On July 12, 2012 we began work in our new Accra office. But it is more than just a new office, it marks a change in focus and strategy in GILLBT.
A little history will help to understand the change. From 1962 when the work formally began and until 1929 Accra was the seat of the directorate headed by the first Director, Dr. John Bendor-Samuel. The purpose of the office was national representation and mobilisation for the work in Ghana. This mobilisation included the University of Ghana in particular, government ministries, and churches. Even though relations with the University and government took priority, Dr. John Bendor-Samuel nevertheless secured the support and goodwill of leading Ghanaian Christians —John Agamah, William Ofori Atta, TB Dankwa, Gottfried Osei Mensah, Isaac Ababio, ES Aidoo, EVO Dankwa, Commdore Quaye, etc—whose support provided goodwill and legitimacy within the Christian community in Ghana for GILLBT.
Then in 1969 the Directorate was moved to Tamale. The majority of the translation and language development work was in the north, making Tamale a natural hub for coordinating the work. At this point the purpose of the Accra office changed. It became a “Business Office” focusing primarily on issues of residence permits, and administrative permits including tax exemptions for expatriate staff. The substantive engagement which marked 1962-1969 gradually faded. In the late 1980s a church relations officer was appointed. But his work was not aligned with the core functions of the office. Four years ago, the Accra business office was sold.
The opening of our new office in Accra marks a return to the purposes of the office from 1962 to 1969 – that of substantive engagement with the churches and other institutions in Ghana. It is therefore a very important symbolic milestone for us. It represents nothing less than the strategic repositioning of GILLBT which is seeking to be genuinely linked to others with an interest in language development, literacy, education and Bible translation in our mother tongues. Developing and sustaining those links is a major function of our Accra office – for the first time since 1969. We want to be an active and contributing part of the academic community working in Ghanaian languages, of the educational community working to improve education for all Ghanaians, and of the community of faith seeking to hear God speak with us in our mother tongues. You are invited to let us know how we are doing in those regards.
The new office is located in Adjiringanor, at the end of Trassaco Valley Road near the Islamic University. As the photos below testify, we are working in it even though it is not complete. Much work remains to be done, some inside the office but even more on the grounds. Improvements will continue as funds are available. If you are interested in donating toward the remaining work, you may do so through our bank account (Barclays, Osu account number 1240645) or our MTN Mobile Money account 0541980637.
Adapted from an internal memo by GILLBT Director, Dr. Paul Opoku-Mensah