Of the Naana I know

Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang..jpeg Prof Naana Opoku Agyemang, NDC running mate

Sat, 11 Jul 2020 Source: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Esq, Contributor

Of Prof. Naana Opoku Agyemang, I can give far more testimony about her than most people. This is because I studied directly under her for four years during my years as an undergrad at the University of Cape Coast. After my undergrad studies, I worked closely under her as Teaching Assistant as well as Project Assistant. During my post graduate years, she was my major lecturer in English Literature.

I daresay that she reposed a lot of confidence in me and told me much about some of her frustrations and disappointments in life. Nevertheless, I never knew of her political inclinations until she once blurted out, after a scathing criticism of former President J. J. Rawlings in the media, “What are these people talking about?” Thereafter, I knew better than to talk about my partisan inclinations!

Later, some of us nicknamed her “Nyansahemaa”, meaning “Queen of Wisdom” a term she was oblivious of. Dr. Esther Afreh, my mate and Head of Department of English Department at KNUST, will corroborate all this…….

I can also testify that she knows her stuff, and was one of the best lecturers during my time at the University of Cape Coast. The thousands of students that have passed through her hands will testify to all this. She is also more knowledgeable in Economics, Law, Political Science and these other politically relevant subjects simply on account of being a Professor of English Literature. First of all, those second language experts in English are competent and proficient in all areas of knowledge not because they were taught as such; it is simply inherent in the phenomenon of learning English itself.

By the time you become proficient in English, you would have read a massive amount of literature in Philosophy, Economics, Geography, Mathematics, Laws and Science and in fact everything under the sun. If you rise to be a Professor of Literature, you may not have written any exam in any of these other subjects, but you know everything about them on account of your studies in English. In fact, everybody that knows any subject is competent in the proportion in which s/he is proficient in the English language. I made this clear to my fellow Teaching Assistants at the University of Cape Coast who then made me their leader!

Now also remember that the core substance of every course is its vocabulary, can’t and jargon. A great proportion of what we know in every subject matter consists in our knowledge of the language of that subject. And who is better positioned to know about more subjects than the Professor of Literature who has read them all and knows their vocabulary? The component of literature is ubiquitous to every subject, just as all subjects are present in Philosophy and Law. Those who question her credibility and expertise in any relevant subject are those who have no clue about how knowledge evolves, or her own academic credentials, or her impressive experience, or her capacity to study every subject under the sun. When she represents Ghana in any international forum, I will sleep comfortably, knowing fully well that she will articulate my interest and that of the country, so versatile she is in every subject of human interest.

Also laughable are those who question her charisma. These people don’t understand the meaning and implications of charisma. But if charisma means the power of attraction and persuasion, Naana has more of this than anybody I know. She has this natural ability to connect with people by showing very deep respect, empathy and humility toward them.

I always joke that Prof. K.T. Oduro, former Pro. Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, invented “The Politics of Greetings” which won him every students’ elections in Cape Vars. I can tell you on authority that Prof. Naana Opoku Agyemang perfected the policy of inimitable human relations wherefore those who come into contact with her will convert to be her minions and acolytes for life. And I am not trying to be hyperbolic here: I was under her tutelage and mentorship for well over six years, and whether she does the wrong thing or the right thing, those of us she taught and mentored will always defend her. It is not by accident that those who criticize her attract this groundswell of calumny and opprobrium.

But all the foregoing should not capsule her from constructive criticism. She would need that in order to become a better leader. I was very disappointed about her stint as Education Minister, and my reasons are sufficient to fill a whole book. And those who passionately criticize her stint ought to be heard in respect, and not to be dismissed in contempt and calumny. One trite business and political doctrine is not to vary the conditions and benefits of the people to their disadvantage. And Prof. Naana Opoku Agyemang went against the grain of this principle by cancelling the Teacher and Nursing Training allowances. She even took away the Research allowance of her colleague lecturers.

Some have claimed that she is not directly responsible; but we credit her with responsibility for all the positive things that happened at the Ministry of Education during her tenure, and so shall we debit her with all the negative things. The buck ought to stop at her desk.

As a young lecturer, Naana sought a letter of recommendation from the then Head of the English Department of the University of Cape Coast to pursue a project abroad. This colleague wrote a long letter trashing her as being unfit for the project. He then gave the letter to Naana to be delivered to the authorities responsible for approving the project. But that weasel’s lies were so palpable that in spite of all that he wrote, Naana was still offered the opportunity. Those assessing her knew her competence and versatility enough to go past the lies!

Now, this means that she also went through the ranks like everybody else, and that nothing came to her on a silver platter. She has also experienced very bitter challenges and disappointments in her personal life. And that should make her the champion of the poor and the distressed.

It also means that she is as tough as a needle. And of her toughness, I had a personal experience: Once when I made a stupid mistake, she scolded me in her typically quiet voice, but the impact was so severe on me that instead of heading towards Takoradi to correct my mistake, I was heading towards Accra…….She is tough enough to stand firmly on her principles, no matter what. Nobody will be able to take her for granted.

Now comes the final question of her status as running mate to President John Mahama. I think that she is the most qualified person to partner the former president, even if you construe the narrative in terms of the political history of this country. I don’t know of any better person in terms of academic qualifications and sheer wisdom, charisma and competence. In her human touch, she is unassailable. Given the foregoing, we must assess her holistically: A person may not be your typically best Education Minister but may well be the best fit as your Vice President. Remember also that we are not looking for a saint here: We are looking for a good and kind-hearted person, wise and knowledgeable individual who will treat all Ghanaians with dignity and respect….a good team player and astute organizer who will complement the presidency.

If we construe the matter in these terms, I will not hesitate to vote for Professor Naana Opoku Agyemang.

Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Esq.

Austin, Texas, USA.

Email: lawyersarfo@yahoo.com

July 09, 2020.

Columnist: Dr. Samuel Adjei Sarfo, Esq, Contributor
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