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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Source: Daasebre Prof (Emeritus) Oti Boateng

Tribute To Master Daniel Yaw Poku (1915-2011)

By Daasebre Prof (Emeritus) Oti Boateng

Omanhene of New Juaben Traditional Area

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.” – William Shakespeare

On Wednesday, 16th March 2011, just after my arrival in London from Accra en route to a United Nations Commissioners’ meeting in New York, I was greeted with the shocking news of the death of Master Daniel Yaw Poku, my Brother-in-Law, which threw a cautious coolness over my senses.

I first met Master Daniel Yaw Poku during the peak of the second world war in 1941 when he came from the prestigious Wesley Teacher Training College in Kumasi to start his teaching practice at the Juaben Methodist School. At Juaben he endeared himself to the Royal Family in particular and the Methodist Church congregation in general where he constantly played the organ. One great result of the aforementioned close affinity was his marriage to my uterine sister, Nana Akosua Akyamaah III, the present Queen of Juaben, Ashanti – a blissful marriage encompassing a period of over sixty years.

In the course of the past seventy years, Master Daniel Yaw Poku was not only my Music Teacher and Brother-in-Law but also my mentor and counsellor especially since I became Omanhene over 18 years ago. Furthermore, by faith our pathways in life intertwined.

My first serious encounter with Master Poku was soon after the total eclipse of the Sun on 20th May 1947 which turned that day into complete darkness for 5 minutes and 13 seconds. Master Poku provided me with a clear and concise explanation of this never-to-be-forgotten historical solar event: that the phenomenon occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth and the Moon fully or partially covers the Sun as viewed from a location on Earth. Following Master Poku’s explanation, I developed a profound interest in geometry which later influenced my choice of profession as a Statistician.

As my Music Master at the Juaben Methodist School, one of the greatest songs Master Poku taught me was entitled “It was a Lover and His Lass” written by one of the greatest playwrights of all time, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and arranged by one of the greatest musicians of the Renaissance period, Thomas Morley (1557-1602) originally for Shakespeare’s play “As You Like It”. The song depicts two young lovers enjoying each other’s company over the green cornfields in spring time “with a hey and a ho and a hey nonino!” to crown their love with “the prime” of experiences.

Born on 16th September 1915 to the late Mr Yaw Adu and Madam Akosua Manu at Essuonwin –Bontefufuom, Master D. Y. Poku had a distinguished academic career beginning at the high profile Kumasi Boys School at Asem where he was the school prefect, thus giving an early indication of a successful future. He followed this with a teacher training certificate from the Kumasi Wesley Teacher Training College where he was appointed the Dining Hall prefect which was another harbinger of a great future. He obtained a diploma in music from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in 1957 and in 1964 he was awarded with the Postgraduate Diploma in African Studies at the University of Ghana on a cultural dissertation of Bragoro.

That our pathways were intertwined is exemplified by the following facts: From our locational base at Juaben Methodist School, Master Poku moved in 1961 to teach as music master at the Konongo-Odumasi Secondary School (KOSS) where I had previously studied for five years. From KOSS he was appointed the music master in 1965 at the Opoku Ware Secondary School (OWASS) in Kumasi where I had also taught mathematics the previous year. He retired after ten years of dedicated service at OWASS and thereafter lived a very fulfilled life in the garden city of Kumasi. Here again and until February this year, I have always lodged with him whenever I visited Kumasi and invariably enjoyed his unique homely reception in full measure. We also kept constant and fruitful feedback interactions throughout the years by all available means.

In all the above-mentioned movements – from Juaben Methodist to KOSS and OWASS to retirement – the couple stayed very close together in a blissful manner “with a hey and a ho and a hey nonino” to demonstrate, among others, the social fact that in the arithmetic of marriage ‘one plus one equals one ’.

The greatest attribute of Master Poku lay in his extreme humility. In his life he seemed to agree with the renowned Albert Einstein that “ a simple and unassuming manner of life is best for anyone, best both for the body and the mind”. He scrupulously threaded this path of humility and was regarded by many as “a smooth operator”.

Master Poku was a man who prized honour and virtue above the mundane advantages of rank and fortune. He was a man whose sterling qualities earned him the honour and respect not only among his friends but also all those who came in contact with him. It is no wonder that Master Poku continued to be my greatest confidant, consultant and advisor till the very end. He meticulously kept all newspaper articles about me and appeared to know more about me than almost everyone else. Naturally he was very proud of me and intimately shared the glory of all my achievements.

I will forever remember Master Poku playing the piano with his body movements in perfect synchronicity with the musical melodies. The piano became iconic in his hall of residence as it was pre-eminently placed within the admirable hall décor to mark him as a great musician.

With the benefit of a blissful marriage spanning over six decades, he succeeded in building a remarkable and enduring home inculcating great qualities of loyalty, forbearance, self-restraint, and shared-aspirations. The marriage, which was a true celebration of love and joy, was blessed with 4 children and 11 grandchildren to the Juaben Royal Family. Master Poku left behind 2 other children who are all in respected high profile jobs and 7 grandchildren from them.

My relationship with Master Poku over the years may be described as one of progressive affinity. He was an astute supporter of all my laudable undertakings. He strongly supported the institution of the Akwantukese Festival of the Chiefs and people of New Juaben aimed at rapid socio-economic development of the area. He rendered invaluable advice towards the extensive transformation of the New Juaben Palace and keenly supported several other development initiatives such as the formation of the New Juaben Development Board. In a nutshell, Master Poku was a person in whom I put an absolute trust and who never disappointed me.

Now Master Daniel Yaw Poku ,a very good man upon the piano, has joined the Grand Musical above. To part is the lot of all mankind and the world is indeed a scene of constant leave- taking.

May His Soul Rest In Perfect Peace.

Master D.Y. Poku Due

Due Ne Amane Hunu

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