“Odupon Kese Etutu” A Tribute to Late President Mills.
By Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK
As my Akan is weak, I called Opanin Asiamah of 1 Power Radio and host of Epone programme for an explanation of the proverb, which is the title of my tribute. According to him, and for those who do not speak Akan, it means, “A mighty Mahogany Has Fallen”.
Tuesday July 24, 2012 will forever be engraved on the minds of Ghanaians across the world for varied reasons but most important, the sudden death of the Late President John Evans Atta Mills. The responses from Ghanaians, the world media and global leaders were a testament to the shock of that sad news. They embodied the Personification of the departed Father, Husband, Son, Brother, Uncle, Grandfather (and whatever is deemed fit) of the nation. Ghanaweb could not sustain the flow of traffic on its website for a couple of minutes. Even for those of us who were privy to some health concerns of the late President from reliable sources at home, the news was shocking and like many Ghanaians, my initial reaction was that of disbelief for the fact that, it had been reported on Ghanaweb earlier in the day that, he was scheduled to travel to Nigeria.
As readers can recall from my previous articles, I am one of the supporters of the late President’s administration but also one of his ardent but positive critics. On the occasion of his death, I write this tribute to his memory and for his contribution to the development of Mother Ghana.
Permit me to copy from a letter by President Abraham Lincoln to Mrs Bixby in November 1864 on hearing that her five sons had allegedly died on the battle front in the Civil War. “I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you (Ghanaians) from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering you (Ghanaians) the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they (he) died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your (our) bereavement, and leave you (us) only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours (ours) to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom (nation building)”. The words in brackets are mine. I believe this letter is befitting to the Widow of the late President, his son, family and Ghanaians as a whole. There is no doubt in our minds that the late President did not perish at the battle front of civil war but I am sure you will not dispute that fact that, he sacrificed his life in the trenches of the war on poverty, national building and a Better Ghana Agenda. Perhaps, he has paid the ultimate price with his life in trying his very best to improve the quality of life for the people of Ghana. And for that matter, Ghanaians should be proud of such a devoted, selfless leader and should not only mourn his death but also celebrate his life. Permit again, to repeat the prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi. I am sure both die hard supporters and critics of the late President will appreciate why I have chosen this particular Christian prayer in memory of the late President. “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life”.
Who else deserves this humble prayer more than the fallen Humble Giant, J E Atta Mills? One could easily replace the words “me” and “I” in the prayer with “John Evans Atta Mills” and very few will have any qualms about it when he was alive, let alone in death.
The late President might not have been the instrument of peace in the eyes of many but he laid his life to prepare for the absence of conflict, poverty, hunger, disease, want and justice in Ghana. If these are not instruments of peace, what do you call them? He was probably disliked by many in politics and was unable to end some of the hatred within the Ghanaian society but who will argue that in death, he has not sowed the seed of love among Ghanaians? Some Ghanaians might have been injured by his actions and omissions in life, but who doubts that by his death we have been pardoned for the injury caused by all of us?
How many of us doubted his Better Ghana Agenda during his reign but now have full faith in his agenda on his demise? Despair was never a scarce commodity on the streets of Ghana during his three and half years’ administration. The glorying tributes paid to him in death by Ghanaian and World Leaders as well ordinary Ghanaians are testimony that, Late President Mills did not only bring hope to Ghanaians but perhaps, he was the hope himself. Again, in life he might have not brought light and smiles to the faces of millions but he prepared the grounds and laid the foundation to bring electricity to brighten the darkened streets and corners of cities, towns and villages across Ghana. In life, I am certainly certain that many believed that in life he was not able to end sadness by bringing joy to all but his death has saddened all and sundry, near and far, foe and friend.
In life, the late President Mills never sought anything for himself, instead, as the prayer ends, he sought to console, to understand, to love, to give and to pardon by serving his country and her people all his life. In so doing he died serving so that in his death, Eternal Life of Peace, Love, Pardon, Faith, Hope, Light and Joy is born.
Your death has left a big hole in our hearts and lives, one that cannot be easily filled. Mills was a Man, a Man’s Man, but above all, a Woman’s Man, born of a Woman’s Womb. He had life and that is why he lived. He was aware of an end. That death will one day come knocking, calling and laying its sad, wicked, cold and icy hands on our lives. We are all witnesses to it because we were conceived and given birth to life but none of us, even if we expected the knocking through illness, least expected the calling so soon and sudden. Why, Death? Why Ghana, why Mills? Because, Life without Death is worthless living.
Late President’s life is fully reflected in Saint Francis’s prayer in life and in death.
Nananom, Domirifa Due, Ghana, Domirifa Due, Naadu, Domirifa Due, Junior Mills, Domirifa Due, Abusua, Domirifa Due, Ekumfi Otuam, Domirifa Due, NDC Domirifa Due. Atta, Domirifa Due, Agya Atta, Attapim, Domirifa Due. Nanti Yie.
May Your Soul Rest in Eternal and Perfect Peace in the Bosom of the Lord.
Kofi Ata, Cambridge, UK