Celebrating Oswald Kojo Amoo-Gottfried (1951 – 2020)

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· A Faith journey with a great Ghanaian educator

Oswald Kojo Amoo-Gottfried
Oswald Kojo Amoo-Gottfried

The beginnings behind the schools we attend matter. A staunch solid impeccable history nourishes the soul infinitely and guides the human spirit daily. A few years back – delivering a keynote address at a Faith Montessori graduation ceremony – I told the graduating class to take a worldly cue from the vision of the founders and be eternally guided by their principles and practical examples. Specifically, how the founders – Mr and Mrs Amoo-Gottfried – dreamed to make a difference, and created a monument in the hearts of men.

How we met

My first two daughters were born in California, where they schooled at the local primary in the early 1990s. It was a good school with many facilities including computer labs, a well-stocked air-conditioned library with wall to wall carpeting, green fields, and playgrounds.

However, I desired to have the girls educated in Ghana so they could have an African exposure, and speak at least one Ghanaian language.

A couple we had met spoke committedly about a new school named Faith Montessori at Kanda where the couple’s own two children attended. She explained further that there was another campus at Gbawe, close to where we lived. So we made an appointment with Aunty Emma who graciously gave me the GES syllabus to acquaint myself with it.

My wife and I made an initial trip to see the Gbawe campus. The watchman was gracious and allowed us to tour the main building which at the time had few windows and doors installed. And I remember the various colourful artworks on A4 papers which adorned the classrooms and the hallways. Those vital signs triggered my interest in children’s art. We enrolled the girls in Primary 6, and JHS 2

The School Daddy

Those days – before the landscaping that adorn the school environment today – driving the girls there in the rainy season was quite an experience. Heavy rainwater gushed from the hills eroding the road leading to the school. Here I could see the School Daddy, unfazed, guiding the parents to avoid the hidden potholes. Thereupon I saw a man destined to showcase the essence of the adage, Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.

I appreciated the essence of humility watching Mr. Amoo-Gottfried lead. His permanent smile often reminded me of another great educator and mentor, Prof Kwabena Nketia, of whom I wrote the following in my book, “Leadership, Reflections on some movers, shakers, and thinkers”: “At the core of Professor Nketia’s being is the absolute modesty: Ade pa nkasa, as we say in Akan; the selflessness; the sense of purpose; his ability to relate to the young like peers; and lastly, those easy smiles that defy understanding”.

School Daddy sported the quiet, unblemished knowing of what he was about; and the work the Almighty had created him to do – to make other people’s lives shine. And what a true legacy he left behind him!

Helping the youth shine

As they say, a leader is the one who takes you to places where you could not have gone by yourself. Faith’s humble beginnings reflected an institution about to bloom into the successful model we see today. The signs were written on the walls. Watching my girls grow, there’s hardly a day passes without stopping to reflect on the solid foundations picked up from Faith.

From Faith, my first two girls proceeded to Achimota School in 2001 and 2003. They both went on to Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts; and then to Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, respectively.

In 2002, with utmost faith in the impact of Faith Montessori on the first two girls, we enrolled our last girl who has seen the evolution and transformation of Faith in her years there.

Felicia started in the Hibiscus class at the age of 4 years. She went through pre-school, lower primary, upper primary, and in 2014 sat for the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE). Out of the 8 subjects she offered, she scored A-stars in five. In her modest tone she’d say, “It’s no big deal. Others did better!” Her A levels were equally brilliant.

The gratitude

Our family owes untold gratitude to ‘School Daddy’, Mr. Amoo-Gottfried, and his dear wife, Auntie Emma, for the early growth of our children.

A wise man once said, “Whatever you do, make a difference. Earn the right to look back at something and say, ‘I did that.’” Past, present, and future students of Faith Montessori are so blessed. The story of Faith presents an exemplary vision for youngsters to live by as they exit and fashion out their own destinies. The school is a success story carved out of a great vision, to provide the best education for the nation’s youth, and to thrust them onward into solid leadership positions wherever they found themselves.

The Faith dream was manifest in concrete ways from an untiring determination to make a difference in the lives of our young people including those unborn yet. In Hebrews 11:1, we learn that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Mr Amoo-Gottfried’s life showcased the living exemplar of that faith.

Email: anishaffar@gmail.com

Website: http://www.anishaffar.com

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