Written by Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey
The Gas have a very strict culture that when a child is born, on the eighth day the child must be outdoored and named. We Akans are different, we can name the child any day, “out-doorings” are not a major feature of our culture.
And so it was that even though Bathsheba Anakwa was born in November 2017, the naming ceremony and outdooring was fixed for Saturday 3rd March 2018. I sat in my car and drove to Adabraka, a building across Blue Royals Hotel, dressed in white, as a Principal Guest at the occasion.
We were four in my car, chatting heartily, laughing and things. I parked, put off the engine, and just as I was opening the door, my mobile rang – “Captain, have you heard that Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye is dead?”
“Oh my God!!” “oh my God!” Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye…dead?”
About a month or so ago, he burst into my office, as always unannounced, giving me orders… “Nkrabeah, I am supposed to meet the President at 2:30pm and my driver is getting late, so let your driver drop me off at Flagstaff House…” He called an hour later, “Nkrabeah, I have just finished with the President. It went very well, I will get back to you later…”
The prayer of every court-going lawyer is to get a brief that will give him a breakthrough, and so it was in 1993, after practicing for 6 years, one afternoon, this tall bespectacled bearded noble-looking gentleman walked into my office at Osu.
“Do you know Dr Jones Ofori Atta?”
“Of course, I do. Busia’s Deputy Minister for Economic Planning, MP for Begoro during Liman’s time, he lectured me in Economics at Legon, in 1974… I know him very well.”
“I have a legal problem and Jones says you are the best lawyer to handle it…Interesting. What is it?”
“The Government of Ghana wants to offload its majority shares in Ashanti Goldfield Company, and we want an injunction to stop it – we do not want to lose our national heritage.”
Reader, overnight I became the lawyer of the moment – the media was all over me, and I remember the day I moved the motion before the High Court, presided over by Justice B T Aryeetey – the courtroom was so full, so many journalists all over…
From that time, 1993, Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye became so close to me that we were almost like brothers.
The people of Elmina have a beautiful custom that when a new King is being out-doored, he sits in a palanquin with a virgin, and has a duty to impregnate that virgin, and the child who will be born, “Child of the Palanquin” “APAKAMBA” is the AUTOMATIC successor in line to the throne.
Following the death of Nana Conduah IV, Omanhene of the Edina Traditional Area, the next in line was the APAKAMBA, Michael Conduah, a very lively young man, less than twenty years old.
The kingmakers said no, he is too young, and besides, he is only a GCE O level graduate – Edina needs a more matured highly educated person to occupy the throne.
A native of Elimina, Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye, a highly principled person, said, “What nonsense is this? Tradition must be followed. Nkrabeah, take the kingmakers to court and put injunction on them…”
And so I issued a petition at the Judicial Committee of the Central Region House of Chiefs, Cape Coast, and week after week, month after month, year after year, the proceedings dragged on and on…the young man was growing in age as the days went by, until finally in the year 2000, when Apakamba Michael Conduah was elevated and crowned OMANHENE of Edina Traditional Area.
Kwamena was principled to a fault. His mother had about eight children, each of them very highly educated – medical doctors, university professors, accountants. Their grandfather built a royal house in Elmina and specifically willed that house to ONLY his daughters. One of Kwamena’s aunties was trying to personally take over the house in the name of “renovation”, forcibly ejecting another auntie from the house to a kitchen coop in the boys’ quarters.
Kwamena came to my office fuming with rage: “Nkrabeah what nonsense is this? Take my auntie to court and put [an] injunction on her. That house is the collective heritage of ALL the sisters, each sister is entitled to a room in the building…”
And so I issued a writ, got an injunction at the Cape Coast High Court and motored down to Cape Coast countless times, until finally, the auntie capitulated, surrendered in a settlement, and the court gave a consent judgment – that the building is a heritage for ALL the sisters and their offspring.
I will never forget one morning I risked everything and drove at breakneck speed towards the Cape Coast High Court. Just after passing Apam junction, my mobile rang and I picked it.
“Nkrabeah, where are you?”
“I am almost in Cape Coast.”
“Well, the court is not sitting today, so I have taken a date for three weeks. I have left the court, on my way to Elmina…”
With this information, I made a sudden U-turn and drove back to attend to my Accra cases.
In between these cases, we talked so much politics. He was an Nkrumaist, Convention People’s Party (CPP) to the core, always espousing CPP philosophy. I noticed that his several years of study in the USA had a tremendous effect on his total mindset. Kwamena was a black nationalist to the core, telling me about the pride of Africans, the fact that eastern Spain was conquered and colonised by a black African General, Hannibal of Carthage, and why Barcelona is called “BASSA”, and that Catalonia has African origins.
Kwamena was a personal friend in times of need. I remember, when in 2009 I needed just US$3,000 for my son’s post graduate fees in China, and I was so desperate. He held my hands to his friend in East Legon who gave me a facility on trust, which was paid back in due time.
Oh, Kwamena Essilffie Adjaye, my bosom friend – he introduced me to so many new clients, who will come and say “Kwamena says you are the best lawyer to solve my problem.”
My human frame was at the outdooring of Bathsheba, but my mind was fully engrossed in recalling the many encounters I had with Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye – at one point, law student Godwin Nartey remarked: “Captain, I can see your mind is very far away from this outdooring…”
Yes. I was picturing the tall athletic frame of Kwamena Essilfie Adjaye with his broad whitish beard lying restless in some icy chamber of a mortuary…oh God, oh God…we human beings, here today, gone tomorrow.
Rest in perfect peace, Kwamena. I will never forget you.
May the Good Lord deal gently with you. May your ever-restless fighting spirit for principles continue to blossom in our hearts.
Farewell, Kwamena, from your personal lawyer, Nkrabeah