Angels Still Exist In This World: A Note of Gratitude

In July 2023, I announced to the whole world that I was going to launch a book titled “The Handbook on Civil Procedure & Practice in Ghana.” Really, Francisca? We thought you were content with your PERSPECTIVES books (volumes 1, 2 and counting) and blog articles. Apparently not, fellas. By all projections – taking into account any eventualities – the Handbook on Civil Procedure was to be printed and ready for the launch by mid-August. Thus, the book launch was fixed decisively for 1st September, 2023. As fate would have it, come 30th August, 2023, and I had not a single book ready for the book launch. Yes, you read right. Everything else was ready for the book launch but the book itself. 

 

Without having any appetite to recount the details of how the assigned printing firm could not pull off the job – they couldn’t really give me any tangible reason other than that they could get me 5 books to do the launch! – I wish to say that, on the fateful 30th August, 2023, I stood at the crossroads of legal-academic infamy. When I got to the office that morning, I quickly informed my team of the gathering storm. We had to act fast. I suggested we issue fresh notices postponing the launch date by one week. The new launch date was 8th September, 2023. The team agreed. I put on a brave face and assured my team I was going to do whatever was possible to get the book printed and launched on 8th September. How was I going to do that? I had not the faintest idea.

 

Within an hour or so, we came up with a fitting design for the advert with the new 8th September date. We posted it far and wide on social media platforms. We tried our very best to make phone calls and send out messages to invitees to inform them about the postponement. I felt a bit relieved after that. But then again, the messages started pouring in. Why the postponement? What has happened? I said the printer couldn’t deliver on time. I later learned some folks didn’t even believe my ‘printer didn’t deliver’ nonsense. Well…. My immediate headache was to get a company that could print enough copies of the over 1,200-page book within one week for book launch.

 

By mid-day of that fateful 30th August, 2023, I felt both physically and mentally exhausted. But that was only the beginning of the search for a printing firm in Accra. The old simile of the needle in the haystack would be mild indeed compared with my chance of finding a suitable printer. And more so, to print my book within such an impossibly short time. I seemed to have arrived at the frontier of fate. I drew on my sense of fortitude. But that was more than fortitude could endure. I bet there was not a single soul who would have liked to sit in my saddle for a fraction of a second. Be that as it may, I was sustained in the book project by the incredible support of my book project team.

 

How do I get a printer in Accra? Specifically, one who is prepared to take on my impossible task? I remembered Accra New Town being the nerve-centre of printing jobs in Accra. So, I decided to go there myself and physically and personally get a printer for my book. Around 2 p.m, I called Lebene, my indefatigable office manager, and discussed my plan with her and asked her to go with me. She readily obliged and we set off from Spintex Road to Accra New Town. On our way, we called a couple of firms at Accra New Town where we do our office printing jobs. They all said they do digital printing, not off-set printing we needed for our book.

 

Our prospects were growing frightfully grim but we carried on all the same. Then Lebene suggested calling a printing company which we had chanced upon at the Ghana International Book Fair at the Accra International Conference Centre a couple of weeks earlier. She had the firm’s souvenir notepad from the Book Fair so she called the number on the notepad. A lady answered the call and said they do off-set printing of books. She gave us directions to their office: “Drive straight on the New Town Road, turn right at the Lema Press junction and ask for Havaad College. Our office is across the street. Hybrid H,” the lady instructed us.

 

In about twenty minutes, we were in front of Hybrid H. The lady came out to meet us, directed us on where to park opposite their premises, and ushered us into their office. After greeting the staff around, I got straight to business. I informed our host we needed someone to print our book as soon as possible so we had to talk to the person in charge. She nodded affirmatively. She brought out several samples of books they had printed, including a behemoth of several thousand pages on the history of one of the Akan tribes. We quickly glanced through the books. I thanked her for the warm reception and asked again to meet the person in charge. It was at that moment that she told us her ’boss’ was not around but he will be in soon.

