- the story of a man who struggled decades ago to gain secondary school education
“But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself… Now God allowed Daniel to receive favour and compassion from the palace master… In every matter of wisdom and understanding concerning which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” (Daniel 1:8-20)
The Biblical Daniel is one of three persons, along with Joseph and John, who has none of his wrongdoings recorded. Not to suggest that he was sinless, but it remains an everlasting testimony to the integrity of the man.
In this day and age, when there appears to be universal apathy, even an aversion for honesty and uprightness, holding these virtues puts one in a very stressful corner. Like the Biblical Daniel, who was taken captive from his native Judah as a young man, Emeritus Professor Stephen Adei had the odds stacked unfavourably against him.
Again, as it was with the Daniel of old, who rose to the highest rank of office in a foreign land, Prof. Adei was elevated to the pinnacle of global policy and decision-making by dint of hard work, perseverance, and as he is always quick to add, the Grace of God. A conscientious servant-leader of high integrity and moral uprightness, Professor Adei has dedicated his entire life to championing Christian values and principles in the many roles he plays in the Ghanaian and global environments.
Shortly, we peer into the extraordinary life of a man of many parts; one who has excelled as an economist, advisor, administrator, policy strategist, educationist, mentor, preacher, motivational speaker, consultant, philanthropist, disciplinarian, writer, marriage and family life counsellor and above all a caring husband and a family man.
Emeritus Professor Stephen Adei was born in ‘the middle’ of December 1948 in Hwiremoase (also spelt Hweremuasi), a village about 20 kilometres from the popular gold mining town of Obuasi in the Ashanti Region, named after a big thorn bush, to Kwaku Aboagye – who was called Adei, as he was born at the end of the Lunar month – and Abena Pomaa.
Of his birthday, Prof. Adei says, as was prevalent at the time, the lack of properly written record-keeping resulted in his initially adopting December 16 as his birthday. “I was told that I was born in the middle of December, and since there were 31 days in the month, I went with the ‘bigger’ day: the 16th of the month instead of the 14th. It was not until I went to the training college that I saw a hundred-year calendar, and realised that in 1948 14th was a Tuesday, so I changed my birthday,” he recalls.
And contrary to the tradition where male children were named after male forebears, he was named after his aunt — Obiriwaa and called Kwabena Obiri. In many ways, this, coupled with being one of his mother’s seven sons led him to challenge gender stereotypes as he would aid his mother with cooking and other chores often relegated to girls.
Prof. Adei recalls with fondness his earliest years, saying despite the absence of material prosperity, the sense of community and belonging more than made up for it. “Perhaps, because we were all poor, we did not have any sense of being poor. We would go to the farm, go hunting, eat ampesi for breakfast and lunch and fufu for supper, play under the moon and walk barefooted but there was no shortage of love and joy,” he notes, adding that he enjoyed every bit of his formative years.
The village ‘fool’ goes to school
It was a struggle for Professor Adei to be sent to school. His father preferred he was deployed on the farm—a decision Prof. Adei says was “quite strange.” “Why me?” he asks rhetorically during the thought-stimulating interview that ushered us into reflections on the life’s journey of a colossus.
At the threat of divorce by his mother, his father unwillingly enrolled him in school. Being in a polygamous family everyone was protective and desired the progress of their children. His mother seeing the power of education was not ready to cower to her husband’s wishes.
During that period of tension, she took him to her hometown three miles away for a while where he started primary school to the great displeasure of his father. Reluctantly, Kwaku Adei succumbed and agreed to allow Prof. Adei to begin at the Hwiremoase Methodist School, aged seven, where he topped his class every term, bar one, until the tenth grade.
His father, still seething over how young Stephen had been enrolled did not care much for his education, and he showed this by providing the barest minimum of support. “Ironically, even at a tender age in primary six, he called me whenever he received a letter so I could read it for him since I could read quite well by then. A real contradiction…he will not show much concern for my schooling but will want to reap the benefits of my education,” Professor Adei wonders.
According to Prof. Adei, he had an awkward relationship with many adults growing up. An instance where he was scolded for smacking his younger brother for the ‘capital crime’ of sticking his tongue out at him left him with the conclusion that the average adult was a ‘fool’ for judging children according to adult standards. As a result, he would not argue with any adult.
Consequently, he ended up being nicknamed ‘the fool’, a tag he bore until returning to the village aged 25, with a master’s degree and a car. His academic prowess, however, endeared him to one class of adults – his teachers, and this gave him unhindered access to their books.
