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Beyond The Obstacles… a lesson in determination, fate

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Kofi Atiemo-Gyan’s Beyond the Obstacles, a book written by a distinguished Nigerian newspaper editor and online publisher, Dele Fashomi, is an interesting book for lovers of good biographies.

The 197-page book is divided into 15 chapters, with appendix and references. There are equally foreword and publisher’s note. Barrister Paul Enemona Agbo writes the foreword.

The book is not only tightly edited; it does not give space for redundant words.

Fashomi’s magisterial account of Atiemo-Gyan’s birth is akin to a reconstruction of history.

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Born in Kumasi – Ghana to father, who hailed from Obosomasi and a mother who was from Bodomasi, all of the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, for no fault of his, his parents separated immediately after his birth. His mother therefore entrusted him to the care of his grandmother at Bodomasi where he grew up in the midst of many adults, some of whom are his uncles.

Going to school was by accident as no one planned for it. He seized the opportunity when it presented itself. When he dropped out of school due to inability of his guardian to continue to sponsor him, his mother came and took him to his uncle in Kumasi who found him a job in the Judiciary as a court messenger.

Due to his efficiency in carrying out his job, he became close to some of the judges, who then became his mentors but without facing some obstacles from his colleagues and superior officers.

During this time he and some other of his colleagues were able to fight for the welfare of the employees of the judiciary after enlisting the support of the stakeholders in the Judiciary. He later became a lawyer after attaining his degree.

According to the author, upon Ghana attaining political independence in 1957, Atiemo-Gyan, who now is a lawyer, found himself a voice for the voiceless during the turbulent days of Ghana upheaval leading to his subsequent arrests and detention by the regime of the late Flt Lt J. J. Rawlings.

In one of those arrests and detention he escapes death by whiskers, in short, he cheated death, later escaped and has since then sojourned in Nigeria. He meets the right people and at the right time, including the late renowned human rights lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi and billionaire who owns the Premier Lotto Betting business in Nigeria, Chief Kessington Adebutu.

Now an octogenarian, his life teaches young people never to give up, but be courageous even in the face of daunting challenges. Also, that education, both formal and informal, is key to life: indeed, without the benefit of care of a father and mother, he was admitted to school based on his brilliance; he went through school and excelled and later became a reputed international lawyer; survived his exile and returned to Ghanaian politics a major player in the ruling National Peoples Party, which produced incumbent President Nana Akuffo-Ado, who is into his second term of four years.

Very simple and straight forward narration, so to say.

So elegantly written, it’s the kind of stuff that creates thought, feelings and rhythms of pains and obsessions.

The chapters tell the story of how the international lawyer, human rights activist and fighter for people’s freedoms and independence of the judiciary escaped. In fact, the first three chapters reveal his arrival on this earth, his troubled birth and childhood, which to any extent or measure cannot be said that he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth.

According to the book reviewer, renowned legal practitioner, Samuel N. Agweh (SAN), who was also the chairman of the book launch, which held at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Atiemo-Gyan is “a fighter for the just cause and a man who was determined to put all challenges facing him aside in order to succeed, indeed he succeeded.”

He noted that there could not have been any other better title for this book as it is christened ‘Beyond The Obstacles’, stressing that with determination, resilience, being focused one can go beyond obstacles.

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