The University of Science and Technology in Kumasi had planned to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the founding of its Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC) on 11 January 1982, and the TCC Director had been invited to appear on national television for a half-hour interview.
Supported initially by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), like Barclays Bank International Development Fund, Rockefeller Brothers, Oxfam and Christian Aid, it proved possible to provide training and locally-made equipment to upgrade several grassroots industries carried on by numerous small enterprises.
The Technology Consultancy Centre had been founded in January 1972 to provide a means by which local industry could access the technical and scientific resources of the University.
After identifying the needs of several informal-sector industries including auto repair, soap making and cotton weaving, the TCC planned development projects and sought funding from international agencies.
The work of the Centre in promoting a large number of successful small-scale industrial enterprises had excited much interest and periodic media attention, but the excitement of the recent coup had swept aside all other considerations.
By 1981 the work of the TCC was supported by major international donors like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the UK Overseas Development Administration (ODA).
For example, by 1975 there were fifty small soap making enterprises using new technology and a few years later there were hundreds of beekeepers where none had been before.
At first, some sizeable contracts had been gained from government departments and large enterprises, but academics soon converted these to private consultancies to prevent the university taking part of the fee.
Major technology transfer projects were operating in Kumasi and at Tamale in the Northern Region and discussion was beginning of extending the programme to all ten regions of the country.
It was a tense moment for the English professor in the fervid atmosphere of revolutionary Ghana a few days after Jerry Rawlings’ second military coup on 31 December 1981.
It was perhaps surprising that the TV schedules had not been changed but the interview came on as planned.
The director travelled 250 kilometres to Accra to keep his appointment at the television centre.
However the TCC had already turned its attention to the grassroots to see what technology transfer could do at that level.
So in normal times there would have been much of general interest to discuss on TV, but these were not normal times.
His vehicle was stopped at several checkpoints, some manned by the military and others by personnel of the newly-formed People’s Defence Committees.
With much relief the director found himself questioned about the work of the TCC and the time passed quickly.