Professor Jonathan Narh Ayertey @ 80!
On Saturday, February 18, 2023, a small group of family and friends met at the Trinity Theological Seminary Church, Legon, for the Thanksgiving Service of Professor Jonathan Narh Ayertey on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
As would be expected for such an accomplished academic, dignitaries who attended the function included Justice of the Supreme Court, Prof. Henrietta Mensa Bonsu, and former Vice-Chancellors of the University of Ghana, Prof, CNB Tagoe and Prof, Ernest Aryeetey, as well as retired academics such as Mr Kofi Siabi-Mensa and former Registrar, Mr Teddy Konu, from Legon.
An interesting prelude to the Thanksgiving Service was the dedication to God of the two newest baby grandsons of Prof. Ayertey.
This was done by Rev. Professor Kwabena Asamoah Gyadu of the Trinity Theological Seminary, who presided over the function, with beautiful religious music provided by Dr Patrick Addaquay, a lecturer in Music at the University of Ghana, Legon.
An indigene of Nuaso near Somanya in the Yilo Krobo District, Prof. Ayertey was born at Seseamang on February 9, 1943.
He attended the Presbyterian Boys Secondary School (PRESEC) then located at Krobo-Odumase.
After his undergraduate Studies at the University of Cape Coast, he studied at the Imperial College, University of London, UK where he obtained a PhD in Entomology in 1976.
After a long period of teaching at Legon, he rose to become the Dean of Graduate Studies and Master of Akuafo Hall.
On retirement, he became the Dean of Academic Affairs at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC), Teshie, Accra.
Currently, Prof. Ayertey continues to serve Ghana as the Chairman of the Governing Council of the newly established University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD), Somanya.
He is a member of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Preaching the homily which he titled ‘Thanksgiving,’ Rev. Prof Asamoah Gyadu chose his text from Philippians 4: 4-6 which in the New International Version (NIV) states as follows:“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again: Let your gentleness be evident to all.
The Lord is near.
Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
Explaining the text, Prof. Asamoah Gyadu stated that giving thanks was important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, expressing thanks shows gratitude.
In showing gratitude, a beneficiary shows appreciation for something received from or done by a giver.
It also shows that a beneficiary does not take a giver’s action for granted. He reminded all to give thanks to God all the time.
Secondly, giving thanks eliminates bitterness.
This is because ingratitude often creates bitterness, the result of non-appreciation.
The giver feels unappreciated and therefore bitter and resentful.
He commended the children of Professor Ayertey for their love and support for their parents, tacitly referring to the Commandment, “Honour your father and mother, so that your days may be prolonged” in Exodus, Deuteronomy and Ephesians.
Prof. Asamoah Gyadu lamented that unfortunately some children renege on this biblical injunction, and do not honour their parents.
In a glowing tribute, classmates of Prof. Aryertey at PRESEC, Krobo Odumase, attested to his outstanding leadership which culminated in him being appointed the head prefect of PRESEC in their final year.
Speaker after speaker spoke about Prof’s extraordinary leadership ability. Professor Henrietta Mensa Bonsu extolled the virtues of Prof. when she worked closely with him as a senior tutor of Akuafo Hall, Legon, where Prof. was the Hall Master.
Affectionately calling Prof. Ayertey “Master”, the Justice of the Supreme Court stated that Prof. would always be her “Master.”
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Prof. CNB Tagoe, talked about a personal experience with Prof. Ayertey which eventually led to his confirmation from an acting Vice Chancellor to the substantive VC of the University of Ghana.
His family, wife, children and grandchildren all spoke of what an outstanding human being he was, who would sacrifice his all for his family, community, friends and all who needed help.
In his reply, Prof. Ayertey said it was so gratifying hearing such kind words while he was still alive, and not as tributes when he was dead.
Prof. Ayertey’s comment took me back to my September 2022 article “Give me my flowers when I can still smell them!”
In it, I stated thus: “As Bob Cole said, multitudinous platitudes heaped during Thanksgiving Services mean nothing to the deceased as they lie stiff in the “chop-box” as a little boy called his grandfather’s casket.
While they are alive, let us give deserving individuals the recognition, praise and honour for their contributions to Ghana, or humanity, and also to encourage the younger generation to make sacrifices!”
As Ghanaians, let us learn to eschew the cancer of not appreciating ourselves and therefore not celebrating the successes of fellow Ghanaians.
Let us stop aiding foreigners in destroying our environment through illegal logging of rosewood, mining (galamsey) and fishing (saiko) etc.
To Prof. Asamoah Gyadu, thank you for reminding us of the virtue of respect to parents/adults, which has run out of supply!
To Professor Jonathan Narh Ayertey, thank you for your service to Ghana and humanity!
Congratulations on your 80th birthday and God bless you!
Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!
The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Kenya, & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Ghana.