Written by Nkrabeah Effah–Dartey .
By the grace of God, thanks to Local Government and New Patriotic Party (NPP) politics, I can say without fear of contradiction that I know the whole of Ghana.
The other day, a certain Chief Director decided to put me to the test: “Captain, do you know Kwamikrom?” I passed. “How about Nandom” oh, Dr Kunbuor’s Constituency? I have slept there before. “How about Nzulezo”? Oh, I even built a community center for them.
The Chief Director kept quiet. But one community I have never been, which he did not know, was BOMPATA in the Ashanti Region. It is one place I have always wanted to visit since my infancy when my elder brother went to stay there and came home always talking about BOMPATA and ASANKARE.
Asankare, we all know, just after the major police check point on the main Accra-Kumasi highway, but BOMPATA – off road to the east. Thankfully, one of my lawyers in the office came to tell me the father of his wife was dead, and burial would take place at BOMPATA, Saturday, 2 March 2019.
Holala! Bompata Ahoy! At long last I am going to see Bompata. Driver, get up – we are going to Bompata.
We left Achimota Shell at exactly 6.30 am, and reader, the traffic! Especially from Pokuase to Nsawam – it was as if the whole of Accra was being emptied out into the hinterland; just before Suhum some Minister’s two car convoy of double trafficator blazing Land Cruiser’s overtook us, I told my driver – follow them?
By 10 O’clock, we were at the Abuakwa police check point; then we hit ASANKARE. I asked a taxi driver: how many miles to Bompata? “Oh, just two miles”
On the outskirts of Asankare we stopped to wear our clothes properly, freshen up – only to find that where we had stopped was the CEMETERY! Hey folks – hurry up – this is a wrong place to freshen up.
The road between Asankare and Bompata is a typical inland narrow meandering coal-tarred road, with thick bush on both sides. Unlike most towns and villages which welcome you with sights of cemeteries, Bompata welcomes you with their Senior High School of the Presbyterian Church – to the left – a very long wall.
We were told the funeral was in the Presby Church at the entrance to the town, so we branched left, to see a very imposing chapel – Cathedral – but, wait a minute – is this Presby Church or Catholic – I saw some Catholic signature statue in front – oh, no, it is Presby Church –the statue is not Holy Mary, but one of their earlier pastors.
Some ussher saw me – oh, Honourable – “M’atwen Awurade Anim! Follow me…” Whereupon I was escorted inside a huge imposing chapel – reader, wait a minute – what is this I am seeing? One, Two, Three, Four, FIVE corpses, in five different coffins, some whitish; some golden, one of them covered with the flag of Ghana.
The vestry was full of pastors, pastors, pastors, – more than twenty. I was given a brochure, and I noticed that the father of my lawyer’s wife was a retired soldier – ah, that explains the Ghana flag – then there must be soldiers around.
Tributes were being read, and we all stood up to sing the famous Presbyterian funeral hymn … “Ohoho ne mamfrani” – sermon by the District Minister, announcements …
There was this very noble looking self assured lady seated on my right, very quiet – she was introduced to the congregation as the wife of His Majesty the Omanhene of Bompata Traditional Area – whereupon I told her, “Nana, wiadaworoma oo!” and she burst out laughing…
I was also introduced; Captain, retired, and I sang my personal anthem, “Matwen Awurade Anim” to the Glory of God.
Time for the cemetery! Four of the corpses were carried away leaving the soldier. Then appeared a Warrant Officer, YAKUNYA, who, in the presence of all of us, saluted me – and I braced up, and he signaled a burial party which marched up to where the casket lay.
In typical military fashion, as we all looked on, the burial party, all of them young soldiers, wearing belts of the Ordinance Regiment, lifted the casket up to their shoulders, amid the beagle blowing slow march – left, right, left, right …
Unlike Larteh, Akuapem, where their cemetery is about two kilometres inside the bush, Bompata Presby Cemetery is DIRECTLY behind the Presby Church within crawling distance. All the five corpses were buried in separate scattered graves, with several pastors officiating.
The soldier was buried at the tail end of the cemetery, and as we walked back in between graves, one chap saw me and said: Honourable, that is Alan Kyeremateng’s father…
I took a good look at the simple tomb, with the bust of a certain noble looking man, in cloth, and the inscription: “NICHOLAS YAW KYEREMATENG” The informant kept telling everybody who will listen that the man was a teacher, and wherever he was transferred, he left “footprints….”
Alan Kyeremateng was one year my senior in Achimota School, so I tried to contact him on phone to verify this information, but I could not get through.
From the cemetery we were driven in between houses and gardens to a freshly built private residence for refreshments in a living room as big as an average university lecture hall, to see several mourners from Ghana Police Church, Accra.
At about 2 pm we went to the funeral grounds proper, where all the funerals were consolidated and greetings, handshakes and all. I found Bompata a really very big town, with a very deceptive small short high street, dual carriage, but very large, deep inside, crying for plenty of town roads, and serious town planning. People build anywhere.
Their funeral grounds, compared to the fame of the town, was just too small. There were no usshers to guide as to anywhere to sit, and so within minutes, we had left for Accra.