirement in 1992, after 36 years. During this period he was also a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1973, and at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1990-92. Following his retirement, the Professor continued to be active, advocating for change in the poor food and nutritional status of Ghanaians and indeed all of Africa. He consulted widely for international and national organizations and had undertaken a FAO consultancy only three weeks before his death. He was also a United Nations University (UNU) consultant and was the first coordinator for UNU-affiliated institutions in Africa.
Professor Orraca-Tetteh was a member of numerous professional associations, among them the British Nutrition Society, the Ghana Science Association and the Ghana Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology. He was a member of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences, and he represented the African Region for 12 consecutive years on the Executive Council, a position he relinquished only in August 2001. In the 1990s, he and his contemporaries from Nigeria and the United Republic of Tanzania started the AfroNuS (African Nutrition Society), which, sadly, the younger professionals have not been able to sustain.
His death is a great loss not only to his family but also to the scientific community. However, his work will live on through his former students, who are today being challenged to carry the torch that he lit in his professional field during his lifetime. His friends and colleagues will also miss him deeply, especially those at FAO, where he last worked as a consultant.
Professor Orraca-Tetteh will be remembered with deep affection, respect and gratitude for what he stood for and contributed to the field of food and nutrition.