General News of Monday, 31 December 2012
It was a foggy morning on December 16, 1996, albeit bright. My brother walked into my uncle’s house where my sister and I had been staying since September of the same year. The ordinarily boisterous Bro. Yaw forced a smile when he saw me running towards him in an apparent attempt to conceal a subdued demeanour.
“Did you bring my Christmas present?” I asked with my eyes glowing with expectation. Bro. Yaw shook his head mildly and whispered: “don’t worry, everything will be ok.”
Just then I felt a cold wind beating upon my face; Quickly, I sat on the only bench in the house under the Mango tree to regain some sort of balance.
Bro Yaw just vanished without saying a word to me after a lengthy chat with my uncle. My sister who had been observing what has been happening this whole time transfixed her piercing eyes on mine as if to say ‘tragedy beckons.’
Well, the long and short of it is that my father had died a day earlier. It was the most shocking incident because he was hale and hearty a week before his demise when he came to visit. I considered it a dream that will fade away one day until his burial when it dawned on me that the man people described as “a good man”, was truly gone.
2012 has been one of the most tragic years in recent history, especially for Ghanaians. It is a year many Ghanaians would want to quickly forget as we look into the future (2013). Before the year comes to a close, it is important to pay homage to the many great men and women who left indelible marks on the world.
In no order of importance this piece reminds us of the legacies of these people who made life worth living in diverse ways.
The very first major tragedy of 2012 was the demise of a diva. Whitney Houston. Such a talent! The world has seen some great musicians but she was exceptional. Her powerful voice sold over 170 million records. Her song “I will always love you” became such dominant cult music among the romantics that it still leaves goose pimples on many. On February 11, 2012, Houston was found unconscious in suite 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, submerged in the bathtub; she was later pronounced dead. She was plagued by her own cocaine-craving demons. Latest revelations on her death indicate that she was murdered by drug kingpins who she owed some money. How sad!
On the 5th of March 2012, Ghana lost an illustrious son in the arts industry. Godwin Kotey, a renowned actor, director and movie producer passed away after a long battle with a form of cancer. Godwin was a Fulbright Scholarship at the Southern Illinois University where he was studying for a PHD in Speech Communication. He died moments after touching down from US where he had been receiving treatment. Godwin Kotey is fondly remembered for movies such as: Police Officer, I Sing of a Well and Welcome Home.
Dr. Niyi Alabi
Just before the dust could settle, the news came on the dawn of April 26 that AU consultant Dr. Niyi Alabi, had passed away. The renowned International Relations and Communications expert was a regular face on TV as a host or an analyst. He also served as a translator for President Kufuor. His death robbed the country of a fine academic and international affairs expert.
Hon. Alhaji Saani Idi
On June 1, the Member of Parliament for Wulensi, Alhaji Saani Idi of the New Patriotic Party was pronounced clinically dead but the official announcement of his demise was made on June 5. He died at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital after a short illness. His colleague MPs expressed shock at the loss of a man who many believed was kind hearted.
Allied Air Cargo Plane Crash
A rainy June 2 came with more tears as a Nigerian Allied Air Cargo Plane over run the runway and crashed into two passenger vehicles killing ten people near the old Hajj Village at the El-Wak Sports Stadium. It was one of those unforgettable sad days as a Benz bus was completely shredded by the cargo plane. All the ten occupants died instantly. Those in the taxi were lucky to have escaped with minor injuries.
Dana Air Crash in Nigeria
As if the Allied Air disaster was not enough, a more devastating plane crash hit Lagos, Nigeria the next day on June 3 when a Dana Air commercial plane crashed into a densely populated residential area in the Iju/Shaga area of Lagos. Official reports put the death toll at a whopping 159 passengers and people who were just minding their business, some of whom have only dreamt of boarding a plane. Two of the passengers who died were married to Ghanaians.
Hon. Emmanuel Owusu Ansah
But the month of June was just about to unveil more tragedies it had in store for Ghanaians. On June 22, another lawmaker kicked the bucket at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital. Hon. Emmanuel Owusu Ansah, the Member of Parliament for Kwabre West constituency in the Ashanti region was also a former Ashanti Regional Minister and a onetime Deputy Attorney General in the erstwhile Kufuor administration. He was a key member of the NPP. As a football administrator who was revered by supporters of Kumasi Asante Kotoko.
President J.E.A. Mills – Asmomdwee Hene
The day was July 24 and the time was 13:55 GMT. I had an unusual phone call from a pal. The fellow sounded disconcerted on the phone as the words “POTROG is gone” emanated from the other side of the phone. I was lost in thought for a few seconds and the voice asked: “Romeo, did you hear what I said? POTROG is gone for good.” My forehead suddenly felt heavy with sweat. I got my handkerchief and wiped the sweat off but I couldn’t shake the anxiety. For a moment, I couldn’t feel my hands; it took me back to the day I stood by my dad’s remains when he was laid in state. President of the Republic of Ghana (POTROG was how my pal and I referred to the late president), Prof. John Evans Atta Mills was dead.
