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25.03.2019 Feature Article

Three JHs

Three JHs
MAR 25, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

Today, I present to you three JHs, all Joseph (Joseph BoakyeDanquah, why not Dankwa, too).

From youngest to eldest and dying in that order: Joseph Henry Owusu-Acheampong, Joseph Henry Mensah and Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketiah.

The first and the youngest Joseph Henry, the mentee, happened to have had life cut short on June 14, 2017 at age 76. Next, the mentor, Joseph Henry died July 12, 2018, 89 years old.Illustrious icon Joseph Hanson died March 13, 2019 aged 97.

Joseph, the Henry or Hanson, with their double jeopardy Hebraic names, did not assign any of their children with those names. Mentee Joseph Henry once told me the priest won't baptise his child without a name that sounded like Joseph Henry.

He had to find another who would accept his view on what a Ghanaian child's name should be.

If you don't remember that Joseph Henry, you only have to turn to the architect of the infamous Adwoa Kwaadu, three and a half per cent presidential primary vote score in Sunyani.

That JH was the campaign manager of Asomdwee, who had a field of three out of four (John Evans Atta Mills) of the JH type.

While visiting during the prolonged titanic struggle for better working conditions by university teachers 1994/95, he wondered why university teachers had not captured the salary differentials between them and other public officers they were contesting graphically.

He, former banker, had a statistical sense anchored in a MA in statistics.

The resultant bar graphs and piecharts, following his advice, worked like magic in getting people to appreciate the lecturers' arguments of grim downgrading over the years.

Jerry John Rawlings (all three names the JH type) is said to have described Mr Owusu-Acheampong as a person who liked things to be done properly and got impatient when things were not done in an orderly manner.'

Link that to the Cotton matter. He was adjudged squeaky clean while others landed themselves in prison.

That is just like his mentor who was said to have actively organized to restore the legitimate government of KA Busia after its overthrow by Blaa Kutu.

He couldn't stand the Jerry John military regime either.

This particular brilliant JH is known for his role in the design of Kwame Nkrumah's legendary Seven-Year Development Plan.

All kinds of unkind words were said about him over the devaluation of the cedi 1969-1972 at the time Bretton Woods was seriously running the post-1966 coup motherland economy.

Joseph Hanson embarrassed me when I asked him to read through a manuscript I was preparing to publish.

'Ever read Englishs or Britishs? Why do you write Akans?' he had queried.

I could have responded what about Italians and Swedes but his comment made too much sense to me to have argued with him.

The day he died, I saw him singing his songs in a TV3 documentary. Yes, he who intellectualized Ghanaian/African music.

Interestingly, more know him as Professor Kwabena Nketiah than Professor Joseph Hanson Kwabena Nketiah.

His works, which were nothing in the adoption nature of Hebraic Joseph Hanson, determined what he would be called.

Perhaps more people know him, especially in the intellectual and scholarly realms as Professor Kwabena Nketia, as if the JH never existed. JHKN wrote music, wrote books (including Twi text books and supplementary readers for school-children). University of Ghana owes him for its anthem.

In all probability, those names, the JH names, were assigned by asɔfoɔ (priests/reverend ministers) or teachers. In our time, some timeafter the time of the three JHs, names would be assigned without the knowledge of parents by teachers to qualify to be baptized.

Our teacher would ask: 'What's your father's name?' As soon as you said it, the teacher would assign you a first name, which was always Hebraic.

Schools were owned by religious bodies so they imposed western religious names while condemninglocal deity names.

JH scholar musician was the kind of professor material, who needed no PhD for international recognition.

His works earned him all the respect and accolades that an international scholar would be accorded.

Today, you can't become a professor unless you earn a doctor title first. Of course, yesterday's scholar is different from today's scholar. Scholar was, is still scholar, though, depth and spread notwithstanding.

Anything else that might have happened in their lives when the three JHs were alive. There is no doubt all three JHs served the motherland state well. Two have already received state burial. The third is decorated with a state award, and therefore, would definitely be accorded state burial too. They all lived a fulfilling Joseph life. They all lived by the strange name Joseph among others, chosen by JHO-A in the name of his mentor JHM and imposed on JHKN by someone.

By Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh

Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh
Kwasi Ansu-Kyeremeh, © 2019

This author has authored 122 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KwasiAnsu-Kyeremeh

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