Prof. Samuel Otu Gyandoh

Professor S.O. Gyandoh-A Grateful Student Remembers

Professor Victor Essien

PROFESSOR S. O. GYANDOH- A GRATEFUL STUDENT REMEMBERS By Professor Victor Essien Like most of his former students, I am truly saddened by the sudden demise of Professor Samuel Otu Gyandoh, Jr. In October 1970, as a freshly minted high school graduate from Adisadel College, still wet behind the ears, I sat in my first law school class, Constitutional Law, taught by Professor Gyandoh. It was a delight to be in his class. For the next several years, I and hordes of equally eager students were privileged to sit at his feet, imbibing the finer points of law and the arcane principles of constitutional law and constitutionalism. My classmates will also remember that in June 1971, after our First University Exams (FUE), Professor Gyandoh invited our entire rising second year class, all 40 of us, to his home on Ayido Crescent for an evening of food and drinks. He had invited Lawyer Joe Reindorf, as a representative of the private bar and K. GyekeDarko, as a representative of the public bar, to the soiree. Each of them regaled us with some of their best war stories. Throughout my five years as a law student at Legon, I don’t recall any other Professor entertaining his whole class at his home. At Legon, you had your usual nerdy Professors and then you had your S.O.G., Son of God, the self-assured, ebullient, bon vivant Professor, sharp as a razor, with a witty sense of humor and above all, an uncanny ability to impart knowledge in a non-threatening manner. Professor Gyandoh was well schooled in the highest traditions of Anglo-American jurisprudence. A Bachelor’s degree in Law from Southampton, England, topped with a Master’s degree from Yale Law School. Those were interesting times in Ghana. The Nkrumah Government had been overthrown barely four years earlier, then there was the military interregnum, the short-lived Busia Government was about two years old. There would be many coups after that, some successful, others not and some civilian Governments after that. Between the civilian and military leaders there was no shortage of foolishness, failures and foibles to provide fodder for the critical mind and acerbic writing of a Constitutional scholar like Professor Gyandoh. He certainly took them to task. Beginning with the Nkrumah regime, he subjected the first Republican Constitution to analysis. In his article on “Principles of Judicial Interpretation of the Republican Constitution of Ghana” 3 University of Ghana Law Journal 37-66 (1966), he questioned the validity of Francis Bennion’s six formal principles for interpretation of Ghana’s Constitution. Francis Bennion had been adviser to the Ghana Government at the time the first Republican Constitution was adopted and had written an authoritative book on The Constitutional Law of Ghana. In Professor Gyandoh’s article not even the Supreme Court of Ghana was to be spared . He chastised the Aku Korsah court for having missed a “golden opportunity” in the celebrated case of In re Akoto to lay down the guiding principles for constitutional interpretation. Professor Gyandoh reasoned that constitutional interpretation was different from statutory interpretation. More to the point, “a written constitution, if it is to deserve its characteristic as a fundamental law must be capable of organic growth”, in part supplied through judicial interpretation. Professor Gyandoh had an opportunity to write a Constitution. It is no exaggeration to say that he was a principal co-author of the 1979 third Republican Constitution of Ghana. Although that Constitution like all its predecessors was suspended after a coup, in this case, the 1981 coup d’état, most of its important provisions survived the 1992 Constitutional exercise. Professor Gyandoh and his colleagues made the Legon Law faculty a magnet for attracting international scholars and international legal activities. Legon hosted the likes of Rupert Cross, the late Vinerian Professor of Law from Oxford University, Professor Gerald Gunther, the late Constitutional Law scholar from Stanford University, Professor Bernard Audit from Paris 1 in France, among others and of course, Professor John Griffiths with whom Professor Gyandoh cowrote his seminal work on the Sourcebook of the Constitutional Law of Ghana, a book which still remains, in its present edition, the bible for Constitutional law students and practitioners in Ghana today. From 1979 to 1982, Professor Gyandoh served as Dean of the Faculty of Law. He deepened the scholarly collaboration with law schools abroad, in particular, the Legon-Temple University Law School and the Legon-Leiden University Law Faculty projects. These projects facilitated faculty development, research and publications. As fate will have it, in 1982, Professor Gyandoh had to migrate to the United States of America where he found a welcome home at Temple Law School. Here he assisted in the broadening of the Temple Law School curriculum, teaching courses in Constitutional law, international and comparative law and preparing Temple law students for global lawyering. At Temple, Professor Gyandoh continued to write on Popular Justice and Constitutional Orders, Legal Pluralism and the Liberty of the Individual, among other subjects. He was editor-in-chief of the Third World Legal Studies. He directed Temple Law School ‘s Study Abroad program in Athens, Greece. He served on the Advisory Board of the National Security Archives in Washington, D.C. In all this Professor Gyandoh remained steadfast in his devotion to his family. Together with his lovely bride, Mama Lou, they nurtured and trained their children to be responsible global citizens, professionals and scholars in their own right. As for Mama Lou, she has been a fitting companion to Professor Gyandoh. We owe a debt of gratitude to her because we have all benefitted from her unyielding support of her husband. So, on behalf of several generations of law students spread all over the globe, we salute you, and bid you adieu, Professor Gyandoh, for being a great teacher, mentor , a friend and an inspiration. May the Good Lord have mercy on your soul. Rest in Peace, Prof. Damirafa Due.