Iconic Women

Theodosia Salome Okoh, the hockey player and designer of Ghana’s flag

By Aisha Kabiru Mohammed | Oct 19, 2022

Theodosia Salome Okoh was a Ghanaian teacher and artist famous for designing Ghana's national flag in 1957. She also played a leading role in the development of hockey in Ghana. She married Enoch Kwabena Okoh, Head of the civil service in the Kwame Nkrumah regime, in the 1960s and had three children.

Early Life

Theodosia was born on 13th June 1922 in Effiduase, Gold Coast, to Reverend Emmanuel Victor Asihene And his wife,  Madam Dora Asihene. Her father was a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana. Her parents are from Anum in the Asuogyaman District of Ghana's Eastern Region. 

Theodosia was the fourth of eight children. She started school at Ashanti Efiduasi Primary School, continued to the Basel Mission Middle, Senior and Teacher Training Schools in Agogo and then Achimota School.

Career and designing the Ghanian flag

Upon Ghana's Independence from Britain, the need for a new flag was advertised. Theodosia submitted her design, which was adopted as the national flag of Ghana by the country's first president Kwame Nkrumah on 6 March 1957. She explained in an interview why she chose the different colours that she used: 

"I decided on the three colors of red, gold and green because of the geography of Ghana. Ghana lies in the tropics and is blessed with rich vegetation. The color Gold was influenced by the mineral-rich nature of our lands, and Red commemorates those who died or worked for the country’s independence. Then the five-pointed lone star which is the symbol of African emancipation and unity in the struggle against colonialism…."

Hockey 

Theodosia Okoh was also the first female chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association and later President of the Ghana Hockey Federation for more than 20 years. It was during her tenure that Ghana first qualified for both the Hockey World Cup and the Olympic Games. 

She was named "the Joan of Arc of Ghana hockey" by Ohene Djan "Because she rose to the occasion to save Ghana hockey when men were faltering and vacillating about the development of the game."

The National Hockey Stadium was named after her in 2004, and she was a long-time patron of the sports writers association of Ghana. 

 

Death and Legacy 

She died on 19 April 2015 at the Narh-Bita Hospital in Tema after a short illness when she was 92 years old. 

President John Dramani Mahama directed that all flags fly at half-mast for three days, starting from Tuesday, 21 April, in her honour. A statement signed by Minister of Communications Edward Omane Boamah said that the directive was "in honour of this extraordinary Ghanaian", further stating: "Government acknowledges Mrs Okoh for her invaluable contributions to our nation-building efforts."

Theodosia created an essential part of Ghana's identity after independence. She also left a legacy of excellence in Ghana's performance in the sport of hockey.