Written by Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey
Reader, I am not exaggerating, but after three score and more years on earth, I can say authoritatively that I have heard definitely over ONE THOUSAND sermons preached from the pulpit since I attained adulthood.
I have heard sermons by the late Prof Baeta, the late Rev Prof Kwame Bediako, the living legends on the pulpit – Rev Dr Asante Antwi, Rev Prof Asante of Methodist Church – but I can say authoritatively that the sermon delivered at the Kaneshie Presbyterian Church on Sunday 30 June 2019, to the privileged congregation of the Ghana Bench and Bar Remembrance Service for slain judges, ranks as one of the best ever I have heard.
I found it very difficult recording, because I was torn between listening spellbound to every word, while trying to capture everything being said long head, verbatim.
30 June 1982. I was 29 years old, a Lieutenant in Ghana Army, based in 5BN, Burma Camp, working at the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Headquarters as a Member –Secretary of the PNDC National Investigations Committee.
On that day, three sitting justices of the High Court, including former New Patriotic Party (NPP) General Secretary Kwabena Agyapong’s father, were kidnapped by a few irate soldiers, driven to Bundare Training Area and killed in cold blood. In order to obliterate their foul deed, they poured petrol on the bodies and set fire to the corpses.
But Almighty God did not want the evidence to be destroyed: Very strangely, emergency rain fell AT JUST THAT SPOT ONLY, dousing the fires.
The following day, a cattle rearer in the Bundase bush saw the decomposing charred bodies of the three judges, and as God would have it, officer cadets from the Ghana Military Academy were on routine training at the Bundase area, so this innocent cattle rearer went to whisper his strange discovery to the officer leading the team.
After inspecting the gruesome scene, the officer radioed the Headquarters of the Ghana Military Academy, which informed Brigade Headquarters, and Army Headquarters, the PNDC Operations Room at Gondar Barracks, got the intelligence. Within one hour, ambulances from the 37 Military Hospital were racing to the site to pick up the corpses.
There was an outcry, unprecedented in the history of Ghana: the harmless unarmed innocent judges to be picked up right in the middle of the night, each of them from their houses, and driven to their brutal killing?
One of them, Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng Addo, reportedly was pregnant with a child.
The PNDC was forced by popular opinion and pressure from the body politic to set up a Special Investigations Board, under the chairmanship of retired Chief Justice Samuel Azu Crabbe. They did a thorough broom sweeping job and published their report.
The PNDC issued a White Paper on the report, exonerated one of the recommended culprits, tried and executed those who could be got, including Joachin Amartey Kwei, a member of the PNDC.
Even though the slain victims were judges, the Ghana Bar Association, instead of the Association of Judges and Magistrates, has been the champion of defending the image of the judiciary years after years; in different chapels in the city of Accra, lawyers assemble to observe “Martyrs Day.”
Every year, the Bar invites one seasoned Pastor to deliver the sermon, and, this year, the newly-elected Moderator of my church – Presby – the Reverend Professor Obri Yeboah Mante, delivered the sermon.
Seated in the congregation were Vice President Alhaji Bawumia, the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, Attorney General Gloria Akuffo, Supreme Court Judge Justice Julius Ansah, and NPP National Chairman Freddie Blay.
It is our annual ritual that brings lawyers from far and near, and I noticed good old famous Sam Okudzeto, five years continuous President of the Ghana Bar Association; I saw several former GBA presidents, including one of course, our current President, Anthony Forson Jnr.
Tall, well built with a commanding personality, the Presby Church Moderator held all of us spellbound, glued to our seats, trying to catch every word from him.
Can I summarise it properly? Let me try.
He spoke largely on three types of bondage – the spiritual and mental bondage, economic bondage and moral bondage.
It is only in Christ Jesus that we can have real freedom from any of these bondages.
He started the sermon by taking all of us on a journey through history, from the early days of the Portuguese presence at Elimina, through other European colonial masters until the British, who, after several years, gave us limited self governance in 1951, and then finally at midnight on 6th March 1957, Kwame Nkrumah declared independence for Ghana.
Pro Mante quoted Nkrumah verbatim, surprisingly reminding us that Nkrumah kept on referring to God, God, God, God, so then, the Moderator asked, after the 1960 republican status, more than 50 years down the line, WHAT HAPPENED?
Why are we continually producing educated people who CANNOT literally fend for themselves? Are we INDEPENDENT? Look at the food we eat, the language, the dressing… it is teleguided bondage?
Reverend Professor Obri Yeboah disclosed that out of the world’ poorest 20 countries, 19 of them are from Africa. He said a recent survey shows that one in every three Africans wants to migrate for greener pastures elsewhere.
The Head of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana cried out that the bane of our society today is GREED, GREED, GREED, to the extent that a whole Man of God can boast in the pulpit that he has a fleet of NINE cars, for what?
He quoted St Augustine, that famous African Saint who said: “Our hearts are restless until we find rest in thee.”
He ended with Proverbs 14:14 – “Righteousness exalts a nation – but sin is a disgrace to my people.”
How I wish this sermon can be published verbatim for posterity.
To God be the Glory!