For about two hours, the Olokun Hall of the Airport Hotels resonated with excitement and accolades as ‘Kofi Atiemo-Gyan – Beyond the Obstacles’, a book written by a distinguished Nigerian newspaper editor and online publisher, Dele Fashomi, was presented in Lagos. Atiemo-Gyan is an international lawyer, human rights defender and fighter for the sanctity of the rule of law.
The book is an account of Atiemo- Gyan’s challenging and difficult childhood and survival, his courage to speak to power, even to the most dreadful military regime of Ft-Lt Jerry Rawlings, his escape from Ghana into exile in Nigeria and his pardon after 22 years as well as his politics across the borders of Ghana and Nigeria.
These are intriguing phases of not only Atiemo-Gyan’s engaging life, but also of the different and significant political and socio-economic periods in both Ghana and Nigeria, the two countries he loves with passion.
‘Beyond The Obstacles’ represents different phases in the Ghanaian political, social and national developments, from the country’s independence, its turbulent years, the military eta and the present political dispensation, where Atiemo-Gyan has continued to play his politics across the borders of Nigeria and Ghana.
Atiemo-Gyan’s life is the story of struggle, beginning with his early education in Bodomasi, Ghana, under the care of his grandmother, after his father and mother were separated the very moment he was born. With this troubled background, he learnt to be strong alone and to imbibe the virtues of perseverance, integrity, commitment, courage and high spirituality.
The Ghanaian Judiciary later became his bedrock as he rode on the crest of the available opportunities to become a quintessential lawyer and demonstrated an unwavering patriotism and love for country and service for humanity.
The book reviewer, renowned legal practitioner, Samuel N. Agweh (SAN), who was also the chairman of the occasion, commended the author for writing the biography stressing that Atiemo-Gyan has helped him a lot. He described Atiemo-Gyan as “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. “His philanthropic nature as recorded in this book is such that he is someone who has gone through many challenges in life and is prepared and willing to go the extra mile in giving other people comfort.
“In this book, I found a man who in spite of all the daunting challenges he went through from birth he had by sheer determination and resilience overcome these challenges to become a beacon of light to others. Going from circumstances of his birth, the repressive and near death challenges especially during the regime of late J. J. Rawlings, he was undeterred,” he said.
“His believes in God and mysticism in one area I found interesting in reviewing this book. In this book I found a Lion, 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.”
Born in Kumasi – Ghana to father who hailed from Obosomasi and a mother who hails 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.
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.
One of these challenges almost led to his dismissal from the job. “In this book, chapters one to three 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.
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.
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 him, upon Ghana attaining political independence in 1957, Mr. Atiamo 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 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 came to Nigeria a refugee two decades ago and went through the challenges of living in a strange place to become a successful person. He thrived in both law and business in spite of the myriad of challenges he faced.
“He has good things to say about Nigeria and has also highlighted in this book areas that our country needs to take a deeper look at to better the lives of Nigerians. “His sojourn in Nigeria has brought him before the low and mighty in this country but he remained humble, and unassuming in his way of life.”