Daddy had his elementary school education at the Methodist Infant Junior School at K.O. (Krobo) in Kumasi, and then at the Methodist Senior School (now Konadu Yiadom JSS, Ashanti New Town), Kumasi. He was a very intelligent boy and was popular because he was always top of his class. He sat and passed the entrance examinations of many of the top secondary schools Mfanstipim, Achimota, etc. but had no financial support to pursue his education.
He completed elementary school in 1943, and considered among other careers, becoming a Train Guard at Sekondi. Finally, an uncle in Accra offered to sponsor him through Accra Academy. He left Kumasi in 1944 to begin his secondary education in Accra as a day student. Unfortunately for him, his uncle took ill and died in his first term and so he had to abandon his education and return to Kumasi.
Not daunted by what had happened he took a teaching job as a pupil teacher at Tetrem Methodist Primary School for a few months, and whilst there, sat and passed the entrance exam for Wesley College (Wesco). He was one of only five students (three males and two females) admitted that year of 1945, from the Ashanti Region. Incidentally, (and we cannot help but wink about this), one of the females was his future wife, Elizabeth, our mother.
In January 1949, Daddy began his career as a professional teacher at the Methodist Primary School at Old Tafo. At Old Tafo, his love for music got him to start a choir in the Methodist Church and he became the choir Master. At this time, his desire to further his education was still strong and so the joined the People’s Educational Association (P.E.A.), the precursor of the Institute of Adult Education, and participated enthusiastically in all their educational programmes. In August, 1950, he married his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Francis-Wilson and after their wedding on 12th May, 1951, he left Old Tafo and joined her at Bekwai where he taught at the Bekwai Methodist Senior School.
At Bekwai, he found that the Church Choir was made up of school pupils, mostly from Jacobu, who were resident during term-time at Bekwai. This meant that the choir functioned only during term-time, when the children were in school at Bekwai. He therefore got a few adults together and formed a permanent choir for the Methodist Church.
By this time a married couple with two children, Mr. and Mrs. Banful transferred to Nchiraa, then a small village near Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region. Daddy headed the senior school, whilst Mama headed the junior school. For many in the village, Mama was the first female teacher they had ever seen and this impacted in no small measure on the lives of the girls of the village. Daddy so loved radio, even at that time, that the couple pooled their meagre resources to buy their first ever radio set no mean achievement in those days. While at Nchiraa, Daddy heard through his P.E.A. connections, of an opportunity for an upgrading course at the Institute of Education then at the University College of Gold Coast at Legon, and took advantage of the programme. He enrolled at the Institute and undertook a year’s course in Education which he completed in 1956.
After the stint at Legon, Daddy was posted first to Offinso Women’s Training College, but after a few months was re-posted to Osei Tutu Training College at Akropong near Kumasi. Being always a man of foresight, he believed he would own a car one day and so he prepared for that day by learning to drive even though he had no real hope of owning a car, and so obtained a driving licence in 1958. In 1959, he heard of a car that was being put up for sale and promptly took a loan to buy it - a second hand ash-coloured Opel saloon car with the unforgettable registration number, AE 8686. He drove this car with great pride.
Always a voracious reader, Daddy yearned to further his education. In 1960, Daddy left Osei Tutu Training College, and entered the Department of Special English, then situated at the Winneba Training College campus, and specialised in the teaching of English. After the course, he was posted to Wesley College in 1961. In 1962, he obtained a British Council Bursary to undertake a postgraduate diploma in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language at London University. Leaving his family at Wesley College, he went to London for a year. He returned to Ghana in July, 1963, and to Wesley College to continue with his teaching. From this London trip, he brought home a tape recorder, then a machine that used two spools. This was a novelty within our circles, and the family spent many hours tape recording music, conversations, etc. Our house was very popular because of this contraption.
Daddy did not last long at Wesley College after his return. One day in October, 1963, he was teaching in class when an unusual telephone call came to the Principal of the College. It was from the Deputy Minister of Education, (then Acting Minister) Mrs. Susanna Alhassan, with a terse message, “Jacob Banful should be released from his duties to proceed to Accra immediately”. He was asked to report at the Ministry of Education Headquarters, and that a formal letter would follow later. Puzzled as to what the summons was about, he proceeded to Accra where he was told that they were recruiting people to start a television station and that as people with his educational background and training were required; an interview was being conducted to select such personnel. Daddy excelled at the interview, and upon the recommendation of Mr. Goodship, the first Head of Training of the new Television Division of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, that he was “too good to be wasted in the classroom”; he was immediately given a release from the Ministry of Education, and appointed to the Television Division in 1963.
With his contemporaries, Messrs. David Ghartey Tagoe, Martin Loh, Kobina Taylor and Ben Eghan Jnr. and others, he undertook a year’s training abroad, spending six months with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in Ottawa, Canada, then three months each with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Radio Italiana in Rome, Italy. When he returned to Ghana in December 1964, he was assigned to the team that was to set up a Training school to train television broadcasters to start the new station, due to be inaugurated in July 1965.