As early as primary six, Prof. Adei harboured the desire to go the university and the only route to that he knew at that time, was through secondary school. So, from grade eight he sat for the common entrance examination which he passed and kept on passing through to grade 10, securing admissions into Prempeh College, Mfantsipim, and Aggrey Memorial School in consecutive years.
However, he was unable to enroll in any of the schools and for the first time, he realised his family was poor. The 16-year-old Stephen Adei was becoming frustrated because “I thought that was the only route by which I could get into the university.”
The Professor who did not go to secondary school
The counsel and encouragement of one of his teachers at the Brofoyedru Middle School – Mr Amoah – brought some light to those dark times and changed the course of Stephen’s life.
A pile of frustration at that point, Prof. Adei’s spirit was lifted, having been weighed down by witnessing his mates proceed to secondary school and he could not because of lack of funding.
“I was so disturbed and I wanted to know what to do since my chances of going to university seemed doomed forever. Mr. Amoah then encouraged me and told me that there was another way. He said I could write the O and A-Level examinations by studying via correspondence programmes. I simply had to study on my own and write the exams…that brightened me up and I think that was one of the best pieces of advice I had ever received regarding education,” Prof. Adei says emphatically. This was the start of a lifelong relationship with Teacher Amoah that when he died, Prof. Adei was listed as one of the chief mourners.
A life-defining moment at Sefwi-Wiawso Training College
When he got the opportunity to enter post-middle school at the Sefwi-Wiawso Training College, Prof. Adei resolved to put Teacher Amoah’s advice to good use.
As such, one of the first things he did after enrolling at the College was to register for a self-study correspondence course at the Rapid Results College after receiving his first allowance, which was 10 cedis at the time. Within two and a half years, he had attained his General Certificate of Education (GCE) O Level, passing four subjects namely Ancient History, Geography, Mathematics and Religion. He, unfortunately, failed in English Language.
However, the word got around real quickly that Stephen, who was starting the third year, had passed four subjects, a feat in their area.
A firm believer that difficulties vanish when faced boldly, Kwabena Obiri Adei was emboldened to register for A-Levels, choosing Mathematics, Geography, Economics plus A-Level in English. He passed three years after middle school and was, therefore, on his way to the university.
“I ended up in university even before all my middle school classmates who went to secondary school. Mr. Amoah’s advice put me so much ahead that when I completed my Masters’ degree and came back to teach at the University of Ghana as a part-time lecturer, some of my classmates in middle school were still undergraduate students,” he states.
He reminisces over this period at Wiawso with much fondness, as it was the time the tall, lanky, somewhat socially-awkward lad came, by grace, to faith in Christ and received his salvation by grace.
“There – Sefwi-Wiawso – I made some very good friends, and I became a born-again Christian in the second year at the training college. So, I have a soft heart for Sefwi-Wiawso. It is almost like home to me. Though I grew up as a normal child going to church that is where I trusted Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Saviour…through joining the Scripture Union, I understood the gospel that you have to repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ. It was a decisive moment even though was never the rowdy type.
Life at the University of Ghana, Legon
In 1968, Prof. Adei fulfilled what was then a lifelong dream as he arrived for his university education at the nation’s premier university – Legon. This was facilitated by a scholarship from Gilksten West African Limited, which had a big sawmill at Asanwinso near Sefwi-Wiawso. The three awardees appeared in the national newspaper as a result – something the Hwireamose village boy never expected.
The young man from Hwiremoase did not even know where Legon was when he boarded a state transport from Kumasi. He was worried he would get lost when he arrived in Accra, he confesses.
“The Nsawam road was being made so, the state transport from Kumasi to Accra passed through Koforidua and lo and behold when we were getting to Legon…they said ‘yes’, University of Ghana, who are those getting down and I said praise the Lord,” he recalls.
He climbed off the bus in front of the gate of Legon with a pair of trousers that was gifted to him, two shirts, a piece of cloth, his Bible, and a pen. “I didn’t have shoes but only ‘chale wote’. That’s all.”
None of his classmates from his days at Brofoyedru Middle School or Sefwi- Wiawso Training College was there and that made him feel forlorn. But, God being so good, he was allocated the Legon Hall, room 206, in the Annex B block. “I think my batch was the first to use that building,” says Professor Adei. During those days, two people shared a room at the Annexes. The rooms were very spacious, airy, had two small beds, and were very comfortable. And guess what, I had the Joseph Atta Ntiamoah, a strong born-again Christian from Prempeh College as my roommate. …”and that solved my loneliness problem very quickly because with that I went to the Christian fellowship,” he adds.
