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Opinions Sun, 15 Dec 2019

Kofi Blankson Ocansey: Had a way of making everybody feel special

I wept & wept until my eyes were red & puffy. I stepped outside & the sky broke open & wept with me. I drove, in that pouring rain, from the ocean over the mountain, into the valley, to the desert.

Kofi, where would I not go to see you again?

When we met it was instant friendship. We sat at the restaurant for so long the surly waitress who’d taken her sweet time asking our order & bringing our food came over & said, “Ah, you won’t leave?”

That day, ages ago now, you became my friend, my confidant, my researcher, my editor, my fellow insomniac. But already it felt like I’d known you forever.

“What’re you reading right now?”, you asked every time we spoke. If you hadn’t already read the book, you’d definitely read something about it, could sustain an intelligent & well-informed conversation. My goodness, you were brilliant, always actively seeking knowledge, information, a way to make sense of everything, all the things, the whole of it.

Then one day I asked you to be my +1 at an event. “You’ll be my faux beau,” I explained. “And next week, you can be my fausse belle.” Those became our nicknames for each other: Faux Beau & Fausse Belle.

“You look très belle, Fausse Belle,” you’d say. You had a way of making everybody feel so special, as though they were your truest & bestest & you were theirs.

Several weeks ago you shared with me a video of Leonard Cohen’s speech at Fundacion Principe de Asturias. It was about gratitude, returning love to the soul & the soil, about those who arrive in our lives at the right time with the right gifts—all the things we did not know we needed—& those who leave us too soon, suddenly & surprisingly. I’ve returned to that clip again & again today. To Cohen’s music as well, especially the song you loved. The pain is raw. Still, I raise my glass, through the tears & think of you. Rest in poetry, power & peace, my friend. I give thanks for your life.

“Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in” #rip #kofiblankson

Columnist: Nana-Ama Danquah