General News of Monday, 28 May 2012
Source: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame
By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
The story was sensationally captioned “Trust Towers Suicide Man Is Former Ambassador”(Ghanaweb.com 5/24/12) and was sourced to Citifmonline.com. Still, it is rather too early for anybody to conclude that, indeed, the deceased took his own life.
Early on in this news report, the reader is rather hastily told that “The man who jumped from the ninth floor of the Trust Towers and died instantly has been identified as Ghana’s former ambassador to France, AU and Algeria, H. E. Hugh van Sekyi, Citi News can confirm.”
Really, there is not much that Citi News can confirm (for nobody is claiming to have personally seen the deceased jump to his death), besides the obvious fact of the mortal remains being that of His Excellency, Mr. Hugh van Sekyi, and also the all too verifiable fact of the deceased having served as an evidently remarkably accomplished diplomat and Ghana’s ambassador to France, the African Union and Algeria.
It would also have been quite helpful, if readers had been informed of the period of diplomatic service of the deceased. That would have afforded us (readers, that is) some relevant contextual perspective as to what his entire service had entailed in its broadest contours. For instance, under whose administration or presidential tenure had the late Mr. Hugh van Sekyi represented the country abroad, and for how long in each and every one of the cases. A little bit of his academic background, besides his having served as a lecturer at the University of Ghana’s Center for International Affairs, would also have been in order.
Another obvious puzzle that readers would like to have resolved, of course, is precisely why a Ghanaian citizen who appears to have fairly well distinguished himself, as to be appointed a chief representative of his country abroad, would decide to take his own life so abruptly and violently. Maybe a prompt piecing together of his temperament and psychological profile, with ample details from his relatives, close friends and associates, would be in order.
Personally, I also find it rather unconvincing that the deceased had jumped from the ninth floor of the Trust Towers building, merely because a pair of shoes, reportedly belonging to him, had been found there; unless, of course, it can be readily authenticated that, indeed, the late Mr. Hugh van Sekyi lived on the aforementioned floor or was widely known to frequent the same.
Then also, it would have been quite helpful if the reporter, or reporters, who composed the story, had told readers how many stories, or floors, make up the Trust Towers building, so as to give us (readers) a meaningful dimension of the magnitude of this tragic event. Likewise, readers are told that the deceased had fallen onto a lawn after he had allegedly jumped into eternity from the ninth floor of the aforementioned building, as it were, although the photograph accompanying the story only showed the body lying amidst several clumps of flower bushes straggling over what clearly appears to be a rough-hewn, stony earthen terrain boxed in by the slabs of a concrete pavement.
Another thing that struck me as rather bizarre, but which has become integral to Ghanaian journalism, was the rather tastelessly graphic photographing of the remains of the late Mr. Hugh van Sekyi. That the dead also deserves a modicum of dignity has, evidently, yet to sink into the mindset of the average Ghanaian photojournalist. Here in the United States, for example, the remains of the deceased would have been shrouded in white or some such pall before commercial photographers were allowed on the scene. In short, whatever graphic and forensically detailed pictures taken by the police and/or other law-enforcement agents, would have been reserved for forensic purposes.
For me, personally, also, the fact that the late Ambassador Hugh van Sekyi was known to be the son of the legendary African nationalist lawyer and scholar, Mr. Kobina Sekyi, was almost equally significant to the story. For the latter was far more than merely the remarkable playwright and celebrated author of “The Blinkards,” a satirical revue and comedy of manners of the first order that inimitably spoofs at the affected deportment of the Fante elite at the turn of the twentieth century. “The Blinkards,” which was composed circa. 1915, was only brought to considerable public attention in the 1970s and issued as part of the Achebe-edited African Writers’ Series.
Of course, the elder Mr. Sekyi was also widely known to have mentored and career-counseled the immortalized Doyen of Gold Coast and Ghanaian politics, Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah. A great tragedy, indeed; that is, regarding the alleged suicide of Mr. Hugh van Sekyi – and, definitely, one that needs to be promptly and vigorously investigated.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.