In the fall of 2004, I moved into my new residence and my neighbor paid me a welcome visit. Upon finding out that I was a lawyer trained in Ghana, he calmly proclaimed, “I am Professor Gyandoh” and referred me to the “bible” on Constitutional Law “the Sourcebook of Constitutional Law”, (Gyandoh and Griffiths, 1972). That marked the beginning of a friendship, discipleship, and relationship which lasted over more than a decade and a half with my “father”, whom I affectionately called “the Professor” and to which he warmly responded “Oui”.
The Professor always had a spring in his step, a buoyant gait and an ever-present smile and I will never cease to marvel at his tons of joviality and energy even at the ripe age of 87 years! I vividly recall visiting him at the Cardio Centre at Korle Bu a few years ago, worried about his health, only for him to beguile me all morning with excellent Fante jokes! He maintained that a positive attitude and bodily warmth were required ingredients for a long healthy life!
On 24th November 2004, we co-founded Gyandoh, Asmah and Co and the Professor has been a strong pillar of strength and a rudder directing our journey of over 16 years! God has really blessed us.
The Professor spent over 20 years at the Temple University, PA, USA, and on his return to Ghana, re-connecting to old friends and former students was easier as more and more people found out about his return through our firm. Indeed, some marveled, “You mean the Professor is alive,” and “Can we see him?”
In 2014, when our law firm turned 10 years, together with the Institute for Democratic and Economic Governance (IDEG), under the auspices of the Parliament of Ghana, we organized a nationwide televised forum on Constitutional Reforms with the Professor as the key note speaker.
Professor Gyandoh Jnr was the Special Guest of Honor at the annual Ghana Bar Association conference held in Kumasi, Ashanti Region at which he delivered interesting insights into the celebrated Re Akoto case. As his “bodyguard”, I gained access to most important gatherings including joining a small select group of imminent persons in an inner room at the Otumfuo’s private residence in the Manhyia Palace! We attended several Bar Conferences together and the Professor regaled us with stories on the history of many monuments as we drove by, frequently punctured by his endearing hyperbolic anecdotes.
It is indeed worthy of note that his unique style of African dressing often won me a reprimand from a few bar leaders who wanted the revered professor in a suit and tie instead of an African 3 piece topped with a cap. On our last attendance at a bar conference, I mentioned this to him, and he acquiesced when he arrived in a nice suit and tie, albeit with his famous African hat to match and a disarming smile.
The Professor’s concern for all members of our team was legendary. He frequently called up our lawyers and staff to check up on them, and he was always available to lead and support our activities including donations to orphanages and other philanthropic causes as part of our corporate social responsibility!
Prof, as we fondly called him, was a brilliant academic, an engaging public intellectual, a passionate defender of freedom and a builder of community. As we celebrate the life of an African icon and scholar, it is our chance to say thank you Prof for your meaningful impact on our lives. What an incredible road we travelled together. How fortunate to have had him by our side.
Prof: Your legacy includes developing a team of 28 people working across 3 offices in Atlanta, USA and in Accra and Kumasi in Ghana. We are all indeed dedicated to the high values that you have always imbued in us, working together harmoniously in a warm and friendly environment, inspired by your remarkable human qualities. You will be sorely missed by our entire team and our Clients and associates who all grew to adore and cherish you.
Rest in Peace the Professor. God is with us.