To commemorate the first anniversary of the late Anthony Akuka Atongi, who was a philanthropist, friends and family invited the public to a week-long celebration of a life dedicated to service and making the world a better place.

“The man we are celebrating was humble and affable. He inspired and engendered transformational change in the lives of people as opposed to a lifestyle characterised by worldliness and material possessions," Gertrude Atongi, daughter eulogised.

Hundreds of people are said to have benefited from the late Anthony Akuka Atongi's commitment to making the world a better place, whether in Ghana or in hard-to-reach communities.

The late Atongi was described as a man of wisdom and great ideas who was results-oriented and kind by the Atongi Family and Friends Basic Need Foundation, which he led from 2018 until his death.

"His wise counsels and advice influenced society in diverse ways."

The late Atongi was a teacher, philanthropist, social worker, and political activist based in New York, USA.

He died on December 31, 2021, and was buried on February 18, 2022, at his family home of Pusiga in the Upper East Region.

The cardinal principles that defined late Anthony's relationship with people, according to friends, were social justice, fairness, honesty, and fellow feeling. They say that his interaction with people was unbiased by ethnic, political, or social status considerations.

"He gave back to society what he had benefited. He was selfless, dedicated and patriotic. He demonstrated immensely the love of God and country," the daughter said.

Anthony’s contributions to humanity

With the addition of three adopted daughters, Marcia, Lisa, and Vennica, the late Anthony contributed his quota to the development of mother Ghana, Pusiga, Tayondo, and Jamaica, among others.

The organisation took over the Ariyah Primary School in Pusiga, where 85% of the students now have desks, school supplies, footwear, and uniforms. It also provided health insurance to 50 people in Pusiga and the late Anthony wife's village in Tayondo. Medical supplies such as hospital beds, mattresses, baby supplies for the Mother and Baby Unit, and other medical supplies were also donated to health clinics in Pusiga and the Bawku Presbyterian Hospital.

The Foundation, in collaboration with the Amazing Grace Organisation in New York, provided a water tank in Pulmakom, providing the people with safe drinking water by November 2021.

He was the proud father of three lovely children, Gertrude, Judith, and Anthony Jr. Anthony was also a cherished grandfather to Kylie, Sarah, and Emmanuel, as well as a father to Gifty Appini.

Gertrude describes her father as a “hard worker and never forgot his humble beginning. He could have left Pusiga and never look back but that is not who Anthony was because he stood in the shoes of the people. Anthony knew that education could take you to new heights and new levels.”

According to her, the late Anthony goes by Malcom X’s dictum, “Education is the passport to the future” for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it.

“Anthony was caring and sympathetic. He also loved to travel frequently to his native Ghana. He was a conversationalist and his love for politics drew him to the National Democratic Congress (NDC). These qualities attracted many loyal friends and acquaintances. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, the people of Pusiga and the diaspora.”

In December 2022, the family planned events to honour the man who influenced them and the society in which they live. From December 31 to January 8, many residents received health screenings, visited adopted schools, played memorial football games, and celebrated Thanksgiving, among other things.

Gertrude says the family will always remember their father, son, teacher, and philanthropist.

Anthony's humble beginning

Mr. Anthony Akuka Atongi, also known as Tony, was born on December 22, 1954, to Mr. Bugnab Atongi and Alapouka Azure, both of blessed memory. He was the last of 13 siblings; five males and eight females, seven of whom died.

Anthony began his education at Pusiga's L. A. Primary and Middle Schools. He took the Common Entrance Examination and was admitted to Tamale Secondary School, Tamasco, at the time. He struggled to gather the funds to purchase his school kit. He sought help from his elder sister in Kumasi.

“It took weeks to scrape together enough money to buy the most essential of the kit. When he finally arrived in Tamasco, it was barely three weeks to vacation,” said Gertrude.

According to Gertrude, the school's headmaster refused to admit the father because he had missed too much of the term to keep up with the course.

“With tears and pleadings, the Headmaster relented but on the condition that Tony passed the first term exam. Tony agreed. With barely two weeks to the exam, Tony buried himself in books, relying on his classmates for their notes. In the exam, Tony was among the top ten, to the astonishment of everyone, including the headmaster.”

Anthony was unable to return to school when schools reopened for the second term due to financial constraints. He decided not to return to school out of frustration. However, he decided to return to his middle school two years later. He was assigned to form two, but he refused, claiming that his friends were in form four and that he would join them. He and the headmaster got into another fight. He was told once more that he could only join his friends if he passed the first term exam. He won the exam and was admitted to form four.

Anthony was accepted into Gbewaa Training College for a four-year Teachers' Certificate 'A' course after finishing middle form four. He completed the program and passed the Special Scholarship Scheme entrance exam. The Scheme allowed teachers who did not have the opportunity to attend secondary school to enter form 4 after passing an exam and an interview.

Anthony, as expected, passed both. Tony registered for the General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level (G.C.E 'O' Level) in form four and passed with a grade one, skipping form 5 and proceeding to 6th form. He met and married his lovely wife, Josephine, while pursuing his secondary education.

He left for the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in 1987 after a brief stint teaching at St. John Boscos' Training College. Anthony pursued his M. Phil degree at the University of Cape Coast after receiving his Bachelor's degree from KNUST.

Tony was an active social worker and Revolutionary cadre prior to his academic work at the two universities. He began as the chairman of the People's Defence Committee (PDC) in Pusiga, which later became the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR). His dedication and hard work earned him the position of CDR District Coordinator. Tony's outstanding performance as a District Coordinator earned him another promotion. He was sent to East Germany for additional training.

Anthony’s migration to the United States

Anthony and his family moved to the United States in 1998. He was offered a job as a substitute teacher with the Department of Education while in the United States. But the Tony we knew would never accept a substitute teacher or play second fiddle to anyone. He earned the United States Teachers Certificate, and his dedication and excellence earned him a scholarship to St. John's University, where he pursued and earned a Master's degree in Mathematics.

What would Anthony do now that he had accomplished so much? He made the decision to join his daughter Gertrude in humanitarian work. He undoubtedly comprehends what basic needs imply for human survival. Anthony had such a positive influence on the people of his village. His plan was to construct a library, a community centre, and, eventually, a school for the people.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.