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The Allotey formalism: the man who formulated the technique used to determine matter in outer space, Professor Francis K.A. Allotey, receives the 2006 Black S/heroes Award. Kwaku reports.

The Ghanaian scientist and mathematician, Professor Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, was the recipient of the BTWSC Black S/Heroes Award (BSA) 2006. As part of the award, the Professor Allotey Science Prize has been launched in his honour. The presentation was made by the London-based voluntary organisation BTWSC (whose name was taken from the organisation's first youth empowerment project called Beyond The Will Smith Challenge).


BTWSC's aim is to develop potential, raise aspirations and promote social inclusion. Taking on the ethos of the African proverb which says "until the lion tells its story, history will be written from the viewpoint of the hunter", BTWSC developed the BSA in 2003 to honour unsung people of African descent who have made a laudable contribution to mankind.

The 2006 award fell to Prof Allotey whose busy schedule prevented him from receiving it in person. "I am really sorry that I cannot come personally to receive it," he said in his acceptance speech read on his behalf by his wife, the retired Ghanaian chief attorney, Mrs Asie Allotey. "For in the past one month, I have been to Italy, Brazil, Portugal and Sweden. In Sweden, I was also given an honorary doctorate degree by Karlstad University for my achievements."

It is his immense contribution to science that made him the recipient of BSA 2006. "The Allotey Formalism", the technique used to determine matter in outer space, is named after him, and is one of his achievements known outside the scientific community. However, although he is lauded internationally among the academic and scientific communities, he is not generally well known among the general public.

Now 74, Prof Allotey became the first Ghanaian full professor in mathematics and head of the Department of Mathematics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 1973. He is the founder of the Ghana Energy Research Group, and has been its coordinator since 1985. His latest awards include the King/Chevez/Park Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan, USA.

A member of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy; the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics in Ames, USA; and the UNESCO Physics Action Council, Prof Allotey is also a patron of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, in South Africa, and the Computing Society of Ghana. He is co-author of Comprehensive Study of Nuclear Weapons, a 1980 UN secretary-general report.

With such a formidable track record in an area where black people are seldom noted, Prof Allotey is a worthy BSA winner. Especially as this year, in order to move away from the usual focus on culture and entertainment, the Harrow Black History Forum in London decided to highlight black scientists and inventors.

In his acceptance speech, Prof Allotey noted a point made by the British scientist and mathematician, Prof J. Dyson: "Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life, it is perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilisations of arts and of science. Technology continues to grow and to liberate mankind from the constraints of the past. The most revolutionary aspect of technology is its mobility. Anybody can learn it. It jumps easily over the barriers of race and language". For the youth, he added this personal advice: "I have lived my life according to this: for you to succeed in life means hard work, sacrifice, focus and disciplined lifestyle. You must be prepared to serve the society you live in and have a good inter-personal skills.

"You may have excellent academic and professional records, but if you have poor inter-personal skills, no one will entrust you with a leadership position. In your daily life, you should be consistent and dependable, and care for others. Do not trust luck. Know what you want, and work consistently towards its attainment."

The Professor Allotey Science Prize, which will include a laptop computer and other resources, will go to the best Harrow secondary school science student of African descent, and the best science student at Aburi Girls Secondary School (Mrs Allotey's alma mater in Ghana).
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Title Annotation:Diaspora; Beyond the Will Smith Challenge
Publication:New African
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
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