On Saturday, 18th February 2023, a small group of family and friends met at the Trinity Theological Seminary Church, Legon for the Thanksgiving Service of Professor Jonathan Narh Ayertey on the occasion of his 80th birthday. As would be expected for such an accomplished academic, dignitaries who attended the function included Justice of the Supreme Court Prof Henrietta Mensa Bonsu, and former Vice-Chancellors of the University of Ghana Prof CNB Tagoe and Prof Ernest Aryeetey as well as retired academics like Mr Kofi Siabi-Mensa, and former Registrar Mr Teddy Konu, from Legon.
An interesting prelude to the Thanksgiving Service was the dedication to God of the two newest baby grandsons of Prof Ayertey. This was done by Rev Professor Kwabena Asamoah Gyadu of the Trinity Theological Seminary, who presided over the function, with beautiful religious music provided by Dr Patrick Addaquay, a lecturer in Music at the University of Ghana, Legon.
An indigene of Nuaso near Somanya in the Yilo Krobo District, Prof Ayertey was born at Seseamang on 9th February 1943. He attended the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC) then located at Krobo-Odumase. After his undergraduate Studies at the University of Cape Coast, he studied at the Imperial College, University of London, UK where he obtained a PhD in Entomology in 1976. After a long period of teaching at Legon, he rose to become Dean of Graduate Studies and Master of Akuafo Hall. On retirement, he became the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC), Teshie, Accra.
Currently, Prof Ayertey continues to serve Ghana as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the newly established University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD), Somanya. He is a member of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Preaching the homily which he titled “Thanksgiving,” Rev Prof Asamoah Gyadu chose his text from Philippians 4, 4-6 which in the New International Version (NIV) states as follows;
“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Explaining the text, Prof Asamoah Gyadu stated that, giving thanks is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, expressing thanks shows Gratitude. In showing gratitude, a beneficiary shows appreciation for something received from or done by a giver. It also shows that a beneficiary does not take a giver’s action for granted. Unfortunately, many people forget to give thanks to God when things go well for them. He reminded us to give thanks to God all the time.
Secondly, giving thanks eliminates bitterness. This is because ingratitude often creates bitterness, the result of non-appreciation. The giver feels unappreciated and therefore bitter and resentful. Finally, he asked us to be prayerful at all time to communicate with our Maker.
He added Verse 7 of Philippians 4 which states “And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.”
Spicing his homily with lots of humour he recalled his Graduate Studies days when he preached at Legon on Sundays. Operating on a very tight budget which a lecturer of mine described as “suffering from constant Pecuniary embarrassment,” Prof Asamoah Gyadu said, being invited to the home of Prof by Mrs Ayertey for breakfast on Sunday mornings was always welcome and a big relief to his pocket and body. At the time, he said he thought the breakfast was for free! But thirty years later, here he was on a Saturday morning still paying for the breakfast he ate long ago.
He commended the children of Professor Ayertey for their love and support for their parents, tacitly referring to the Commandment, “Honour your father and mother, so that your days may be prolonged” in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Ephesians. Prof Asamoah Gyadu lamented that, unfortunately some children renege on this biblical injunction, and do not honour their parents.
In a glowing tribute, classmates of Prof Aryertey at PRESEC, Krobo Odumase attested to his outstanding leadership which culminated in him being appointed the head-prefect of PRESEC in their final year.
Speaker after speaker spoke about Prof’s extraordinary leadership ability. Professor Henrietta Mensa Bonsu extolled the virtues of Prof when she worked closely with him as a senior tutor of Akuafo Hall, Legon where Prof was the Hall Master. Affectionately calling Prof Ayertey “Master”, the Justice of the Supreme Court stated that, the Prof would always be her “Master.”
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana Prof CNB Tagoe talked about a personal experience with Prof Ayertey which eventually led to his confirmation from an acting Vice Chancellor to the substantive VC of the University of Ghana. Indeed, on account of his outstanding abilities, when the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College asked for a Dean for Graduate studies, Prof Ayertey easily emerged as the right choice.
Tributes by his family, wife, children and grandchildren all spoke of what an outstanding human being he is who will sacrifice his all for his family, community, friends and all who need help. A representative who spoke on behalf of the new University of Environment and Sustainable Development was full of praises for the leadership of their Chairman of the Governing Council Prof Ayertey!
In his reply, Prof Ayertey said it was so gratifying hearing such kind words while he is still alive, and not as tributes when he is dead. He was grateful to all invitees and thanked us for the kind words about him. He thanked his children profusely for their massive support to him and their mother.
Prof Ayertey’s comment took me back to my September 2022 article “Give me my flowers when I can still smell them!” In it, I stated as follows;
“As Bob Cole said, multitudinous platitudes heaped during Thanksgiving Services mean nothing to the deceased as they lie stiff in the “chop-box” as a little boy called his grand-father’s casket.
While they are alive, let us give deserving individuals the recognition, praise and honour for their contributions to Ghana, or humanity, and also to encourage the younger generation to make sacrifices!”
As Ghanaians, let us learn to eschew the cancer of not supporting/appreciating ourselves and therefore not celebrating the successes of fellow Ghanaians. Let us stop aiding foreigners in destroying our environment through “galamsey,” illegal logging of rosewood, and “saiko” at sea etc.
To Prof Asamoah Gyadu, thank you for reminding us of the virtue of respect to parents/adults, which has run out of supply!
To Professor Jonathan Narh Ayertey, thank you for your service to Ghana and humanity! CONGRATULATIONS on your 80th birthday and God bless you!
Fellow Ghanaians, WAKE UP!
Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd)
Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association
Family Health University College
Source: Brig Gen Dan Frimpong (Rtd), Former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya
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