Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was brought up in Accra Central and in the Nima area of Accra. Nana Akufo-Addo was born in Swalaba, Accra on the 29th March 1944.
His father’s residence, Betty House at Korle Wokon in Accra, was effectively the headquarters of the country’s first political party, the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC).After it was formed at Saltpond on 4 August 1947.
Three of the “Big Six” — the founding fathers of Ghana — were his relatives: J. B. Danquah (grand uncle), William Ofori Atta (uncle) and Edward Akufo-Addo (the third Chief Justice of Ghana and later ceremonial President of the Republic from 1969 to 1972), who was however,his father.
Nana Addo had his primary education at the Government Boys School and went to O’reilly Secondary School, and later at the Rowe Road School (now Kimbu), both in Accra Central.
He went to England to study for his O?Level and A?Level examinations at Lancing College, Sussex. He returned to Ghana in 1962 to teach at the Accra Academy before going to read Economics at the University of Ghana, Legon, in 1964, earning a BSc(Econ) degree in 1967.
He subsequently studied law in the UK and was called to the English Bar (Middle Temple) in July 1971. Akufo-Addo was called to the Ghana bar in July 1975 along with notable Ghanaian politicians such as Nana Ato Dadzie and Tsatsu Tsikata.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo stayed in France for five years as a lawyer at the now-defunct New York-based international law firm Coudert Brothers. Apart from the welcome exposure to the dynamics of international corporate transactions, his stay in France also made him fluent in French.
In 1975, he returned home to Accra to continue with his legal career. He joined the chambers of U. V. Campbell from 1975 to 1979, and in 1979 co-founded the law firm Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co, which has become one of the most prominent law firms in Ghana.
Some Ghanaian lawyers who passed through his law firm are among the most outstanding lawyers at the Ghanaian Bar today. They include Sophia Akuffo, Justice of the Supreme Court, Joyce Darko, Daniel Afari Yeboah, Philip Addison, Joe Ghartey, a former Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Alex Quaynor, Frank Davies, Kweku Paintsil, Ursula Owusu, Atta Akyea, Akufo-Addo’s successor as MP for Abuakwa South Constituency, Akoto Ampaw, Yoni Kulendi, Kwame Akuffo, Kwaku Asirifi, and Godfrey Dame.
Akufo-Addo has served on the boards and committees of a number of political, legal, and social organizations in the country.He was the first Chairperson of DHL, Ghana Limited; Chairperson, Kinesec Communications Company Limited, publishers of The Statesman Newspaper.
He was the first Chairperson of the Ghana Committee on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Like the “Doyen of Gold Coast politics”, J. B. Danquah, and others before him, Akufo-Addo used his law practice to champion the cause of human rights, rule of law, justice, freedom, and democracy.
He was well known for giving free legal assistance to the poor and fought for the rights and liberties of the Ghanaian people. Indeed, many of the important constitutional cases of the modern era, which, inter alia, protected the independence of the judiciary and the right of the citizen to demonstrate without police permit, were undertaken by him.
He is acknowledged as one of the leaders of the pro-democracy movement in Ghana. At the age of 33, Akufo-Addo became the General Secretary of the broad-based People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice (PMFJ), which was composed of political stalwarts such as Akwasi Amankwa Afrifa, William Ofori-Atta, Komla Agbeli Gbedemah, Adu Boahen, Sam Okudzeto, Obed Asamoah, Godfrey Agama, K. S. P. Jantuah, Jones Ofori-Atta, Johnny Hanson and Nii Amaah Amartefio (“Mr. No”).
This group led the “NO” campaign in the UNIGOV referendum of 1978, ultimately bringing about the downfall of the Acheampong military government on 5 July 1978, and the restoration of multiparty democratic rule to the country in 1979. Akufo-Addo had to go briefly into exile after the referendum, when his life was in danger. But, from Europe, he could be heard constantly on the BBC World Service, fighting against the military rulers back in Ghana and calling for a return to democracy.
In 1991, Akufo-Addo was the chairman of the Organising Committee of the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club, a club dedicated to the preservation of the memory and ideals of the two great advocates of Ghanaian democracy, J. B. Danquah and K. A. Busia, Prime Minister of the Progress Party government of the 2nd Republic of Ghana.
Akufo-Addo travelled throughout Ghana to establish branches of the Club all over the country in the grassroots style for which he is known. These branches eventually transformed into local organs of the NPP after the ban on party politics was lifted, prior to the elections of 1993.
In 1992 he became the first national organiser of the NPP and, later that year, campaign manager of the party’s first presidential candidate, Prof. Albert Adu Boahen, the man of courage who broke the “culture of silence” in Ghana. In 1992 Akufo-Addo set up and financed The Statesman newspaper, which has become the unofficial mouthpiece of the NPP.
In 1995 he led the famous “Kume Preko” demonstrations of the Alliance For Change (AFC), a broad-based political pressure group, which mobilised thousands of people onto the streets of Ghana to protest the Value Added Tax (VAT) initiative which was being introduced by the government of Ghana under the then President Rawlings. Some pundits in Ghana believe that this was instrumental in re-establishing the New Patriotic Party as more formidable force after Prof Adu Boahen.
Akufo-Addo was elected three times between 1996 and 2004 as Member of Parliament for the Abuakwa South constituency in the Eastern region of Ghana. From 2001 to 2007, as Cabinet Minister, first as Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and later as Foreign Minister for five years, Akufo-Addo served in the government of President Kufuor with distinction.
As Attorney-General, he was responsible for the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law, which had been used to intimidate the media and criminalise free speech. The repeal has enabled the Ghanaian media to become one of the most vibrant and freest in Africa. Under his chairmanship of the Legal Sector Reform Committee, the implementation of the court automation programme was initiated.
As Foreign Minister, he was fully involved in the successful Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peace efforts in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Bissau, and was chairman of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council in 2003.
In 2004 Ghana was elected one of the 15 pioneer members of the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council, a mandate which was renewed at the AU Summit in Khartoum in January 2006. Akufo-Addo was chosen by his peers on the AU Executive Council to chair the Ministerial Committee of 15 that fashioned the Ezulwini Consensus, which defined the African Union’s common position on UN Reforms.
He negotiated for the 2007 AU Summit to be held in Accra as part of Ghana’s Golden Jubilee celebrations, and chaired the AU Executive Council in 2007.
Ghana was elected by her peers to take the non-permanent West African seat on the UN Security Council for 2006-07. In August 2006, Akufo-Addo chaired the meeting of the Security Council which took the decision that halted Israel’s massive incursions into Lebanon. Again, Ghana was elected to the new UN body, the Human Rights Council, with the highest number of votes—183 out of 191—of any country, and as a pioneer member of another UN body, the Peacebuilding Commission