Feature Article of Saturday, 28 July 2012
Columnist: Akoto-Danso, Kwame
It is with great pity and a heavy heart that I write these words in appreciation of an honorable, humble and brilliant man who once served as the President of the Republic of Ghana, Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills. I may not have known him personally nor was I too pleased with his failure to take decisive actions on some critical national issues and inability to put some members of his cabinet in check. My perception of his performance as the president was more indifferent yet with great respect for his integrity, intellectual prowess and calm demeanor.
In my memory, I vividly recall him stuttering unusually in a speech at his acceptance into office as the president of Ghana. I wondered why a lawyer and a professor for that matter could demonstrate such lack of confidence on such a grandeur occasion; this in retrospect seems to be as a result of his deteriorating health. Whilst others enjoyed the spectacle of seeing him fumble several times in his speeches, it was with sympathy and a grave concern I had, wishing he does not commit another blunder. Using a great sense of pity to describe how I feel about his demise is a reflection of the utter disgust I felt each time there was a less objective critique by some even less accomplished country folks who mocked him. The countless ad hominem ranged from being described as sexually impotent, sight and hearing impaired, childless, accusation of possessing black palms and a ring that gave him some dark supernatural powers and worse-off an ironical comparison to a disoriented mortuary attendant. One time at a meet-the-press conference, I came to terms with his dissension and frustration at being the subject of endless taunts and mockery when he lamented that his name has been devalued to less than one Ghana Cedi. His entire presentation for that session was dominated by sarcastic and less objective remarks, to the extent that I felt his ironic response to some of the questions depicted his bottled-up frustration at the incessant ingratitude and disrespect for him and his office. Though this may be my honest opinion on the circumstance that prevailed, I grew to appreciate his passion, sincerity and calm in the face of all the distractive and blatantly degrading comments.
In his absence today, I cannot help but feel ashame of the ‘verbal torture’ the people he once served put him through. I write in absolute respect for an accomplished intellectual and a true public servant, more so as a young African, I am inspired by his selfless decision to get out of his comfort zone of academia and to be involved in the dirty politics of his time yet with a sincere desire to make a difference in the development of mother Ghana. You have my respect, true soldier. Damirifa Due Prof.
Credit: Kwame Akoto-Danso