Tribute to the Late Dr Benjamin Nii Darkufio Dodoo
1Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
Isaiah 40 1:5
We do not always have an opportunity to celebrate a man before he departs this earth because we always take things for granted. It is painful sometimes in this age of instant communication when you are told of the passing away of an internet colleague who happened to be both foe and friend in the cut and thrust of discussions and debates on the Gadangme Internet Forum; you are not only shocked but also numbed by the news.
I saw him on the previous Friday at the funeral of the husband of a niece. I saw him at the wake and again at the reception on Saturday. I haven’t even had the chance to hand over the $100.00 he donated to our organisation Ga Dangme Nikasemo Asafo in recognition of the continued good work that we do in the name of Gadangme. I thanked him for his generosity to the cause of GaDangme. To say that I am stunned is an understatement and therefore I cannot be as coherent as I could be save to write this tribute to a man who became dedicated to the Gadangme cause and who defended to the core all things Gadangme and refused to give any quarter in his projection of his tribe.
I had first encountered Dr Benjamin Nii Darkufio Dodoo in the late 1990’s when I was Chairman of Ghana Union London and he was Chairman of the National Council of Ghanaian Associations in America. I approached him to seek advice on a delicate matter of how to react to an issue that I had with the High Commission in London. He gave me his honest opinion on the issue.
He was on the Gadangme Internet Forum in 2000, mainly reading but not responding to postings. He, withdrew for a while and returned in 2007 with a vengeance. I say so because he became one of the most prolific contributors, often regaling all of us with his knowledge on issues about the GaDangme from as far back as the 40s and 50s when the Ga politic was held in high esteem by all. For some reason he felt that he would be demoralised or de-motivated if he conceded that times had changed. For him the adage ‘Ga sɛɛ gbɛ dzi gbɛ’ never changed. The Ga were at the forefront of everything good in Ghana and he often posted to the forum motivating pieces that ensured that his world view on that issue would never change. Of course that got him into trouble with some modernisers and those who chose to see the reality of the transformation of Ga into a capital city.
He was also loyal to his friends and associates and everything about Professor Mills had to be correct, no dissenting or opposing viewpoint, and with that he also got into a lot of trouble on the forum with people who espoused other shades of opinion on the matter of party politics in Ghana. And then his preference of the American system of education which he felt was superior to that of the British to the extent that, he decided that anything that came from the ‘British’ on the forum had to be challenged. But like everything else on internet forums things occasionally come to a head and he again withdrew from the forum for a while to take time out. The rest has been beneficial to all because since then we have all become more accommodating of each other thus harnessing the power of reaching convergence on issues through discussion.
Everyone on the forum felt they knew Dr Ben Darkufio Dodoo very well because he shared his life with us in the numerous stories he told us about Okaishie and Tudu, his Akyem Kotoku connections and his numerous relatives who had lived to ripe old ages. He knew everyone and everyone was a relative, reliving the life of those of old where kinship was as important as friendship and where everyone was ready to lend a helping hand or provide some assistance to those who needed it when they needed it. . So we can easily piece together his life history without knowing the intricate details.
He had several siblings and he attended Adabraka Presbyterian School before he went on to Osu Salem. He sat the ‘Hall’ Examinations, Middle School Leaving Certificate and he was taken to see my late father J. Ade Sawyerr whom after getting him to take the school examinations, admitted him directly to Form 2 at West Africa Secondary School where he completed his School Certificate Examinations. He worked for a while at the Ministry of Information and in the early 60s came to the UK to study for his ‘A’ levels. He then went to study Medicine in Switzerland, to, Tropical Medicine at Liverpool and then went on to work in New York where he held several positions in his chosen field..
I am not telling this as I should because with Ataa Darkufio, there would be many digressions and recalling of several relevant or irrelevant facts depending on the story he was telling.
He gave of his time to his community in New York and to the Gadangme Community everywhere, to the political party of his choice, the musicians and entertainers, to the medical community and not forgetting his patients from whom he occasionally shut himself off to come and make postings on this forum. He kept in touch with Ghana through the stories that his patients shared with him and of course through the foot soldiers who kept him abreast of exactly what was going on in Accra.
My last conversation with him was very interesting. He talked about Okaishe and how only those who lived there in the past should be responsible for developing the area and about a plan intended for the redevelopment of Accra. We also spoke about the chieftancy situation in Ga and how that could still be resolved despite the entrenched position that he had initially taken. We spoke too about the significance of the material about Ga history and culture; that they represented the real treasures that we as a people have and how that should never be lost.
He introduced several of his nieces to me and anyone who knew Ataa Darkufio would recognise that his stock in trade was about people.
One of the legacies he leaves for us is the information about the Accra of his time; these would be found in his numerous postings and articles on the forum and it would be a fitting honour if we are able to find a way of collating them and turning them into a history book as a memorial in his honour.
I thought i was going to write a short sweet piece as a tribute to him, but i have perhaps also been caught up with his style of recounting things on the forum.
I valued Dr Dodoo’s views on several topics; I knew him for his loyalty to his friends and relatives and I can say unreservedly that this forum has lost a great friend to all. We will all miss you
Ataa Darkufio, you have played an important role on this earth by connecting people, by showing your generosity, by sharing your knowledge and by your deep interest in your roots.
We salute you and we commiserate with your family and friends who have also lost a tower of strength and support.
Ataa Darkufio, we trust that the ancestors will welcome you to join them from where you will give all us the inspiration to continue to work in the cause of Gadangme and Ghana.
May you rest peacefully in the bosom of the Lord Almighty
Ataa Darkufio, yaa wo ojogbann.
London February 20, 2013