6 Decades of
Love & Music
Honouring Richard and Muriel's Cross-Cultural Union
The handsome seven-year-old lying on the mattress in a corner of the room, opened his eyes slowly; looking all around as if startled out of sleep. Then looking outside and seeing that the sun had started to rise, he stretched himself sleepily and got out of bed, still eyeing his pillow, longing to sleep some more but not daring to do so. It was time to fetch water at the public water standpipe. His mother had three house maids but that did not make any difference in their house; he and his siblings were expected to carry out household chores like everyone else. In fact, there was no distinction between biological children and maids in their house. He quickly went for his ‘kerosene’ gallon; he would have to fetch two of those before he went to school at the Kumasi Methodist School where he attended elementary school.
His late father, Mr. Richard Acquaah-Harrison, was a dedicated man, working for the Kumasi Public Health Board while also being an organist, lay preacher, and church elder. Richard’s late mother, Georgina Acquaah-Harrison was equally devout, serving as a bible study leader and a housewife. Both parents were committed to raising their children on the principles of the Word of God, and they did so through regular Bible study and Sunday school sessions.
Fast forward ten years, a seventeen-year handsome young man was standing on the huge stage of the prestigious Kumasi Assembly Hall, bellowing out melodious tunes, in a rich tenor voice that filled the hall and beyond. Richard, the young man in question, now a student at the newly established Prempeh College, had been chosen to play the lead role in the opera-styled production, ‘The Royal Jester,’ a performance which had done so well at school, that an encore had been requested for, at the prestigious Kumasi Assembly Hall; a performance which went so well that seventy years later, his friends would still remind him about it.
“Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and personal saviour?” The question threw the twenty-three-year-old Richard off balance. As a trainee planner who was applying for a scholarship to study in Britain, Richard encountered a pivotal moment when an engineer asked him if he had accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and personal saviour. This question led Richard to reflect on his faith and eventually led to a transformative encounter with God.
Years later, sitting at a table at an international Christian conference, excitedly waiting for the conference to start, his attention was suddenly drawn to this amazingly beautiful girl who left him feeling breathless, like he was having a heart attack. It was love at first sight. He read her name and country off her badge. ‘Muriel. Bermuda.’ Oh no! That was many seas away from his country but his heart would give him no rest; anytime he saw her, he felt woozy. Breathtaking did not even describe her. He was sure that the Holy Spirit was giving him a sign that that would be his wife. The only snag was that the Holy Spirit had yet to inform her. She didn’t know that he was in love with her and she didn’t care. However, his mind was set, he would not rest until he got her, he would go to the moon and back just to be with her. It took a lot of courage, faith and prayers to woo her, and over a long distance too. However, eighteen months later, and many painful, heartbreaking moments later, she said “yes.” Even her mother wondered what Richard had told her to get her to travel those long miles to be married to him. Apparently, it was the response to her question, “why do you need me?” “I need you to complete me” was the answer that broke the camel’s back.
Many years later, and in spite of its cross-cultural nature, the marriage has been great. Their shared faith continues to be a foundation for their marriage, coupled with their mutual love for music and travelling. They have also been blessed with two sons: Kobina Bosomtwi Patrick Acquaah-Harrison and Richard Kojo Egyir Acquaah-Harrison
Blessed by God, and putting the skills of patience, discipline, hard work and independent thinking into practice, Richard’s career as a Planner saw him hold many prestigious roles. Not only was he one of the pioneers of Ghana’s Town and Planning Department, but also he went on to hold high positions in the United Nations including serving as a Technical Advisor in Malawi, and as Chief Technical Advisor in Dominica. Richard served as Senior Human Settlement Advisor in Namibia, where he successfully implemented the low-income housing project. It was also not surprising that he was invited by President Nelson Mandela to be part of the reviewers for the One Million Housing Project in South Africa.
As a Planner, Richard is very disappointed when he sees the many commercial buildings without parking, buildings going up without the requisite permits and the indiscipline which has led to Ghana being “unplanned.” Richard was invited to come from Malawi to help draft the Accra Plan in 1992, the plan which sadly went unimplemented. His prayer is that there will be an insightful Ghanaian leader who will take up the planning and implementation of a low-income housing project in Ghana.
December 2007, the British Council Hall was packed full of people, ethereal classical music filled the hall; soothing, beautiful, and melodious, something like the sound of angels. The Music Ministry Chorale, a collaboration between the then retired Richard Acquaah-Harrison, his wife, Muriel, and a young friend of theirs, Victor Manieson. The audience was awed, most of them surprised at the existence of such a beautiful choir in Accra. The Acquaah-Harrisons have a shared love for music, and it is not surprising that both their sons are musicians. Music is not the only venture he has undertaken after retirement. Richard is also a writer and a landscape gardener. Muriel has been his editor for the past 50 years and this has been an invaluable professional support.
Now at ninety years old, an author of the novel Love Across the Distance and Music and Church Worship in Ghana: A crisis looming; the dignified Richard Acquaah-Harrison would answer when asked about the keys to his success:
“There have been three most important things I attribute success in life to, and I like to call them the 3Gs,” God, Good Upbringing and Values, and a Good Spouse.