The programmes the University admitted him to undertake were Religious Studies, Economics and Geography. When he went to the Religious Studies class, he realised that many of the so-called theologians teaching there were non-believers — some, he says, were teaching what he considered heresy.
Some of the teachers, according to him, even ridiculed the born-again experience, salvation and other core Christian beliefs and practices. And there, he was, a born-again Christian with an authentic experience of redemption through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. “I said if these people are going to teach me Christianity and examine me, I would not do it,” Prof. Adei recalls.
The necessity of the times it is said more than ever, calls for one’s utmost alertness, deliberation, fortitude and perseverance. The young Stephen Adei, thus, went to see one Prof. Abraham, who was the Head of the Department of Sociology. He informed the HOD that he wished to study Sociology instead of Religion. Professor Abraham agreed and gave the 19-year-old a chance since there was space. He took along a note the former gave him to the Registrar’s office and joined the sociology class. He did not abandon his desire to study theology, though.
Later in his life, he went to study for his Bachelor of Divinity degree at London University and Masters in the University of South Africa when he worked in London and Windhoek respectively.
Even though, he worked most of his life as an Economist — heading the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre’s Research department and later as an advisor to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Prof. Adei initially struggled with his studies during his first degree. He recalls scoring 32 percent and 40 percent in his first and second tests in Sociology for example.
“I was fortunate none of those scores mattered in the then prevailing system whereby only one examination at the end of the year (First University Examination) counted. Geography came naturally for me probably due to my upbringing in a village farm setting,” he states.
His difficulty with Economics and Sociology, he says, was not a result of a lack of capacity to comprehend but due the autodidactic nature of his O Level and A-Level preparations.
He had studied only to pass his exams as a private student. He did not have the breadth of knowledge that would have made it easier for him to understand the subject at College.
“Sociology was new to me. By the second term I was making good progress in Economics but not so well in sociology and heading towards failure. The First University Exam meant one thing and one thing only. I would have to go back home to the village. I worked as hard as I could and trusted God totally with no anxiety,” he says, and God blessed his diligence.
His Sociology book got missing a few weeks before the final exams. “I went to a very clever classmate, Issa Chambah and copied all of his notes for the whole year. Surprisingly, before the exams that also went missing again. So, I had to write it all over again. The third got missing for a few days when I inadvertently left it in an economics class before I found it,” he recalls.
That tedious process of writing and rewriting the notes made him know everything in the notes by heart and the result was that he moved from a total failure to an honours student in Sociology.
Eventually, he had honours in Geography, Sociology and Economics making him one of the topmost students of his year with what was called ‘Triple Honors’. He then majored in Economics —a discipline he grew to love, following persuasions from his brother. He was one of the top students in his class with Second Upper-Class degrees.
“In our time, the Economics Department had an unwritten policy to give one first-class honour in 10 years. And, unfortunately, before us, Dr Gobind Nankani had been given First Class. So, in my class of 28, eight got Second Upper-Class. And, if I tell you what has become of all the eight, you would see that they were super first-class materials,” he says.
“I am referring to colleagues such as Emmanuel Akpah, and Issah Chambah. Per these rules, we were all lumped together as Second Upper students. But, for me getting that grade from Hwiremoase via Wiawso seven years after leaving middle school was more than enough,” Prof. Adei adds.
Prof. Adei’s time as an undergraduate was a period of “greatest spiritual growth” for him. “My degree was only a toping of the ice. More important was learning to have a closer fellowship with Jesus and meeting the best woman God made to be my wife later.”
At age 23 a brave new world was opened to him.
Upon the completion of his first degree, in 1971, Prof. Adei had four job offers – an Assistant Manager at Barclays Bank, an Assistant Economist at Bank of Ghana, Assistant Economist at the Ministry of Finance and an Evaluation Officer at the Capital Investment Board (CIB), now Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and an opportunity of a scholarship to pursue his Masters.
Despite being attached to the Finance Ministry for three months, he eventually opted for the Capital Investment Board (CIB). He ultimately gave precedence to leaving to study at the graduate level, again in Economics at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, which he completed in 1973 and returned to work at the Capital Investment Board.
