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Opinions of Saturday, 23 June 2018

Columnist: Nkrabeah Effah Dartey

Holy Bible – Coffin?

File photo of an open bible File photo of an open bible

Dateline – Friday 8th June 2018. I was seated in my office at Asylum Down as a practicing court going lawyer, then two new clients walked in – man and wife.

They had a curious problem: their 17 years old daughter, Ruby Dede Teiko, SS 1 student at Ghana National Secondary School had died, and they suspected foul play – could I take the school on?

I listened with rapt attention as they related the gory details. Ghana National, readers will recall was Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s flagship second cycle school. According to legend, Nkrumah started the school in Cape Coast for students who were “nationalists” and when he took power in 1951, he promptly pumped so much money into the school’s infrastructure.

Doubtless it is the only school with extensive outlay of infrastructure, comparable only to my alma mater, Achimota School.

According to parents of Ruby, they had a phone call from a hospital in Cape Coast at about 11 am Saturday 19th May 2018, literally informing them point blank that their ward has passed on.

“Just like that?”

Apparently Ruby was an asthmatic patient, one of the 935 SHS form one students of Ghana National.

Can that be true? 935 students in SHS Form One? How effective can the Administration be? Instead of admitting so many students into form one, why not open more schools? Far back in 1967 when I went to Achimota School form one, the whole school, from form one through upper six – we were 700. Now, SHS form one alone – 935?

My new clients told me the funeral for their daughter will come off on Saturday 16th June 2018 and so early in the morning I left my abode at Kasoa and drove to Santa Maria, North of Kwashieman.

The funeral service took place in the DONEWELL Methodist Church, Santa Maria, a very neat cute chapel, with floor tiles and iron railings and rich velvet curtains.

I saw my clients, both dressed in white, according to custom, surrounded by family members. Present of course was a team of students from the Ghana National Secondary School, Cape Coast, led by their school chaplain and their school cadet corps.

The funeral service was brief and almost military in nature – precision was in high degree. I was called to pay a tribute and I said I never met the girl so I only sang the famous MHB “Begone Unbelief” and gave them my personal anthem “M’atwen Awurade Anim”

Reader, the sermon was wonderful. Rev Mathew Ekwan, preaching in both Twi and English used the famous scripture: “For everything, give thanks”

He told us this story. There was this old lady, struggling to make ends meet, sustained only by her three male children. In their prime, the eldest died, followed by the youngest then the middle one – all in a row, within a short span of time. The woman was devastated.

To lose all her three supporting children in a whirlwind fashion? Did I go or did I come?

Then one day, the old lady had a rare visitor: an angel of the Lord. The angel took her to a strange room and she saw a totally blind old man, helpless. The angel asked her, do you know him? The old lady said, no. The angel took her to another room and she saw a completely mad person, degenerate. The angel asked her again, how about this man? No, said the old lady. I don’t know him anywhere.”

Finally the angel took her to the last room where a completely paralyzed old man was lying down, helpless. Do you know him? She responded, “No.”

“You see, if your three children had lived, this would have been their end. Could you have borne it? The way you serve the Lord so seriously, the Lord decided to spare you the agony of seeing your children like that, so the Lord took them away…………..for everything, give thanks.

What a moving story.

All too soon, by 10:15am, everything was over and the cadet corps of Ghana National came to lift up the casket of their fallen colleague – wait a minute, reader, what coffin is this? HOLY BIBLE!!!

An all white coffin molded as a Holy Bible, with “Holy Bible” written twice on it!!! Was it imported? I doubt it. Trust the ingenuity of Ghanaian artisans.

I have seen coffins designed like banana, microphone, guitar, canoe and so on, but Holy Bible!!!

Amidst the slow march of “Hark, Hark my Soul…” the Holy Bible Coffin borne aloft on the shoulders of the cadets slowly marched through the aisle into a waiting ambulance for burial in Krobo Odumase, hometown of the girl’s father, as is the custom.

According to custom, when your first child dies, no funeral rites are held, in order to discourage other children from dying, so from the chapel we all left for our various homes.

Before driving off from the Donwell Methodist Church grounds, the father accosted me: Captain, what about taking the school on for negligence?”

“Come to the office” and I drove off.