It is rare for someone to be celebrated while he or she is alive in our part of the world.
What we usually read in newspapers and from posters is the announcement of the celebration of lives of people who lived beyond 60 years and passed away.
It was therefore pure joy at Chiraa in the Sunyani West Municipality of the Bono Region when the children and grandchildren of 90-year-old retired teacher, Mr Abraham Opoku Danso, and his 79-year-old wife, Mrs Lydia Opoku Danso (Akosua Adiyea) honoured them on their 60th marriage anniversary.
For 60 years (1962-2022), Mr and Mrs Opoku Danso have gone through thick and thin and stayed together to take care of their six children as well as others who came from villages around Chiraa to stay with them in order to go to school.
Their children are Mrs Dorcas Yeboah, 59, who is a nurse in the United Kingdom; Mr Kwasi Poku, alias K.O, a social worker/pastor in the UK,
Mr Opoku Sakyi, 49, Millicom-Tanzania, Mr Opoku Tweneboah, a self-employed I.T Expert in Sunyani, Mr George Opoku Amankwaah, 37, a Principal Accounts Officer at the Cocoa Clinic, Debiso in the Western North Region and Ms Nancy Opoku Akomah, 36, a civilian nursing officer at the Takoradi Military Hospital.
The couple have 14 grandchildren from their biological children with Mr Benedict Yeboah, 33, a self-employed property developer in the UK as the eldest grandchild while there are several others from their adopted children.
It was therefore not surprising that the celebration was not limited to the biological children and grandchildren as hundreds of people, including the couple’s adopted children, extended family members as well as the Chief of Chiraa, Barima Minta Afari, and his elders converged on the Chiraa New Town Seventh-day Adventist Church, from far and near, for the occasion.
Adorned in their yellow and white kente cloths, the couple received congratulatory messages from their children, grandchildren, church members, adopted children, chiefs and students whom they had nurtured.
Born on September 25, 1932, Mr Opoku Danso had his early education at Chiraa and Bechem and taught as a pupil teacher, after obtaining his Advanced Level (A-Level) certificate for some time, before enrolling at the SDA Teacher Training College at Asokore, Koforidua in the Eastern Region in 1965.
He taught at Chiraa L/A Primary, Techimantia L/A Middle, and other schools at Fahohoyeden and Bediako, near Goaso during his pupil teaching days. While at Bediako, his wife was also employed as a pupil teacher in the same school he taught.
When he completed the Asokore SDA Teacher Training College, Mr Opoku Danso was posted to the Chiraa SDA Junior High School in 1965 where he taught until 1997 when he was transferred to a nearby town, Yawhima from where he went on retirement in 1992.
Mrs Opoku Danso attended the Atebubu Teacher Training College and joined her husband at the Chiraa SDA Cluster of Schools.
As staunch Adventists, the couple who have played various roles in the Chiraa Main SDA Church, which is very close to their house, sacrificed their comfort to join and nurture the Chiraa New Town branch of the church when it was established 25 years ago.
Mr Opoku Danso served as an elder of the church at Chiraa, Sunyani Zonal Elder, and the district elder when the Chiraa District of the church was established.
Asked what the secret behind his success was, Mr Opoku Danso said: “My wife has been my chief supporter. She has supported me financially to educate my children and in all aspects of my life”.
Besides teaching, Mr Opoku Danso was also a big-time farmer who currently owns a 100-acre cocoa farm with a total of 40 acres of oranges, mangoes and oil palm plantations with some goats, sheep and fowls.
As a result of his farming exploits, Mr Opoku Danso was one-time Best Cocoa Farmer for the then Sunyani District and a representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board for about 10 years.
“I made up my mind to stay in this marriage till death”, Mr Opoku Danso told The Mirror, adding that “to me divorce was not an option when I settled on Lydia and I have stayed through and through till now,” he stated.
According to him, broken homes always had negative effects on the development of children and therefore advised couples to understand and solve their problems amicably instead of depending on family members.
For her part, Mrs Opoku Danso said: “I have been able to stay in this marriage because we forgive each other in times of difficulties”.
Quoting Genesis 20:1-14, she advised couples to do everything possible to protect their marriages, adding that “even though there will be ups and downs, you need to go on to the end”.
“In marriage, you need to be blind, dumb and deaf. You have to be selfless and have the will to persevere. If you have these attributes you will last in any marriage as a woman,” she stated.
She added that she had continued to respect the relatives of her husband.
“I have advised my children to respect their wives and in-laws. Our children are very respectful and their spouses respect us. If your children do not respect you, your in-laws will also not respect you.”
Asked about what he knew about his grandparents, Mr Benedict Yeboah said: “My grandparents are very caring. They have opened their arms not only to us but to others as well. We have been impacted by their attitudes and attributes.
“I wish that they could stay for another 60 years in marriage so that we can come here from time to time to experience their love, care and selflessness”, he said.
For their contributions to the SDA Church, the couple were presented with a citation while a building inaugurated for the use for worship by children of the Chiraa New Town SDA Church was named after them.
Their children also launched an educational endowment fund to support needy, brilliant students in the area.
Nana Minta Afari announced that Mr Opoku Danso had been selected among five distinguished personalities to be honoured during his enstoolment anniversary celebration.
Nana Afari mentioned the elevation of the Chiraa Health Centre to a hospital status and the establishment of the Chiraa Senior High School as some of the contributions that the couple had made to the town.
sermon, the President of the Mid-West Ghana Conference of the SDA Church, Pastor Edward Nyarko, commended the couple for their selfless devotion in the church and love for both their families and the community.
He also thanked the children of the couple for honouring their parents during their lifetime and advised others to emulate that gesture.
Later in the day, a party was organised at the Chiraa Wembley Guest House where hundreds of people had a feast.