 

Madam host made several calls to her ‘boss’ who, we were told, was returning from a meeting. Geez, can’t we ‘Ghana-nians’ be upfront and direct for once? I was looking at my watch and seeing the minutes ticking away, signifying that my one week countdown had begun in earnest. I signaled Lebene that she should let us leave and check out other places before all the other shops close. I got onto my feet, adjusted my headgear, slung my handbag containing my laptop with the manuscript on my shoulder, and bade the host and her colleagues goodbye. Just before the host could put in a final plea for me to sit and wait a bit, a gentleman sauntered into the office, greeted and marched straight to his seat at his desk. The host and her colleagues excitedly informed us that, that was their ‘boss.’

 

The host led us to go and meet her boss, who introduced himself as Rhoe Quaye, the owner and CEO of Hybrid H. I was exhausted that day and Rhoe didn’t look any different. Whatever meeting he had attended, it didn’t appear it had borne much fruit. It seemed the last thing Rhoe expected to see in his office upon his return was women trying their hands on some “kyekyekule” stories for toddlers coming to worry him with their wishful printing tales. But Rhoe was magnanimous enough to extend to us the courtesy of asking us what the hell we wanted from his company.

 

I noticed the guy was not in the mood for any long things so I cut to the chase. I told him simply I needed someone to print my book for me.

“What type of book is it,” he asked, trying very much to subdue his disinterest?

“It is a law book,” I answered dutifully.

For the first time in the three or so minutes I had encountered Rhoe, he sat up, leaned in and took a direct look at me. At the same time, I saw a flicker of interest in his eyes and a developing grin on his face.

“Which area of law is your book about? Torts, land law, criminal law or constitutional law?,” he asked eagerly.

“My book is on none of those areas of law,” I replied.

 

By that time, only I knew the fire I was carrying in my headgear that day. I set out in a black & white blouse that had seen better days. I supported it with a pair of black pants that was neither short enough to be called shorts nor long enough to qualify as trousers. I crowned it all with a pair of well-worn navy loafers, and tied my hair with a headgear to boot. I looked anything but legal; not to talk about legal-cum-academic. On top of that, my name didn’t ring the slightest bell in Rhoe’s ears. Neither did my law firm. Thus, I looked more like an imposter; a fraud, if you like.

 

In the circumstances, I wanted to be candid and upfront with the gentleman. In case he wouldn’t print a law book outside the conventional areas of law he was familiar with – more so written by lawyer he had never heard of - I would shake him farewell and thank him for the opportunity and move on to the next printing firm.

 

Truth be told, I became confident when we arrived at Accra New Town from Pig Farm. We saw printing firms littered all over the place. I knew if our first stop didn’t work out, there was hope. But the hope in me always dimmed at the thought of my insane deadline. Who will be prepared to take on this madness? But I digress.

 

Feeling a bit unsure, Rhoe pressed on.

So, which area of law have you written your book on?

My book is on Civil Procedure.” I stated matter-of-factly.

Now, Rhoe looked at me with a sense of intrigue, interest and ambivalence kneaded into one fine dough. Then, he ventured again.

Which area of law is called Civil Procedure.” Seriously, Rhoe? You want me to give you a definition of civil procedure when I have less than one week to launch a book that only exist on my laptop as of now? And I have been suffering from anxiety pangs all day? And my mouth feels so bitter and I haven’t eaten a bite all day? And you want me to define Civil Procedure for you? Well, I will rather draw it for you! Thankfully, these musings remained in my head.

 

Then I thought: Maybe, I should open my laptop and simply read the first paragraph of Chapter 1 of the book to Rhoe. But I decided against it. I rattled off some definition of civil procedure to him. I can’t recall exactly what I said, but I figured it made a great impression on him. He got up excitedly from his swivel CEO chair and started gathering samples of law books he had printed for us to see. We said they all looked impressive. Rhoe was also impressed, apparently.

 

I now laid bare the full extent of my predicament to him: 8th September for book launch; all invitations gone out already; food, music and venue ready; but the book is not ready!

After listening to me and without seeing the manuscript, Rhoe said, “Madam, I will print the book for you. The time is too tight but we will do it. I will get you enough books for the launch on 8th September. Don’t worry. Then we will print the rest later.”

