TRANSCRIPT: Outgoing Chief Justice’s final speech, ‘my boundary lines have fallen in good places’
Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo has rendered thanks to the country’s leaders in her parting speech as she retires on December 20, 2019.
She delivered an emotional message when she presided over her last case and recounted her journey as a Justice of the Supreme Court, which would have been impossible without the support of some key personalities.
Below is text of her remarks on the roles played by some personalities in her rise to the top:
I will say that God, at every step of the way, made my boundary fall in good places.
Somehow, even when I didn’t know, it always worked out like that and then on hindsight, I would see that I was being prepared for something further along.
And therefore, my greatest thanks go to God for all the various situations in which He placed me in, which I found myself — some of them I didn’t understand, some of them I was protesting — but in the end, it all worked and has worked and continues to work for good. And I thank Him every very much and will continue to thank Him every day of my life.
I thank Him also for giving me the sort of parents that he gave me, people who were disciplinarians and I used to really knock against the discipline and I am most grateful.
Even though I was never able to tell my dad that “I am thankful for the discipline”, I was able to tell my mum. That “thank you for all the knocks, the caning, the blastings, the insistence and all that and she said, “really?’. And I said yes and I mean it. They were very good parents, and I think that my siblings who are here would vouch and I think each one feels the same way too and even some of the grandchildren that they brought up.
In line with the Lord making my boundaries fall in good places, the day I was sworn in as Chief Justice and the dawn in which the judicial secretary had notice a message he had sent me that I was expected to say something after the swearing in and, I didn’t know what to say and as I was thinking, it suddenly struck me that my boundaries had fallen in good places to such an extent that every president that we have had in this country since the current constitution had a significant impact on my life.
President Rawlings out of the blue, I think for no reason, nominated me and in the end swore me in as a Justice of the supreme court.
I never applied for it. I never dreamt it. I never really desired it but it just happened.
President Kufuor also, out of the blue, nominated me to the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights. I hadn’t even heard of it [ laughter in the room].
The first time I heard of it was the late Justice Acquah telling me, I should send my CV to his office, to his secretary because I was being nominated for an appointment to the African court.
President Mills taught me taxation in law school and I have always said he was one of the kindest lecturers I had, very patient and had patience for my lack of knowledge in arithmetic and so he even passed me in the finals.
And whiles I was in the African court as president, he always made sure that the ambassador knew what the court needed so that Ghana could support us before the summit of heads of state. President Mahama was also the same. Every time, he would ask me if there was any particular thing that the court needed so that if they didn’t understand it, we could properly understand it so he would move our cause for us.
Therefore, I had a very successful stay at the AC. I was a member for two years. I was vice president for four years and then I was president of that court for two years, and I don’t think anybody since then has had a career like that at the African Court.
And of course, our current president! He was my first senior when I was out of law school. In fact, I was moonlighting. I was doing my national service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the afternoons, I would go and help him out at the chambers of U.V. Campbell.
And because of that I was able to participate very actively in the very famous case of Mencilo Rice where a number of important landmark decisions in civil procedure as well as corporate law were taught. And that’s where I learnt to really, really work very hard.
Nana Osei Tutu, Dr. Prempeh, I know him as Dr. Prempeh yes, he was also one of us in Campbell and co. And we used to work very, very hard, very hard, really into the night. And then he would take me to some nice dinner or sometimes we would go [inaudible] and dance so I learnt to go with the flow so to speak.
You work hard but build in the enjoyment of the process so the hard work never daunted you.
I wish to thank the Lord for all these people who peopled my life and made such a great impact on me. I also wish to thank Otumfuo who has been my secret back support. Whether I am happy about something or terribly unhappy about something I would call him. If he did not pick up, eventually he would call me back and I would sometimes cry, sometimes complain and he would always give me heart. My greatest gratitude goes to him, and I thank him for sending such a powerful group of representatives to come and represent him here.
I was officially informed that Nana Asokorehene would be the official representative, but I didn’t know that there would be additional support. Thank you all very much for gracing this occasion, and I am so grateful to my pastor, Pastor Mensa Otabil whom I sort of met.