General News of Thursday, 22 September 2016
Source: Ernest Senanu Dovlo
Emeritus Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi Most Rev. Peter Kwasi Sarpong has eulogized the first Catholic Archbishop of Ghana and Cape Coast, the late Archbishop John Kodwo Amissah as being one of the most patriotic and principled leaders Ghana has ever had.
He said Ghana would have made massive improvements if its citizens and leaders had personalities and thoughts similar to that of the late Archbishop.
The prolific writer and statesman said this in his 25th memorial lecture on the late Archbishop John Kodwo Amissah on tuesday in Accra at Christ the King Parish hall on the theme “the relevance of Archbishop John Kodwo Amissah’s thoughts in today’s Ghana”.
Bishop Sarpong touched on issues such as education, patriotism, justice, discipline and selflessness among others as being the essentials Ghana needs as a country to develop.
Archbishop Sarpong said the late John Kodwo Amissah had a great interest in the promotion of holistic education, with Catholic principles and that he fought with various governments on the right for Catholics to establish, own and run schools. He added that the excellent academic performance associated to Catholic schools and mission schools in general should convince people in authority that they will be doing an injustice to the nation when they try to do away with mission schools.
“The excellence of all Catholic schools at every level should convince the powers that be that they are doing an injustice to the nation for trying to do away with catholic schools. If he (Archbishop Amissah) were with us now, he would point to the fact that in a recent survey during a period of 5 years, about 15 Catholic Senior High schools were among the 25 best schools of the nation. He would point out that of these 25 schools, 3 namely St. James Senior High School in Sunyani and St. Francis Xavier Senior High School in Wa, Opoku Ware Senior High School have been trying annually with Wesley Girls’ Senior High School for the first five positions”.
Touching on injustice, Archbishop Sarpong likened the rate of the canker to the ease with which people blow their noses. He said citizens and leaders of the country must with all their strength fight for justice to be done everywhere as the late Archbishop did at a point in his episcopacy.
Narrating the incident to the audience, Archbishop Sarpong said Fr. Vincent Damoah was very vocal against Nkrumah’s dictatorship and was arrested as a result. When the late Archbishop heard of the news he went and stood in front of the Elmina police station for days without bathing or eating. He was joined by sympathetic people and Catholics all over Ghana.
Hence, when the Government realized it was going to be humiliated, officials were sent the Archbishop asking him to just plead with the president for the priest to be released. The Archbishop’s response to the officials was that the government did not consult him before arresting the priest. Hence, he had nothing to do with them; he was going to sit in front of the police station until Fr. Damoah died or was released.
In another instance in 1951, Bishop Sarpong said but for the intervention of Archbishop Amissah, Dr. Nkrumah would have nationalized all Catholic Schools.
“Archbishop Amissah galvanized Catholics from all over the country to send telegrams to the government protesting the move. In those days there were no text messages or e-mails or whatsApp. Literally, the government was inundated with telegrams numbering more than 1000 a day. After 3 days and about 3000 telegrams, the Osagyefo had to recoil not his atheistic shell. During the revolutionary times of Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings, Archbishop Amissah flouted all dictatorial policies that were the order of the day and, as a matter of fact, broke a curfew and was arrested and put under house arrest. Don’t we need Amissahs of our day and time to protest against bad policies? Yes, Ghana misses the intrepidity of the thought of Archbishop Amissah which is very relevant to Ghana today,” Archbishop Sarpong said.
Archbishop Sarpong described John kodwo Amissah as an outstanding patriotic Ghanaian whose philosophy of life was that whenever possible, he should answer positively any call to contribute to national development.
“He helped Ghana in more significant ways than are normally appreciated or can be expressed. He served on many advisory commissions and Boards to help direct the nation on the right path. He accepted to be a member of the highest advisory board in Ghana, the council of state and a member of the Ghana Education service council,” he said.
Speaking on the neglect of our culture as Ghanaians Archbishop Sarpong said we must as a people do everything to know and understand our culture and to also apply the principles there are to improve upon our lives.
He said the neglect of our God-given culture is what has led to indiscipline and many other negative habits.
“Were Ghanaians to know their God-given culture half as well as Amissah did, indiscipline would never have been allowed to creep into every fibre of our national life. Our culture cherishes discipline; it respects authority, the sacred and aged. In Amissah’s world, there would be no question of anybody publicly insulting, abusing and vilifying our head of state, flag bearers, religious leaders who dare to speak the truth, as is happening with such undesirable frequency these days,” he said.
Archbishop Sarpong said Ghana is inexplicably selfish, full of selfish individuals, groups and tribes, which are in sharp contrast with the personality and thoughts of John Kodwo Amissah.
“He was great; we need great men for Ghana. He accepted hardships; we need in Ghana today men and women who would work selflessly and sacrificially for the nation without expecting any reward. He accepted disappointments, slander and calumniation with Christ-like equanimity. We need in Ghana people who confronted with such evils, would not seek vendetta, people who would do all they are expected to do for the nation pro bono,” he said.
On wealth, false solidarity, prestige and power, the emeritus Archbishop of Kumasi suggested that Ghana could do with few leaders who eschew their negative influence.
He said Ghana and the world needs “civilization of love” which creates a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace and a kingdom of justice, love and peace.