Written by Ebenezer Narh
Ghanaian legal practitioner, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, is the former Attorney General and Minister for Justice of Ghana. Mrs. Appiah-Opong is a formidable force on the Ghanaian legal landscape; she has been a practicing Lawyer for 24 years.
One of her very high profile cases is the maritime dispute between Ghana and Ivory Coast at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) – a three year case which she spearheaded, with her team, and ensured an extremely successful outcome for Ghana. Currently, Mrs. Appiah-Opong serves as a member of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
In recognition of her role in the outcome of the maritime dispute and her excellent years of service that she has rendered to the justice and legal system in Ghana, GUBA awarded her the 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award. We got in touch with her to ask her a few questions after receiving the award:
How does it feel to be the recipient of the GUBA 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award?
Being the recipient of the GUBA 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award was a delight and indeed an honour. I am truly humbled to have been chosen from among so many outstanding women in Ghana for the GUBA 2018 Outstanding Achievement Award. It is a great feeling to be recognized for my achievements.
How would you use being the recipient of this award to influence others and how would it impact your career?
When I was appointed Attorney General, many expressed doubts about my ability to deliver. Particularly with Ghana’s dispute with Ivory Coast, most people expressed the view that we would lose the case. But I, together with my team, went ahead to get a favourable ruling for Ghana. Receiving this award is testimony to young people that they can achieve great things once they put their mind and might to it. Ultimately, my work spoke for itself.
What motivates or keeps you going?
I derive motivation from several sources. With regard to my profession, I am motivated and inspired by the many young girls and women who look up to me to keep doing what I do. The faith they have in me keeps me going because I cannot let them down. Again my family, both nuclear and extended, are also my source motivation. And finally, I am driven by the challenge to achieve results in any work that has to be done.
Is there any advice you would like to share with people who admire you or look up to you as a role-model?
The little piece of advice I would like to give young people is that there are no short cuts to success. Hard work always pays off. In this era of social media and “information overload” the view is that even if you are good at what you do, you must still make noise and find creative ways of blowing your horn. While this is true, I still believe that good work will always speak for itself. I will quote the wise words of Matshona Dhliwayo, a Canadian Philosopher (born in Harare, Zimbabwe), Entrepreneur and author: “Let your work speak for itself. If it is poor, it will remain silent. If it is average, it will whisper. If it is good, it will talk. If it is great, it will shout. If it is genius, it will sing”.
What are your impressions of the GUBA Awards?
It was clear that a lot of care, thought and attention went into selecting the nominees and award winners. Every award winner was deserving of the award. I think the yearly celebration of the GUBA Awards will serve as a reminder to all that hard work will not go unnoticed and unrewarded. The awards ceremony itself was very well organised. The ambience of the venue was pleasant indeed. The networking before the ceremony was really good and provided an opportunity to meet other people.
What should we look forward to from you in the coming years?
Well, I am currently back in private practice. I have recently been appointed as a member of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. Very few Africans lawyers are involved in international arbitration. This is unfortunate because many of the international agreements signed by our governments have international arbitration as the method for resolving disputes. I hope that together with my colleagues in Ghana we can encourage many more African lawyers to be actively involved in international arbitration.