On behalf of the Ashesi Community, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Professor Nana Araba Apt. Thank you for giving me a chance to speak here today. In a way – in a profound way – we feel that Nana was a part of our family too.
Reading this will be hard for me, so bear with me if I am unable to keep that under control.
I will never forget the first day I met Nana at her office at the University of Ghana. She had been recommended to me as someone who might serve on Ashesi’s advisory board. And so, I went looking for her. I remember Nana watching intently as I introduced myself; looking initially doubtful as I explained the reason for my visit; listening closely as I described what we were planning to do with Ashesi University; and then suddenly exclaiming, “Yes! This is exactly what Ghana needs!” Ethics. Critical thinking. These words resonated deeply with her.
So it is, that Professor Apt joined Ashesi’s advisory board in 2001. Two years later, when she retired from the University of Ghana, she joined Ashesi University as the founding Dean of Academic Affairs, a role that she played for another ten years.
Nana was a dear friend, a source of light, a pillar on which I leaned during the difficult and seemingly impossible journey of building Ashesi University.
What an incredible road we travelled together. How fortunate to have had her by my side.
While many of her peers shared strong doubts about Ashesi’s viability, especially in our early years, Nana remained optimistic and steadfast. Nothing fazed her. After her retirement from full-time duty at Ashesi in 2013, she served as Emerita Professor. She remained actively engaged with the university community, reading email and news with keen interest, visiting campus, and serving on faculty promotions panels. She remained a most trusted source of counsel for me.
More than anyone, Nana directly influenced the teaching and learning of all 900 of our current alumni; and she mentored and helped develop many members of our faculty. When news of her passing broke, many in our community were overwhelmed, as they reflected on how much Nana had touched their lives.
Her reach extended well beyond Ashesi University. College for Ama, which she founded over ten years ago, continues to prepare adolescent girls for college through annual summer training camps. Countless alumni of the University of Ghana benefited from her passionate engagement as a scholar and teacher. She was a fierce campaigner for the rights of the aged in our society. Her work – in her lifetime – quite literally, spanned generations of Ghanaian citizens.
Just a few weeks ago, my wife, Rebecca, and I visited her at her home in McCarthy Hill. We brought a loaf of banana bread baked with bananas from Berekuso. It was such a good visit. As usual, Nana most wanted to talk about Ghana’s future and Ashesi’s role in it. She inquired about our Presidential Charter, asking, “So when is it coming?” I wish she had lived to see Ashesi receive a Presidential Charter, but I take solace in knowing what a profound contribution she made. Her legacy will remain in the lives of the students she nurtured, and in the university she built and loved. She will remain in the hearts and minds of current and future generations of Ashesi, as our leader, our colleague, our teacher, our friend.
What an incredible road we travelled together. How fortunate to have had her at our side.
Here lived a truly magnificent woman. May her soul rest in peace.
By Patrick Awuah Jr.