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Opinions Wed, 9 Oct 2019

Ej Klufio: A titan for the international year of indigenous languages

Reverend EJ Klufio produced “9 works in 12 publications in 1 language in 27 library holdings,” according to worldcat.org.

The Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) requires 10 publications (textbooks) and an MPhil/PhD before one could be “invited” to become a Fellow.

Klufio easily qualifies; his publications cover Ga Bible translation, novels and history (Odoi Di?; Legon Mants?).

As a former headmaster of Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School (Odumase Krobo and now Legon), he is a peer of F.K. Buah, (known for a popular History textbook among the older Ghanaian generation), Rev. E.A.W Engman and Dr James Kwegir Aggrey.

The uniqueness of Klufio is that having imbibed the best of Prussian/Basel/Presbyterian discipline and training, he chose to write in Ga, to promote indigenous culture and “vernacular” scholarship.

Recently the organisers of the Accra International Book Festival acknowledged the essays and poems of Prof Lade Wosornu, and named the festival after him.

Wosornu’s poems are to be translated by Bureau of Ghana Languages (BGL) into several Ghanaian languages, and for the next five years, parts of the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) English exams will be based on Wosornu’s poems.

How does the nation restore EJ Klufio to a similar status?

First, BGL has a national obligation to preserve Klufio’s published works, not only in modern Ga fonts or characters but by also supplying newer versions to the libraries that hold them, and to more local and foreign libraries.

Second, Presbyterian Boys’ Secondary School, Legon, has a direct fiduciary responsibility to ensure a translation of Klufio’s published works into at least those three Ghanaian languages, Ga, Akwapim Twi and Ewe, which were taught in the school for a long time, and to advocate their inclusion on the Ministry of Education’s Recommended Books list for Ghanaian Language.

This will serve the 80th anniversary celebrations of the school well.

Third, the Speaker of Parliament, an alumnus of Presec, who for the past three years has been toasted as the most recognized alumnus and his posse of Presecans in Parliament -an often touted single majority, should encourage a bipartisan debate on Klufio’s immense contribution to the development of indigenous languages.

This is a unique and singular opportunity in the parliamentary history of Ghana.

Fourth, EJ Klufio may not have the chains of degrees required to be a fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (GAAS) but his depth and quality cannot be denied by the institution.

Thus the GAAS itself, in celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the International Year of Indigenous Languages should highlight the pivotal work done by EJ Klufio as a homegrown example of discipline and scholarship that serves to advance national development and cohesion.

Do we not recognize the need for such towering examples at this chaotic period of our national history – real workmen, achievers and heroes outside of the vociferous underperforming political class, their lackeys, and our disappointing public servants?

Fifth, the Presbyterian Church of Ghana can make EJ Klufio’s published works, part of the standard reading list in all their institutions.

Sixth, in 2017, the UK elected Jane Austen (author of ten books; four in her lifetime) as the reverse face of the 10 pound note on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the writer’s death.

Which other accomplished writer in our indigenous languages does ghana have for emulation this year, the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019)?

And seven, as IYIL2019 enters its last quarter, this is a wake-up call to all people of Ghanaian descent, to speak up for the cause of underserved Ghanaian languages and advocate their proper inculturation within the world of written literary works.

Yet again, we cannot afford to remain asleep, we must be ready to institute decisive actions that will produce positive results.

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Columnist: Isaac Ato Mensah