Raphael Ernest Grail Armattoe (12 August 1913 – 22 December 1953) was a Ghanaian doctor, author, poet and politician. He was nominated for the 1949 Nobel Peace Prize and was a campaigner for unification of British and French Togoland.
Early life and education
Armattoe was born at Keta in the Gold Coast which is now in the Volta Region of Ghana. As Togoland changed from German to British and French hands, Armattoe ended up being fluent in German, French and English. He also spoke his native Ewe language. After his basic education in the Gold Coast, he left for Germany in 1930 for further studies. Most of his tertiary education was in Germany and France. He apparently left Germany for France due to rising Nazism. He continued his studies in anthropology, literature and Medicine at theSorbonne.
Armattoe moved to Edinburgh where he qualified to practice Medicine. He got a locum job in Belfast, Northern Ireland and following that worked at the Civil Defence first aid post in Brooke Park, Derry between 1939 and 1945. After the Second World War, he opened a medical practice at his home on Northland Road in Derry. He later became the director of a research institute. His research into the use of the abochi drug against human parasites led to his nomination for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1948. At this stage, he started being more involved with writing and giving talks especially relating to anthropology. He was described by some who knew him as a marvellous doctor and a good speaker.
Writing and research
Armattoe started devoting more time to writng. He established the Lomeshie Research Centre, named after his mother. In 1947, he attended the Nobel Prize laureation ceremonies with his friend Erwin Schrödinger, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933. Schrödinger later wrote the foreword for Armattoe’s book The golden age of West African civilization. He later successfully applied for an anthropological research grant worth £3,000 at the time from the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. He returned to West Africa in 1948 where he conducted his research mainly on Ewe physical anthropology. He presented his findings in 1949 and was nominated for the Nobel Peace prize for medicine and physiology. The prize was eventually won by John Boyd Orr, 1st Baron Boyd-Orr, a medical doctor and the director of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation at the time.
Armattoe returned to the Gold Coast where he set up a medical clinic at Kumasi in the Ashanti Region. He also turned his attention to poetry, writing and politics. His first published work of poetry was Between the Forest and the Sea (1950). His next publication, Deep Down in the Black Man’s Mind (1954) was published after his death.
Armattoe and Kwame Nkrumah first met at the 1945 Pan African Congress in Manchester. Though they both favoured independence for the colonies, Nkrumah was centrist while Armattoe was federalist. He joined the Ghana Congress Party rather than Nkrumah’s Convention People’s Party. He belonged to the Ewe ethnic group and campaigned for the Ewe people divided by colonial powers into British Togoland, the southern part of the Gold Coast and French Togoland to be united as one Ewe nation-state. He was also active with theTogoland Congress, which advocated Ewe unification.
Armattoe travelled to New York City to address the United Nations about the ‘Eweland question’. On his way back to the Gold Coast, he visited his daughter Irusia, then a student inDublin, Republic of Ireland and then Germany. He fell ill and died in a hospital in Hamburg. His wife reported that he said he had been poisoned by some unknown persons. He had apparently been attacked previously by supporters of Kwame Nkrumah.
Armattoe was married to Leonie Schwartz, a Swiss lady. She was also known as ‘Marina’. They had two daughters, the elder one, Irusia, was born in London. Armattoe and his family lived at Kumasi in Ghana until his death. His father, Robert Glikpo Armattoe, was a merchant who traded mainly with the Germans and also studied local indigenous languages.
Essays and publications
Articles, mainly on medical subjects, reprinted from periodicals. ASIN B000WETQ54.
- The pattern youth: An interim report. 1943. ASIN B0007KF9CW.
- A dental survey of the British Isles. 1943. pp. 5. ASIN B0007KF9D6.
- A Racial Survey of the British People … Lecture. Londonderry: Sentinel. 1944. ASIN B000WEXNRQ.
- The Swiss Contribution to Western Civilization. Dundalk: Dundalgan Press. 1944. ASIN B00408QC0A.
- Armattoe, Raphael; Gaetano de Gennaro, Erwin Schroedinger and Albert Schweitzer (1945). Homage to Three Great Men: Schweitzer, Schroedinger, De Gennaro. Londonderry: Sentinel. ASIN B000WEQ18O.
- The golden age of West African civilization. The Londonderry sentinel for the Lomeshie Research Centre. 1946. ASIN B0006EUHIA.
- Armattoe, Raphael (1946). Space, time, and race;: Or, the age of man in America. pp. 16. ASIN B0007JLE22.
- Personal recollections of the Nobel Laureation Festival of 1947: With an appendix listing all the distinguished guests at the Nobel banquet. Lomeshie Research Centre. 1948. pp. 62.ASIN B0007J26WO.
- “Between the forest and the sea”: Collected poems. Armattoe. 1950. pp. 78. ASIN B0000CHOO0.
- Deep Down in the Black Man’s Mind: Poems. Ilfracombe: Alfred H. Stockwell. 1954. pp. 112. ASIN B0000CIX8L.
- Wiegraebe, P.; Raphael Armattoe (1954). Early Ghanaian Poetry. Periodicals Service Company. ISBN 9780811530392.