“I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends. Just to share old memories and play our songs again. When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name No one recognised me I didn’t look the same. CHORUS: But it’s all right, now, I learnt my lesson well. You see, “ya” can’t please everyone, so “ya” got to please yourself.”
Garden Party by Ricky Nelson
THE WEEK, HERETOFORE, (OR, IF YOU MAY) THE QUONDAM WEEK was full of activities. Asantehene Otumfuo was at the 55th anniversary celebration of the University of Professional Studies (UPSA) in which he charged Politicians to “serve, not amass wealth”. Former President John Agyekum Kufuor, Nana Otuo Siriboe II, Chairman of the Council of State, Dr. Kofi Ohene, former head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Ghana were also present, when Otumfuo delivered the third annual lecture on: “Leadership: Strengthening Democratic Institutions for National Development.” On Saturday, it was the turn of sweet Doreen Hammond to pick the award of Journalist of the Year at the 24th Ghana Journalists Association Awards. Doreen remarked: “Journalism is not all about politics… Let us continue to be a voice for the voiceless and contribute our quota to the development of this dear nation of ours.”
It was our kismet to pass through the African University College of Communications (AUCC) at Adabraka, Accra, for the 16th Graduation Ceremony. It was a solemn but dignified occasion at which the Deputy Speaker, Dr. Yaw Osei Adutwum donned himself with the garb of excellent speech as the Guest Speaker, speaking mostly extempore. AUCC, originally the African Institute of Journalism, was founded in 2002 by the illustrious Kojo Yankah, a former editor of Daily Graphic, a former Director of the Ghana Institute of Journalism and a former Minister of State. Kojo Yankah says he established the University College to “bring to the front row the evermore importance of communication in today’s world.” May God or Allah, pour his blessings on him for this brilliant initiative.
Its President is Dr. Christopher Y. Akwaa – Mensah who is an accomplished Public Servant and an expert in Higher Education, Governance and Policy Development. He has 20 years’ experience in university administration, having once served as the Registrar of the University of Education, Winneba. Dr. Akwaa – Mensah took over from Professor Akwaa – Mensah who now doubles as an astute farmer with crops like plantain, cocoyam, cassava, oranges, yams, lemons, avocados, medicinal plants, morenga, prekese and turmeric on the Akuapem Mountains. He has dedicated ‘Anansekwae’, a 36-acre dense tropical forest to posterity.
The core values of the University College are: critical thinking, creativity and innovation, the African cultural values, service to the community, ethics and integrity. Available courses include: Development Communications, Strategic Communications, Journalism, Visual and Digital Communications, Accounting, Banking and Finance, Human Resource Management and Marketing.
At the function, one Amanor Elizabeth, a student in Development Communications took the over-all best student award. In a valedictory speech, Ms Amanor spoke highly of the kind of training the students had had and was full of praise for the lecturers. Quoting Romans 8: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Ms Amanor assured Ghanaians that the knowledge they had acquired would be put to good use for the benefit of the whole nation; and that the foreign students (Ivorians, Beninois, Togolais, Nigerians, Senegalais) would take something worthwhile back to their home countries.
The Guest Speaker’s very colourful presentation charged the graduands to “believe in yourselves” noting that “the only person preventing your success is you,” and that “the future of Ghana is in your hands.” He enjoined them to take the positive view of glass which is half full rather than the negative view of glass which is half-empty. Dr. Adutwum used his personal experience to illustrate the episodic account of “struggling men”. He could have missed secondary school, but for the fact that an uncle of his, sold a pig (could have been a sow or a boar) and gave him the money to pay his school fees – at Jachie Pramso because, as he asked, how could he have gone to Achimota or Mfantsipim: a poor, rural, unsophisticated boy! From Jachie – Pramso, he went to Kumasi High School and from there to Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
He left for the United States of America, specifically, Los Angeles in California, where he founded the New Designs Education Group (NDEG). Through NDEG he established two charter schools for grades 6 to 12 and he, a black boy, had 200. Mostly non-blacks in his employ.
The theoreticians and the critical thinkers among the audience appeared to appreciate his reference to Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”. This is a narratology or comparative mythology in which the hero goes on an adventure, and wins a victory, then comes home transformed. Campbell writes: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a religion of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow men.” There are twelve stages of the journey which are: Ordinary World, Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting with the Mentor, Crossing the threshold, Tests (Allies, Enemies), Approach to the inmost cave, Ordeal, Reward (seizing the sword), The Road Back, Resurrection, Return with Elixir.
Perhaps a reading of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey” can be done parri passu a reading of T. S. Elliot’s poem “Journey of the Magi” – metaphorically, the long and sometimes difficult process of personal change and development, with the reader as the “Magus”: Hear Elliot: “A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year… there were times we regretted…And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly and the villages dirty and charging high prices…were we led for a Birth or Death?… we returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, with an alien people clutching their gods, I should be glad of another death.” We had made a journey, and attended a garden party, but no one recognised us, not even with the intervention of good old pal, Nanabanyin Dadson, who lectures at the University College. The reception had been reserved for the “big men and women” on the high table. Of course, Professor Audrey Gadzekpo had not seen us, else she would have protested on our behalf!
You may argue with us that everybody needs a mentor. The mentor, Dr. Adutwum had in America advised him when the challenge was thrown to him to come home: “America can make it without you; but your country may not be able to make it without you.” Verily!
By Africanus Owusu –Ansah