It has been ten years since mother earth received the body of Mr. Justice Daniel Francis Annan, the first Speaker of Parliament under the Fourth Republican experiment of the Republic of Ghana. A decade is long enough for the memory of most departed people to fade. But the gentle disposition of the man, as he controlled the House, and the firmness with which he dispensed justice at a time when the Appeals Court was the highest court of jurisdiction in this country, still stands the deceased out as one of this country’s most influential personalities.
This was a man of all parts. As Speaker, Mr. Justice Annan was a calm but influential arbiter in the House of Parliament. He is still celebrated as one speaker who brought the two political divides to reach consensus on many tricky issues.
He was a fair judge on the bench, having previously distinguished himself as a state attorney. The deceased was a traditionalist who played several noble roles in Ga traditional matters. A royal, tracing his ancestry tree to the most celebrated monarch in Ga history, King Tackie Tawiah I, Mr. Justice Dan Annan was always available to direct the Ga royal lineage in matters of law and custom.
The late Mr. Justice Dan F. Annan was an astute sports administrator who guided David Kotei Poison to win the first World boxing title for Ghana, as Chairman of the Ghana Boxing Promotions Syndicate.
I came to know Mr. Justice Dan Annan in 1972, when I enrolled at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, together with his daughter, June Annan. But it was through boxing that our paths crossed most often.
Of course, in the evening of his life, Mr. Justice Annan commissioned me in the year 2000 to establish the Justice Annan Foundation. Unfortunately, it did not work out as envisaged, before he was called to his maker in the year 2006.
When his cold body lay in state at the Ga Manche’s Palace at Kaneshie in Accra on that cool night in 2006, with several exhibition bouts in boxing going on at a make-shift boxing ring mounted at the court of the highest traditional household in the Ga State, it told a lot about the man’s contribution to the noble art of self-defence.
He was born into the royal Ga lineage on Wednesday, November 7, 1928, and christened Daniel Francis Kweipeh Annan. His mother, the late Mary Nyaniba Annan (Nee Johnson), hailed from the Royal Johnson Family of Senya Breku near Winneba, and the Awonyanfio Family of Akonto Lante, in Accra.
His father, Victor Benjamin Annan, of blessed memory, was the son of Princess Amarley Tackie (daughter of King Tackie Tawiah I). The young Daniel started his education at the Ogle School and Methodist Mission School. In 1939, he enrolled at Accra Academy for his secondary education.
After sailing through the Cambridge Senior School Certificate Examination with flying colours, with exemption from the London Matriculation Examination, he was enrolled at the Achimota College in 1946 for an intermediate Bachelors of Arts programme, which he completed with distinction in 1948.
The academic-minded Mr. Annan was awarded a Government Scholarship in 1952 to study law at Hull University in the United Kingdom, where he obtained the Bachelors of Law degree in 1956. He was called to the Bar at Middle Temple, UK, in 1958.
He returned to the newly-independent nation of Ghana in 1958, and was posted to the public service as a State Attorney. He excelled as a prosecutor, and was promoted to the bench as a Circuit Court Judge in 1964.
His excellent performance at the bench earned the young lawyer rapid promotions, and within seven years, he was appointed an Appeals Court Judge, the highest court of jurisdiction at the time, barely seven years after being sent to the bench.
Mr. Justice Daniel Francis Anan served diligently for eight years, before retiring at the rather youthful age of 50 in February 1979. He went into private business. In 1983, the Provisional National Defence Council courted him in various categories of national service before appointing him a member of the ruling council.
Mr. Justice Dan Annan was widely regarded as the father of the Fourth Republican rule. It is said that the eminent lawyer and jurist was appointed by the PNDC to head the National Commission for Democracy, to solicit opinions on whether or not Ghanaians wanted to return to democracy, with the strict brief to skew the findings towards the rejection of multi-party democracy.
Honest to a fault, the eminent jurist established that Ghanaians favoured a return to multi-party democracy, and made the necessary recommendations for the exit of the military junta, headed by Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.
When Parliament re-convened after the controversial 1992 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Mr. Justice Annan was unanimously endorsed as Speaker of Parliament. After two terms spanning eight years, he retired from his ‘Order’ shouting role.
Mr. Justice Annan played various roles for the National Democratic Congress, notably Chairman of the Council of Elders. He was also widely recognised in the circle of civil (Non- Governmental Organisation) roles, sitting on the boards of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEC) and the Institute of the Economic Affairs.
My encounter with the late Mrs. Justice Annan was mainly through sports. When I started my career as a sports journalist, after graduating from the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 1974, the late Mr. Justice Dan. F. Annan was Chairman of the Ghana Boxing Promotions Syndicate, the organisation that guided David Kotei Poison to win the first world title for Ghana in September 1975.
The late Mr. Justice Annan was a boxing promoter par excellence. He formed the Dan and Dan Promotions with a friend, and was instrumental in staging the first world title boxing tournament in Ghana, bringing in Sugar Ramos to fight Floyd Klutei Robertson in Accra in 1964. It is believed that his first major contact with the then junta head, Jerry John Rawlings, former Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council, was through boxing.
I was a mate of the late Mr. Justice Annan’s daughter. But my acquaintance with the astute statesman himself was through boxing. Most of the press releases from the Ghana Boxing Promotions Syndicate reached the various media houses through my honourable self.
He won several state awards for his contribution to the growth of this society. He was decorated with the Star of Ghana, this nation’s highest state award. In his life-time, he achieved the singular honour of serving on all three arms of state – the executive, legislative and the judiciary.
The late Mr. Justice Annan did well for himself. Even after 10 years of his demise, he still commands attention from all aspects of society. He was a family man who is survived by six children, remembered for his role in promoting Methodism as a religious faith in Accra especially, and served his country in politics and in civil society organisation.
10 years after Mother Earth received his mortal remains, the late Mr. Justice Daniel Francis Annan’s deeds in promoting democracy at the time when the gun was the final arbiter in matters of state, is worth celebrating. Mr. Justice Dan F. Annan is with his maker.
When cometh another Statesman of his structure!