One of the greatest mathematicians of all time, and the first from the West African sub-region and nuclear physicist, the late Prof. Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, has been eulogised by globally recognised scientists for his tremendous contribution to the study of Science and Mathematics.
At a public lecture organised by the African Institute for Mathematical Studies (AIMS) Ghana, in honour of the late renowned scientist’s 90th birth anniversary if he were still alive, scientists from all over the world were present to share their experiences in engagements with the late professor and his influence in the field of science.
Founder of AIMS and Higgs Chair of Theoretical Physics at the University of Edinburgh, Prof. Neil Turok, narrated his first experience with Prof. Allotey at Princeton University, USA, where the late professor was the only black student in the PhD in Mathematics class in 1966, but was so bold and asking every lecturer that comes to class intelligent questions and challenging them on certain topics, a situation he described as unbelievable.
“I was so surprised at his confidence level at the time and how he was able to think so deeply. I was so shy at the time that I couldn’t even ask or say anything. I was also from South Africa… He was an exemplar. Big-hearted and extremely generous, Allotey cared for and looked after many without counting the cost,” he said.
He indicated that when he was about to establish AIMS, he wanted someone who could bring expertise and mentor the project to fruition, and the first name that came to his mind was Prof. Allotey; and when he reached out, the professor was quick to respond to the idea because of his love for mathematics and desire to see every African become a mathematician.
According to him, Prof. Allotey believes all the major problems on the continent could be solved with mathematics, hence, the need to give every African child a mathematical education.
Chancellor, University of Dundee, Scotland-United Kingdom, Prof. Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, who spoke fondly of the late statesman, recounted her experience when she first visited Ghana about ten years ago on the invite of the late Allotey, and was taken to Saltpond and Ada on different projects.
She stated that even though the late professor was full of wisdom and highly intelligent, he still upheld the values of simplicity and modesty. Adding that his understanding of mathematics and ability to solve problems was phenomenal. “Prof Allotey was a gem of a person that the world would forever miss. His passion for science and maths and desire to help everyone to become some sort of a mathematician beats imagination,” she said.
President of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Science (GAAS), Emeritus Prof. Samuel Sefa-Dedeh, expressed his delight to have encountered the late philosopher and urged the nation to uphold his values to promote science and mathematics education in schools.
Centre President, AIMS Ghana, Dr. Prince K. Osei, indicated AIMS Ghana is the third centre of excellence in the AIMS-NEI ecosystem and was founded in 2012, under the leadership of Prof. Francis Allotey. The institute has since graduated 500 students from 27 African countries with 33 percent being females.
He emphasised that the professor’s legacy to Ghana and the world through his fine mathematical mind is monumental, hence, the individual and collective debt to him is unusually large.
Prof. Allotey’s recognition for excellence
He is known for the ‘Allotey Formalism’ which arose from his work on soft X-ray spectroscopy.
Prof. Allotey has been recognised for excellence across many fields, and his numerous accomplishments are garnished with several firsts.
A pioneer in Computer Science education at the KNUST, first Ghanaian Full Professor in Mathematics at the KNUST, Chairman of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission on seven different occasions, and a member of the UN Secretary-General’s Group of 12 Experts to advise on nuclear weapons, a member of the Scientific Council of the world-renowned International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, and Founder of AIMS in Ghana, among other brilliant accomplishments.