Speaking about the experience and the role played by the Head of the CIB, Dr. Kwame Donkor Fordjour: “He was so kind to me and encouraged me to go but that when I return, I should see him for employment. So, I got a job after my first degree, deferred it, came back and took it up two years later. That is what I call the good old days,” Professor Adei reminisces.
Ghana Investment Promotion Centre
Professor Adei started work at CIB on October 3, 1973, as an Evaluation Officer. And, with his boss being the de facto Minister of Finance under the Acheampong government in the 1970s and still Executive Chairman of CIB, Dr Donkor Fordjour called the freshly-minted economist one day and threw a challenge to him—find a solution to Ghana’s foreign exchange control problem.
At the time, there was a foreign exchange shortage; a shortage of goods; and the military government tried to ration by fiat, using a system that was abused and became steeped in corruption. The shortage in foreign exchange resulted in the inability of the Central Bank to allow the repatriation of profits of foreign companies. Provoked to think creatively, he came up with a proposal.
“I proposed that if the foreign companies would invest in the agricultural sector in Ghana, for every dollar of investment they make with their unrepatriated dividends, we will match it with a dollar for dollar with foreign exchange to repatriate immediately. In so doing, their monies will not just lie idle, but part would be utilised productively.”
“He bought into it, got cabinet approval and we started implementing it. The effect was so great. The foreign companies invested massively in the agriculture sector especially, in oil palm plantations. The only condition was that they had to service out-growers. This made Ghana self-sufficient in oil palm at the time,” he recalls.
The Board took notice of this and his stellar performance with other tasks and with his immediate boss moving into politics, the young economist rose to become the Deputy Director and Head of Research. During his time at the CIB, he proceeded to obtain a PhD in International Economics at the University of Sydney, Australia.
A betrayal that paved way for a glorious diplomatic career
Stephen Adei enjoyed working at CIB, that is until a fateful incident on October 15, 1985, during the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) era.
The National Investment Bank (NIB) held a get-together for the senior staff and Prof. Adei was invited to brief the Bank about the newly-introduced investment code.
Present was a lady journalist from the national newspaper – Daily Graphic. She asked him whether the practice at that time, where institutions of state were all headed by people in acting capacities, was not going to affect investment promotion in the country. He responded that it was detrimental to the confidence investors had in the economy, “so it would have been better for the government to confirm all appointments or look for substantive ones.”
The following day, it was the headline story in the Daily Graphic; his bosses became hysterical. The next morning, unknown to him, they held a press conference dissociating themselves from his comments. “I did not even know they had conducted a press conference disassociating themselves from me. I went to work that day, worked and fraternised with them. It was not until the evening TV news that I heard… the acting Chief Executive and the directors have disassociated themselves from the statement of Stephen Adei,” he recounts.
The following day, he got a letter from Mr P.V. Obeng, who was at the time, the de facto Prime Minister, asking him to explain why he was “engaging in an act that was detrimental to the economy of Ghana.”
The allegation was tantamount to treason. There was silence on the issue thereafter. It was only one Ofori Atta, the then editor of the Spectator newspaper who wrote that what Adei had said was the right thing.
Professor Adei wrote a four-page response to Mr P.V. Obeng, in effect stating that if they were looking for the real enemy of the state “I am not one of them.” He explained that he was simply doing his job as a public servant.
There was no response for two weeks. “Those were the most anxious two weeks of my life,” he admits.
I later found out the letter was read at a full PNDC meeting and that showed how serious they took it. From the meeting, I was later told that Jerry John Rawlings, the chairman of the PNDC stood up and said: “but this boy was doing nothing wrong.” That was the end of the matter. Chairman Rawlings saved him. Prof. Adei subsequently resigned from CIB following the incident. He could not see how he could work any longer with a team led by Mr Apotsi, the then Acting Chairman who would lead a team to do such a press conference.
The Commonwealth Secretariat
Months prior, he had seen an advert in ‘The Economist’ for the position of Senior Economist at the Commonwealth Secretariat whilst visiting a friend at the Challenge bookshop. He applied, passed the interview and got the job—but he did not reply to the offer letter sent him, ostensibly rejecting the job. However, after the incident, he got in touch with the Secretariat again inquiring about the availability of the role. That was about three months after they had given him the offer. It was available and he served in that capacity between 1986 and 1989.
