The President of Yale University, Professor Peter Salovey, will attend a leadership forum at Accra on March 11, 2018. It is therefore appropriate to reflect on the contribution of one institution of that university, namely, Yale Law School, to leadership in Africa and indeed, to the international community.
Yale Law School, like other top American Law Schools, developed a keen interest in admitting African graduate fellows in the early 1960s. At Yale, the objective was to train future teachers of law for the emerging law schools of Africa within the broader framework of exposing Africa to American legal values. The grand design at Yale therefore was that after graduate studies leading to the LLM or JSD (Doctor of Juridical Science), African lawyers would return to their respective countries carrying the torch of American legal enlightenment.
Unfortunately this plan was complicated by the political turbulence and instability that prevailed in many African countries. The result was that while some did go back as law teachers to their countries, a significant number were compelled by the uncongenial political atmosphere at home to take up academic or international appointments outside their countries. What therefore began originally as a contribution to legal education in Africa turned out to be a significant contribution to the larger international community, as illustrated by the following examples:
My account refers to African graduate fellows who came to Yale Law School between 1960 and 1965. The Nigerians were able to find enough space in their oil rich country despite the general instability in their country. Sam Onejeme returned from Yale to private practice. Michael Jegede went to Lagos University Law School, eventually becoming Dean. Yekeni Adio was appointed a High Court Judge, and was seconded for a little while to Gambia. Dennis Eweluka went to the University of Nigeria at Nsuka, while Abayomi Sogbesan taught at Lagos Law School for a few years before opting for private practice.
The Ghanaian graduate fellows were seriously affected by instability at home. Sam Gyandoh did go to the Law School at Legon, eventually becoming Dean, but he subsequently left for Temple University where he taught until retirement. Thomas Mensah went to Legon for a little while then embarked on an international career which took him first, to the Legal Department of the International Atomic Energy Commission, then to the International Maritime Organization where he rose to the No 2 position with the status of Assistant Secretary General in the UN System. Upon retiring from IMO, he taught at the University of Hawaii, served as Ghana’s Ambassador to South Africa and was finally elected as Judge, and indeed, the first President, of the International Law of the Sea Tribunal at Strasburg.
After a stint of law teaching at Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, Reginald Bannerman returned to Ghana and served as Mayor of Accra while practicing law. In my case, my international career took me from Yale to Leeds Law Faculty as a Lecturer, and then to the Legal Department of the World Bank, Washington DC. Thereafter I returned to Ghana on the restoration of constitutional rule, in 1969, as Solicitor-General and subsequently became Deputy Attorney General. I survived one coup d’état in 1972 and joined the UN in 1977, where I served as Director of the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations, New York (UNCTC) and supervised a global programme of advisory services to developing countries, including China, in their dealings with multinational corporations. I eventually returned to Ghana in 1995 and, inter alia, became active in international arbitration. Prior to my retirement, I was loaned by the UN to assist Ghana in the formulation of its 1992 Constitution which has endured for twenty five years! I also do community work as Paramount Chief of Asante Asokore.
Walter Kamba could not return to his country, Rhodesia, later, Zimbabwe, because of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence by the minority white regime, led by Ian Smith. He therefore took up an academic position at the University of Dundee in Scotland where he rose to be Professor and Dean of the Law Faculty. After the installation of an African Government in Zimbabwe in 1980, Walter was appointed President of Zimbabwe University, and during his tenure served as Chairman of the UN University Council based in Tokyo, and Vice President of International Association of Universities.
The North-South conflict in Sudan prevented the full utilization of the talents of the Sudanese Yale graduates. Abel Alier, for a while, became a senior judge and participated in one of the earlier conciliation settlements between the Northern and Southern Sudanese. He was in fact Vice President of Sudan after this settlement, until the arrangements broke down. Similarly Francis Deng was Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and later Ambassador during this respite. Subsequently he was constrained to accept appointment outside first as a top official of the Ford Foundation in Washington DC and later as a special envoy of the Secretary General of the United Nations on humanitarian affairs and internal displacement. Marcus Jones of Sierra Leone went buck to the Law School at Fourah Bay. Defalla EL Radi Siddic of Ethiopia became the Deputy Chief Justice of his country for a while.
Needless to say, African Yale Law graduates who came to the Law School after 1965 have continued to play key roles in national and international affairs. Samuel K. Date-Bah (Ghana) was Special Adviser (Legal) to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London before his appointment to the Supreme Court of Ghana. Kwesi Botchwey (Ghana) became the longest serving Secretary/Minister of Finance in Ghana, and eventually joined the Faculty of Harvard University Centre of African Development. Kwame Frimpong (Ghana) became Dean of the Law School in Botswana before assuming the Deanship of the newly-established Law School at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration. E.V.O. Dankwa (Ghana) became a Professor at Legon and also Chairman of the African Human Rights Commission. Edward Kwakwa (Ghana) became the General Counsel of WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) in Geneva while Henrietta Mensah Bonsu (Ghana) became a Professor at Legon and subsequently the Deputy Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Liberia. These are only a few examples from Ghana. I know of a Sudanese graduate who went to the World Bank and a Zambian alumnus who joined the United Nations. We of course have the outstanding case of Peter Mutherika who was a law professor for years in the US and eventually became President of Malawi.
This story would be incomplete without some reference to the impact of other institutions of Yale University on leadership in Ghana as indicated in the following examples.
Most Revd. Dr. Samuel Asante-Antwi served as the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ghana and also a member of the Council of State of Ghana, a constitutional advisory body.
Most Revd. Justice Akrofi became Anglican Bishop of Ghana and also of the Anglican Province of West Africa.
The late Right Revd. Ebenezer Dadson was a prominent Bishop of the Methodist Church.
Yale School of Management
Ken Ofori Atta is the current Minister of Finance, and a Former Chief Executive of Data Bank Ltd., a major investment bank.
Kelly Gadzekpo was associated with Ken Ofori Atta in establishing Data Bank. He also served as Chief Executive of Data Bank.
James Akpo (Togbe Afede XIV) is a successful investment banker who became a prominent public figure as President of the National House of Chiefs and also a member of the Council of State of Ghana.
Kofi Ocansey is a seasoned management consultant who provides valuable advice to numerous companies.
Kwame Pianim is acknowledged as one of the leading economists in the country. He has held a string of pubic offices – Principal Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Chief Executive Ghana. Cocoa Marketing Board, and Chairman of a number of corporate bodies. He was also a prominent politician and a presidential aspirant.
Paul Acquah served for years a senior official of the International Monetary Fund, Washington DC and later as Governor of the Bank of Ghana.
Kwaku Awotwi has been prominent in the corporate world having served as Chief Executive of Ashanti Goldfields and the Volta River Authority, a hydroelectric facility. He is now Chairman of that Authority.