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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Columnist: Arthur Kennedy

Samson Ayenini takes on Havard University

The host of newsfile, the erudite Samson Ayenini is miffed about our general reverence for Harvard University. He was reacting to the references to the Harvard education of Justice Sophia Akuffo in connection with her qualifications for Chief Justice of Ghana. Samson wrote, “Those of us with a good education behave as though a good education must include sitting in a classroom outside Africa". He went on to disapprove of the references to Justice Akuffo's Harvard education. He implied that an education at Legon is just as good as one from Harvard. Then he went on to cite how he successfully predicted that Prof. Kwaku Asare ( Azar) would lose in the Supreme Court in his challenge to President Mills' convening of a Constitutional Review Committee to amend the constitution.

Before I take on the learned Samson Ayenini in the case of Harvard vs Legon, here are a few disclaimers.

First, I am not a full graduate of Harvard, I only took a Certificate course in Health Management.

Second, Harvard is not perfect. Despite their motto; "Veritas", they were less than truthful and moral on the issue of slavery. And after the election of Trump, many were scandalised that Harvard faculty were handing out tissue and words of encouragement to weeping students. Somehow, it would be unlikely that if Hillary had won, they would have been handing out tissue to weeping conservative students.

Also, the learned Samson Ayenini, in referring to the ruling on the Constitutional Review case, forgets that our Supreme Court has made some atrocious decisions. They ruled against J.B. Danquah in RE: Akoto. That case reminds me of the Dred Scott and Plessy v Ferguson rulings by the US Supreme Court. I am confident that history will vindicate Prof. Asare, as it did J.B. Danquah.

The comparison of Legon to Harvard though signifies hubris and unrealistic belief in "Adze wo fie a oye". Harvard is perhaps the best University in the world and Legon is the best University in Ghana.

It is the equivalent of comparing Kotoko or Hearts to Real Madrid or Barcelona to soccer aficionados or comparing the richest guy in Ghana to Bill Gates. You get the picture.

Of course, Samson has a point that one does not have to sit in any classroom to be well educated. In the 16th and 17th century, the very wealthy shunned University in favour of travelling for a year. That was considered equivalent or in many cases, superior to university education. Someday in the future, people round the world will come to Africa for their education to be complete. That was the case during the days of the University of Sankore.

Harvard bears witness to the exceptional quality of the Justice just as she is prove of the quality of Harvard. Harvard is not a place, it is an idea, a culture and an attitude of excellence exemplified by a number of Universities – including Yale, Oxford, McGill, Toronto and quite a few others. Their locations do not matter. Sankore once set the tone for excellence, not because it was in Africa but because it was excellent. Therefore, I state to Samson that on Legon vs Harvard, my brother, I say “RES IPSA LOQUITUR”! The Justice knows wolo! Legon must aspire to excellence as exemplified by Harvard.