UNDP, South Africa and the Covenant
In 1989, he joined the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) headquarters in New York as a Senior Economist and later rose to become the Chief of the Directorate of Africa Bureau. Shortly after joining the UN organisation, Prof. Adei’s boss, the Director of the Bureau at the UNDP, Pierre Claver-Dambah, unexpectedly resigned.
He was replaced by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – who would later become President of Liberia – as the new Head of the Africa Bureau. She assumed her new appointment just at the time he was being considered as UN Ambassador to Uganda. “I do not know what others told her but she made a passionate request that I work with her for one more year before going to the field. This was to enable her to transit into her new role,” he recalls. Johnson-Sirleaf was of the impression that a totally new person in his role would not be as helpful as he would. He obliged and ended up working with her for another three years instead of one year.
In 1994, South Africa became independent. A British national by the name of David Whaley was appointed to be the UN Ambassador, (Coordinator and Resident Representative) there. But, he was then in Kenya and could not go immediately. A Senegalese friend of Prof. Adei was then sent there ahead of the arrival of Whaley. Due to some events, however, the UN decided to withdraw the Senegalese.
Prof. Adei was given three days notice to step in. One morning in August of 1994, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf entered his office and dropped the bombshell. She said, “Stephen, you have to go to South Africa.” He had never worked in the field let alone as Head of the UN system in a country. He was unprepared mentally for this onerous task.
And, beyond that, he made a covenant with his wife and family—that he would never leave them for more than three consecutive months unless he was in prison which would not be his choice. “So, I raised that to make my argument stronger since I knew South Africa then was not a family duty station. But, bent on ensuring that I take it up, she told me the UN will finance my trips back to New York to see my family every six weeks. Eventually, I had to oblige.” He will forever be remembered as the man who set up the first UN office in post-Apartheid South Africa.
When he returned to New York from South Africa, he had to prepare to move again to Namibia. Between February and August 1995, he rounded off his job as the Chief in the Directorate of the Regional Bureau for Africa and obtained his credentials as the UN Coordinator and the Resident Representative of UNDP and Head of the UN delegation in Namibia.
‘Your Excellency, you must be mad, I must be mad or a third person is mad’
After four and half years in Namibia, Prof. Adei was to be reassigned to another country but decided he had had enough diplomatic work. He resigned at the age of 51 taking advantage of a package and headed to Ghana to begin a revolution at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) as its Rector.
The current Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan John Kyerematen, who then was employed under the UNDP regional program had visited Namibia in 1998. Naturally, as the UNDP Rep, Prof. Adei was his host. When he was leaving, Prof. Adei causally told him he would be resigning and returning to Ghana.
Upon return to Ghana, Kyerematen saw an advert in the dailies for people interested in becoming Director-General of GIMPA to apply. He called Prof. to check it out.
“As a Ghanaian would treat a friend, I jokingly told him I am not on the market for a job. Coincidentally, a mutual friend, the late Akwasi Aforo, was sitting in front of my desk, he asked who was on the line. I told him Alan trying to sell to me a GIMPA job. He took the phone from me and after talking to Alan I heard him say ‘leave it to me’. To cut a long story short Akwasi Aforo persuaded me to write an application before the deadline while I was not thinking about it. Actually, he wrote it for me, took my unedited CV, put it in an envelope and brought it to Ghana,” Professor Adei notes.
In two weeks, he got a response and was invited for an interview. There were other candidates for the job, all professors—one was the Dean of Social Science at the University of Ghana, the other the ‘heir apparent’ at GIMPA who acted as CEO for four months before Prof. Adei took over and a Ghanaian professor resident in Washington.
The interview result, which he read on assuming duty said he was “head and shoulder above all the other candidates.” No wonder, within a month he was offered the job at the end of March 1999. He wrote back to tell them he was unavailable till December 1999, to which they retorted: “That is ok, we will wait for you.”
Then, one day, he was informed that the then Vice President, Prof J.E.A Mills, who became the President of Ghana (2009-2012) would like to see him anytime he was in Ghana. He, therefore, decided to call on him when he was passing through to New York in July 1998.
