His name brings to the memory of the typical Ghanaian, that picture of a man who was and looked unique, among other things, for two reasons: The length of his name: Six. And the length of the duration for which he stayed away from shaving his beard – more than sixty years, reported GhanaWeb after his passing on September 07, 2018. Do you want to know the stories for these two features of the man? Relax and simply read on.
Yesterday, the 7th of January 2022, was marked in Ghana as Constitution Day. A holiday that officially freed workers from work. The day prior, on Asaase Radio was a discussion that sort to find answers to why enjoy a holiday on the Constitution? As usual, the debates panned out on social media as well. Then, I saw the flier on OctaneDC Facebook wall with the accompanying text that said: “A day to reflect on our roots and foundations as Ghanaians. Happy Constitution Day!”. I am OctaneDC’s Brand Strategist. Hence, I cannot claim ignorance of crafting of that creative piece. But what remains a fact is, it was after the publication that the full import of what we had come up with, as a team, truly set me on a thinking spree. “A day to reflect?” “…on the constitution”? I encouraged myself that on such a day I needed to be “a citizen and not a spectator”. Hence, reflection, I did.
In the process, my mind went to the #3 on my list of “books read in 2021”. I sincerely believe every Ghanaian youth must have in their personal library, a copy of that seminal work – “Unfinished Journey: The Life and Times of V.C.R.A.C Crabbe. A Legal Luminary” An authorized biography by Kwesi Amoak. Just check with Booknook shop in Accra for your copy.
Sincerely, I did not intend to put out a review of Kwesi’s work. This was simply meant to fill up the void of a promise made to my LinkedIn Connections and Followers to provide a daily written update on the new book I am working on: #LearningToSpeakWell: A Toastmaster’s Story. Hence, herein, my fundamental focus has been to lean on the strength of Kwesi’s work to keep my readers informed about the contribution of Justice Crabbe towards the becoming of Ghana’s running constitution. Obviously, I do so in the spirit of the Constitution Day celebration. And that, understandably, takes us back in time as I serve you a bit of history.
It was the eve of Ghana’s Independence and people from all over the world and around the country, were gathering in Accra to be part of the momentous occasion. Although there were festivities all over town, two individuals were oblivious of all that was going on around them as they worked deep into the night. They were too busy to consider any participation in the fanfare. Their focus was on the important national assignment, drafting legislation which was going to form part of the legal basis for the independence of the Gold Coast.
The two individuals were Fred Boyce, aged 57, from Maori Affairs Department in New Zealand and a very young Charles Crabbe. On their shoulders was the responsibility of drafting 80 pieces of legislation: 40 Ordinances and 40 Acts of Parliament, which were subsequently passed by the National Assembly in 1957. Charles was just 34 years old. I repeat, differently: Charles was less than 35 years of age. Fellow Ghanaian youth, where are you? A man who lived for 94 years is calling on us to be inspired by his intellectual achievements in his youthful years. Arise. Arise Ghana youth! Ghana demands your devotion. Our devotion. In school we sung. Almost all, if not all of us. After years of singing, this is #20TwentyDo, time for action!
Until his passing, Justice Crabbe had the habit of re-reading what he drafted in 1969 and 1979 Constitutions, much of which found their way into, the very constitution we are “celebrating” today. The 1992 Constitution. And therein, he found his reward. There are other things which happen in the country and he recognized these had to happen, because he made them possible, thanks to his objectivity.
Here’s a man who believed that there is little time for comforts which others enjoy. And that you are consumed by the dictates of the summum bonum. But if you love what you do, as he did, then it is no longer a job but a passion. There could be nothing greater than working for the highest good, for “Service to man, is service to God,” he says.