Entering the world of television, Daddy became known as “Jake” to all and sundry, and he was very popular with his colleagues and subordinates. He became the Deputy Head of the Television Production Training School, and also produced and directed children’s television programmes, such as, ‘Puppet Theatre’, ‘Spelling Bee’, ‘Children’s Variety Show’, etc. In 1969, upon the recommendation of the British Head of the Training School, Mr. Fred Senior, that Daddy should succeed him when he left Ghana the following year, Daddy was sent to London in January, 1970, to undertake further training at the BBC for six months. Returning to Ghana in July, 1970, he was appointed Head of the Training School, becoming the first Ghanaian to head that section.
In 1974, following a decision by the government of the National Redemption Council (NRC) to re-organise the GBC and provide each Region with a head, Daddy applied for, and attended an interview in 1975 for the position of Regional Manager. However, no sooner had the promotion been conferred on the successful applicants and the information communicated to them, than a directive came from the Commissioner for Information to suspend action and await further instructions. Unfortunately, the programme became a victim of the political instability that occurred during that time, as the Commissioner for Information was changed when the NRC became the Supreme Military Council (SMC I); then General I.K. Acheampong was removed in a palace coup and the new SMC (II) under General Akuffo appointed yet another Commissioner for Information, who did nothing about the suspended decision. It was not until 1980, under the Limann Administration, that the proposed change was implemented, and Daddy was posted to Sekondi as the first Regional Manager of the GBC in the Western Region. The family therefore moved to Sekondi.
During the period when he was waiting to take office as Regional Manager, Daddy was moved from the Training School into Production as the Head of Production. In his personal life, other changes occurred. In 1977, he was enstooled as chief of his village, Ampabame No.1, near Kumasi, under the stool name of Obrempong Branoh Akyeampong II. Following a bout of litigation that lasted over one year, he swore the oath of allegiance to Otumfuo Opoku Ware II in December, 1978. He therefore dropped his name “Jake Banful” and assumed his stool name.
In 1983, the need to be closer to Kumasi caused him to swap places with his colleague, Mr. Kobina Micah, then the Regional Manager of Ashanti Region, who also desired to be closer to Winneba, his hometown. In January 1984, Daddy took office in Kumasi as Regional Manager of Ashanti and retired on 7th March, 1986, upon attaining the compulsory retiring age of 60 years.
In 1989, Daddy, having led such an active life, was bored within two years of his retirement, and so he applied for a position as a Lay Magistrate in the Judicial Service. After a short period of training, he was appointed a District Magistrate Grade 2 and stationed at Effiduase in the Ashanti Region. There he performed creditably until Lay Magistracy was abolished in the country in 1994. Many years after he ceased to be magistrate, many lawyers who appeared before him remember his work and are amazed to learn that he had no formal training in the Law. In spite of all his temporal achievements, our Dad did not neglect his spiritual life. Indeed, he nurtured us all in his staunch beliefs and has given each of us a legacy that can never be taken away from us. Daddy has always been a staunch Methodist and in it, he has been active almost all his life. After leaving Kumasi to join GBC in 1964, he joined the Akan-speaking Methodist Church, Mfantse Asor. It was that church which later moved into new buildings at Adabraka and was re-named ‘Calvary Methodist Church’.
He became a Leader, and later an Assistant Society Steward. Always a man with the courage of his convictions, he felt that all was not well with the subordinate status of Calvary Church and that its potential for growth was being stifled. At a Leaders’ meeting one day, he tabled a motion that Calvary Church, then a Society under the Accra Circuit with its Headquarters at Wesley Methodist Church, Asafoatse Nettey Road, should seek Circuit status and move from under the control of ‘Wesley’. This idea was received with enthusiasm, and a Committee was set up that made favourable findings on the idea. This idea caused some bad feeling towards him at the Circuit Headquarters where he was described as a “bad boy’”, but Daddy was not one to worry in respect of matters of which he was fully persuaded. When the dream was eventually realised in 1975, Daddy to his chagrin was never acknowledged as the originator of the Motion that brought the idea into being. In spite of being an unsung hero, he derived immense satisfaction from the fact that he had been proved right.
After he moved from Accra to Sekondi, Daddy joined Essikadu Methodist Church and resumed his role as Leader in 1980. Returning to Kumasi at the end of 1983, he joined Bantama Ebenezer Methodist Church, still as a leader. He was co-Leader of the Monday Class, and was active in all the affairs of the Church. He again incurred the wrath of officialdom, when as the chairman of the Planning Committee that planned the reception of the visit of the Chairman of Kumasi District to Bantama Ebenezer, he stated in his ‘Welcome Address’ that the Kumasi District was too large for effective administration and ought to be broken up into two. This suggestion earned him a summons before a disciplinary body at the office of the District Chairman (now the Diocesan Headquarters). He walked away from that Inquiry after challenging the status of that body as an illegal body, not provided for under any of the Standing Orders of the Methodist Church. In view of his stance, threats were made to him that he would not be recommended for membership of the Synod.
