Nana Ofosu Asante: Teacher par excellence
Published On February 5, 2014 » 3835 Views» By Administrator Times » Features
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HE was smart, outgoing and brainy.
Often with his trademark black hat, gold chains would sometimes dangle around his neck.

With a peach black complexion and a curved bold head he was difficult to ignore.

Those who spent time with him would admit, he had a sense of presence and charm.

You could say he was a man of such wit. It was easy to dismiss him as man with a silver tongue, but believe it or not, he was natural born storyteller.

The traditional Ghanaian garments he wore usually drew attention. Well, he was born into royalty and destined to become one of the tribal chiefs in Ghana, but he declined to become one.

Nana Ofosu Asante the Times of Zambia School Chalk Board columnist and Chiwala Technical High School English teacher who died on the night of Wednesday January 29, at UTH after succumbing to colony cancer was a great man in his own right.

Anyhow, he was a gifted mobiliser who belonged to a remnant of expatriate teachers in Zambia who migrated from West Africa to Zambia.

His dedication and attention to detail distinguished him from the rest.

Students he taught English and English literature would confess to have passed the subjects because of the knowledge they got from Mr Asante.
In his hey days as an expatriate teacher at Lubuto Secondary in Ndola he drove a Datsun 120Y and owned a fleet of mini buses.

This was before he moved to Chiwala Technical School where he left footprints that would never be erased.

He had a way, of teaching that was unique. Most of his classes involved light moments.
 “I will never forget him and the role he played in teaching me the Queen’s language as he would refer to the English subject.” says Moses Kabaia Jr, his former student in the 1990s at Lubuto Secondary School.

Mr Kabaila, who got a one in English, recalls the first time Mr Asante came to introduce himself as teacher of English, he said: “By the time I finish with you, you will be speaking the Queen’s language in a blackman’s skin”.
He came from Ghana to Zambia in the late 1980s.

But who was he?
 Nana Ofosu Asante was born on 20th October 1955 at Nsutamu in the AkyemAbuakwa area of the Eastern Region of Ghana, a prolific cocoa growing area, and home to veteran journalist, Cameron Duodu.

After his primary and elementary education at Nsutamu, he gained admission to OforiPanin Secondary School on Ghana Government Cocoa Marketing Board scholarship.

After successfully completing his Form five, he embarked on the rigorous two-year sixth form education for his A Levels.
On completion, he entered the University of Ghana where he majored in English.

Somewhere between his sixth form and university, he enlisted in the Ghana Army for training, as he was a cadet at college.

His late father pulled him out of the military training after a while, as he was his only son.

Nana was an ardent sportsman as he distinguished himself in athletics and football.

He ran for his school in Ghana and was part of the college football team.

He carried on playing football even as a player in the Madalas’ team in Ndola.

Nana enjoyed his football, and his passion for it knew no bounds.

He was often glued to the BBC for results of matches played involving the Black Stars, Chipolopolo and other teams.

At one point in his youthful career in Ghana, Nana was approached by the elders of his town to install him as their chief but Nana turned down the offer.

 His first name Nana, translates as ‘Chief’.  

Even his colleagues, where ever he taught, called chief not by accident.

His close friend, Kwesi Atta Sakyi a senior lecturer, at Zambia Centre for Accountancy Studies (ZICAS), who read his life history at the Church service, said Nana was from the Akyem Abuakwa tribe whose paramount chief is Nana
Osagyefo Kuntunkununku of Kibi or Kyebi.

The Akyems are a breakaway part of the Ashantis of Kumasi so they are tribal cousins and that may have happened around 1650.

All Akyems and Ashantis are part of the larger Akan tribe of Ghana, part of who are in Ivory Coast and part in Northern part of Volta Region among the Ewes.

Nana declined to be chief because no one circumcised will be allowed to sit on the black stool.

According to Sakyi, circumcision, like in several parts of the world, is endemic in Ghana and no one campaigns about it.

It is a large part of the African story, signifying plenty of things.

Male circumcision is one of the oldest and most common surgical procedures known, traditionally undertaken as a mark of cultural identity or religious importance.

In the majority of these cultures, circumcision is an integral part of a rite-of-passage to manhood, although originally it may have been a test of bravery and endurance. Circumcision is also associated with
factors such as masculinity, social cohesion with boys of the same age who become circumcised at the same time, self-identity and spirituality

However, in Ghana, if you are going to be chief and you are circumcised, the elderly women who do the selection will inspect you physically and give their verdict.
“I knew Nana casually till 2010 when his wife passed on in 2012

Nana started putting up with me since January 2012 and visited our home and the longer period being for one month in December 2013, and from 24th January till his death in 2014,” Mr Atta Sakyi said.

Anyhow, after a teaching stint in Ghana, Nana proceeded to Nigeria in the early 80s for greener pastures.

He settled at Ijebu Ode, a prominent town in the Ogun State in Yorubaland in Western Nigeria.

After more than a decade of plying his trade in Nigeria as a teacher of English Language, and Literature in English, he decided to look beyond Nigeria to widen his scope of experience.

In 1989, he landed a job in Zambia with the Ministry of Education at Lubuto Secondary School in Ndola, and after some years, he was transferred to Chiwala Secondary Technical School for Boys where he remained till the time of his death.

Nana worked assiduously and diligently in both schools where he raised the profile of the teaching of English. Unsurprisingly, many of his pupils and tutees chalked distinctions in English language and literature in English.

Nana was an accomplished storyteller as he enjoyed recounting the folkloric tales and poetry as told by the likes of Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, FerdinaldOyono, Okotp’Bithek,NgugiwaThiongo,AyiKweiArmah, Amu Djoleto, Ama Ata Aidoo, Efua Sutherland, Francis Selormey, Wole Soyinka, Ola Rotimi, Kofi Awoonor, among several others in their classic novels, dramas and poems.

Nana was actively involved in extending the frontiers of knowledge in Zambia, and for a long time, he was the editor of the Zambian National Association of English Teachers.

He attended many of their annual meetings in several provincial capitals such as Mansa, Livingstone, Kabwe and Solwezi.

As Nana enjoyed writing and sharing his knowledge, he took a column in the Times of Zambia newspaper under the title, School Chalk Board, writing on varied topics and running quizzes in his column.

We can say that through his column, he became a national figure, and he positively affected and touched the lives of many readers in Zambia.
He had a lot of fans in Zambia who incessantly kept calling him on his phone.

Nana was a very effective fundraiser as he used his great social and networking skills to raise money for the improvement of the schools where he taught in Ndola.

He often knocked on the doors of companies such as Ndola Lime, SGS, Zambezi Portland Cement, and First Quantum Minerals (FQM) among others to solicit for funds for his school.

His last major contribution was when he sourced for K18,000 from Ndola Lime.

The money was used to organise Chiwala Secondary School golden jubilee, which proved to be success.
“He was like a mentor to me. He had very good public relations,” said Clement Chonza who is Chiwala Technical High School head teacher.
At national level he was involved with plenty of things and whatever he touched turned into gold.

His former colleague at Lubuto Secondary School Stanley Mukuka, remembers Nana as a man who valued excellence.

Pupils always looked forward to his lectures as they were compiled with wisdom and sometimes parables, ironies and satires.

You could say, he was a moving English dictionary.
In August 2012, Nana underwent two major operations at Ndola Central Hospital for intestinal tumour.

His beloved wife, Lucy Asante was traumatised and passed away at that difficult moment.
 From that time, Nana was referred to the Cancer Centre at UTH in Lusaka, Nana, made several trips to Lusaka to
receive treatment.

It was not an easy task, but in that entire struggle, Nana showed extraordinary bravery, which gave an inkling of the valiant soldier that he was.

On Wednesday, January 29, at midnight, death laid its icy hands on Nana.
“My father was very strict. He expected the best out of us his children. He made us understand that the world was bigger than what we thought,” Beauty, a fourth-year student at University of Zambia (UNZA) said.
Nana is survived by his 98-year-old-mother in Ghana and six children.

Two of his children are studying at UNZA and Copperbelt University.

The other four children namely; Prince, Beauty, Comfort and Adjoa are in their adult life and are involved in different activities.

On a lighter note, Nana enjoyed the traditional Ghanaian dish of fufu and peanut butter or groundnut soup.

Nana was an abstemious eater though, as in his good old days, he enjoyed his Mosi and Castle lagers, occasionally taking Gin.

In short, he loved his bottle.

Nana enjoyed being smartly dressed and looking immaculate and chic in West African designer clothing.

Nana and Sakyi his friend, usually talked about life in Nigeria and friends who had moved on to other parts of the world.

On top of their list was also football, progress of his children, African writers, politics in Ghana and Zambia, and about the Ghanaian Association in Zambia.

In all Nana Ofosu Asante was a great man. He was a chief who never was. It was great to meet his side of eternity.

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