 

I was completely dazed. My reflex action dictated that I should give Rhoe a big bear hug. Of course, I restrained myself. I thanked him profusely with my voice. All the anxiety of the day had finally been lifted off my shoulders by this gentleman. I knew him from nowhere. Neither had he ever seen or heard about me. He only happened to meet me in his office, scouting for a printer for my overdue book. No referral from anyone. We just met by providence. And though I was optimistic that I would get the book printed, I never knew an angel would come by that soon.

 

The sense of relieve I felt was huge. Right after that moment, we were chatting as if we were old pals. Rhoe gave me a torrent of questions to satisfy his curiosity and I cordially obliged him: - Are you a lecturer? Are you a judge? Ah, don’t you teach anywhere at all? Is this your first book? How did you fix a date to launch a book when the book had not been printed? I answered all the questions but the last. I have sworn to carry the answer to that question into my grave.

 

Rhoe asked to see the manuscript and I showed it to him on my laptop. He was amazed – nay, impressed - at the sheer volume of the work. At the same time, he appeared to be motivated by the challenging nature of it all, not to talk about the ungodly time lines. Rhoe’s sense of professionalism shone through. He gave me a full picture of the final work he was going to do: hard cover, 70 gms white paper, black & white printing, sewn spine, quality assurance sticker, page marker thread (I’ve forgotten the printer’s jargon for it), etc. I asked him to prepare an invoice for me right away, which he did. It was transparent and fair. Still, I managed to get some discount on the printing cost.

 

I showed Rhoe a printed sample of the book I had with me. The sample book, when it was opened and lying down on its spine, perpetually kept its limbs up. It appeared to suffer from a severe case of spinal injury. Rhoe pleaded to know who printed such a masterpiece. I vowed not to disclose my source. And I have not heard the last of it.

 

Once I had Rhoe’s word that he will print enough books for the book launch and continue with the rest on a daily basis till it was all done, I had to throw in another request. After the Friday, 8th September launch, we needed another consignment in two days to take to the GBA Annual Bar Conference in Cape-Coast on Sunday, 10th September. Again, Rhoe assured me he will make it happen. We thanked him profusely and bade him goodbye.

 

My team and I spent the whole night of 30th August, 2023 at our office to review the entire manuscript’s typesetting before sending it to Rhoe in the morning of 1st September. What shall I render to my able FSB books project team of angels – Lebene and Richmond?

 

At around, 10 a.m. on 8th September, 2023, - the much-awaited launch day - Rhoe personally delivered the agreed consignment of books for the book launch. The book was beautifully printed and bound in Ghana. My team was over the moon about it. I was the happiest person on planet Earth. The book launch was great and everyone was shocked to know that the book was printed and bound here in Ghana by a Ghanaian called Rhoe Quaye of Hybrid H, Accra New Town. My team also took the consignment for the Bar Conference from Hybrid H office on Sunday, 10th September. Delivered as promised.

 

Who says there are no angels on this earth? We mostly dwell on what did not go right. Thus, we are blinded from seeing the good that happen around us all the time. Even in our darkest moments, some way, somehow, a shining light always appears to illumine our paths. It’s always refreshing to take a pause and smell the coffee. To acknowledge our angels on this earth who come through for us in our moment of torment. And to spare a moment to acknowledge and celebrate them.

 

This is the message I sent to Rhoe this Christmas:

Hello Rhoe, I'm truly grateful for your effort in bringing the books today. Most importantly, thanks so much for the wonderful gift as well. You've made my holidays a truly memorable one. Here’s to an awesome, prosperous and healthy new year 2024!!! Hurray!!!

This was Rhoe’s response:

People like you move the world. I am happy and ever grateful to be associated with you and giving me the opportunity to show our ability in spite of all the challenges. God richly bless you. Happy new year in advance.

 

Ever the businessman, this is how Rhoe ended his message:

Bring more work ????

And I responded:

???? ???? ???? You know I’m hooked with HYBRID H forever.

 

 

 

 

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