A Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana, Professor Justice VCRAC Crabbe, has expressed concern that Ghana’s gold and diamonds have not made the country rich as South Africa’s gold and diamonds have made South Africa. He asked why that should happen in over sixty years of Ghana’s independence.
Speaking on the theme “The Philosophy of Man” at a well-attended inaugural lecture at the Ghana Academy of Arts And Sciences in Accra, he put the blame on mining agreements that supersede the mining laws of Ghana Diploma in Management, – a sovereign state.
Professor Crabbe, currently a guest lecturer at MountCrest University College in Accra, asked: “What blindfolds us to enter into an agreement or a series of agreements which results or result in our getting 7 per cent of our gold and someone else gets 93 per cent of 2.1 billion dollars – not to mention the cost to Ghana of subsidized electricity to those who get the 93 per cent?”
The 75-minute lecture focussed on gratitude, human nature, cause and effect, responsibility and limitations. He saw gratitude as a powerful element in the individual life and said there must not be an impatience of inferiority nor the consideration that the obligation of gratitude is a pain. “We must go beyond that. We must regard gratitude as a recompense which is a pleasure”.
On human nature, Justice Crabbe said in the modern era, men and women have everything going for them. They have classified, arranged and pigeonholed a vast amount of knowledge on almost every conceivable subject except the basic question of life. “What is my true nature as an individual? Where did we come from? Where are we going? What is the true meaning of life”, he asked
He said people know a lot about the physical world around them but not much about the spiritual world within them, observing that when people talk about the conflict between nations, they fail to understand that the basic conflict is between man and himself. What one misses most today, he said, is the evidence of widespread personal determination to develop a character that will in itself, make for happiness given any reasonable odds.
“The whole emphasis is on the reform of living conditions, of increased wages – not on production – of controls on the economic structure – the government approach. What about improving our basic nature as human beings? Why do we live in fear rather than in hope? Why do we have to live in antagonism and distrust rather than in harmony and co-operation”, he asked.
On cause and effect, the eminent lawyer made reference to the old adage: whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap, and said “we cannot sew corruption and reap economic development. We cannot sew division and reap cohesion. We cannot sew polarization and reap unity. It is the eternal law of nature that there can be no effect without a cause. To eliminate the effect we must first remove the cause”.
Justice Crabbe said the law of cause and effect has its limits. It has standards. The seed determines the type of fruit and the harvest reveals the seed. “Our conduct is the outgrowth of our characters. Our characters are the prophetic voice that foretells conduct. You cannot pull a raw deal and not get paid for it. Blessings follow good deeds and virtue is its own reward”.
On responsibility, Justice Crabbe said life is the acceptance of responsibilities or their evasion. It is a business of meeting obligations or avoiding them. “The choice is continually being offered – we call it opportunity. But the manner of the choice is ours, and ours alone”, he added.
We have a responsibility, he said, to make our own life better. And if we want a society of law and order, honesty, just dealing and friendliness, then we must be the first to be law abiding, the first to be honest and the first to be friendly. We cannot build a strong national character unless everyone builds a strong character for the good of Ghana.
On limitations, he said people are great or small according to the way they think and limit themselves as individuals and as a nation. “Perhaps our greatest need is self-realisation. We must wake up to our greatness. We must not allow our faith to live under masks of deception, dejection, degradation and humiliation. We do not have the right to be fearful, shameful or worthless. We are limited by the constraints we put on ourselves”.
Justice Crabbe observed that there are only two classes who never make a mistake: those who have as yet not been born, and those who are dead. He said the greatest mistake we can ever make is to continually fear, that we will make a mistake. “Do something – right or wrong. If it is wrong, correct the mistake, but for goodness sake, do something”, he urged.
Professor Justice Crabbe was the first African to be appointed as Parliamentary Counsel in the 1950’s by the colonial government. He was a senior instructor at the International Law Development Centre in Rome, Italy. He was Constitutional Advisor to the Government of Uganda, Director of the Commonwealth Secretariat Scheme for Legislative Draftsmen for the West African, Southern African and the Caribbean Regions at different times and a Professor of Legislative Drafting at the Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, University of West Indies.
He was also Special Commissioner to Ghana’s 1968 Constitutional Commission; Legislative Draftsman to the 1969 Constituent Assembly and drafted the 1969 Constitution. As Chairman of the 1979 Constituent Assembly, he again drafted the 1979 Constitution. He was the leader of Draftpersons for the Kenya Constitution and later worked on Zambia’s Constitution. He worked with the Fiajoe Review Commission to review Ghana’s 1992 Constitution.
He worked with Justice Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India, and Justice Eso of the Nigeria’s Supreme Court to advice on the setting up of the Constitutional Court in the Constitution of South Africa. He was Ghana’s Statute Law Commissioner and revised the Laws of Ghana from 1852 to 2004 in seven volumes.
He is Guest Lecturer at MountCrest University College in Accra.