Prof. Samuel Otu Gyandoh

Uncle Prof, The Influential Shadow

Kojo Benjamin Taylor

On November 22nd 1975 I said goodbye to my mom in Cape Coast at 6:00 AM on my way to the US. I got to Accra at about 12 noon. My flight was to leave at 9pm so I spent 6 hours at your residence. For the first time, I got a chance to speak to an uncle I had only known from a distance at family gatherings.

We talked for about one hour. I asked you how I could make the best out of my time in the US. You answered with a quotation by Thomas Jefferson, “Do you want to know who you are? Don’t Ask! Action will delineate and define you” At the time I was 18 years old and didn’t quite grasp the meaning of the quotation, so I asked you to write it down for me, which you did. I carried that piece of paper with me until 6th May 1996. That day I delivered the Commencement Address for the 26th Session of the President Management Program at the Harvard Business School. You congratulated me for a job well done. I took out the very piece of paper you had written the quote on, and told you how my life had been shaped by that quotation. Unfortunately, I got home that night and realized that I had lost the paper at the Commencement Reception. Needless to say, the intended  message still rings through  in my ears.

Over the years, I came to realize that your own life had been shaped by not asking questions, but taking actions. You were the first in the family to attend an Ivy League School. You co-authored a book on Ghana’s Constitutional Law and took on the task to write the 2nd Constitution of Ghana, which contributed immensely to set the country on a successful path to democratic governance it is enjoying today.

Uncle Prof, your towering presence cast an influential shadow beyond your wife and children to inspire all family members. It certainly inspired me to strive for a life that positively influences others.

I’m grateful you saw me worthy of your time and guidance. Often when you spent time with me in Cape Coast, we’ll talk through the wee hours of the night. On those nights, no subject matter was barred. From Spirituality to current social media events, everything was “open Sesame”. Often when we delved into the topic of spirituality, I felt my mind expanding in ways that never came back to its original dimension.

To say I’ve lost you forever, is to say I didn’t pay attention to our discussions on Spirituality, so Rest in Peace Uncle Prof, we’ll always be in touch.

Kojo Benjamin Taylor