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Opinions of Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Columnist: Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

Closer than a brother - Kemetse, Clegg & Kimathi

By Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey

What does the Bible mean by friends who stick closer than brothers?After years of rich friendship, I have a fair idea. Recently, Stephen Kemetse celebrated his birthday. Amid the wellwishing, we fondly recalled that we had in fact enjoyed 22 years of solid friendship. Stephen and I met and struck our friendship in Achimota.

At the time, I was the 3 senior prefect and he a junior. One day, this bold young ‘nino’, with some air of self-assurance, walked up, declaring his desire to run errands for me. His persistence did not leave room for me to decline. Very soon, I could not help but take notice of his reasoned position on various issues; the fearless line of questioning, the refusal to accept things as they were, the fairness or unfairness in punishments meted out by prefects, vigorous debates on scripture and his socio-political incursions, including his natural affinity for issues of social justice.

Soon, he would be joined by his mate, Dengba Tobiga, another astute young man, who had relocated from the United States to taste three years of life in a Ghanaian secondary school.

Senior and juniors to the outside world, internally, barriers were broken, as the senior-junior relationship blossomed into warm friendship.

Friendship after Achimota On leaving Achimota, we kept the flame of friendship alive. I recall celebrating his graduation from a youth Bible class at the Charismatic Evangelistic Ministry, his thoughtful gifts on my birthdays, our marriage ‘coincidences’, providing me with a home in Accra during my Dzodze days, the interactions among our extended families, the celebration of the children God gifted us, the professional accomplishments, the shared decision making on matters great and small, and our little ‘political’ projects – be they of a national focus or Stephen working in concert with others to build a church in his hometown or to launch a scholarship fund to give better opportunities to young people in his village, Shia.

On these matters, he continues to inspire me greatly, all the time. It has been a wonderful journey, in fact, so much that on more than one occasion, on being asked who he was to me, I intuitively called him my brother, somehow finding the expression ‘friend”,s woefully inadequate.

Incidentally, both the missus and my mother agreed. This has thus become a relationship characterised by mutual respect, mutual support and mutual fearless correction without condescension, shared values and a shared life. Today, on the occasion of Kemetse’s birthday, I can say without doubt how much of a blessing he has been and continues to be to me personally and to my family. As we say in my family when one finds something too meaningful, I love Keme too much! Happy birthday, brother mine! And mighty blessings to our wife Helena, and the troops.

There is another dimension to the kind of integrated lives of friends that sometimes characterises the transition from mere friendship to unwavering brotherhood that is worth calling out.

It is the ability to be genuinely happy for each other, to celebrate each other without reservation, to share moments of weakness and strengths without feeling judged and to bask with great contentment in each other’s successes, professional and personal. Envy is unknown. Trust is the bedrock and positive actions repeatedly affirm these values.

Robert Nii Arday Clegg

I have two brothers who are great examples of the above. These are Robert Nii Arday Clegg and Kimathi Kuenyehia Snr. My relationship with Robert is special and treasured. Reflecting, I am convinced that what I appreciate most about my friendship with Robert is how I feel when good things happen to him.

I always feel this profound joy that the two of us, two little unknown humble boys from Dansoman SSNIT flats, after many three hour sessions of furious political debates deep into the night, and book sharing, are to quote Akosa, causing a few ripples here and there.

And I am convinced Robert knows intimately how positively I view his accomplishments.

It is the reason he called me when he was launching his book on studying and passing examinations with honours, it is the reason we shared long laughter when he took seven prizes in the law school, it is the reason we celebrated his admission to Harvard, his establishment of his own law firm, the conversations around the Starr Morning Show opportunity and it is the reason any challenge on our fronts, especially those pertaining to our families, are viewed seriously.

It is just about feeling happy for each other, even if his political views are still ‘bogus’!

Kimathi Kuenyehia

I met Kimathi through another brother, Dela Zumanu. This was at Legon and we took to each other like leeches. Almost two decades later, we are still in the brotherly ‘leeching’ business. When Kimathi completed Harvard law and bought a one way ticket shortly thereafter to Ghana with no secured job, he had but a few hundreds of dollars in his pocket.

Working from his briefcase, he was deemed idealistic and foolish in some quarters and mocked in others. Perhaps establishing a thriving modern law firm in Accra and winning multiple national and international awards is not the most striking thing about Kimathi. It might be his keen sense of awareness of how far the Lord has brought him. And also typical of the Marley quote, ‘In this great future, you can’t forget your past.’

This is why sometimes, on an early morning when Kimathi should be bowing to judges saying ‘My Lord,’ you will find us at his law firm laughing garrulously over the goodness of the Lord. But for the Lord, where would I, a mere Fadama boy, be? And where would Kimathi be, today supporting many corporate social initiatives?

Today, I dedicate this article to all the good friends who stick closer than brothers and if I may take licence, than sisters too!

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