I have struggled in the last four weeks since your demise to put myself together and write something in memory of you, Prof. I guess I’m still expecting a return call or message on WhatsApp to say “Gordon I’m busy now; call me at ….”. This would have been your usual response when you weren’t able to answer my call immediately. I had called you unbeknownst to me that you were hospitalised; I left you a message on whatsApp just to alert you I called, and barely 72 hours later, I get the most devastating news of your passing through social media. Today you’re put to rest eternally, and the reality of your exit has hit hard on me.
I met Professor Jacob Plange-Rhule as a second-year medical student at the School of Medical Sciences (now School of Medicine and Dentistry) of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He taught aspects of Physiology. During this period you distinguished yourself as a teacher par excellence and someone who not only appreciated the difficulties medical students faced but went out of your way to seek out students in need of help of a kind. My close relationship with Prof didn’t start until when I began work as a houseman (newly qualified doctor). Prof would call me and have very fatherly conversations with me. From this, he began introducing me to anyone in his company as his “son”. I later got to know Prof had all girls of his own and being a son to him was an honour I could hold on. He took me along whenever he went to play golf at the Royal Kumasi Golf Club (then Kumasi Golf Club) and introduced me to golf. He got me a personal trainer, and that began my lessons in and later playing of golf. Prof, I spent many weekends playing golf with you and talking about my next steps in medicine. I recall very well it was you and one other friend of yours, himself a professor of medicine, who as it were “opened my eyes” to the endless opportunities I could have by pursuing psychiatry. This was my morale booster at a time other people close to me did everything to discourage me from entering this area of endeavour. Today I am who I am because you spurred me on. You knew my strengths, and you were quick to spur me on in a direction suited to my strengths. One weekend a few years ago, I got a call from you; when I answered, you said: “Gordon I want you to be part of a teleconference that I’ve been participating for a while and represent me; you will update me because it’s about psychiatry and you can answer the relevant questions”. That call and that mission you gave me led to the collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, USA some 24 months later following your call to me. The Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital Department of Psychiatry went on to be the host of this collaborative effort.
I can go on and on, but as you may know, so much has been said about you and your legacy I need not repeat. I just want to say what an IRREPLACEABLE LOSS this has been to me personally, indeed your girls and your lovely wife, the medical fraternity and the numerous sons and daughters who are bold to call you friend, mentor and teacher. Fare thee well Prof till we meet again in the afterlife; Fare thee well and be received to the bosom of Father Abraham and the Almighty God in Heaven and with all the saints and angels till we meet again.