Samson’s Take: Harvard - Just what’s still wrong with us?

Source: Samson Lardy ANYENINI
Date: 13th-may-2017 Time:  12:10:57 pm

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We didn’t need our Supreme Court to educate us, many years ago, that being illiterate isn’t the inability to understand or use the English language properly. Nonetheless, it did. Regrettably, we don’t seem to be doing any better even today at liberating ourselves from the corrosive mental slavery.

Those of us with an education (formal that is), behave as though a good education must include sitting in a classroom outside Africa. One of the rules I have given myself about MY TAKE is not to write about issues tabled for discussion.

So, I may look at Justice Sophia Akuffo, but only later, and through her brilliant judicial opinion writing, her erudite judicial rebellion on the bench, stern and sterling qualities and accomplishments that carry a lot of inspiration and deserving of celebration.

I will shortly get to the focus of MY TAKE today which is a statement of protest. In the last five years, a number of people including two professors, a Court of Appeal Judge and one in the Supreme Court have asked me to get into the classroom and teach. In fact, I have declined two such invitations to convince myself I have the time to give my utmost in that field.

I realised much of the flattering encouragement was informed by articles I wrote regularly as well as papers I was privileged to deliver occasionally at professional gatherings. Many of my articles on legal issues were often published in the Daily Graphic after Ken Ashigbe had asked me to find time to do just that.

I discovered about that time that a couple of persons I have great respect for, including my former teacher Ace Ankomah were also making time to write highly educative legal articles in the Daily Graphic. I then got to know what the Graphic boss was up to, but also felt honoured to be invited along.

Permit me to boast that while criticising CSOs on their understanding of the CRC’s work, and President Mahama’s cherry-picking of the recommendations for constitutional amendments, I justified the CRC’s process of constitutional review and dared my good friend Prof. Stephen KwakuAsare to head to the Supreme Court over his contention that the entire process was unconstitutional. He did. And lost. I didn’t agree entirely with the majority decision though.  

I wrote to caution President Mahama to avoid the sin of heeding the NPP and some CSO’s claims that he was under some legal obligation to consult “broad[ly]” on appointing the EC Chairperson. I predicted a suit will be premature and expose the claims of violations of the constitution in that appointment.  Again, another colleague and good friend Richard Sky took the matter up with a Lawyer who was part of the crusade for “broad consultations” and whom I had earlier privately told a suit would fail. Yes, that suit failed. But all these suits have given us much clarity and finality on the issues.

Prof. Albert Fiadjoe’s name hardly goes unmentioned in classrooms and fora home and abroad on the subject of Alternative Dispute Resolution – ADR.

He firmed up my interest in the area after Nene Amegatcher, Sam Okudzeto and Martin Nwosu kindled it. I decided to pursue my LL.M in ADR in Legon not so much in order to obtain the qualification to teach law in the University, but as part of my own plans and hope to eventually keep a practice focus on the most rewarding part of it – international commercial and investment arbitration.

Ghana boasts some of the best in this area internationally yet our government frequently hires their foreign counterparts who charge in the thousands of dollars per hour and get “local experts” to tag along but who would do most of the work yet be paid much less. I was shockingly discouraged by a couple of ‘big’ people from pursuing this course at Legon.

I, however went ahead because I had done my research and relished being taught and instructed by the likes of Prof Kofi Quashigah, Yaw Benneh, Kofi Kumado, and Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu. Some of these really just love to impart the knowledge home because they have been busy travelling the world sitting on arbitral panels, lecturing etc, and that obviously pays good money.

I compared the subjects Legon treated in this area with some of the so-called top universities abroad and found little or no difference. Well, I don’t regret I did. Rose, a Fulbright Scholar from the USA who also taught the course kept confessing how thrilled she felt at the depth and hands-on experiences guest lecturers like Ace Ankomah, KizitoBeyuo, Thaddeus Sory, and Austin Gamey had to share with the class.   

Friends in the media and the intellectual community, can you please de-emphasise this near insane concentration on “Harvard-trained” tag of our next Chief Justice as if that earned her this job? How long do we spend in those institutions abroad after we have done crèche to first, second, professional training or even master’s degree in Ghana?

Let’s work as citizens and not spectators to fix what is broken rather than consistently selling to young students this sadly mistaken view that to be a better human being, smart and respected as an achiever, you must sit in a classroom in America, the United Kingdom, etc. It is an inferiority complex!

And yes, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako slept in a Hall in a University in Ghana but was never deemed qualified to sit in the lecture Halls.

Let’s be fair to our teachers. They make us and give us what it takes to enter those foreign universities, compete and even outshine those we encounter abroad.

Adziwo fie aaoye!

Samson Lardy ANYENINI

May 13, 2017

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