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Who introduced the second stanza?

Mawuli Zogbenu 1212.jpeg Mawuli Zogbenu is the author

Fri, 18 Feb 2022 Source: Mawuli Zogbenu

Did you know that the ugly part of my face is the one that gets exposed anytime I wear the face mask? Just look carefully at my face again and see. The irony of life is such that when you are in church, you start feeling sleepy.

The moment you get home after church, the sleep vanishes! February 12, 1993 was the first time I heard someone ending a speech with ‘Happy New Year’.

It climaxed the opening remarks by Bob Say the Headmaster of the Grey City at the launch of the annual inter-houses athletics competition. But Saturday February 12, 2022 was a day we were to mourn one of our own, Damaris Addoh; we needed to give her a befitting send-off.

Within the precincts of the first Methodist Chapel in Ghana at Palledium, one thing was quite conspicuous and one needed not call anybody to find out: ‘where are you guys?’.

The place was awash in black and white apparel. The extent of dominance of the alewa-branded-church-premises was a sight to behold. The Achimotans had taken over to say bye bye to Damaris, one of the loveliest House 17 Girls in our days in Motown. Typical of school WhatsApp platforms, we celebrated her birthday with her on November 10, 2021. One week later, on November 17, 2021, she was gone! Life is indeed short though I often feel uncomfortable using such an expression.

A long set of rows reserved for only those in black and white. The place was filled to capacity! Our presence changed the environment.

Then it was our turn to read our tributes. Ethel Vardon-Odonkor was to lead us. We settled on the decision to stand behind her, sing the Achimota Song and then the tributes would be read; good plan, innit?

Martha, Magdalene, Mary, the triplets in our year group are so identical that one couldn’t tell which one of them was present but there was one. When you address her as Martha, she responded. Go ahead and address her as Magdalene or Mary; she would still respond…with a smile.

With so much vim led by the organist, we started: ‘From Gambaga to Accra, from Wiawso to Keta, we are brothers and our mother is the school…….’ And continued till we wrapped it up loudly with the famous chorus: ‘Play the game, shout her fame, spread her name afarrrrrr…. she is the head of all the hosts, she is the school of whom we boast, she is the glory of the coast…. Achimotaaaaaaa’.

Then hell broke loose…an ‘inconsiderate’ member of the group whether out of mischief, grief or excitement decided to introduce the second stanza…sad to say it was with some high degree of spontaneity! Oh Lord God have mercy! After the first few lines, we forgot the rest of the lyrics.

And the second stanza started: ‘When our books are laid aside when we scatter far and wide; we remember with affection what we gained….’ And the rest of the lines vanished from our memory for the most part of the stanza. Alla! Sadly, about 80% of us at this point had our face masks lowered or taken off. As fate would have it, I was one of those whose face masks were taken off; how I wished I hadn’t; at least it would have covered my lips from the struggle of words to use to balance the equation.

Christian Godoga and Adelaide were standing next to me and when I took a bird’s eye view of the two, they were choking more than I. Had a little more time been added, I am sure Godfred would have fainted! He tried to cover up by weeping but…those tears? Decoy! Sadly, the lenses of the cameras zoomed in more on us at this point.

So who introduced the second stanza? Our suspicion was that the person must have been a member of the school choir at the time. It couldn’t have been George. ‘He-did-or’?, President of the Bethel Revival Choir (the Vovoli hitmakers), because he was not on the stage. Could it be Ethel who was a member of the choir? Anyway, we are still looking for the person. Doreen, after trying to move her lips to grab the lyrics of the song, gave up after having demonstrated that the second stanza really sent her into the critical condition mode.

Gbetivi was about to laugh but picked up some hope from Philip, who appeared very serious but…! It was an act of ‘survival’ bravery. Gifty Ahati took a gaze at me as if I could be of help.

The scornful look on my face sent her a signal to suggest: ‘weytin concern me with books being laid aside’ at this age that man is thinking about school fees and money for koko? Old age is getting closer or we are old already? Maybe not yet! Jennifer Louis, was the only one who, after realizing she couldn’t continue kept quiet and disappeared from the stage; I still don’t know how she did it. Kw333, Any3mi Yo, ok333 mini? Hahahahaha!

We were impatiently waiting for the chorus…that one was cool chop but it was taking rather too long to come and finally when it got to that point, what a relief! We didn’t scream it o; we actually shouted on top of our voices: ‘Play the game; shout her name’ spread her fame afarrrr…she is the head of…..’ in joy, in tears replacing that of grief! We climaxed it beautifully with Ethel reading the tribute in her half-caste accent. Buoy! My girl could easily pass for a BBC TV news anchor though she still remains a prime suspect as to the one who introduced the second stanza.

When we resumed our seats, my sweet Daavi Lorlortor, Pearl Kumorji and the other pearl, Pearl Kwansah were both nowhere to be found. It was later I got to know that Daavi Lorlortor had gone to the washroom soon after we managed to finish singing. The ‘thing pass in’ stomach! Pearl Kwansah, on the other hand, went out to look for a third handkerchief to drench the sweat generated from the ‘battlefield’!

Meeting each other again 28 years after leaving Motown, was it not lovely to have met the likes of Madonna, Ama Lawyer, Ama Alberta, Jeffrey Baah Kpoku, Andrew How-many-ampongs, Lilian, Innocentia Amegbletor, Eric (Hine Hine), Aloysius, Cynthia, Sophia, Nana Oye, Susan, Munira, Lorreta and many others again? Death is wicked but it has a way of bringing the living together again in a certain way. May the soul of Damaris rest in power!

Anymore stanzas? I’m sure some of us would have fainted! Hahaaaaa!

Columnist: Mawuli Zogbenu