Her motivation was her zeal to break the myth which had almost engulfed the Archaeology Department of the University of Ghana (UG), Legon and see herself as the first female lecturer of Archaeology.
Not only that, she wanted to see herself as a role model by changing and transforming lives through Archaeology.
It was, therefore, not surprising that after her undergraduate programme, she quickly enrolled for her master’s programme in Archaeology.
Interestingly, at age 37, she has managed to grab her Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree, making her the first female Ghanaian to have attained that height and feat.
Dr Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo was decorated with her academic laurels by the university last month.
Even though the wish of Dr Eyifa-Dzidzienyo is to see a lot of women attain the same feat and even go beyond her, she is proud to say she has paved the way.
Currently, two women have enrolled at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies to pursue their PhD, an indication that her steps are being followed by other women.
Describing how she arrived at her profession, Dr Eyifa-Dzidzienyo told The Mirror that she had actually planned to pursue a business programme to become the foremost finance expert with broad knowledge in several areas.
However, after several consultations after her first year at the UG, she finally decided to concentrate on Archaeology and make an impact in the area.
“After speaking to my academic advisor, Mr John Arkor, for instance, he told me, ‘You’re very inquisitive and probing, so you can do better if you stick to Archaeology’, and that motivated me to continue with the programme and graduate with a first degree. What actually motivated me the most was the fact that during my undergraduate programme, there was no Ghanaian female who taught us except some foreign women who came to assist in Level 300,” she said.
That made her begin to ask why there were foreign women in Archaeology but none in Ghana.
“I, therefore, took it upon myself as a challenge and decided that if that was the case, I was going to study hard to become the first Ghanaian female to obtain my PhD in the field,” she noted.
That, however, came with its own challenges, including mockery and name calling. For some, the study of Archaeology would add no value to oneself, hence there was no need.
Specialisation and research areas
Dr Eyifa-Dzidzienyo has several publications to her credit, including Social Construction and the Invisible Gender Roles in Talensi House Construction; EAZ- Ethnographisch-Archäologische Zeitschrift, and The Role of Museums in Education: The Case of the Museum of Archaeology, University of Ghana.
Her PhD topic was Archaeology and Heritage Management Practices in Ghana; assessment of Tengzug Heritage Preservation and Development.
According to her, she had always been concerned about the involvement of women in national development across the country and that took her to the Northern Region for her studies.
Who are archaeologists?
Dr Eyifa-Dzidzienyo was of the view that Archaeology had not been properly explained to a lot of Ghanaians so they assigned various reasons as to why they thought it was of no value to them.
Therefore, she said, if a lot of people were properly educated on the course and profession, many would realise that it was a profession worth pursuing.
Archaeologists are social scientists who study people to know what they do and why they do so based on their culture.
“Archaeologists are neither grave looters nor diggers as is being misconstrued by many people out there,” she added.
Dr Eyifa-Dzidzienyo’s vision is to see a lot of women in Ghana pursue Archaeology and become professionals to help mould society.
She also mentioned that she wants to help with the establishment of many museums across the length and breadth of the country.
Dr Eyifa-Dzidzienyo is a Fante and hails from Agona Nyarkrom in the Central Region. Her biological parents are late Mr Kwaw Ackom Eyifa and Mrs Janet Boadi Opoku, who is now remarried to Mr Emmanuel Appau Opoku.
She started schooling at the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Demonstration at Asokore, then to New Juabeng Secondary Commercial School, both in the Eastern Region.
She is married to a businessman, Mr Frank Enyonam Dzidzienyo, and has two children; Emmanuella Ama Seyram Dzidzienyo and Victor Kweku Selasie Dzidzienyo.