Prof. Samuel Otu Gyandoh





Kwame Frimpong


It is with pain, sorrow and hurt, and at the same time, with a deep sense of gratitude that I write this Tribute in honour of the late Professor Samuel Gyandoh, whom I have over the latter years, had the audacity in maturity to affectionately call “SO” or simply, “Prof”..

I first met SO in 1n 1968/69 Academic Year when he taught us Constitutional Law in Year 1 at the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana. His jovial approach to teaching had a lasting impact on most of us, to the extent that I still share some of the jokes around the world.

The most outstanding characteristics of Professor Gyandoh are the fact that he is highly principled, humble, extraordinarily committed to serious work, extremely friendly and easily approachable, irrespective of the class of the individuals he is dealing with. I have experienced and enjoyed all those qualities from Prof, especially in my matured years.

I regarded Professor Gyandoh as a mentor, a colleague and a trusted friend. Even though Prof was my lecturer and much older than me, those did not put a barrier between us. He simply accepted me as a fellow academic and a friend.

Our friendship started when he was a Dean at the Faculty of Law (80-82), in the early years when I had joined the Faculty as young lecturer. His guidance on how to conduct my life, especially in my teaching responsibilities, helped me considerably in adjusting to the realities of life during those difficult days in Ghana. I remember in the early of adjusting, I was not keen on teaching at the Workers College in Accra. He called me and put it simply, “Kwame, that is how we all went through before settling down”. Unfortunately, our relationship was short-lived, as the self-arrogated owners of the country forced Prof to migrate to the US where he eventually tenured at Temple University.

Even though we were separated, Prof never gave up on me. His strong and deep love for me was demonstrated in 1989 when I visited the US, then from Botswana. When Prof learned that I was in the US, he drove all the way from Philadelphia to see me off at JFK. It was so touching that I was speechless.

In terms of my progression in life, Prof has consistently made himself available to offer me a helping hand whenever I called on him. On two occasions, he proved that he was truly a friend, a colleague and a mentor indeed. First, in 2011, when I was the Founding Dean of the newly established GIMPA Law School, he and Professor Akua Kuenyehia accepted our invitation to participate in Law Week Lecture Series that would greatly enhance the image of the new Law School. The picture below is a proof of it.


Second, in 2016 when I was the Founding Dean of the newly established Faculty of Law at UPSA in Ghana, we organised a conference to commemorate 60 Years of Ghana’s Independence. Again, I fell on my mentor and teacher, Professor Samuel Otu Gyandoh, to be the Keynote Speaker. Again, he did not disappoint me, as he readily accepted our invitation and gave a top-class keynote address that provided a thorough historical account of Ghana’s legal system.

In the summer of 2020, I found myself in the US and had the fondest moments of chatting with Prof on several occasions, touching on our historical days at Legon. He recollected many of our past relationships in detail. In particular, he recalled one fascinating event that occurred in London in 1983. As I was walking along Oxford Street, I heard a familiar voice saying, “Look at him, look at him”. When I looked to the other side of the street, there was Professor Gyandoh. It was our first encounter since we parted from Ghana in 1982. It was an unexpected meeting and we rejoiced in each other’s arms uncontrollably. He quickly took me to visit the late Dr. Tom Mensah, whom I had not seen since 1976, when I first met him in New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

As a proof of his down to earth nature, Prof insisted on talking to one of my daughters with whom I was staying in Atlanta. I had shared with my daughter Prof’s famous joke in Class, when he taught us Constitutional Law. If he ever came to a lecture late, he had special sense of humour of calming us down: “Ha, ha, ha! My boys and girls, as I was going through my early morning Ablutions….”, which would throw us into laughter. My daughter loves that joke so much that it is now a common pleasantry between us. Therefore, when Prof learned about my daughter’s interest in that fun, he decided to talk to her by video call. My daughter was so thrilled that she could not believe that such an “Academic Giant” who had taught her father, would descend to her level and talk to her on the phone. She loved that experience so much that she treasures it.

It was therefore a great pain for me to relay the death of Prof to her. For over one week, I did not have the courage to tell her, especially as she was so busty with work at home because of the COVID. It was heartbreaking when I eventually had to tell her. She has come to accept it as part of life. 

Dear Prof. SO, you have truly fought a good fight as a strong defender of human rights, good governance constitutionalism and the rule of law.

I will miss you dearly for your immeasurable contribution to my academic life and for being a friend, a colleague and a mentor.

May the Good and Merciful God receive you in His Kingdom.