By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Garden City, New York
Jan. 30, 2015
The hoaxy pronouncement of the passing of former First Lady, Mrs. Theresa Kufuor, by most of the major Ghanaian media, is not the very first of its kind. The same sort of rumors swirled around former Vice-President Aliu Mahama, late, and also the recently deceased Mrs. Christine Churcher, a former Kufuor cabinet appointee, if memory serves yours truly accurately. Needless to say, the lives of the rich and famous and privileged have always been of great interest to the general public, especially where such personalities have also exerted considerable influence in the national political arena. Such were the cases with Mr. Aliu Mahama and Mrs. Churcher, of course.
Still, the Kufuor family has every right to be upset by the spreading of apparently false rumors about the death of its matriarch. The fact, however, remains that there is no smoke without fire. In all likelihood, Mrs. Kufuor must have taken seriously ill recently, which grave event clearly appears to be what the former president's spokesman, Mr. Frank Agyekum, meant when he quite soberly observed that: "As we are aging, sickness is bound to happen [but] that doesn't mean that one should wickedly conclude that Mrs. Kufuor is dead. It is not true and even if there is a rumor, the proper thing is to enquire about it before coming out with such bizarre information."
If, indeed, the former First Lady had taken seriously ill in recent weeks or months, as Mr. Agyekum clearly alleges, then the most logical question to ask on the latter score is the following: How long was Mrs. Kufuor into her illness before these "bizarre" rumors began circulating about her supposed death? In other words, the savvy thing for Mr. Agyekum to have done, ought to have been for President Kufuor's media pointman to have put out a brief press release informing the concerned public that, indeed, Mrs. Kufuor had taken ill, but that she was presently rapidly on the mend, according to the former first lady's family doctor or personal physician. It is quite a stretch, indeed, for Mr. Agyekum to cavalierly fault the media with having either wronged the Kufuor family, through its supposedly insensitive publication of a serious untruth, or for flagranting affronting the former first family for one gratuitous reason or another.
I am quite certain that it was either a bona fide member of the Kufuor family or a close associate of the family who lit the match that rapidly spread the apparently false rumor of Mrs. Kufuor's passing. In reality, what is "bizarre" about the entire episode is this curious phenomenon whereby many Ghanaians feel obligated to keeping even the most benign and mundane of human events under wraps, when it is patently obvious that doing so does not serve any meaningful or progressive purpose, whatsoever, in our post-modern media culture. It used to be, in the recent past, that the passing of a paramount chief, for example, was often unannounced until preparations and funeral arrangements were almost finalized for the public celebration/observation of such a sociopolitically significant life with a prolonged and lavish funerary festivities.
I even heard it said, routinely, while growing up in Ghana, that the deaths of monarchs and petty chieftains were not immediately announced, because a certain number of quota-assigned human heads had to be harvested by sub-chiefs of the deceased monarch to ensure a fitting burial. Well, those benighted days are well behind our present generation. The advantage of putting out a brief press statement announcing the ill-health of the mater-familias of the Kufuor clan, is that it would have inspired well-wishers and sympathizers to pray for the sound and speedy recovery of the former first lady. It would also have, even more significantly, averted the sort of emotional hurt and public embarrassment that Mr. Kufuor's chief spokesman is bitterly griping about.