Prior to his death, there had been rumours in the past about his alleged demise on facebook believed to have been sparked by his political opponents. In-fact, he had returned from the United States of America after a thorough medical check-up about three weeks earlier. He virtually jogged on the tarmac at the Kotoka International Airport on his arrival to prove to the public that he was ready to start the campaigns. Little did he know that his end on earth was near. His life and death was a true inspiration for many and his burial brought many world leaders to the humbling reality of the power that death has over mankind. His close friend, Hon. David Lamptey, described him as “an angel who was too good.” Little did the latter know that he was going to follow soon.
As Calpurnia stated in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “When beggars die, there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” President Mills was a prince.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
As Africa was just recuperating from the demise of President Mills, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, also gave up the ghost on August 20 after a short illness. It was a painful tragedy for a country that had seen immense development under a moderate Ethiopian leader.
On Wednesday, November 7, the world of certain families came down crashing (no pun intended) when a 6-storey Melcom Shopping Centre collapsed and trapped over 80 people. By the time the fat lady finished her dirge, 14 people had died from the disaster. The owner of the shop and an official of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) have been hauled before the courts to ensure that justice is served.
Alhaji Aliu Mahama – A man of decorum
Even before people could take a breather from the string of disasters hitting the nation, another illustrious son, former Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama joined his ancestors. He was pronounced dead by doctors at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital on Friday, November 16. His death had also been preceded by rumours of his demise on facebook and news websites. Sometimes, you’d hope that graves will yawn and yield up the dead; but wishes remain wishes. At this point, it seemed the worst had ended. What could be worse than the death of the President and a former Vice President?
Hon. David Lamptey – ‘Life is Short’
Now the tragedies seemed to have gone round the entire 360 circle. The staff of Radio XYZ, RadioXYZonline.com, Sidalco and many others received with great shock the sudden death of a great man by the highest standards – Hon. David Lamptey. On December 3, he could not fight off an ailment as he passed on at the 37 Military Hospital.
An entrepreneur, a philanthropist, a Man of God and an astute politician. Gosh! This was a blow to many who had been in close proximity with the man. A baritone that commanded order and exuded immense humility in equal measure.
Hon. David Lamptey was the Member of Parliament for the Osu Klottey Constituency (now Klottey Korle) on the ticket of the NDC between 1997 and 2001. After leaving parliament, Hon. Lamptey became an astute businessman as he set up SIDALCO, a highly successful liquid fertilizer producing company.
He had a number of other businesses under his able leadership and in December 2011, he started operating Radio XYZ 93.1 FM. Hon. Lamptey was a Special Advisor to his late friend, the late President Mills. You were loved, Hon. David Lamptey.
Henry Ford Kamel
Well, the year has been such a terrible one to the extent that many, including yours truly, hope it will end quickly along with its misfortunes. Yet it was not going to get any easier on us. Just when I thought I had finished writing the stories about this year’s tragedies, another lawmaker was whisked away by the flaming fires of death. Hon. Henry Ford Kamel, MP for Buem in the Volta Region was pronounced dead on Christmas Day (how cruel). Jesus was born and Henry Ford Kamel had to go. A life for a life, I guess!
William Shakespeare said yet again in A Midsummer Night’s Dream that: ‘the death of a dear friend, would go near to make a man look sad.” Mr. Kamel who was the Volta Regional Minister played a significant role in restoring peace between the people of Gbi Traditional Area in Hohoe and the Zongo Community.
He was praised for his affable relationship with the media and his respect for other schools of thought. Oh, how the might have fallen!
Other people who passed in the course of the year
Musicians Jerry Hanson of the Ramblers fame and Dr. K. Gyasi all passed on to eternity in the course of the year while veteran broadcaster Charles Sam, also died.
On the African continent, Malawi lost its sitting president, Bingu wa Mutharika, who had a heart attack in April and Guinea Bissau’s president, M.B. Sanha also died in January 2012 after a long illness.
Even men of God were not left out of the tragedies as Bishop Bob Hawkson died on December 23 moments after collapsing while delivering a sermon in church.
We have all lost people and cried our eyes to sleep in 2012 through road accidents and all kinds of disasters but what is important is hope. Hope that the coming year (2013) will have on its wings a deeper desire to do good to all men, prosperity and long life.
Hope that our families, friends and secret admirers will see and taste of the eternal kindheartedness of God.
Hope that our enemies will live long enough to see us become successful and hopefully have a change of heart.
For “To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow”