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Biography of Thomas Asamoah Totoe, Esq

Thomas Asamoah Totoe, Esq, popularly referred to as Lawyer Totoe, was born to the late Opanin Akwasi Akwasi Gyamfi of the Ekuona clan and the late Obaapanin Ama Darkowaah of the Agona clan both of Fumesua in Ashanti. His lineage could be traced back to Nana Kofi Karikari, Asantehene.

At birth Lawyer Totoe, was named after Baffour Asamoah Totoe, an outstanding Adumhene. Lawyer Totoe’s royal birth did not give him a head start in life. Right from the beginning, he had to work hard to succeed. He started his elementary education at the English Church Mission (ECM) schools at Fumesua, Fante New Town and Nkawie. At both Fante New Town and Nkawie he stayed with and served as a mission boy to priests at the Mission House, and as a server at the Altar of God. It was at Nkawie that he encountered Rev Father John Evans who took to Thomas, acting as his mentor. Thomas’ devoted service impressed Rev. Father Evans who took him on a visit to Great Britain. In the proper tradition of young brilliant Anglicand, Lawyer Totoe gained admission into Adisadel College, Cape Coast for his Secondary education. He had a brilliant career at Adisadel College, excelling in the study of Greek and Latin. He capped his career with distinction at the Cambridge School Certificate Examination. To this day, a plaque extolling his sterling performance has a place of honour at College. His achievements at Adisadel College became more outstanding when it was revealed that that paying school fees was a perennial problem.  Later in life, he would recall with eternal gratitude, a senior brother, Papa Kwaku Anane who on one occasion having earned £1.10 from palm wine tapping, gave him £1 to cover his fees.

After obtaining the Cambridge School Certificate, Lawyer Totoe worked with the then Post Company in Accra and later with the Kumasi Children’s Hospital, Ministry of Health.  In January 1946 he joined the Colonial Service in the Office of the District Commissioner at Mampong, Ashanti.  His responsibilities included approving and sale of rifles, gun, ammunition and gunpowder. He recalled with pride, how as a young clerk he would not accept bribes from people who would benefit or benefited from his decisions.  He always ended this story with advice that one should fight against bribery and corruption.

The thirst for knowledge was such that in 1950, young Thomas left for the United Kingdom intending to take a course in Town and Country Planning.  A change of mind resulted in a decision to study Law. His efforts at the Law School and London School of Economics earned him the degrees of L.L.B. and L. L. M. He was called to the English Bar in 1954. He embarked on study for Ph.D, but having been prevailed upon by the late Mr. Victor Owusu that Ashanti and the Gold Coast needed men with his level of education and skills, he returned to the Gold Coast to start his legal career.

With gratitude to God and proud of the honour brought to the family as one of the early Ashanti lawyers, his late uncles Kwadwo Nsiah and Kwaku Mensah built him a huge multi-storied residential facility at Dadiesoaba and additionally, bought a car for his early Law practice.  Lawyer Totoe always talked about the show of love and kindness, admitting that it enabled him to start his legal career without worrying about material needs.

His legal career and practice started with at the Law Chambers of the late Lawyer Henry Prempeh, who subsequently achieved distinction as a Supreme Court judge. After pupilage he set up the law firm; Effah and Totoe with Lawyer a friend colleague.  He had the privilege of having as a pupil and later junior colleague, the late Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II. He finally went solo, setting up the law firm, Totoe Legal Service.

His exploits as a legal practitioner and luminary were legendary.  He handled chieftaincy cases with admirable ease, showing great insights into the traditions of our fathers through out his career.  He assiduously worked in the defence of successive Asantehenes and the Ashanti Nation. Law reports amply testify to his learning and erudition.

Again, with Effah, he founded the Kumasi Garment Factory in Kumasi, which in the 1970s and 1980s produced high quality garments especially shirts for the Ghanaian market.

The development of law in Ghana has a hallowed place for him. His contribution to law in Ghana earned him several awards from the National Bar Council and the Ashanti Regional Bar of the Ghana Bar Association. He was highly regarded in the Profession.

Lawyer Totoe served his nation well.  He is remembered for his work as Chairman of the Totoe Commission which investigated the affairs of the Kumasi City Council in March 1967. He demonstrated enormous strength of character in doing his work “without fear or favour, ill-will or affection.”

Senior citizens of Kumasi remember Lawyer Totoe as a gentleman’s gentleman. His sartorial excellence and elegance impressed all who knew him. He led an active social life as a young man. He enjoyed dancing which he did with passion and great skill. Those who were not as adept as he was, benefited from his tutorials. His interest in boxing came to an end when one day in a contest, he suffered an unexpected thunderous blow to his chin which floored him.

Lawyer Totoe was a family man to the core and doted on his children.  He had a passionate commitment to all his children. He followed the growth and development of each child with interest. For each child he had a file in which he kept a record of their growth and development. He kept such curiosities and oddities as a child’s milk tooth or the paper which a child first scrawled something in pencil.  These files contained an enormous wealth of information for the early biographies of each child.

He gave all for the education of his children. It is not surprising that he is survived by children whose academic attainments and professional careers would be a source of pride and joy to any parent.  He was always grateful to God for blessing him with hardworking children.  Nephews and nieces benefited from his hospitality and generosity.

He married Harriet Prempeh as his first wife.  He later married Patricia Abena Totoe who survives him. Lawyer Totoe owed a lot of his long life and continued good looks to this noble lady from Fumesua. He was blessed with quality children including three medical doctors ( all married to medical doctors.), two Engineers, a lady Chartered Accountant, a lecturer in Chemistry in the USA and a computer whiz–kid.

Living with Anglican priests and serving as an altar boy marked Lawyer Totoe as a committed Anglican and a Christian. In his adult life he put his wisdom, legal knowledge and skills at the service of God and people of God.  For a long time he served first as a Registrar and then Chancellor of the Anglican Diocese of Kumasi. Consequently in April 2007, the Diocese honoured with a guilded, beautiful and moving citation duly signed by Rt. Rev. Daniel Yinka Sarfo, the then Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Kumasi.

The late Thomas Asamoah Totoe brought to Totoe Legal Service. Though he has departed from this world, his legacy lives on.