His Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, was there. His Excellency John Agyekum Kufuor in his executive wheel chair was there, and another Excellency John Dramani Mahama was also there – in fact, everybody who is somebody in political Ghana today, AD 2023, was there.
Kennedy Ohene Agyepong, clean shaven with no spectacles or beard, looking very handsome, presidential hopeful, was there. My senior in Achimota School, another presidential hopeful, John Alan Kyerematen, was there. Dr. Akoto Afriyie, former Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, they were all there.
The event was the state-assisted funeral for the late Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, former Member of Parliament (MP) for Old Tafo, Kumasi, and former Kufuor Minister of Finance after Kwadwo Baah Wiredu and Nana Addo’s Minister for Monitoring and Evaluation.
I first met him at an early age in 1967 when I entered Achimota School Form One – he was ahead of me by two years, and through his brother, our school Games Prefect, D.K. Osei, who later became Ambassador and President Kufuor’s Private Secretary, I was close to Akoto Osei, especially when the two of us met in Parliament in January 2005 – me for Berekum, second term, and he for Tafo, Kumasi.
Back in Achimota, his nickname was TERRY WISE, and he was affable to all, very cool smiling chap, not noisy, calm and collected.
Monday, March 27th, 2023, around 10pm, I was busily preparing my last-minute notes for some Supreme Court case the next day, when my father-in-law’s daughter, lying on the bed, asked me as an afterthought:
“Captain, do you know Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei?”
“Of course I do – he was my senior in Achimota School and my junior in Parliament – Minister under Kufuor and Nana Addo – of course I know him very well.
“He is dead.”
Surprisingly, just a week later it was announced in the media that his funeral would take place in Accra just the next Saturday after Easter. I called Ambassador Osei, his elder brother.
“Senior, why not do the funeral for Terry Wise in Tafo, his Constituency? And why bury him so early?”
“Effah, my brother was sick for a long time, so we just want him to go and rest, and he told us he wants to lie beside his wife’s grave here in Accra…”
This is one funeral I must attend.
I learnt something from J.A. Kufuor in the year 2000. I drove all the way to ANLOGA to attend the funeral of Togbe Adza Tekpor, Fiega of Aratime, getting there at 0700hrs to see, to my surprise, the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate, J.A. Kufuor, together with his entourage already seated at a very vantage point at the funeral grounds.
The morale or lesson is that if you are invited to a function, unless you are going as the Guest of Honour, in which case your seat is reserved, then GO EARLY, reader, GO EARLY so that you get a very good place to sit, because, if you come late, who do you expect to get up for you to sit there? Because you are – who? My friend, find your level at the back somewhere.
I left my Kasoa abode at circa 0600hrs and, Thank God, I was at the Holy Spirit Cathedral by, latest, 0645hrs. I and my special escort were given a very correct place to park; we entered the Cathedral and sat at a very correct location – this was my second time I was entering the Cathedral. Reader, don’t be surprised, because I am not a Catholic – I am Presby. The last time I was here was when I was a Deputy Minister, about 20 years ago, to attend the funeral of Police Prosecutor Chief Inspector Mrs. Florence Arday.
The Holy Spirit Cathedral is, arguably, the biggest worship center in Ghana – the inside is really very big. I counted about TEN television SCREENS at vantage points in the Temple to show the words of the Hymns being sang.
At exactly 0700 hrs, they wheeled the cadaver in a FURNUART-built mahogany coffin into the Cathedral, and viewing of the body started as tributes were read one after the other, as more and more political celebrities of our time arrived.
National Security Minister Kan Dapaah came and sat next to former Senior Minister Yaw Osafo Maafo, Trade Minister K.T. Hammond, Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, and former Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu – they came and took their seats.
Chief of Staff Frema Opare, veteran journalist Kufuor’s Minister Elizabeth Ohene, Public Relations Chief Frank Appiagyei, and many, many Ghanaian personality symbols were there.
And, of course, products of Achimota School – too many to count, men and women, clad in the school cloth emblazoned with effigies of Aggrey, Fraser and Guggisberg. We were called to sing our rallying chorus, “from Gambaga to Accra….” And I saw myself standing next to President Kufuor’s High Commissioner to the UK, Isaac Osei, Jude Arthur the Banker, my classmates Ayeh ALNL Osafo Deputy School Perfect, E.T. K. Compson, and many, many others.
The problem with the Catholic liturgy is that if you are not a Catholic you will never be able to follow their Order of Service – short, short rites, KYRIES, RESPONSORIAL PSALM, INCENSATION, HOMILY and so on, and so on.
Two extraordinary issues cannot go without comment. The first is that, after the first round of offertory, there was the usual second round which is the offertory from the congregation usually for the family. They packaged the amount in about five huge man-sized envelopes and called a representative of the family to receive it on their behalf. Three people came up and jointly announced that “Thank you Church, but the family donates everything back to the Church!11
The second issue for comment is that three times the MC categorically announced that if you are leaving your seat to come up front to present your offertory or for Holy Communion, please, please, make sure you don’t leave anything behind – a mobile phone, spectacles etc – carry everything along!!! The inference was obvious – don’t trust the person seated by you!!! What an interesting caveat!!
By 11 O’clock everything was over. President Akufo-Addo said a few words, and the over 12 Catholic Priests officiating gave the “Final Commendation”, and everything was over. The casket was wheeled out slowly by pallbearers for a private burial.
Rest in Peace my Senior in Achimota and my Junior in Parliament.
Written by Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect The Chronicle’s stance.