Having been nurtured in the home of educationists, the maxim, ‘If you can read this, thank a teacher’was one I grew up appreciating.
My admiration for my teachers was inaudible yet so strong. When I started engaging in social media activities at about 2006 and realized that the 5thof October was World Teachers Day, I started eulogizing the teachers in my life. The last week saw me losing two of my University Primary School Teachers. Mrs. Matilda Eyeson taught me in Class Three. She was a very beautiful teacher and the wife of a very Senior Lecturer in the University. She was so gentle and added a certain touch to her teaching. No matter how angry you were, you could never get angry at her because she knew how to handle pupils. I had virtually no interaction with her after leaving her class. In Class Six, I had the taste of the first-ever male teacher in my life. Mr. Eric Ewudzie-Sagoe came across as an intimidating personality but one who still had some bit of soft spot for hardwork and it showed anytime the entire class impressed him. That was some thirty-one years ago.
Then in 2016, I noticed that a certain Eric Husni Ewudzie-Sagoe had been commenting on posts on the page of a friend, Alex Acquah. Realizing that Alex was my Primary School mate and both of us shared a teacher named same, I checked the profile pictures of this gentleman only to be pleasantly surprise. It was him, our Class Six Teacher. I quickly sent a friend request. When he accepted the request on 26thSeptember 2016, I sent him the following: “This should be my Class 6B teacher, Mr. Eric Husni Ewudzie-Sagoe. Thanks for accepting my request, sir.”
Thankfully, the World Teachers Day was just a few weeks away and when it came, I did a post which had among others, this excerpt:“Three weeks ago, my attention was drawn to a picture post on the wall of my primary school mate Bimus Acquahregarding the construction of a cenotaph by Santaclausians. As I run through the comments, I was struck by one, made by a name I was so familiar with. As peculiar as that name was, I could not believe that reference, the only possibility being that since the two of us were mates, the person in question could actually be one I was thinking about. Subsequent events re-united me with my teacher on facebook and it was great. As we mark this year’s World Teachers Day, I wish to celebrate my teachers: Mr. Amuakwa-Mensah (Headteacher), Mrs. Atakpa in Class 1, Ms. Nornigbey in Class 2, Mrs. Eyeson in Class 3, Mrs. Christiana Antwi in Class 4, Mr. Bonney in Class 5, Mr. Eric Husni Ewudzie-Sagoe in Class 6 taught me at the UCC Primary School….”.
Mr. Ewudzie-Sagoe was so elated by the post that in the comments column, he wrote, “Eric Atta-Sonno, great thanks for the wonderful ovation given to us on the occasion of World Teachers Day. On behalf of my colleague teachers I say well done and may the Lord richly bless U and your mates. Good work done for naming all your teachers from class one to the secondary school Form Five in the old system.”
Over the three months that followed, we had several exchanges over my scripts, my thoughts and activism. He appeared somewhat sympathetic towards the social democratic party in government so anytime I bashed policies of the government, he would quickly call me and we discussed it. Somehow he hardly commented on such posts on my wall.
I remember meeting Mr. Ewudzie-Sagoe in person, for the first time since I left his Primary Six class thirty-one years ago. This was at my College’s 87thAnniversary Speech and Prize-Giving Ceremony in Cape Coast. He had attended in some capacity from Regional Education Directorate. Unfortunately the Vice-President was the Special Guest so security all over the campus was unnecessarily tight. Inspite of this my teacher broke through the ranks once he saw me and walked straight up to and you can imagine the excitement, etc. He had heard about my role in getting the College’s Reference Book chronicled and published and he extremely happy about that. As one GES official passed by, he called out to him and once he came over, he introduced me, “This is the almighty APSU Secretary, one of the great man driving the successes of APSU… and you know what… I taught him in Class Six”.We all broke out in laughter and that was it.
Then came 19thJune 2018 and I found a Facebook Messenger note on my iPad. It was from Mr Ewudzie-Sagoe which then led to a quick discussion as follows:
Ewudzie-Sagoe: Haven’t U heard Adisadel College have once again beaten St. Augustine’s in the finals of the Hockey Championships in Accra last Saturday
Atta-Sonno: Sir, respectfully, I deliberately declined to comment. I was so
Ewudzie-Sagoe: So U didn’t hear about it?
Atta-Sonno: I was hoping for complements from U
Ewudzie-Sagoe: You’re putting me in a tight corner… to praise my teacher for leading his team to beat my school. It’s so painful. But this is sports and one team had to win so I give it to you. Congratulations Sir, for leading Adisco to overpower my College team twice in a row.
Ewudzie-Sagoe: Hahahahaaaaaaa exactly. Know that it wasn’t on a silver-platter
Atta-Sonno: Of course, my college team aren’t a walkover at all
Ewudzie-Sagoe: Yea this year it was tighter than last year
Atta-Sonno: What was the final score?
Ewudzie-Sagoe: It also added to the fun. It was 4–2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw
Ewudzie-Sagoe: Enjoy your day
Atta-Sonno: Most grateful, Sir
The above is just one of the several interactions I had with my Class Six teacher and I really enjoyed it.
We again met last October for the funeral of our late College Senior Sports Master. Apparently I got there a bit early and just as I was turning away from the funeral ground back to my vehicle to relax a bit, someone beckoned me and it was no other than my teacher, Eric Ewudzie-Sagoe. We had another opportunity to interact on various issues including the role played by Joshua Bentum in creating the eleven straight years of sporting dominance of my College in Central Regional Sports among others.
Mr. Ewudzie-Sagoe was a down-to-earth person who’d go out of his way to ensure that everyone felt at ease in his presence. This was however not the case in 1984/85 when he taught me. He was one of very male teachers – all of them very young, tough-talking and ruthless in exacting discipline on their pupils. One of them (Mr Bonney) had just released me only to fall into the hands of another (Mr. Ewudzie-Sagoe). Interestingly both of them ended up teaching in Adisadel and they became even greater there. We both shared first names and yet this made no difference in his treatment of me, because he was extreme impartial. No wonder, he became an accomplished Match Commissioner of the Ghana Football Association in the Ghana Premier League. Those days, we always went to school in great trepidation simply because some mental drill in Mathematics awaited us first thing in the morning – something he had named, ‘Sankofa’. Woe betide you if you got some wrong!
Looking back in time, I cannot but thank God for this gentleman. He has served his profession to the best of his ability, served his passion (Sports) with every sinew in him while piously serving his Maker. He was a good family man who served humanity well. Since completing Class Six, I physically met him only twice but the impression he made upon my life is lifetime one and I am eternally grateful to God for his life. I am aware that he did same on many lives while at Adisadel, examples of which are some of my friends who chose to climb that hill.
As we mourn these gentle souls, it is important that we all strive to live our lives in a manner that would ensure that we leave a great legacy in this life. Life is a stage and all of us will take turns to play our roles. One day, those roles will end and we’d be recalled backstage. What level of applause will herald your departure backstage? Think about it!
My dear friend,