This only caused him to laugh, and to assure them that “Synod” was not a synonym for “heaven”, and so he had nothing to lose! So different was he from his normally diplomatic self on that occasion, that Mama, then his wife of 38 years, was left open-mouthed as she declared she had no idea he had it in him to face off a committee and single-handedly “demolish” it in that forthright and no-nonsense manner!
His challenge of those proceedings was successful because nothing more was heard of the committee. Eventually, he was proved right when the Kumasi District was later broken up, not even into two as he had suggested, but into three Dioceses, thus showing that there, indeed, were administrative difficulties with the size of that District. Daddy was later appointed a member of Ashanti Synod and then a member of Conference, after becoming a member of the Advisory Council of the President of the Methodist Conference (now office of the Presiding Bishop) He eventually retired as a Leader upon the attainment of 70 years.
Daddy was not quite satisfied with the absence of a Methodist Church at Ampabame No. 1 where he was chief, and so he helped to organise a group that became the beginnings of a Methodist Church, and hosted the Leaders’ Meeting in his house for a number of years. He continued to guide the young Society, Bethel Methodist Society, which is under the New Tafo Circuit, even though he remained a member of Bantama Ebenezer Methodist Church. In spite of all these commitments, Daddy had time for other activities. In 1999, he was elected National President of Wesley College Past Students Association (WESCOPA). In 2001, he was also elected a member of the Board of his alma mater, Wesley College, and became a very active member. It was not all good news, however. The litigation that surrounded his enstoolment in 1977 did not end, but plagued him from time to time, and in October, 2003 he abdicated on health grounds and in the interest of peace in his village. However, he remained active in the life of his community, and continued to be helpful to all who needed his help.
Our Daddy was a devoted father who spent time and effort giving the best that he had within his limited means. “My jewels” as he called us, he believed that we deserved the best of whatever he could afford, and so the Biblical quotation Can the children of the Bridegroom fast while the Bridegroom is with them? (Luke.6:34) was his favourite saying, whenever he thought Mama was denying us something he thought we should have. He gave us a good childhood, even though there was never enough to go around. In a generation when many fathers were feared by the children, he never raised his voice against us. One only needed to hear the special blast of his horn, “p-i-i-i-m p-i-p-i-m” to hear a chorus of loud children’s voices yelling “Daddy ni-e-e-e-e!” as the entire brood rushed out of wherever they were, and left whatever they were doing to offer him a welcome when he returned home from work. Yet, one did not incur his wrath lightly, and the prospect of being reported to Daddy always filled us with trepidation. He was a man of few words, but his few words always seared one’s heart and made one remorseful for whatever misbehaviour had produced the chastisement. He created fond childhood memories for us with excursions and educational visits to Tema Harbour, Akosombo Dam, Kotoka International Airport, the National Museum, Aburi Botanical Gardens, Labadi Beach, etc. Before the overthrow of President Nkrumah, he took us regularly to watch Military Tattoos at the Accra Sports Stadium, Independence Celebrations at the Black Star Square, etc. For those of us who were avid readers he made trips to the National Library on Saturdays so we could borrow and return books, etc. He motivated us with promises of reward and special prizes if we excelled. He went through our school reports meticulously and left one feeling embarrassed or elated as the state of the report warranted. Daddy spared no effort or sacrifice if the interest of any of his children required that of him. For many of us, it was in secondary school that we got to know that not many fathers were like ours.
Daddy loved the telephone like no other. Many years ago when Mama was transferred to Kumasi and he was in Accra, he amazed her office staff by phoning Mama between 8.30 am and 8.45 am every weekday for one year, and they even conferred an award of “Telephonist of the Year” on him! Until his death, Daddy spent a great deal of time monitoring us by telephone, one of his greatest assets being mobile phone units, because that would make it possible for him to call us and ask after our health. Indeed, one only needed to inform him of an impending journey to Kumasi, and the monitoring system would be put in place, as he would track one’s movements all the way to Kumasi. His tracking system was also deployed to monitor our individual careers, and he was our No.1 Fan! Indeed, his first reaction when any of us appeared on television was to phone congratulations immediately. Daddy followed our individual successes and offered encouragement by showing interest in all our endeavours.
Daddy had his faults as, indeed, who does not? But as fathers go, we say he was the best!
As we mourn him today, we also celebrate his long and fruitful life and we thank the Lord for giving us such a father. There is so much we would like to say, but we encapsulate it all in these words of gratitude (we can find no other): Thank you, Daddy, for everything. We love you, we mourn your passing and we pray that the Lord will keep you safe in Him until He who is The Resurrection and The Life brings us together again.