Diasporian News of Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Source: Kafui Ameh

Robert Senami Akoto: A Unique Profile In Community & Christian Leadership

By Kafui Ameh

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matt.5:11-12)

Many people in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, UK, and elsewhere around the globe would certainly have something to say about the sudden demise of Mr. Robert Senami Akoto, whose burial, memorial and thanksgiving service is being performed on Saturday, March 2, 2012.

My comments are based on the fact that I have been associated with Mr, Akoto from several perspectives. For almost 50 years that I have known him, Fo Senami, as he was affectionately called in Avatime, has never hidden his identity as a true believer and disciple of Christ, no matter the circumstances.

An Economics and Statistics graduate from the University of Ghana, Legon, it was Mr. Akoto together with Emmanuel Amenya, Wilson Awasu and other members of the Scripture Union who first led us to Christ while we were pupils at the Amedzofe E. P. Middle School in the nineteen- sixties.

Since that time, I have seen Mr. Akoto practically demonstrating his love of God through his concern and care for the welfare of others, as well as his keen interest in community development.

Our association became very close when we both served as Executives of the Amedzofe Youth & Development Association (AYDA). He first served as Vice Chairman under P.C.D. Pekyi from 1976-1978 and later became the Chairman,with his Vice being the ubiquitous and highly dependable Herbert Mensah Adedeme (a.k.a“Father Nyontor”), while the meticulous John Kumatse served as Treasurer. I served as Secretary-General of the Association during the tenure of both P.C.D. and Senami, and continued to serve even under the leadership of Major (Rtd.) Fred Gelitsa until 1981.

Among the significant achievements recorded during the period, was the construction and commissioning of the Amedzofe Clinic, the restructuring of resource mobilization for development on clan basis, the payment of monthly entertainment allowance to the chief of Amedzofe, the payment of special allowances to National Service personnel (University Graduates) to retain their services as Teachers at the newly established Amedzofe Experimental Junior Secondary School (AMEJUSEC), and the institution of a scholarship scheme for students at the secondary and tertiary levels.

In addition to the above, Mr. Akoto and Mr. Adedeme also personally funded the publication of AMEDZOFE ACTION NEWSLETTER, which served as a very useful platform for sharing information on pertinent issues relevant to the development of the community.

Many of those who benefited from the Amedzofe Youth & Development Association scholarship scheme, which was the brainchild of Mr. Akoto and financially spearheaded by him in those days, later became professionals in responsible positions either locally or in the diaspora. They include Joseph Amehame, Victoria Ama Datsa, Benjamin Amu Ketoto, Godwin Amenya (aka Los-Kpi), Dr. Robert Ameh, Dr. Joyce Otsyina (nee Konu), Samuel Adinyira, Moses Adinyira, Comfort Esi Ablometi, etc. The radical-minded Mr. Akoto so much sacrificed his time and family resources to the extent that his driver, Robert Komla Modzro (a.k.a. Agab), became the unofficial driver for the Amedzofe Youth and Development Association, running all kinds of errands in Accra, conveying messages and materials to Amedzofe almost every week, with the famous Mazda saloon car, VR 1269.

He also played a key role in mobilizing the people of the Avatime Traditional Area for development, working together with people like E.K. Datsa, Kwame Avafia, Col. Seth Kwawu, (Rtd), Engineer Eugene Adanusa, Duncan Odzor, Lt-Col. Kofi Anku-Tsede, Emmanuel Baku, Dr. Seth Kofi Anyomi, Wing Comdr. Emmanuel Buama, Mrs. Diana Ayettey, Col. Richard Bosurotsi, Thomas Kwasi Oklu, Willie Akagbor, Nelson Agbeko, Martin Agbeko, Seth Anyomidie (Fo Kojodza), Adinyira Akie, Osika Mabel, Fred Kwawu of VORADEP, F.S.K. Dedume, and Omudie Johnson, the pioneer Headmaster of Kinbu Experimental JSS.

An active member of the Presbyterian Church in Amedzofe and the Legon Interdenominational Centre (LIC) in Accra, Mr. Akoto was very much interested in the growth and development of the Church. He staunchly resisted the importation of some pagan practices such as pouring of libation or imposing fines of sheep, goats and fowls on members of the Church, whether in the Avatime Traditional area or elsewhere. He not only had a special passion for music, but his deep understanding and appreciation of the important role music plays in the worship of God led him to establish a special school for the training of Church organists, pianists and choirmasters.

In sum, Mr. Akoto was a visionary, principled, enterprising, courageous, compassionate, selfless Church and community leader. Whether at home, in the Church or at work he didn’t hide his abhorrence for attitudes of laziness, mediocrity, indiscipline or hypocrisy. Obviously his strict and uncompromising stance when it came to the observance of Christian principles must have made him step on so many toes that some people sometimes thought of him as being eccentric. But as we all know, God is the final arbiter.

This tribute would be incomplete without mentioning the cultural consciousness of Mr. Akoto, which makes him stand out as one of the few men from Avatime who have succeeded in teaching and training their non-native spouses and children to understand and fluently speak the Avatime language (“Sidemese”).

My wife and I are personally ever so grateful for the wise counsel received from Mr. Akoto and his Osu-born wife, Dr. (Mrs.) Vivian Akoto of Legon Hospital, who he fondly called “Lorlortor”, an Ewe expression meaning “sweetheart” or “darling”. They did not only help nurture our marriage and show love to our children, but also played a vital role in encouraging, supporting and virtually harassing me to pursue further education at the University of Ghana, Legon, which eventually resulted in my ability to obtain a Master’s Degree in Communication Studies.

In view of their keen interest in education and capacity building of the youth, it is not surprising that Mr. and Mrs. Akoto are among the top few families in Amedzofe and Avatime to have produced the highest number of university graduates per household.

When during our most recent conversation I told Mr. Akoto that I was in the process of writing a book to testify about God’s love and faithfulness in healing me of stroke and for bringing transformation to the Amedzofe-Avatime area, he wholeheartedly welcomed the idea and encouraged me as usual. He even offered to provide whatever information or assistance I would require from him. Unknown to both of us, God had his own secret plans of when He needed him for higher service. Now that Fo Senami has been called to eternity, we can only pray that God’s grace continues to be upon those of us left behind to continue working the works of Him that sent us, and winning souls to the Kingdom. Our deepest condolences to his dear wife, “Lorlortor”, and all the children. May his Soul rest in perfect peace.

PS: Kafui Ameh is a former Secretary-General of the Amedzofe Youth & Development Association (AYDA), and also former Head of Communications, Marketing & Corporate Relations at World Vision Ghana. A detailed account of the contributions of Mr. Robert Senami Akoto and other patriots, role models, mentors and living legends can be found in Kafui Ameh’s upcoming explosive and inspirational book, “GLOBAL ECHOES FROM AMEDZOFE MOUNTAINS.”

E-mail: Kafui.ameh@gmail.com