Profile of Dr. Agyenim Boateng: Q&A
A Ghanaian Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Litigation Division, State of Kentucky, USA Introduction by MR. CNN: A brief background, place of birth, education and training Dr. Agyenim Boateng received his earlier education form St. Peter's Boys School and Asanteman Secondary School in Kumasi. After serving as a tutor of a couple of years at his alma mater, he came to the United States where he graduated with BA in Government from Miami University of Ohio; then he continued at Atlanta University and received the MA degree in Political Science. Afterwards he proceeded to Howard University in Washington DC where he received his doctorate degree in Law. After graduation from Howard University Law School, he was selected among the "Brightest and Best of American Law Schools graduates" and posted to Louisville, Kentucky as Reginald Heber Smith Fellow with the Louisville Legal Aide Society. Dr. Boateng is admitted to practice law before the United States of America and Kentucky Supreme Courts. In addition he is a member of the various US District Courts in the country. He had worked at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet where he rose though the ranks including Senior Attorney to Director of Hearings in the Administrative Law section of the Cabinet. He has joined the Office of the State Attorney General since l998 where he holds the position of Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Litigation Division. Agyenim is a student of Asante history and written considerably on the subject for different publications. He also writes occasionally on politics and judiciary in Ghana for different American and Ghanaian publications. He is a founding member of Asanteman Council of North America (ACONA) and was the author of the original constitution and by-laws of the organization. His hobbies include; golfing, reading and writing. He has published numerous articles on political and legal commentaries. Dr. Boateng hails from Atimatim-Kumasi and is a member of the Gyase royal family. He is married to the former Ms. Deloris Glover of Montgomery, Alabama. They have two children; Adu and Afua in addition to his twin sons of Mike and Frank. He and his family reside in Lexington, Kentucky. MR. CNN: What inspired you to become an attorney? ANS: Getting into the legal profession was a "calling". You may call it as a great idealism those in my age group who were around Ghana in the earlier sixties were sensitized by the denial of human rights and suppression of individual rights during Kwame Nkrumah's era. The content of the daily radio bulletin and news papers were replete with news about the then opposition party members and even some recalcitrant CPP members who were being hauled to Nsawam Prison without trial for daring to offer contrary views on the government and its leader Kwame Nkrumah. Further, coming to the United States in the 60's, I found my self in an environment almost torn by racial strife across the land. All those experiences heightened my interest and developed my sensibilities on studying law as a means of fighting social injustice both in Ghana and US. However, after a false start as a university lecturer in political science, I decided to pursue my "calling" by enrolling in a law school. I was fortunate to have studied at one of the premier civil rights institutions in the United States. Howard University School of Law in the District of Columbia where lawyers are trained to be "social engineers" to fight for social justice for the poor, racial and other ethnic minorities. Afterwards, my two year internship with the Louisville Legal Aide Society as a Fellow of Hebert Smith Community Lawyer allowed me to sharpen my experience and skills to represent the poor in the court systems as well as administrative agencies. MR. CNN: What has been the extent of your professional experience as a lawyer? Nearly all my entire practice of law has been in the area of government law which has helped me tremendously to understand the relationship between the citizenry and the government and the type of services rendered to the public. Thus the experiences I have accrued from my practice as a trial attorney, administrative law judge and as Assistant Attorney General have impressed upon me the indispensable role of lawyers play in building good governance. Hopefully, I will be able to transfer some of this knowledge and experience to Ghana in no distant future. MR. CNN: What kind of reforms do you like to see Ghana Judiciary undergo in order to meet its role as the bulwark of the constitutional democracy the country has adopted? ANS: One ambition I have is to be able to contribute in helping to reform our colonial oriented judiciary system. Simply put, Ghana's judiciary throughout the country checkered political history has not been able to creatively meet the past, present and, neither can meet, future, social political upheavals the country has faced or may face without over hauling its present structure or making the judiciary develop a new creative jurisprudence. It is imperative that we do this in view of the democratic constitutional government the country has now adopted to follow. In a round table discussion I conducted before the Accra CDD in summer of 2003, I presented a paper on the subject. Among the poignant points I made was one which may be summarized thusly: A bright spot in the Ghana's muddled 1992 Constitution was inclusion, by the framers, of the Directives Principles of State Policy (Chapter 6) mandating all branches of the government and other state agencies to the realization of the objectives of the Constitution. To achieve this mandate, a critical over view of all the court rules. This must include rule of evidence ,civil and criminal procedures, all enacted in the 1960s, in order to reshape a new philosophical proclivity that must under gird the country's development of creative jurisprudence to sustain good governance. No doubt, the hesitation by our Judiciary in meeting these challenges immeasurably seem to have contributed to the sputtering and eventual halting of the performances of the so called Fast Track Courts system. MR. CNN: Do you think the NPP government is utilizing the right approach to draw on the resources of Ghanaian diasporans (human and material) to facilitate the economic development of the country? ANS: The other area of my interest is to encourage the development of flexible policy frame work to develop specific institutional plans for forging mutually beneficial relationship between the overseas Ghanaians (Diasporas) and home country Ghanaians for facilitating interaction and participation in Ghana's economic development. The euphoria of the various "home coming' activities, after the fall of Rawlings' NDC government, has died. Now is the time for the NPP government and the people to be real. Neither the NDC government Act 524 nor the NPP's ACT 591 and underlying Regulation 1690, both conferring "dual citizenship" on diasporans, failed to address and eliminate the burning issue of inequality inherent in the new "class of citizenship" law that Parliament has created. Therefore, the aforementioned legislative enactments on "dual citizenship" should be revisited. MR. CNN: What message of encouragement do you have for Ghanaian youth in general? ANS: Let me reinstate the advisee I gave to my alma mater, Asanteman Secondary School students , when I inaugurated the schools first Cadet Corps in Kumasi on July 10, 2004: 1. Have a dream. I'm talking about dream that comes to you in your sleep; 2. Watch whom you befriend; build a healthy relationship with each other and develop a positive attitude about your life and self. Always remember to accept personal responsibilities for your actions; 3. Stay focused and don't get side tracked from your goals through laziness, food, drugs and sex. Remember, all the contemporary music, hip life raps and dresses are fads and they too will pass away. Follow the concept of delayed self gratification; 4. Remember you're a spiritual being and therefore God must be included in everything you do; 5. Finally, give something back to your community, schools and to the hands that fed you. Remember that we stand on the shoulders of our elders before and with us. So let us stand on the shoulders of each other like the sky scrappers of New York City for support. Remember our school's motto. Servez un L'Autre. Serve one another. This is how great societies are built.******.
Acknowledgement: Dr. Agyenim Boateng