Fans from Ghana, Africa and across the globe attended the event held to celebrate the live of the academician at the Conference Hall of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences in Accra.
There were also congratulatory and good will messages from institutions such as the University of Ghana, the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and the University of Ghana Law School.
The two-day celebration (September 5-6) is on the theme: “Celebrating a Life of Academic Excellence, Public Service, Thought Leadership and Activism”.
Prof Sawyerr, popularly known as Aki to many, was born on 24th March, 1939.
Among the dignitaries who graced the first day of the celebration of the life of the Academician were Dr Mohamed ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and Prof Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia.
Prof Sawyerr, who has gone down in history as the fourth Executive Head of the University of Ghana (1985 to 1992), grew up in the then Gold Coast during the militant struggles for self-determination.
His father, who died when he was only nine years old, made important contributions to this struggles.
Prof Sawyerr’s mother, Madam Amy Sawyerr (Nee Mettle), as a single parent was the key figure in his upbringing, including overseeing his school work and making the considerable material sacrifices that enabled Prof Sawyerr to fulfill his dream of studying law.
After completing his secondary school education at Achimota School, Prof Sawyerr proceeded to study law at universities in the United Kingdom.
Prof Sawyerr received a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Durham in 1962.
Three years later, he was given a Master of Laws degree from the University of London.
Prof Sawyerr earned his Master of Laws degree from the University of California in 1967 and a Doctor of Juridical Science degree from the University of California in 1972.
He worked as a lecturer and senior lecturer at the University of Dar Es Salaam in 1964-1970.
In 1970, Prof Sawyer became a senior lecturer and then a professor of law at the University of Ghana, where he worked until 1988.
In 1985, he was appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, a position he held for seven years.
He also worked as a professor at the University of Papua New Guinea from 1979 to 1984.
Prof Sawyerr is married to Judith, and they have two children – Ayo and Fash, with several grandchildren.
Prof Adebayo Olukoshi, Regional Director for Africa and West Asia, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), who delivered the first lecture marking Prof Saweyrr’s 80th birthday celebration, hailed him for his greater sense of modesty and humility in the course of serving his nation, Africa and the world at large.
Speaking on the topic: “Democratisation, Active Citizenship and Africa’s Transformation”, Prof Olukoshi gave a historical overview of African countries, right from the early independence era, through the period of one party state and dictatorship, military adventurism to the modern era of multi-party democracy.
He said although democracy had been entrenched in many African countries, there were still issues of electoral integrity to be dealt with.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director, Institute of Democratic Governance, said in spite of the numerous challenges facing many African countries, nobody wants military interference in democratic governance on the continent.
Madam Zenebework Tadesse, Principal Vice President, Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, underscored that at a time when some western and more entrenched democracies were backsliding, Africans should be happy that citizen activism and democratisation was thriving.
Prof Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh of the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, who chaired the function, congratulated Prof Sawyerr on his 80th birthday, and urged him to come out with an autobiography.