After the usual courtesies, with a serious look, the Vice President told him reports had reached the Head of State, Flt J.J. Rawlings that he was demonstrating against Rawlings’ government at UN headquarters. Rattled by the accusation, Professor Adei assumed what he describes as an “undiplomatic posture” and said: “Mr Vice President, you must be mad or I am mad or a third party is mad, who is mad?” This was because, in his capacity as a senior diplomat, how could he jeopardize the country’s global position and worse still as a UN Diplomat demonstrate against his own President. That is when my respect for H.E Attah Mills soared. He burst into laughter and added ‘that is the type of people you will be working with at GIMPA. They have told the President that and I have been asked to withdraw your appointment but I told him I would not. Please don’t disappoint me. I thanked him and promised him I won’t and gave him a set of my books as a gift. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
Prof. Adei began his tenure at GIMPA on January 1, 2000. At the time, the institution was in dire financial straits. “GIMPA was so broke that just before I took over, I was told they had to draw on their last reserves to pay salary. Their poor financial performance was reflected in the salary of staff. As the Director General, my salary was US$345 equivalent! (My net salary at the UNDP was about US$10,000 a month). With such low salaries of lower staff, it was difficult to get the needed improvement,” he recounts.
However, through dexterity, Prof. Adei was able to turn the fortunes of the school around by trimming wastage, on the one hand, and with innovation, on the other.
Under his leadership, GIMPA was able to raise the rates of enrolments exponentially by introducing world class programmes in Economics, Hospitality, Business Administration, Marketing, Accounting and Finance, Banking, Computer Science as well as Transport and Logistics, among others at the undergraduate level and Masters degrees in Public Administration Business and Finance. It was an instant success.
The Institute also introduced a more flexible academic calendar, a first-of-its-kind 15-month diploma-to-bachelors ‘top up’ programmes. The salaries of staff, which had been stagnant in prior years, were raised as the school’s balance sheet improved. Since the end of 2001, the Institute has been the gold-standard for self-financing tertiary institutions, with turnover rising from less than US$500,000 to around US$15 million. Prof. Stephen Adei bowed out from GIMPA in December 2008, when he attained age sixty after nine years of selfless service.
Life after retirement
Despite seeking time off after almost a decade with practically no holidays, Prof. Adei was back in academic circles within six months as a Professor of Economics at the Pentecost University.
Subsequently, he joined Ashesi as Professor of Leadership and Economics as a part-time faculty and later as a full-time and the Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Leadership and Economics, where he was later conferred with Emeritus status at age seventy.
He is the immediate past Board Chairman of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).
He has, at various times, served on several national and international bodies including Chairman of Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, and Member of the Board of Kofi Annan Centre for Excellence in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
He served as President and Council Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (Ghana), Member of the Global Foundation of Management Education (Montreal), and Council Member of the Association of African Public Administrators and Management (AAPAM).
Others include Board Member of Commonwealth Association of Public Administrators and Management (CAPAM), Member of the Board of Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) Accra, Kama Group of Companies and President of the Ghana Red Cross Society and a member of the Board of MFUND, BFUND, Adansi Rural Bank, Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) among others. He also served as the Board Chairman of Zoomlion Ghana Limited. He was the founding Chairman of BCA Leadership, Africa’s largest executive coaching firm with operations in seven African countries.
He is currently the chairman of the Accra College of Medicine as well as a member of the Judicial Council of Ghana and a member of the boards of several companies and not-for-profit organizations including membership of the Advisory Board of the Ministry of Finance of Ghana.
Awards and recognition
It is only proper that a career this storied should be duly recognised. In his time, Prof. Adei has been honoured by his peers and others namely the following:
- Order of the Volta Companion of Ghana, the second-highest award for public service, for the work done in GIMPA.
- Leadership Excellence Award.
- Fellow and Patron of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIMG).
- Doctor of Letters from GIMPA
Akoss—the Best Woman God Made
Professor Adei’s marriage to Georgina Adei continues to be a model marriage; one in which he says they strive to reflect the union of Christ and the Church.
“All that we knew about ourselves was that we were fraternally united in spirit for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That has brought us into the closest relationship we could ever imagine. Marriage was never our consideration; it was a non-existent issue in our lively Christian brotherhood. For us to have been led into marriage and to have had a virtually conflict-free romantic relationship for four-and-half decades is nothing short of a miracle,” Professor Adei writes in his wife’s biography.
It all started this way. In 1974, eight months after he had returned to Ghana from his studies abroad, at an Easter House Party of the Scripture Union in Aburi, something funny happened. Another close Christian sister he knew in Kumasi appeared “heaven-bent” on striking a relationship with him beyond mere Christian brotherhood.
“It was obvious Mercy was in love and would wait late for me to see her off to the lady’s dormitory even though being “bell boy” I would be the last to go to bed. Scared stiff of the danger that confronted my Christian upbringing and principles, I quickly sought refuge in Georgina, who was also helping in the kitchen at that event”.
