Frederick Nanka-Bruce

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Frederick Victor Nanka-Bruce
Born Frederick Victor Nanka-Bruce
(1878-10-09)9 October 1878
Accra, Gold Coast
Died July 13, 1951(1951-07-13)
Conakry, Guinea
Occupation Medical Doctor Politician
Nationality British Subject,
Ethnicity Ga
Education University of Edinburgh
Spouse Christiana Reindorf

Hon. Dr. Frederick Victor Nanka-Bruce (9 October 1878[1] – 13 July 1953) was a physician, journalist and politician in the Gold Coast. He was the third African to practise medicine in the colony, after Benjamin Quartey-Papafio and Ernest James Hayford.[2]

Early life and family[edit]

Frederick Victor Bruce was the son of Alexander Bruce, an Accra merchant, and Christiana Reindorf. Bruce was the scion of two prominent Ga families: the Bruces and Reindorfs. The Bruces were a prominent Ga family from James Town or British Accra, while the Reindorfs were from Danish Accra or Osu. His father was a descendant of a prominent Ga trader Robert William Wallace Bruce, while his mother was a relative of the Basel Mission catechist Carl Christian Reindorf. Bruce appended "Nanka" in honour of his ancestor, Robert William Wallace Bruce, who was also known as Nii Nanka.

Nanka-Bruce was educated at the Government School in Accra and at the Wesleyan Boys' High School in Lagos.[3] After an apprenticeship to a dispenser in Accra, he was a member of the 1899-1900 Kumasi Expedition - besieged in Kumasi Fort with the Governor, Frederick Hodgson, until the expedition managed to break through the Ashanti lines to the coast.[4] In 1901 he travelled to study medicine at Edinburgh University. Gaining his M.B. and Ch.B. in 1906, he worked at the London Hospital before returning to Accra in 1907.

Political career[edit]

Nanka-Bruce built up a private medical practice in Accra, and was a government adviser on public health. In 1918 he founded The Gold Coast Independent newspaper. He was a member of the Legislative Council, representing the Accra Ratepayers Association, from 1931 to 1935 and again from 1946 to 1950.[3] He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1935.[5] In 1933 he was a co-founder and the first President of the Gold Coast Medical Practitioners Union, and in 1951 a co-founder and first President of the Ghana branch of the British Medical Association; after Nanka-Bruce's death the two organisations would merge to form the Ghana Medical Association.[6]

His sister Florence, and after her early death another sister Emma, married Thomas Hutton-Mills, Sr.[7] He died 13 July 1953.[4][8] His descendants still live in Accra and include the Ghanaian disc jockey William Nanka-Bruce.


  1. ^ Magnus Sampson, Makers of Modern Ghana, Vol. One, Accra: Anowuo Publications, 1969, p. 179.
  2. ^ Jeffrey P. Green, Black Edwardians: Black people in Britain, 1901-1914, Taylor & Francis, 1998, p. 147. Nanka-Bruce's BMJ obituarist reported him as the second African to practise medicine in the Gold Coast.
  3. ^ a b Michael R. Doortmont, The Pen-Pictures of Modern Africans and African Celebrities by Charles Francis Hutchison: A Collective Biography of Elite Society in the Gold Coast Colony, Brill, 2005, p. 148.
  4. ^ a b "F. V. Nanka-Bruce, O.B.E., M.B., Ch.B.", British Medical Journal, 1 August 1953, p. 289.
  5. ^ The Times, 3 June 1935.
  6. ^ Ghana Medical Association: About Us.
  7. ^ Doortmont, p. 261.
  8. ^ Doortmont gives the date as 3 July 1951.