Profile on Joseph W.S. de Graft-Johnson

Dr. Joseph William Swain de Graft-Johnson born on the 6th of October 1933 in Cape coast, the capital of Central Region of Ghana. He was a Ghanaian engineer, academic and politician. He was Vice President of Ghana from 1979 to 1981. He was married to Lily Anna de GraftJohnson (née Sekyi)


He attended MfantsipimSchool between 1941 and 1946, then Achimota School . De Graft-Johnson practised as an engineer in Ghana. He was also a lecturer at the Buildings and Roads Research Institute of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology at Kumasi. He later became the director. He was also one of the founding members of the Ghana Institute of Engineers (GhIE). He was the President of the GhIE from 1977 to 1978.


During the era of military rule under the Supreme Military Council, he was involved in opposition to continued military rule as he was then President of the GhIE, one of many professional bodies in Ghana opposing the military government. He suffered personal attacks because of this.

De Graft-Johnson joined the People’s National Party (PNP) when it was founded in 1979. This was after the ban on political parties imposed in 1972 by the National Redemption Council was lifted. The PNP won the elections and he became the Vice President of Ghana in the Limann government.

He was the first ever Vice President of Ghana but was shortlived after a coup d’etat on the Limann government headed by Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings of the Air Force, Chairman of the PNDC, on December 31, 1981 right before new year’s eve. The government was overthrown by coup d’état on 31 December 1981. He left for exile in London, England after the coup.


  • de Graft-Johnson, J. W. S.; Harbhajan Bhatia; A. A. Hammond (November 1972). “Lateritic Gravel Evaluation for Road Construction”. Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division. 98 (11): 1245–1265. Archived from the original on May 21, 2005.


He died on April 22, 1999 in London at the age of 65. His remains were flown to Ghana and laid in state both at home and in a Methodist Church and buried in Cape Coast his home town on Friday, May 28.