Just like the famous ‘I have a dream’ statement by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., the Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, also has a dream for Ghana which is rooted in Ghanaian’s quest for peace and development.
He says: “I have a dream that one day issues of national concern would be discussed on political platforms devoid of political partisanship, ethnicity and tribe.
I have a dream that political debates in the future would be grounded on research and thorough analysis.
I have a dream that every government would invest in peace even when there is peace, since ‘prevention is better than cure’.
These are aspects of the big “dream” the Most Rev. Prof. Asante shared with the audience when he was presented with the 2014 US Embassy Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Peace and Social Justice.
The award was to appreciate his firm commitment to promoting peace and security throughout the country during Ghana’s 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. Initiated in 2007, the award recognises Ghanaian citizens who imitate the view and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr by helping to build a culture of peace, dialogue and conflict resolution.
As the Chairman of the National Peace Council, the Most Rev. Prof Asante collaborated with other institutions in a lot of peace initiatives to maintain calm in the country before, during and after the country’s 2012 elections.
“When you look at the sub-region – Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and other African countries, you can see what violence and conflicts have done to these countries and as Ghanaians, we don’t want to go through the same. Ghanaians are peaceful but nobody thought what happened in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia would happen to them. Peace has to be so important to us that we will not accept violence,” he told the Junior Graphic in an interview.
He said being uncivil and hurling insults at people to incite others was not the best, and while it was necessary to engage in politics, there was the need for people to be mindful of what they say and how they say it.
Political parties are important because they are there to help us contribute to national development but they should not create confusion. Even in our differences we must unite, he said.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante said every Ghanaian has contributed to the calm in the country so he would not like to take credit for it.
“Thanks be to God for the fact that we didn’t let our nation burn, that our leaders – the President, the opposition leader, every Ghanaian behaved responsibly after the Supreme Court verdict. All credit to God and Ghanaians,” he said.
He said indeed children are the future leaders of the country and pointed out that all future matters are defined by the present, therefore, it was important for children to learn to be tolerant, appreciate their differences and do things in a peaceful manner.
He advised children to understand that it is always better to ‘jaw, jaw’, that is, talk things over and not to engage in fights.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante recommended that peace lessons be taught in basic schools, adding that such lessons can be termed: “Justice and Peace Studies” because the two go together, for there can be no peace without justice.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante was born 63 years ago (April 12, 1950) at Ejura in the Ashanti Region to Nana Kofi Appiah, a sub-chief of Ntonso and Adwoa Afrimu (alias Adwoa Kunama) from Ejura.
He had his basic education at Ejura and Ntonso and completed Middle Form Four at the Ejura Anglican Local Authority Middle School in 1965.
In 1966, he enrolled at the Salem Secondary School at Osu Kuku Hill but had to drop out of school in his second year due to financial difficulties.
On hindsight, he said he could attribute his dropping out of school to ignorance and poverty. He said it was ignorance, because there were scholarships available but he did not have any idea about that.
Although, he dropped out of school, he still desired to pursue higher education so he undertook private studies and entered the seminary where he obtained a diploma in Biblical Studies and Missions.
He then continued to the United Kingdom for further studies and also to Canada where he earned two bachelor’s degrees in Theology and Philosophy, a Master of Arts in Theology and a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology from the St Paul’s University and Ottawa University.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante returned to Ghana in 1986 and was ordained in the Methodist Church where he served in various capacities and became the Bishop of Kumasi from 1998 to 1999. He has been the Presiding Bishop from 2009 till now.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante was once a lecturer, Vice Principal/Academic Dean and President of the Trinity Theological Seminary.
The Most Rev. Prof. Asante is married to Comfort and they are blessed with three sons: Emmanuel, Paul and Jerry Asante.