“Being in charge of timekeeping (I summoned participants at the House Party to activities including time to put the lights off for sleep), Georgina in her characteristic jovial way would tease me and accompany her brother to see Mercy off. Georgina executed her part of the ‘rescue mission’ expertly. How grateful I was to her,” recalls Professor Adei.
During the meeting, he and Georgina had a snapshot together when the photographer showed up. When he got his copy of the photograph, he was struck by a strange feeling as he took a look at them facing each other for the pose.
“The two innocent Christians, a brother and a sister were staring intently at each other looking the part, much like people in love! It was too glaring an observation. I acted promptly and decisively in my reaction. I hid the photograph from public view. I was concerned about what would be said about us, if it was found out that, after all, our closeness had an ulterior motive. That would have been sacrilegious to me. Interestingly, Georgina later told me she felt the same way I did about the same photograph when she had her copy,” he continues.
That notwithstanding, after that incident, he often tinkered with the idea of a possible marriage between them—a thought he always dismissed as quickly as it came. Then the call to marry Georgina came in an audible voice from Heaven one day to him. “I knew it was a voice from Heaven,” he says.
And, the rest was history which is still being written. Together, they have four children – Stephen, Eunice, Priscilla and Timothy. Together, they oversee the running of the Ghana Christian International High School, which has as its aim “…growing a total person for ethical and moral leadership of their generation.” Georgina indeed is “the best woman God made”.
Roles in honour of Christ
Prof. Adei has always said he is a Christian, first and foremost, who also happens to be an economist secondarily, among other things. His life bears testimony as one coloured by Christian service.
In his final year at the University of Ghana, he served as the Legon Hall Rep of the Campus Christian Fellowship at the University of Ghana. He spent his weekends visiting secondary schools and providing leadership within the greater Accra Scripture Union groups.
Whilst studying for his Master’s degree, he was a youth leader at a Baptist church in the centre of Glasgow. Upon his return, he served for five years as the General Secretary for the Christian Outreach Fellowship (COF), the first marginal missionary society. Later, he became a Council Member of the Scripture Union for many years. During that time, he was the editor of the Daily Guide from 1981 to 1986.
During his time at the Commonwealth Secretariat, he served as a deacon at Edmonton Baptist Church and later, in the U.S he continued as a deacon, then an elder and then eventually Chairman of Teenic Evangelical Free Church.
He also served the Lord in leadership capacities in Namibia and has been an elder at the Abeka Presbyterian Church. In the 2000s, at GIMPA, he joined the Accra Ridge Church for some time and eventually became a member of the Council for two years.
He currently worships at Pentecost International Worship Centre (PIWC)-Atomic and Accra Ridge Church serving as a freelance evangelist and preacher. Together with his wife, he founded and served as the first directors of Family Life Mission of Ghana.
He is the author, co-author and editor of over twenty books, and eight book chapters and has written more than 100 articles and papers. Primary titles include:
- Technological Capacity and Aborted Industrialization in Ghana: The Case of Bonsa Tyre Company
- The Growth of Foreign Investment and Economic Nationalism in Post-Independence Ghana
- Governance, State-Ownership and Divestitute: The Ghanian Experience
- The Civil Service Performance Improvement Programme (CSPIP) In Ghana: Lessons of Experience.
- Introduction to Economic Science
- Leadership and Nation Building
- Called to Lead
- Twelve Keys to Financial Success
- Wealth Creation Ideas for the Very Poor and the Not So Poor
- 101 Ways to Find Money to Save and Invest
- God’s Master Plan for Marriage
- How to Enjoy Your Marriage
- 7 Keys to Abundant Living with No Regrets
- Communication; The secret of a happy marriage
- The Challenges of Parenting: Principles and Practice of Raising Children
- Passionate Monogamy
- Taking the ‘tire’ out of retirement
Yet to be launched on 25th May, 2022
- The GIMPA Story; Transforming A Public Service Training School Into a Self-Financing University of Leadership, Management and Administration in Ghana
- Living By Strategy
- Managing Your Life
Today, he is typically at his ‘factory’ (home) and in the garden between 4 AM and 8 AM. The rest of his days are spent in the study of Scripture, sermon preparation, writing, counseling and serving on Boards.
For such an exemplary life, we join Emeritus Prof. Stephen Kwabena Obiri Adei to say: Soli Deo Gloria!