‘Winner Takes All’: Justice Crabbe’s Take
In recent years, civil society has raised serious concerns about our electoral system, which has been described as “Winner Takes All”. These concerns, however, would not have been necessary if politicians had heeded to recommendations made over four decades ago. In the 1969 Constitution, there was a provision for the Leader of the Opposition and Prime Minister to be members of the Counsel of State. In the Draft Constitution which was part of the 1978 Constitutional Proposals, there was also an Act that the person who got the largest number of votes, after the Parliamentary candidate who won the elections, should automatically become a member of Council of State. The Committee of Experts also proposed that the leaders of the political parties in Parliament should be members of the Council of State. “Yet, all these fine ideas and proposals have not been realized because the politicians in their partisan ways rejected them”, in the words of Justice Crabbe. In effect, the criticisms and concerns raised about the “Winner Takes All” syndrome would not even arise if the proposals made in 1969, 1979, 1991 had been accepted and promulgated into law.
Six Names & Sixty Years of No Razor
Time to know the stories of the long name and the unshaved beard. Let me start with that of the name. The story has it that, while working to resolve the constitutional crises of Uganda in the early 1960s, young Charles Crabbe did not even have the time to shave his beard. He realized that nobody complained, not even the Prime Minister Milton Obote. All attention was focused on solving the problem at hand. In the event, he decided to let go of his habit of shaving. It just happened. He kept working and not having the time to shave. Towards the end of his life’s journey, Kwesi recounts, he jokingly said: “In the time it would take me to shave, I could better read at least two pages of a book or a document”. Funny, right? Lol.
Certainly, it is not only Uganda that had a feel of this Ghanaian illustrious ‘Worm’. The Legal Luminary, as he was considered in the legal fraternity and beyond. His work of nearly six decades took him to many other countries including Nigeria, Kenya, Lesotho, Zambia, Namibia, Mauritius, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica, Italy, England, Canada and America, all in the service of humanity. Law was his life, a life which had an interesting beginning in the Ga community of Ussher Town in Accra. And later at Accra Academy where he learnt, as the school’s motto has it: “Esse Quam Videri – To be, rather than to seem.”
To the story of why six names. Being the last born, Charles had to take on the names of his father, that is, Richard Authur, plus those from his father’s cousins, Vincent and Cyril, and Charles from the man who had performed the kporjiemor. Hence, his name: Vincent Cyril Richard Arthur Charles Crabbe. V.C.R.A.C Crabbe for short.
I would like to ask this question in closing: Do you know the VCRAC Crabbe Avenue. Or, have you ever driven through that side of Accra? Maybe yes. Maybe not. But I have. And on my way to OctaneDC offices in East Legon, I use that turn on the Tesano-Abeka road to connect to the N1 Highway, through the main Circle-Nsawam Road. Any time I get Crabbe Avenue, I am deeply reminded by the words of the man after whom that portion of the city bears it name. He said: “The law in any country is a mirror of that society”. Ghana’s Constitution is the primal law. The biggest mirror. When you look into it, how do you see what you see – yourself? Remember. We are #LearningToSpeakWell
About the Author
Evans A. Adu-Gyamfi is a communication practitioner with keen interest in corporate brand strategy and social research. Currently, he is the Brand Strategist for OctaneDC Limited (an investment and fund management firm regulated by Ghana’s Securities and Exchange Commission). Evans is a member of the Ghana Association of Writers (GAW) with two books to his credit: A Toast to Fatherhood: Sons and Daughters Appreciating the Fatherly Role (2016); and The Dawn of Ghana Toastmasters: In the Words of the Doyen of Public Speakers in Ghana (2019) which he co-authored with the renowned broadcaster and commentator Mr. Joe Lartey, fondly remembered as ‘’Over to You”. He also has some of his articles published in the Business & Financial Times, Business 24 E-newspaper and many online portals. Until early 2020, he was a columnist for Integrity Magazine.Since March 2011 Evans has been a member of Toastmasters International with the single aim “to speak and lead well”. The US Embassy Accra-Gladiators Toastmasters is his current home club. In Toastmasters circles, Evans has become known as “the Champion of Champions” for winning the 2020 Table Topics (impromptu) speech contest for Region 11 (which covers Africa, Middle East and Pakistan). Beyond speeches, Evans has coached some members and clubs based in Qatar, South Africa, India, Nigeria and Ghana.
You can reach him on +233 246480080 or [email protected]