HIGHLIGHTS OF MY LAW WEEK; So Much to Talk about… By Melanie Owui Abla Mensah

         The theme for the law week alone kept me expectant. “The Legal Profession in Ghana; a Tool for Saving Ghana’s Posterity from Transcending Corruption”. Almost all law students treasure this particular week of the entire academic year. You have no idea! And yes, this was the only time we got a lot of food from the faculty; sobolo, cold tea, pastries, popcorn and other beverages. It was undoubtedly a wonderful week. The entire building appeared black and white with a few touches of yellow. Everyone looked official. This is when the lights of the camera keep flashing without a single pause; the only time you get to FEEL the noble profession. You wish it lasts the entire year but friend! It’s right after this week that you realize there’s so much work to be done with the books. It’s like an illusion.

So it began with the opening ceremony and the launch of the 2019 edition of the law students’ journal on Tuesday. It was time for the launch of the journal but before the day’s schedule began, we had breakfast. There was pancake with toppings of the grape fruit, there was pie, there was sobolo and there was iced tea, if my memory serves me right. Some representatives from the Ghana Dance Ensemble kept the morning lively with some melodious traditional music and the Adowa dance. I wish I could join them but in the words of a learned friend, Miss Wumbei Yakubu, “I can’t dance Adowa to save my life”. We had a wonderful time tapping from the wells of wisdom possessed by our guest speakers. After their addresses, it was time for the official launch of the journal; the time I dreaded the most. Who was so good at choosing Horace and Nayorm as “auctioneers”? Oh my goodness! I would not have been surprised if urine flowed from someone in his or her seat while they sold the journals. Ei! Everyone should get money oo because… Haha! They did not restrict this to just us. They slapped Prof. Kofi Quashigah with GHc 3,000.00. At that moment, I could not help but laugh till I could feel the pain of laughing too hard. Wow! If I need to get my money from somebody later, I should get these wonderful people. Then, they came to the firms, individuals, executives of the Law Student Fellowship (LSF), committees. Imagine you were part of more than one of these categories. By the time you defrayed your debt, you’d have been weeping. I kept my head low throughout the auction. Thankfully, I was not noticed. I didn’t have to pay anything. On the other hand, I was very happy Horace and Nayorm were helping the Library and Editorial Board Committee raise a lot of money since I’m a member of the committee. That was it for the morning session of Day 1. We had our snack break after, and came back after a few minutes for the second session. Mr. Manasseh Azure, a journalist, Mr. Tony Forson Jnr, the president of the Ghana Bar Association, Captain Effah Dartey, a lawyer and a former Member of Parliament and Welbourne JA, a judge of the Court of Appeal, were our guest speakers. One thing that struck me from their addresses was how prices of plastic bags were inflated to extort money from the government. That serious? As I said, the theme was just a perfect one for the week’s celebration. If only their message sank down our tympanic membranes, we could make changes. Ghana should be a better place for generations to come. Throughout the day, the official photographer and “Sheikh” were available to capture the wonderful moments.

          Yayyy! 6th March, Ghana is 62 today. It’s law week too. It’s the Sports Fiesta. It is midweek! All this beauty and joy in a single day. We headed for Athletic oval. Different games, different teams, different players. Cards, ampe, football, table tennis, but to mention just a few, occupied the day and the atmosphere. Personally, I played cards and ampe. I observed while my colleagues played football. “Ga k)mi” was served for lunch. We did tedious work so we needed HEAVY food to keep going. It was all exciting till 5:00pm when Sedi, Akorfa and I had to leave the Athletic Oval for Moot rehearsal. Hmmmm…..you can imagine! Considering the time we were leaving the field, we could not have done our own rehearsal before we met Mr. Martin Kpebu for the official rehearsal. This evening was the worst I had the entire week. That sudden transition from seemingly perpetual joy to sadness…..of course I found a way to comfort myself. The competition was the next day; I just could not afford to transfer the sadness to the next day. How could I have thought of that! The finalist firms met Mr. Kpebu around 7:30pm to rehearse. His comments on our presentation and even our appearance conveyed the message that we had so much work to do “but the Finale is tomorrow!” For some time, I felt guilty for spending the entire day at The Sports Fiesta. We could not afford to let the family down too. Unfortunately, it began to rain heavily right after the rehearsal. We were also very eager to get back to our submissions to make amends. It was raining but we were hot! In fact, this was fire. Thanks to Thelma Ashley who saved our night. She allowed us to board the taxi she picked to Pent even though she was going to Legon Hall. We got to Pent through the rain. I don’t think any of us thought of getting back to our rooms; not even in our greatest illusions. We went right away to the reading room. Through the midnight we prepared so hard for the day. We lost a good number of sleep hours. It’s just good I’m capturing this moment with the quill; one I never want to forget. I am pretty sure that counsel for the respondents were also working hard through the night to make finishing touches. We just couldn’t lose our guard. It was the last and we had to put in our all.

