I must admit I was such a resisting boy when I was a child. I never gave in easily, and I refused to be put down. I also had a character of never shedding tears, no matter the circumstances. I was beaten several times, I was overpowered several times, several close relatives died in my family, and I cried several times, but I never shed tears.
The first time I remember I shed tears was on January 24, 1998, when I lost my elder sister, Efua Annan, in such a shocking circumstance. I was the 12th born, while she was the 10th. The one between us died, and therefore Efua and I reverted to being the youngest and the closest of our siblings.
My eldest brother, Kwame Addo, who was the first of all the twelve children of our mother, was known to many to be my father. We looked exactly alike, and he had children who were older than me, and therefore everyone thought I was his son. Somehow I never explained, and he also never explained to anyone that we were brothers rather than being father and son.
Of all life’s challenges, and all the years of separation, I still saw my sister Efua, as the only person who loved me, and the person I loved the most. On January 24, 1998, for some strange reasons, my sister Efua Annan died, exactly two months before my mother also died. That was the beginning of the history of tears in my life. Subsequently, my father Kwesi Annan, also died, and in 2007, four years after my father was gone, our eldest brother, the one everyone thought was my father, Kwame Addo, also died.
I had then met Kofi Taylor just some few months back when my brother died. Kofi, a trained electrician, a politician who became the NPP Effutu constituency Treasurer, Chairman, and later the Central Regional Treasurer was warming up to get Owusu Agyei re-elected to Parliament. Kofi was a businessman who played a lot of frontline roles in Winneba. He was a member of the Winneba Fancy Dress number four (Red Cross) group, and rose through the ranks to become their Chairman.
My friendship with Kofi Taylor was consolidated from the time I lost my brother, Kwame Addo. I recalled when I first opened my restaurant, Kofi and I argued about the colors used to paint the summerhut structures. He felt that the black colors I had used would attract mosquitoes, and I felt it was okay once it blended with the orange colors on the walls.
Kofi and I have had several laughs, and several fights. Some months ago we had one of our strongest fights, not physical fight, but a fight of who is right, and who is wrong. Subsequently Nenyi Ghartey, the Paramount Chief of the Effutu Traditional Area, called both of us to settle the matter. But as boys, we thought we were both in a comfortable lead, and therefore our egos prevented us from accepting defeat.
A few weeks before he died, one faithful Sunday, I was just coming out of church when I saw Kofi driving pass. I did not expect him to wave at me as we were both still in a comfortable lead. But to my surprise, he did! He waved, smiled, while driving off. I just missed the opportunity to wave back. I had at the time engaged my hand in the first gear, and by the time I was able to disengage to wave back, he was already gone, and his phone switched off.
The following day I was off to Europe, spending three weeks away from Winneba. Upon my return, one of my staff informed me that Kofi Taylor was unwell, and that he had been admitted at the Central Regional Hospital. I did not think it was anything serious, but I promised I was going to make sure to visit him that weekend. Unfortunately, that weekend never came. Early the following morning, Kofi was gone. I had missed the opportunity to have my brother back, he was gone.
It feels as though death just snatched a life away from me, and from a growing happy wife, and from all loved ones. It feels as though death raced down, like a preying eagle, and made a swoop on Kofi, broke his neck, and took him away from us.
I don’t know where my mother was buried, and I don’t look forward to knowing it. But the fact that I don’t know where she was buried has become a regular reminder that we all will disappear one day. I am constantly reminded that we will all leave everything we do, we will all leave all that we have, and we will all leave this world to eternity. I am brutally aware that no matter how many years life gifts me, I will leave when the time is up, whether now or later.
The thought of dying used to frighten me. But gradually I have come to accept that fact of life, and I have been ready for it several times more. Since I came to accept this fact of life, that in the end it will all come to one thing, a body without life, I have ceased to be afraid of anything, death or life. And I have come to enjoy the reality, that, one day, all the happiness, all the sufferings, all the bitterness, all the frustrations, all the disappointments, and all the memories of pain will be over, and that I will have a new body, lifeless body, as the product of all the life I have lived.
So my fear has shifted to what life will look like when I am gone. That is why I feel I have an obligation toward the town of my birth, Winneba. It feels as though that is the only gift God gave me, the land where I was born, and the land where my parents were born, and the land where my children will pride themselves, I feel it is a gift bestowed that came with sacred obligation to protect for my children and their children, and to contribute my life to; it is the only place I know well, and it is the only place I will rest, after I am gone.
I celebrate Dr Kwame Nkrumah for establishing the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, which later became Advanced Teacher Training College (ATTC), National Academy of Music (NAM), and the Specialist Teacher Training College (STC) in Winneba. I celebrate the foresight of Ghana’s ex President, Jerry John Rawlings for believing in Winneba, and transforming the ATTC, NAM, and STC, into the current University of Education, Winneba. I have made the argument, several times, that Winneba would have been dead long ago, but for the establishment of the University of Education, so we thank Rawlings, and we thank Nkrumah for saving our town.
As Kofi Taylor goes home this weekend, I will remember Nkrumah, Rawlings, and Kofi himself, for everything that you have ever done to save our town. Kofi became the biggest supplier of tables and chairs, in Winneba. The University of Education, the Winneba Fancy Dress and Aboakyer festivals, have all benefitted from your industry, Kofi.
So this Saturday I will be at the Winneba Sacred Heart Catholic Church, to see the mortal remains of Kofi Taylor. I will sit among the mourners, and I will watch those who will cry, some sobbing, others aloud, I will watch all of them, and I will look closely, first at his wife, Sister Deede, as she sits in state to fight tears, and then I will watch as she recounts her husband’s love. I will watch the members of his party, NPP, as they gather and as they leave, and I will look around, and when all is done, one tribute at a time, all in praise of him, I will reflect my own, what will my end be?
Then I will rise on my own, and I will walk to the state, where Kofi’s remains lie. I will go close, very close to the remains, and I will look at him closely, I will look into his eyes, though closed, I will look at his lifeless body, I will look at the fashion that might have gone into his final remains, I will look at what Winneba Aboakyer festival meant for him, and I will remember all the fights we have had as boys, I will remember all the laughter we have had as colleagues, I will remember all the frustrations we have shared, and I will finally drop one tear, and I will bow to him, solemnly, and I will walk quietly pass, and I will, still in a solemn mood, wipe the remaining drops of tears that might have gathered in my eyes, and I will walk away from him, forever, Kofi is gone…