Written by Nkrabeah Effah Dartey .
Many readers will agree with me that Kumasi is the epicenter of the Akan culture, and funerals are key. Often times, beautiful well-dressed ladies in Kumasi move from place to place looking for glamorous funerals to attend.
I found myself “shopping” round for funerals on Friday 27 July. It was a working day, and I have this divisional chief in Cape Coast, a very good client, whose case was coming up; Accra was hosting a funeral of a High Court Judge, and besides my Legon mate, Vice President Amissah Arthur’s funeral was on.
I told myself that Nana Addo and the national elite will all be at the former Vice Pee’s funeral, so let me find my level at the funeral of the High Court Judge. I sent my secretary with a letter for adjournment in Cape Coast and drove to the Trade Fair for the funeral of the High Court Judge, Mr Justice Batu.
Just before getting to the Trade Fair, I had a phone call from a colleague lawyer in my office, “Captain, I hear there is another injunction again on the funeral of the High Court Judge…”
No wonder life seemed normal at the Trade Fair site, with no sign of any funeral ongoing. Out of curiosity, I asked one of the security men at the gate, and he said: “The funeral has been postponed!!”
Very well. Let us go to the funeral of the Vice President. At the Osu Cemetery we found the road blocked by the police, but they flagged us through. At the entrance to the State House I noticed that there were several canopies, but I did not see the usual funeral service posture.
I looked left and saw that action was going on rather in the International Conference Center. the soldiers allowed my car to drive to the regal entrance, with mourners everywhere.
It took a little hassle before I could enter the main foyer of the Accra International Conference Center to see a huge somber crowd, all in deep black – men, women, officers – and both military, police, immigration personnel – in ceremonial dresses.
I got an empty chair and sat down to see on the screen tributes being paid to the fallen former Vice President, Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur.
There was a giant size screen in the foyer showing live transmission coverage of the main funeral service right inside the Accra International Conference Center.
Reader, in Europe, especially more than America, because of the weather conditions, most ceremonies are held indoors – because life must go on, rain or shine.
But over here in Africa, in our West Coast here, we are not indoor people – we are outdoor open popular mass participation people.
When President Mills died in 2012, he was laid in state at the Black Star Square for everybody to come and see the late leader.
On countless occasions I have been to the forecount of the State House for state burial services for Chief Justice Acquah, Chief Justice Wiredu, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, Major Mahama…so why encase former Vice President Amissah Arthur in the limited seating space of the Conference Center?
Is it to prepare our minds for the upcoming National Cathedral to host such events?
As for the dignitaries that I saw, both in person and on the screen inside the Center, a thousand and one.
His Excellency the President looked so sad and touched that I was impressed. Vice President Bawumia was there. I saw good old Jerry John Rawlings with his wife Nana Konadu in her trademark headgear.
John Mahama was there with his wife Lordina, and I saw Nana Otuo Serebour, Juabenhene and Chairman of the Council of State. The crème de la crème of Ghana today were all there, including lots of ministers, members of Parliament and diplomats.
The tribute by the widow was extraordinary. In the first place, hardly does a widow read a tribute to her husband – always, it is read for her by either a sister, daughter or somebody.
But not Matilda. With rare courage, she mounted the rostrum and read her own tribute, singularly, on the dais, and what she said!!! Was it a tribute? Or a petition? Or indictment of society? Wow!!!
After the tributes, then came the sermon delivered by, of course, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, the Most Reverend Pratt.
Rev Joyce Aryee’s Harmonious Choir delivered the famous Hallelujah Chorus, then the last journey began, the casket of the former Vice President borne aloft on the shoulders of military officers.
A gun carriage, escorted by new armoured wagons, carried off the body for burial at the military cemetery behind the Arakan Barracks, Burma Camp.
I saw good old Kofi Totobi Quakyi, Doe Adjaho, Kwamena Ahwoi – National democratic Congress (NDC) super gurus, “Rawlings’ Children”, now big guys in the political arena.
Farewell, Vice President Amissah Arthur. I knew him at Legon and in politics. He was a good man.