It was a sight to behold when Ghana’s oldest living medical practitioner, Dr Emmanuel Evans-Anfom, celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in Accra yesterday.
Government officials, family members and friends joined the celebrated surgeon, academic and statesman to mark the momentous centenary event.
In attendance were the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia; the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo; the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison; the Chancellor of the University of Ghana, Mrs Mary Chinery-Hesse; old students of Achimota School, led by the President of the Old Achimotans Association (OAA), Professor Ernest Aryeetey, who is also a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, as well as the leadership of the Ghana Medical and Dental Council.
Others were the leadership of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, led by the Moderator, Rt Rev. Prof. Joseph Obiri Yeboah Mante; the Clerk-elect of the General Assembly of the church, Rev. Dr G.N.N. Odonkor; a former Moderator of the Church, the Very Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey, and the Minister in charge of the Ebenezer Congregation, Osu, where the celebrant worships, Rev. Nii Teiko Dagadu.
Apart from nucleus family members, made up of the second and third generations of Dr Evans-Anfom’s lineage, many members of the extended family from around the world were also present.
Coincidentally, Vice-President Bawumia, who was the head of the government delegation, also turned 56 yesterday, while KLM, the Royal Dutch Airline, which shares the same birthday with Dr Evans-Anfom also turned 100 years.
Since KLM found out 20 years ago that it shared the same birthday with Dr Evans-Anfom, the airline had been part of his annual birthday celebrations.
Surrounded by the warmth and love of his family, Dr Evans-Anfom marked the occasion as he has always done — a church service and a brunch — only this time with a bigger gathering.
What could have passed as a simple family affair attracted national interest, and rightly so, because the celebrant, in his active career days as a medical doctor, served as a public servant, accepting postings to anywhere he was sent to in the country.
He was also the second Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and chaired many national committees and boards.
Indeed, he is credited as the originator of matriculation events at universities, which he introduced during his tenure at KNUST.
As early as 7 a.m., the lawn at his Leonora Lodge home was set and ready to receive visitors. And as if guests were conscious of his punctuality, by 9 a.m. almost everyone who wanted to be a part of the celebration was seated.
At 9:38 a.m., Dr Evans-Anfom, clad in an all-white outfit and with his wife, Elise, by his side, was ushered in by a popular Methodist hymn: ‘Count your blessings’, jointly performed by the Winneba Youth Choir and the Osu Ebenezer Presbyterian Church Choir.
Sermon and communion
In a sermon, Rev. Dr Odonkor said the Bible text chosen for the occasion, Psalm 100, was very appropriate and in tune with the celebration because it was all about worshipping and celebrating God for His goodness.
He commended the celebrant for leading a worthy life and worshipping God regularly.
“At 100, you can say that your service to education, in the medical field, to humanity, academia, sports, the Presbyterian Church, Osu, Ghana and Africa is all service to and worship of God.
“Your life has been and may it continue to remain an inspiration to generations as proof that God has been faithful to you because you served Him diligently through your selfless service to mankind,” Rev. Dr Odonkor added.
Congratulating Dr Evans-Anfom on chalking 100 years, Dr Bawumia said the latter’s life was a real inspiration because despite achieving so much in life, he remained a humble person.
“Ghana owes you for all that you have done. You are an icon, a phenomenon that has to be celebrated,” he added.
Dr Evans-Anfom responded to a ‘Happy birthday’ song with smiles as family, friends and colleagues took turns to share their stories and lifetime experiences with him.
If there is a phrase to sum up his life and the day, it is a quotation from his wisdom by Rev Dagadu: “Don’t chase money because if you do, money will run away, but work hard and money will come to you.”