Oct 132020

5 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh EH12 5EP

5 Grange Road, site of the old International Students’ Hostel

The YMCA Indian Students’ Hostel was established at Grosvenor Crescent in 1920. In 1933, it became the International Students’ Hostel, accommodating “men from India, Sudan, South and East Africa, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Parsis.” By 1939, residents included Ghanaian doctor and artist Edward Oku Ampofo. Ampofo studied in Edinburgh from 1933 as the first Ghanaian to receive a government scholarship to study medicine. At the same time, he attended night classes for art. According to Emmanuel Evans-Anfom, Ampofo was on the University hockey team, and played matches against Aberdeen and Glasgow. After returning to Ghana from further studies in China, Ampofo founded the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine in 1975. His ground-breaking studies led to the identification of over 300 plant-based remedies for diseases such as sickle-cell anaemia, diabetes, arthritis and even some forms of cancer. As an artist, Ampofo was instrumental in the formation of the Akwapim Six, a group of diverse artists in Ghana. His own sculptures featured traditional African materials, including ebony. Ampofo insisted that art was intertwined with the politics of decolonization, saying: “art had a function in the political struggle, because our artistic achievements showed that we are ready for political independence.”

Oku Ampofo with one of his sculptures
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