From Richard Owusu-Akyaw, Kumasi
The 60th anniversary of the late Opanin John Kwame Bawuah Bonsafo Edusei has been held in Kumasi with a call for Ghanaians to stop unnecessary litigation and embrace continuity of family business.
According to Retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Stephen Alan Brobbey, Edusei’s life is an example that should be emulated by Ghanaians especially those living in Kumasi.
He expressed concern over what he termed as trendy practices in the business realm in the Ashanti regional capital of Kumasi, where businesses thrive only briefly, but collapse the moment the owner dies.
Reminiscing on his youthful days in Kumasi, he disclosed that: “We had beautiful sights to behold of successful businesses, thriving all over Kumasi, the Garden City. He named businesses such as T.A.T Timbers, S.E. Amankwa Timbers, Frank Osei Tutu Timbers, Poku Transport Company, Amankwatia Timbers, which belong to the late Bantama hene, Y.F Tankers and a whole lot of others that he remembered fondly.
Sharing stories from his time as a jurist, the Justice Brobbey, one time Chief Justice of West African State of The Gambia, whose career as a judge spanned 40 years, revealed that there were two types of cases which gave him a lot of headaches. The first type of case was divorces involving children, because, according to him, divorce always affects children negatively making it more likely that they become a drain on society.
The other type of case, he continued, was murder cases, which were difficult for a judge, because of the jury system. He objected to the fact that if the jury said the man was guilty, the judge had no option other than to pronounce him to guilty, regardless of if he agreed or not. It was, he went on, a bad precedent that Ghana had inherited.
According to him, in his last ten years on the bench, two cases which gave him particular trouble were those involving the properties of Mancell of Mrs Mancell vocational fame and Poku Transport Company. ‘When I had to write judgment with these, I had a traumatic wounds’,he said.
He made these revelations during the 60th anniversary of the late Opanin John Kwame Bawuah Bonsafo Edusei’s death, where a memorial lecture was held in Kumasi to celebrate Opanin Bawuah Edusei, one of Ashante’s foremost dynamic elites.
The colourful event brought the Edusei clan from Ghana and the diaspora, friends and loved ones together at the Golden Bean Dome in Kumasi over the week-end to celebrate one of Ghana and Africa’s leading elites. A photo exhibition of the late Opanin Edusei and his family was put on to recollect and share memories of the late Ashante elite.
Opanin John Kwame Bawuah Bonsafo Edusei, was born to Nana Kwabena Edusie and Nana Akosua Owususuaa in 1980 in Cape Coast and was received with great happiness in Cape Coast, Saltpond, Sewua, Kokofu Asaman, Kumasi and most of the remaining former Asante Kingdom. He was enrolled at the Catholic Boys’ Jubilee School in Cape Coast. He was one of the foremost Ashanti to be formally educated outside the Oyoko Royals of the Asante Kingdom.
The late Ashante elite fathered 24 children over the course of his life. They include Coach Anthony Edusei, formerly of Kumasi Asante Kotoko Football Club, Mr Kwaw Boadu Edusei and His Excellency Dr. Kwame Bawuah Edusei, a former Ghanaian ambassador to United Sates of America during the erstwhile Kufour administration, as well as the founder and Chief Executive of the Edusei Foundation, an International Non-Governmental Organisation focused on youth development and philanthropic activities targeted towards the least privileged in society, which is funded by the HE Dr. Kwame Bawuah Edusei and the family.
Opanin John Bonsafo Edusei worked with the Colonial Government and was appointed the District Commissioner of Adansi Akrokerri. His first job appointment was Government Clerk at the Cape Coast Castle. With a passion for business and a desire to use the capital he had acquired, he resigned his government post and became a private businessman, merchant, cocoa buyer/broker at Asante Bekwai, and a landowner with large farms at Asiwa-Asante and Adansi Fomena.
His effort led to the formation of the Asante Kotoko Society which campaigned for the return from exile of Otumfuor Nana Osei Prempeh I, the fourteenth Asantehene. The efforts of Opanin John Kwame Bawuah Bonsafo Edusei were recognised and he became the president of the Asante Kotoko Society in 1925, and served in that role for four years.
His business traded in imported goods, weapons and ammunition and he later added mining to his vast business empire.
As a high standing educated Ashante man, he ensured that all his children, irrespective of their gender, were fully educated. His first born, Mary Ama Serwaa Edusei (later Mrs Asubonteng ) used this education to become the first female qualified teacher in Ashanti, Brong Ahafo and the Northern Territories of Ghana in 1934.He was a staunch Catholic who contributed generously to the growth of the Catholic Church in Ashante in general and Kumasi in particular.
Speaking on the theme: “Living with the dictates of the times”, Justice Stephen Alan Brobbey, who has travelled and worked in many judiciaries in Africa including those of Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia, noted that, in remembering the past, the nation’s memory of the late Opanin Edusei was a very positive one, adding that ‘It is also an achievement to glow on in terms of the achievements in business.’
He asked Ghanaians to take advantage of the memorial function to rethink the way businesses are run in the Ashanti region, with particular focus on the question of what happened to the aforementioned family run businesses in the Ashanti region.
Justice Stephen Brobbey underscored that effective succession planning is imperative, and there is no reason that businesses in Kumasi cannot do it.
‘We do not allow the business to grow and grow, and when the original owner dies, and then the business dies. Why should that be the case?’ he asked. He called for cooperation and unity and for support for businesses in the region.
Citing global examples to support his address, Justice Brobbey talked about Ford motors which began with the Ford family and is now a thriving global brand. He also mentioned Mercedes Benz as another prime example.
Referring to more local examples, Justice Brobbey discussed BLLC, a successful company headquartered in Kumasi, which is being run by the niece of the founder of the company.
He implored Ghanaians to learn from the successes of Opanin Edusei referring to an Ashante saying ‘We are all going to die; departing they say is unavoidable as inescapable. We will go one day. Ashantes have a nice way of saying this.’
Stephen Brobbey stated that what is needed is purposeful planning for the future because purpose is the engine that propels any action people take.
Quoting Galatians 6:7, he said “What you sow is what you reap… what is said is what you get.”
The Chairman of the function, Archbishop Emeritus Dr Peter Akwasi Sarpong, urged Ghanaians to behave well since our behavior is what we take along with us when we die.
He noted traits such as truthfulness, humility and others are those that will remain with us when we die and not the material possessions that we have built up during our lives.
The catholic prelate noted: “Good deeds go with you. The good deeds of Mr Edusei are what we remember him for.
He commended the organisers for honouring their father, emphasising that honouring your father and your mother was very important as it lengthened your life.