Prof. Samuel Otu Gyandoh


Akongburo Raymond Atugba, Dean University of Ghana School of Law

Professor S.O. Gyandoh’s life was one of service and dedication to his students, his colleagues, and the larger university community.


Professor Gyandoh joined the University of Ghana in October 1962 and rose through the ranks to become Senior Lecturer in Law in 1971, and Associate Professor in 1977. He served the University in various capacities: as Dean of the then Faculty of Law from 1979 to 1982; and as Master of the Mensah Sarbah Hall in 1973, after having first been appointed Vice-Master earlier that year.


Professor Gyandoh was a renowned scholar, an incisive researcher, a dedicated teacher, who contributed immensely to the attainment of the stature and standing of the University of Ghana School of Law. Among his many brilliant scholarly works is the co-authored Sourcebook of the Constitutional Law of Ghana, which has served as an invaluable resource to both students and practitioners for decades. Indeed, it is impossible to have studied law without consulting the well-known “G&G” (Gyandoh & Griffiths). In his seminal paper on “Principles of Judicial Interpretation of the Republican Constitution of Ghana”, published in 1966 in volume three of the University of Ghana Law Journal, Professor Gyandoh challenged Professor Bennion’s ideas on the interpretation of the Constitution. This was no mean contribution to Constitutional Law Theory, since Professor Bennion was one of the most distinguished scholars of Constitutional Law at the time. In another ground-breaking article, “Liberty and the Courts: A Survey of the Judicial Protection of the Liberty of the Individual in Ghana During the Last Hundred Years”, published as part of a collection of essays, titled Essays in Ghanaian Law, to commemorate the centenary of the Supreme Court, Professor Gyandoh provided a critical discussion of the historical antecedents of Ghana’s judicial infrastructure, and the right to liberty of incarcerated persons.


Professor Gyandoh was a perfect gentleman. He was friendly to his students, and his jovial nature shone through his teaching. He kept his students enthralled as he barely consulted any text or notes while teaching Constitutional Law and discussing trends and ideas in Constitutional Theory and Practice. During his lectures, he often told stories about his hometown, ‘Abakrampah’ or ABK as he fondly referred to it. As a result, most of Professor Gyandoh’s students became familiar with this small town in the Central Region, which they would otherwise have never heard of.


Professor Gyandoh kept up with progressive academic thought in the field of Constitutional Law, International Law, and Comparative Law, and to this end, was a key participant in conferences all over the world, where he shared his ideas with other leading academics of the day. He also brought his extensive knowledge and expertise to the service of the nation, by representing the Government of Ghana at various conferences, including one on International Law in the United States in 1975. He and his colleagues attracted singular academics like Sir Rupert Cross and Professor Gunther to the then Faculty of Law, thereby raising the stature of the institution.


From 1976 to 1977, Professor Gyandoh went on sabbatical leave and took up a fellowship at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (N. I. A. S.), a position of considerable international repute. On his return from this assignment, he was appointed by the Supreme Military Council to the Constitution Commission, and was charged, together with others, to draft a constitution for consideration and adoption as the Constitution of the Third Republican, a task which he carried out with great dedication, commitment and integrity. It is no exaggeration to say that many of his ideas for the drafting of the Constitution of the Third Republic, 1979, were so influential as to create the foundation for the 1992 Constitution, in spite of the short life of the 1979 Constitution.


Prof. Gyandoh also took up a study tour of some West German academic institutions, offered by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation of Germany, to broaden his expertise in Comparative Constitutional Law. In 1979, Professor Gyandoh was invited by the Legal Defense Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to participate in the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education, which led to the desegregation of education in the United States of America.


In October 1979, Prof Gyandoh was appointed Chairman of a ‘Committee to inquire into certain recent incidents between members of the Armed Forces and the Police in the Sekondi-Takoradi Municipality’. Later that same year, he took up the mantle of leadership of the then Faculty of Law, becoming its Dean.


Prof Gyandoh’s work as an academic, was not limited to service to the University of Ghana alone. He also worked as an External Examiner for the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Nigeria, and took up a temporary position as Visiting Scholar at the Temple University Law School. While at Temple University, he fostered and maintained strong links and a warm working relationship between the faculty at Temple and that of the University of Ghana. The relationship he had nurtured with Temple University stood him in good stead, leading to a permanent position at Temple Law School after he left Ghana, where he became Professor Emeritus. In recognition of his invaluable contribution, Professor Gyandoh was immortalised in 2002 by the Chancellor of Temple University, Peter J. Liacouras, in the form of a Professor Samuel Gyandoh Award Fund. This was established to “provide a graduation prize for a student who is an International LL.M. candidate and who renders outstanding professional and personal service to the Law School community.”


Prof. Gyandoh was not an idealistic figure in the ivory tower; he consistently presented himself for national assignments, distinguishing himself in these public roles as much as he did in his work for the University. His jovial and cheerful nature endeared him to his former students with whom he maintained warm relations over the years. Rendering the initials of his name ‘S.O.G.’ as ‘Son of God’, he was always full of good cheer whenever he attended the Dean’s Annual Christmas Lunch, a programme instituted by Dean Akua Kuenyehia, in which all former Senior Members  of the University of Ghana School of Law participated. Prof was indeed, a ‘jolly good fellow’.


Professor Gyandoh, the School of Law is deeply grateful to you for your twenty years of dedicated service and invaluable contribution to its growth and development as well as that of the larger University community. You served with zeal and with a passion for excellence. You leveraged your networks, expertise and reputation to help foster ties between the School of Law and other Law Schools of repute, particularly Temple University Law School and Leiden University. 


While we deeply mourn your loss, we also celebrate a life that was fully and truly well lived.


Rest in Peace, Prof.