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African Engineers: Alhajji Main in Tamale

Commencing in 1972, with enable from the Technology Consultancy Centre (TCC) of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), the compact-scale and informal engineering business was creating steadily in Kumasi, in abilities and manufacturing facilities as very well as in numbers. From 1979, an exertion was mounted by KNUST to establish a similar programme in Tamale, the cash of the Northern Area nearly 400 kilometres north of Kumasi. Progress was slow in a complicated economic local climate and by the mid-1980s only one middle-sized engineering workshop had emerged. In what follows, two Ghanaian engineers, Kwame and Dan, introduce a visiting British engineer, Tom Arthur, to their star customer.

The tall guy strolling in the direction of them in prolonged flowing white robes was an remarkable figure. He greeted the 3 engineers with “Salaam aleikum” to which Dan replied “Aleikum as salaam.” Tom hoped that not all the conversation would be in Arabic or Dagbani and was relieved when a extensive white sleeve prolonged a massive brown hand that gripped his hand firmly in synchronism with the greeting “You are welcome Dr Arthur. When did you appear to Tamale?”
“He is reporting to you on his to start with day in Tamale,” Kwame minimize in rapidly before Tom could reply.
“I’m delighted to meet up with you, Mr Masters,” stated Tom, “Kwame has advised me a lot about your great work here and I’m searching forward to observing your workshop.”
“We do what we can but it really is incredibly complicated,” replied Issah Masters, “My workshop is just more than there,” he added, pointing across an open house to some long term properties about 200 metres away.

The team walked little by little across to Issah Masters’ workshop, next the purple gravel route involving patches of tall grass. For Tom, the quick wander was a marathon as the early afternoon sunshine conquer down unrelentingly. He would have most popular to wander quicker to gain some shade as rapidly as doable but their rate was set by the gradual calculated stride of the guy who experienced followed his prophet to Mecca. A great deal to Tom’s relief, on achieving the compound they were taken into a cool business and invited to sit in relaxed chairs while cold tender drinks had been quickly pulled from a refrigerator and offered to the friends. An oscillating desk admirer rhythmically ventilated Tom’s sodden shirt with a cold shock that was pretty much distressing. By the time the drinks had been finished and a pay a visit to to the workshops was proposed Tom’s shirt was dry and he was prepared to confront the warmth once again.

Issah Masters’ most important exercise was welding and steel fabrication and his two greatest marketing products and solutions ended up bed-frames and steel trunks. “These items are often in desire,” he advised his visitors.
“Do any other workshops in Tamale make these objects?” requested Tom.
“Oh yes, about six and they are all my ex-apprentices.”
“How did you start out in this small business?”
“I was properly trained as a blacksmith and designed the company by incorporating other expertise in metallic performing.”
“What other products and solutions do you make?”
“I produce a bullock plough for farmers converting to animal traction, and I prepare to choose up some products and solutions from the ITTU, like corn mills and cassava graters.”
“How have you benefited from the ITTU?”
“In numerous methods the TCC loaned me a lathe for two several years right up until the ITTU creating was all set and I manufactured metal bolts and nuts in my workshop, they experienced my folks in Kumasi and now listed here in Tamale, and I hope to benefit from orders sub-contracted to my workshop. I am also hoping that when the GRID challenge commences I will be ready to purchase far more machines on credit history.”

“You should really talk to Alhajji what he has finished to help the ITTU,” explained Kwame. “He has been our strongest supporter due to the fact we 1st came to Tamale.”
“We need the ITTU very badly,” reported Issah Masters, “and we need to all enable the TCC to carry it below.”
“Alhajji is much too modest to tell me himself so you should explain to me,” claimed Tom.
“Perfectly, he began by organising an artisans association and lobbying the regional administration to assist the ITTU venture,” claimed Kwame, “I heard Frank Johnson say that devoid of Issah Masters’ help he could not have started off the Acceptable Technological innovation Centre that served for a number of several years as a pilot undertaking for the ITTU.”
“As soon as GRID will get underway,” included Dan, “they will sort regional advisory boards and Alhajji will be a member of the board for the Tamale ITTU.”

Afterwards, as the three engineers walked back to the ITTU, Kwame and Dan described to Tom that Issah Masters was a crucial political figure for the venture. In addition to staying a leader of the artisans he was also a chief of just one of the quite a few villages that created up the city of Tamale. “When you pay a visit to a put for the to start with time you are envisioned to to start with call on the chief,” stated Kwame, “That is why I broke in just now to emphasise that you ended up calling on Issah Masters on your initially working day in Tamale.”
“I see,” reported Tom, “it is really vital to abide by regional tailor made wherever you mount a undertaking. That must be hard.”
“The university is privileged to attract team and students from all pieces of Ghana,” stated Dan, “So we can generally come across 1 of our possess people today to transient us even in advance of we visit an spot for the initially time.”