         “Just too soon, it is 7th March, 2019”. I don’t think I ever wished that it arrived so early. Anyways, it still came. We met to rehearse our submissions again, taking into consideration the comments made by Mr. Kpebu at our rehearsal the previous day. Not once, not twice, more than nine times, we repeated our respective submissions. It was already 2:00pm. We had to leave for our rooms to get dressed for the competition. The competition was set for 3:00pm. Somehow, I was still recovering from the previous day’s experience. At the same time, I was being optimistic; the dilemma I found myself in. I dashed into my room for a mug of cold tea. I needed to calm my nerves. This “excitement” was getting beyond my control. Before the mirror I stood, I saw the dream. “You can do this girl!” I constantly saw mum and dad cheer me on. If the great force above says we can do it, who are we to object! “I can!” Sedi, Akorfa and I left Pent for the Law School auditorium. We said a prayer and got out of the cab. The mere sight of Torgbui, Ms. Alabi, Jochie, Maame, Lilian, Selikem and of course the one person I inherited my way of making the court room a comic show from, Priscilla Kuma, urged us on. This was a family I couldn’t even dream of disappointing.

         I wasn’t in the frame to converse unnecessarily at this juncture. “There comes Dada Afa!” Some “last-minute” tips from this learned mooter was not a bad idea at all. I was more than ready to take them. They were going to the prefrontal cortex of my brain at this point in time. Briskly, we walked into the court room as if we entertained no fears. Of course we had no fears. We worked hard, we lost sleep, we missed days of checking up on friends and some other colleagues, but it was fine. We knew it would pay off.

In the heat of the atmosphere, we held on. “Counsel for the appellants” …then it dawned on me that serious business had begun. All the while, I had been observing to avoid silly mistakes when I finally stood to address these Supreme Court judges. I just couldn’t afford having myself bullied by “The Big Three”. All of a sudden, Sedi had rested her case. But how? That was just too fast. She gave me no time and space to entertain useless thoughts. Ok. It doesn’t matter. I am doing it no matter what efforts it would demand. Shall we? So I got up with some strength and so much enthusiasm. I proceeded to mention my name with some exuberance just to be stopped by the learned retired justice of the Supreme Court, Brobbey J.SC. (As he then was). Well, this abrupt interruption was not meant to take me off track. I gave him that smile that suggested mischief and proceeded with my submission when it appeared he was ready to listen. Immediately I began, i thanked God within me for this wonderful opportunity. I was really happy all three of us sailed through successfully in spite of our experience the previous day. We could feel the joy. In the long run, we lost to G.A.F Law Firm. We were however very happy when Miss Esmeralda Akorfa Afenyo emerged the best oralist. But one thing we would eternally be thankful for is the opportunity to bind as a family, the opportunity to develop our capabilities and the platform to train for our career. Congrats G.A.F. Law Firm! The most amazing period was the photo session. Oh Sheikh, thank you so much! Just too soon, the day we had awaited for the past year had almost come to an end.

         

Friday was for the legal outreach and movie night! I have no doubts that the legal outreach was perfect. The movie night was just great. I enjoyed the first movie. For the second, I have no comments since I lost concentration. One was enough for me for the night. The evening saw some form of reunion among law students. There was popcorn, soft drinks, and there was beer. The night was set for a Saturday which promised us so much fun.

Saturday is the day of the law week that a number of people had been preparing towards, for the past year. THE DINNER AND AWARDS NIGHT! Oh the joy this day brought! We aren’t joking at all! Night for the best form of socialization, hanging out and of course, having some fun. Earlier in the day, the Law Students’ Union in collaboration with the Law Students’ Fellowship made a charity trip to Dzorwulu Special School. This was our little way of giving back to society as law students and future leaders of this country. Thanks to all who made this possible in one way or the other.

         And then, Sunday! We brought the week to an end with the thanksgiving service. It was focused on the theme for the law week celebration; “The Legal Profession in Ghana; a Tool for Saving Ghana’s Posterity from Transcending Corruption”. This week was just beautiful. Indeed it was law week! After the service, I heard an imaginary knock on the door of my conscience. “Yesssss, who”s there?” “It’s me; your books”. Law week is certainly over. Exams are drawing nearer. I wish the entire student body the very best of the remaining part of the semester and hope that in everything we do as law students and in our practice in the future, we are conscious of the theme for this particular year’s law week celebration. We are definitely in for this! Enjoy!