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Henry Romulus Sawyerr

Henry Romulus Sawyerr90
Date of Birth:
Place of Birth:
Abokobi, Ghana
Date of Death:

Henry Romulus Sawyerr, CV (25 April 1926 – 8 November 2013) was a Ghanaian politician and quantity surveyor.

He was Minister for Transport and Communications during the third republic and Minister for Education at the beginning of the Fourth Republic of Ghana and the Member of Parliament for Osu-Klottey Constituency during the Second and Third republics.

Sawyerr was the first person to be president of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors. He served two terms spanning 1969 to 1971.

Early life and education

Harry Sawyerr was born on 25 April 1926 in Abokobi, Accra, in the Ga East District to Kwao Sawyerr and Fredericka Naa Awula Akua Lokko.

He had his early education at the Presbyterian Primary School at Abokobi from 1932 to 1938, continuing in 1938 to the Salem School at Osu. He studied at the Accra Academy for his secondary education between 1942 and 1946.

He entered Achimota College in 1947, but his degree studies ended on the sudden death of his father that year, due to lack of funds, and he became a Learner Valuer at the Lands Department from 1951 to 1953.

He subsequently studied estate management in England at the University College of Estate Management (1953–55), becoming a certified associate of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, in England.


He worked as a District Valuer at the Lands Department in Accra (1955–58), then left public service to establish his private consultancy from 1958 to 1962.

From 1962 to 1963 he was City Valuer at Kumasi City Council and worked as Chief Federal Lands Officer in the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 1963 to 1967, the first black Chief Federal Lands Officer in Nigeria.

He was the organizer and later the National Co-ordinator of the Association of Recognised Professional Bodies 1971–1979.


His political career began as a member of the Ghana Congress Party led by Kofi Abrefa Busia.

He was made a member of the 1969 Constituent Assembly that drew up the 1969 Constitution for the Second Republic of Ghana. He contested in the 1969 parliamentary election in the Osu-Klottey constituency as a non-party candidate and won. He was the only nonparty candidate to win a seat in the Parliament of the second republic.

At the onset of the third republic, he was a founding member of the United National Convention (UNC) whose flagbearer was William Ofori-Atta. He entered Parliament as an MP for the Osu Klottey Constituency on the ticket of the UNC.

The UNC put up a poor performance at the general election and became third. The other two front-runner parties, the Popular Front Party (PFP) and the People's National Party (PNP), both failed to secure the required majority to form a government and the second round of the election was announced to take place.

The UNC then formed an alliance with the PNP, enabling the PNP's Hilla Limann to gain the required majority to be declared winner of the general elections. For this, Sawyerr served as Minister for Transport and Communications from 1979 to 1981 in the Limann government.

Sawyerr joined the National Democratic Congress under the leadership of Jerry Rawlings in 1992 and served as the Chairman of its National Campaign Committee in 1992. He served as Minister for Education in the Rawlings government from 1993 to 1997.

He was appointed a member of the Council of State in 1998 and served till 2000. He was Vice-Chairman of the council of elders of the National Democratic Congress.

Sawyerr served as a longstanding Vice-Chairman of the Council of Patrons of Accra Hearts of Oak S.C. and later became the President of the Council of Patrons of the football club.

Harry Sawyerr was a Freemason, belonging to the District Grand Lodge of Ghana under the United Grand Lodge of England.

He died on 8 November 2013 in Accra, aged 87. His funeral attracted several government officials and dignitaries. He was buried at the Basel Mission Cemetery in Osu.

Awards and recognition

Hanry Sawyer was decorated with the Companion of the Order of the Volta, the highest award in Ghana, by the then President John Evans Atta Mills.

He was the first Executive Chairman of the University of Ghana Medical School. There are prizes at the University of Ghana Medical School in his name.