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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Source: Georgette Dede Djaba

Henry Djaba's finest: Dede Djaba v. Otiko Afisa Djaba

Part I. By Georgette Dede Djaba


During the first anniversary of Henry K. Djaba (snr) we examine his legacy. Ms Ami Dede Djaba was born on 21 January 1961 at Koforidua In the Eastern Region. As the first born of 22 children, she was the apple of her father's eye. Their resemblance is uncanny. Dede's mother, Gladys Opoku hails from Koforidua. Her grandmother, Hannah Akore is from Akropong Akwapim, and her late grandfather from Krobo in Asante-Mampong.


Dede attended Morning Star school as a pioneer and her record remains unparalleled. Dede was an all rounder who excelled in academia in addition to athletics, drama and gymnastics. She was a quiet skinny girl who passed the common entrance at 9 years old with an extremely high score, coming third in the whole of Ghana and fifth in West-Africa. She gained admission to Wey Gey Hey, in Cape-Coast at 10 years old with an added bonus of a Cocoa Marketing Board scholarship on merit. She is a product of free SHS.

Otiko was born on 21 January 1962. She attended Tamale Secondary School. Her mother, Mrs Rosalind Shaiata Bawa nee Mumuni hails from Bole. She is President John Mahama's first cousin. They grew up together. She attended secretarial school in London and returned to reside with her mother following a clash with Henry. Her step-father John Bawa raised her. She is a development practitioner and is multi-lingual.

Formative years

Dede Djaba's first trip to England was in December 1972. She returned with an anglicised accent after a few weeks! She loved English literature, English Language, History and Typing. Dede was a shy young girl who was bullied at school because she had a flamboyant father. Henry Djaba was the dandy and coquettish GFA chairman durin the Busia regime from 1969 to 1972. He was often on radio and television and that made his daughter proud.

Henry Djaba came to Wesley Girls to visit Dede around the time when our famous Robert Mensah died. He was Africa's number one goal keeper at the time. Henry 's visit was brief but memorable. He encountered a famous judge, Ellen Anokye, then a student at the school who eventually located Dede. The siesta bell soon rang and daddy Henry had to leave, being a person who complied with rules!

The dark days

On 13 January 1972, Henry Djaba was on the run for his life when the Acheampong regime took over by coup d'état. Those were dark days. The Djaba family was under house arrest for several years and their assets confiscated. Henry escaped to Ivory Coast with several of his friends en route to the UK. Dede subsequently spent most of her School holidays from Summer 1972 in London with her father. Dede continued her education at private schools, Duff Miller Tutorial College and Davies Laing & Dick College in London.

Private Secretary

In addition, Dede worked closely with her beloved daddy as his private secretary and favourite daughter. Some of the projects she worked on included the Neoplan Ghana bus assembly plant in Achimota and Kumasi. The first double decker bus in ghana was named "Auntie Deede" after Henry's pride and joy! Dede worked tirelessly on the bid for the Satellite station project at Kuntunase, was on the payroll of the family business, Ghana Agricultural Machinery Company for several years, working alongside Henry Djaba, Kofi Djaba and Francis Yaw Addo ( now deceased). Francis later became Alfred Agbesi Woyome's best friend.


Dede travelled first class with Henry, an international businessman and there was mutual respect and admiration. Dede was extremely close to her dad. He bought her a navy blue Cadillac for her confirmation in 1974. He confided in her at every step of the way. He loved to tell her stories of his life with our Heads of State including Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah as a CPP activist, his friendship with his In-law Okatakyie General Akwasi Amankwah Afrifa. Henry had an indomitable spirit. He entertained Dr Kofi Abrefi Busia at the family residence in Willesden Green and at Sunyani Avenue, Kanda. He became close to Colonel Kutu Acheampong who awarded him lucrative contracts. Dede's mother Gladys and the First Lady, Faustina became tight buddies at the time.

The turbulence and chaos

In 1979, the coup d'état by Flt. Lt. JJ Rawlings was a turning point which saw Henry Djaba incarcerated at the Gondar Barracks. His hair was scalped with a broken bottle and his estranged elder brother Joseph Djaba was arrested and placed in the same cells on death row. He had witnessed the execution by firing squad of Afrifa et al. Fortunately, the Djaba brothers both escaped death by a whisker, having been released in the middle of the night by some former footballers from Abuakwa Susubiribi who had joined the Armed Forces!

Henry Djaba running for his life

Henry run for his life to Abidjan via Dormaa with the assistance of Madam Amma Busia and others, and travelled back to London. Dede looked after her siblings, the family home and her young son, from 1980 to 1985. She returned to London, gave birth to a daughter and commenced University within 6 months, sponsoring herself as a single parent. Henry suffered a stroke and lost all his wealth, his assets having been confiscated for over 20 years by the AFRC.

Legal Eagle

Dede persevered with her studies and attained a BA Hons, LL.B, LL.M (School of Oriental & African Studies) and the Solicitors' Final Exams at the College of Law, London. She trained as a Solicitor with a prestigious firm, namely, Foot & Bowden, now Foot Antsey in Plymouth. She commenced an M.Phil/Ph.D. Her Thesis is entitled: "Domestic abuse in the Ghanaian family: the case for Ghanaians in London"

Dede has managed to combine law, media, politics and motherhood in a unique manner. She is a community advocate who has helped thousands of people in the UK and beyond, mentored several students, young and mature around the world. She speaks & reads Twi, Fanti, Dangme and Ga fluently.

High Profile cases

Dede has assisted in several high profile cases including the Michael Watson case, Dasebre Gyamena's trials during which Dede personally sponsored Tic Tac as a crucial witness to testify as a character witness. He was found "not guilty" and awarded compensation. To date, she has not met Daasebre since his release and has neither received thanks nor reimbursement.

She has been supporting victims of violent crime in the UK for several years. From the stabbing to death of Nass Osawe (16), Stephen Moody Boateng (18) Sylvester Senyah (33) and many more, no case is too onerous. She is often on radio providing talk shows on pertinent areas of law and politics including UK Immigration, nationality, Family Law, Child care Law, mental health Law and related areas.

She has contributed towards a book, " Discriminating Lawyers" and published several articles on various issues including dual citizenship, the youth and women's issues.she has her own blog,

" Empowering Women"

Dede believes in fairness, justice, equality and human rights. She is a mentor, mediator, media presenter and mother of two independent children aged 34 and 29 years old.

She can be contacted as follows:

Email: g.djaba@

Facebook: Ami Dede Djaba

Twitter: Legal Eagle

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