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General News of Thursday, 20 March 2008

Source: michael appiah (

Hawa Yakubu - A Year On

A year ago: shock, darkness and sorrows loomed in the hearts and minds of many as the news of Hawa Yakubu’s passage trickled in. As it were, Friends and even political adversaries captured the character and personality of this great woman in words and phrases like : “Great loss”, Democracy’s friend says good bye”, “End of a Colossus”, “A force for peace passes on” “Good bye to a major strand of reconciliation”. A year on: we are reminded by the deeds and words of this fulfilled life. A year on : we learn that at the heart of this fulfilled life which we celebrate today was the belief that the individual man, the child of God, is the touchstone and all society, groups, the state, exist for his benefit. A year on: we pay our heartfelt tribute to Hawa not only in our desire to do so but in our need to do so. For such was her startling, caring and remarkable persona that endeared her to many individuals, families, tribe, regions and nationalities.

The story of Hawa Yakubu one that sought not to diminish the humanity of her adversaries but to debate voice of dissent under civility and humanness will forever draw people from all race, Color and creed. The story of Hawa Yakubu; a story of empathy surplus in a world filled with several cases of empathy deficit. The story of Hawa Yakubu; a story of one who offered to give her slip on to school to a classmate and preferred to walk on bare foot to school (when asked why she did that, she said, “it is my wish to satisfy as many people as possible and that involves empting my self, for we must do good for the love of humanity”). The story of Hawa Yakubu one who believed in sharing and trumpeted to higher decibels in such unmistakable chorus that a threat to a life of an opposition member even if her party was government was equally a threat to her liberty regardless of the security detailed for her safety. The story of Hawa Yakubu one that says that even in our individuality lies a cord that still unites us all as one.

Hawa was a symbol of selfless humanity and a standard bearer for the down trodden in society. With open arms she always appealed to our basic humanity in the face of irreconcilable differences, such that everyone was a brother and a sister. She was the very essence of duty, compassion beauty and style, though a native of Pusiga she transcended tribes, regions , sub- regional groupings and nationalities. Some one with natural nobility, a heart of a lion, a shooting star, a trailblazer for modern day women politicians in Ghana and a pragmatic doer par excellence who was classless and proved reconciliatory in both word and deed.

Mummy, we thank God for your life, and appreciate today all the times when you prevailed in mist of hallowing storms of doubt and fear. We thank you for your leadership, care and warmth, we also celebrate your resilience and quest to better the lot of our society through the act of politics; for which you lived and sacrificed for. The several attempts on your life, broken marriages, the loss of material wealth and the piercing of a spear through your leg in the “infamous Kulungugu bombing” only consolidated your firm belief in what you always taught us that “ a keen sense of purpose must not easily be overcome by difficulties, and as you always said resilience pays in politics.

A year on: we take courage in the truism that as a voice of dissent in the First parliament of the fourth republic, you spoke truth to power when it would have been easy to play the role of a lame duck in the harsh arena of political developments. The Serious Fraud Office Bill which from hindsight sought to persecute members of the opposition, and whose conception represented a slap in the face of our then fledging democracy benefited from your timely intervention and that of civil society. Your prompt alertness led to 39 amendments to the bill before it was passed.

Through your work as patron of Camfed( a UK based Charity organisation), Network of Africa Women in Politics(NAWIP) and the Network of Women in Growth(NEWIG) you brought skills acquisition and training to women and a teeming populace of unemployed from the Northern through to the Ashanti, Volta, Greater Accra and Central regions. Your joy of life transmitted wherever you took your smile as well as the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. In search for what made you so popular and loved we are left with one choice and that is your instinctive feel for what was really important in our lives. Without your God given sensitivity , advocacy and Midas touch, we will would have been immersed in greater resistance of your pet subject women’s empowerment, that 10 out of 19 women parliamentarians today benefited from your advice, finance and material support further attest your contribution to women politics in Ghana.

Hawa once explained to me that her innermost feelings of suffering made it possible for her to connect with the constituency of the rejected. I recall with nostalgia, When I asked, how best will you want to be remembered you said that ‘ amongst the things that history will say about you when you are no more it will not fail to record that you appealed to the best hopes of people and not their worst fears, their confidence and not their doubts, that people tread the path of life with liberty lamp lightening their path and stretching an arm of opportunity and help.

A year on we know that, as a true democrat you always insisted on the need to respect the views of the minority, and always appealed to members on the other side of the divide, not only to tolerate our diversity, but to honour and celebrate it. Though her genuine intentions were sneered by some, one can only deduce that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum, who only imagined Ghana and the world as it was and not how it could be. Thus her level headedness made her to pursue a high level of politics.

To Derek, Amanda Didi and the larger family we pledge our support and commitment towards the ideals and the good wishes she had and hoped for you.

We thank God for the small mercies he has shown all of us in these trying and difficult moments; for taking Hawa at her most beautiful, and radiant time. When she could have contributed to consolidate our democracy with another successful elections in 2008. Our best tribute, and Ghana’s tribute is to facilitate and hold a peaceful, free and fair elections.

Above all we give thanks to a woman; we are delighted to call a mother. The unique, complex, extraordinary and irreplaceable Hawa. Her beauty and overwhelming receptive attitude both internal and external will never be extinguished in our hearts and minds.

Mummy Rest in Peace.

From members of Hawafoundation

Michael Appiah – London Allen Joe – London James Kwabena Bomfeh – Accra Joshua Tetteh - Accra Kadri – Accra

Yaw Agyeman – Accra Patricia Amissah – Ottawa Emmanuel Obbeng – London Yuki Ampofo – Accra Gloria Agyeman – London Evans Kofi Panford – Accra Dr. Lambert Obbeng – Korle Bu, Accra Priscilla Tetteh – Oxford, UK Margaret Nicco Annan - Koforidua