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23.07.2003 Feature Article

MR. D. KWAME OFORI DANKWA: As We Knew Him

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A Tribute by the Ghanass Old Students Association (UK)

We are here to pay tribute to and to celebrate the life and legacy of a giant of a man, Mr. Ofori-Dankwa (affectionately called DOK when we were in school). As we have heard, he was a good and caring husband and was a doting father to his children. He was a respected statesman in his native Asafo. He was many different things to many others.

But for us, Ofori-Dankwa was our Headmaster, (and he never ceased to be one even after he had retired). He was our guiding angel and the man who helped shape our future.

Mr Ofori-Dankwa dedicated his life to education. Looking back we can only soberly admire and be thankful for the zeal and passion that he brought to his stewardship as Headmaster of our school. He has left such a legacy and set for our school, very high standards; standards, we hope, that will continue to be maintained, at the very least, to his honour and remembrance.

He was a learned man, a man of books who firmly believed that young minds, our young minds, could be nurtured and transformed by exposure to books. And he did everything he possibly could to achieve that. To his sole credit, during his tenure, the School Library became one of the most excellent for a Ghana Educational Trust School.

All of us, who were fortunate to have studied under the guidance of this man, will forever be indebted to the encouragement and inspiration he provided us. He took a personal interest in every individual student. Like a father, he tried to divine, as gently as he could, our life goals and aspirations; and if we did not have any, he challenged us to do that. We perceived him as a master psychologist who knew our thoughts before we transform them into words. For many of us he was an accomplished guidance counsellor. He established relationships with every student and used them to provide focus and direction to the same He let us know the value of independent work outside the classroom. He provided us with a unique tutorial system that was beyond its time and unavailable then in any other school. Yes, indeed, many of us are ennobled in our lives today because of his influence and direction.

Indeed, up to the moment of his death, he still showed interest in what we did with our lives. In his letter to one of the old students, two weeks before his demise he advised: "The future is not given to us already made. It is made by us, by our choices and decisions, day by day'.

Beyond the academic sphere, Ofori-Dankwa made us imbibe many values by the good example that he gave us. Many of us can still picture him picking up disposable banana leaves and other garbage that we used to throw on the lawns. Yes, personal responsibility, cleanliness and respect for government or another person's property were some of the many values he instilled in us.

Every single one of my colleagues will undoubtedly have very positive personal reminiscences of the good he did for us. He guided us through the most critical period of our formal education, imbued in us time-tested life values that prepared us for our future lives. He was a father-figure to us.

For these and many more we thank God for his life. His life was full and fruitful. His was an unselfish life, a life of giving to his country and people. We shall never forget him. As our elders tell us "Sages don't die, they ascend to eternity".

May His Soul Rest In Peace.

Ade Sawyerr
Ade Sawyerr, © 2003

The author has 78 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: AdeSawyerr

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