Emerita Professor Elizabeth Ardayfio-Schandorf, Past Vice President, Arts and Sciences, Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS), has extolled the late statesman, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah’s love for family.
She said it went down in history that Danquah’s love for the family, the unflinching support of his family ties, and his passion for human rights were phenomenal.
“With his exceptional writing skills, Danquah engendered socio-economic change and promoted societal advancement,” Emerita Prof Ardayfio-Schandorf stated in Accra at the GAAS JB Danquah Lectures (Series 54).
“His research, his mighty pen and passion did not only protect the vulnerable, poor and the voiceless, but was actually instrumental in securing the liberty of defenseless widows with the support of his enlightened family ties.”
The JB Danquah Memorial Lectures Series was instituted in 1968 in memory of a Foundation Member of the Academy, Dr Joseph Boakye Danquah, who died in prison in February, 1965.
JB Danquah was a lawyer, philosopher, scholar, novelist, dramatist, politician, and a journalist.
The event had three lectures delivered by either a Fellow of the Academy or a distinguished non-Fellow.
Speaking on the topic: “The Family Our Nation: An Agenda for the 21st Century”, Emerita Prof Ardayfio-Schandorf said the invaluable exposure and promotion of Danquah’s family ties, in no mean way, contributed, through experience, education, and various forms of socialization “in making Danquah the political giant or Doyen of the Ghanaian politics that he became.”
She noted that sometimes, one wondered whether Danquah achieved or had greatness thrust upon him by his family; stating that, “Danquah as a professional, attained such towering heights and greatness by working tirelessly through his entire life”.
She said in an attempt to have a glimpse into some aspects of Danquah’s life, it became clear that of all the incidences in his life that gave a good meaning of enrichment to his life-long achievement, two great issues clearly stood out.
The first was the fact that he was born into a family, which was the ruling dynasty of Akim-Abuakwa.
The other was his subsequent involvement in the Akim-Abuakwa Akan indigenous and modern politics.
“The family, values, countries, and generations we’re born into, as well as the people we happen to meet along the way, all play a bigger role in our outcomes than most people want to admit,” she said.
“This draws our attention to the fact that we should not underestimate the role of chance in life.”
Emerita Prof Ardayfio-Schandorf said the positive roles the family played to promote advancement in life of its members could not be underestimated; declaring that “in the case of Danquah, the contribution of the family to the realisation of his dreams in life had been far formidable.
She said the second was Danquah’s exposure to an intellectual climate of ideas, dominated by the idealist school of philosophy at the University of London.
Emerita Prof Ardayfio-Schandorf said his family ties and the tremendous contribution of the extended family to his life accomplishment was a case in point.
She eulogized Danquah’s paternal brother, the late Paramount Chief of the Akim-Abuakwa State, Nana Ofori Atta I, who recognised Danquah’s interest in becoming a lawyer and sponsored him to study in England.
By 1926, Danquah had obtained his Bachelor of Law (LLB) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degrees and was called to the bar; and in 1927, he obtained his Doctorate Degree (PhD) in Philosophy.
Emerita Prof Ardayfio-Schandorf said Danquah’s love for his family was particularly exemplified in his relationship with his mother.
She said Danquah’s concern and commitment to support his mother as a widow, exposed him to the plight most widows faced with the loss of their husbands.
She said that love turned Danquah into an advocate for the voiceless and vulnerable women, especially widows.
“With this deep-seated desire for human rights, justice and liberty, he set out to conduct research on widowhood rites,” she said.
“Armed with his skills as a serious writer on social and economic issues, he wrote a vivid account of the brutal violence of widowhood rites and its inhuman treatment of widows-an African culture that had hitherto attracted divergent views.”
Prof Ardayfio-Schandorf said to advance the development of Africa, and for sustainable development, Africa must build on the works of Danquah in upholding the indigenous family system.