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Feature Article of Sunday, 29 July 2012

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

Flagstaff House as a Cemetery? No Way!

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I know quite well, having fairly closely followed his pontifical and unctuous and histrionic campaign pronouncements, as well as other public statements and declarations, that the now-President John Dramani Mahama thinks very highly of himself and his relatively rarefied ranks of national presidential figures; but that, in of itself, is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, for the Bole-Bamboi native to mischievously attempt to take undue advantage of grieving Ghanaians to take such patently flagrant, scandalous and unsavory decision as converting a sizeable portion of the courtyard of our presidential palace into a permanent burial ground for the fortunate few Ghanaians like himself (See “Prez Mills to be Buried at Flagstaff House” Ghanaweb.com 7/28/12).

In another article, already written but yet to be published, I adequately explain why, indeed, a Mausoleum of (National) Heroes needs to be specially created to honor the memory of those who went beyond the proverbial call of duty to make our country the great and fairly well-respected nation that it is today. At any rate, the present decision to convert a portion of the landed property attached to the Kufuor-built Jubilee House, or our presidential palace, also poignantly exposes the insufferable impudence and execrable hypocrisy of the key operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).

I don’t know what former President John Agyekum-Kufuor, who took a lot of flack and personal abuse for reconstructing the erstwhile Jubilee House (we all know how the Rawlings-Mills-Mahama posse got the name changed) thinks about this patently distasteful decision, but something tells me that this the apt moment for well-meaning Ghanaian statesmen and women to, literally, stand up and be counted. You see, knowing what I know of the abjectly gross mismanagement of our Fourth-Republican economy, and the failure of leadership in the country at large, does not make any pontifical claims of presidential distinction impressive to me the least bit. Suffice it to say that the psychologically and environmentally unhealthy culture of burying the deceased in homes is forensically non-Ghanaian!

In essence, my well-considered opinion, here, is either to have the mortal remains of the late President John Evans Atta-Mills dutifully and decorously interred at the Osu Military Cemetery since, after all, as one astute observer on a Ghanaian website remarked in the wake of the tragic passing of President Mills, the latter was also the undisputed Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces. Or better yet, let the deceased President’s remains be buried in his native village of Ekumfi-Otuam, a place he appears to have dearly loved, just like Presidents Edward Akufo-Addo and Hilla Limann, who were no less significant and/or distinguished than the late former Legon tax-law professor. And, of course, smack-dab among the ranks of the latter ought to be mentioned the name of the Oxbridge-educated and foremost continental African sociologist of the twentieth century, Dr Kofi Abrefa Busia, who also happens to have been the first African to be named “Professor” at the University of Ghana.

The decision also eerily reflects the incredibly poor judgment of President Mahama and his cohorts of largely opportunistic executive operatives of the so-called National Democratic Congress. At any rate, did it not even once cross the mind of at least one of the presidential kitchen-cabinet members that converting any landed portion of the Flagstaff House into a Presidential Mausoleum poses an immediate national-security risk, for the same reason that the remains of the legendary and world-famous Dr. W. E. B. DuBois were exhumed from the forecourt of the Osu Castle and reinterred at the DuBois House years ago?

Predictably, the very caustic critics of the Kufuor-led NPP government, who found virtually everything remiss with having Indian architects design and erect the former Jubilee House, presently find everything right with converting a portion of the prime landed property surrounding our national palace into the final resting place of the very people who radically, and almost violently, attempted to stall the construction of this most significant and modern symbolic and functional representation of our sovereignty as a nation. I hope to the high heavens that eligible and active Ghanaian voters are paying sedulous attention to this unpardonable national outrage, even as they head for the polling booth on December 7, 2012!

*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: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.
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