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Opinions of Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Columnist: Pryce, Daniel K.

Michaela Wellington Deserves A Posthumous Degree

from AUCC!

“In the sweate of thy face shalt thou eate bread, till thou returne unto the ground: for out of it wast thou taken, for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou returne.” (Genesis 3:19, King James Version, 1611 Edition)

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to doe, doe it with all thy might; for there is no worke, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisedome in the grave, whither thou goest.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10, King James Version, 1611 Edition)

Death is narcissistic. Death is fiendish. Death is chthonic. Death is cataclysmic. Death is the embodiment of pain. And pain is what prevented me from writing this oft-postponed, nonetheless overdue, piece to honor my departed friend Michaela Naa Afi Wellington, affectionately known as Kela. Kela was the sweet smell of a rose petal, which, sadly, withered before it reached its full bloom. Like the morning dew, Kela watered the earth around her, but her twilight did come too soon. Just too soon. Even now, Kela’s at once loud and soothing voice reverberates in the deep recesses of my mind – whose significance conveys what I have always known about mortal man: that we are uniquely created by God, each with his own gifts, callings and passions. Kela’s laughter – strong, buoyant, charismatic – has gone painfully silent, never to be heard again on this side of the cosmos. Yet, in the still of the day, amidst the vestiges of our pain, we still hear that robust, happy-go-lucky laughter, if we listened closely enough, even if too painful to bear.

Kela’s was a life lived to honor God, family, friends, neighbors, associates. Two years after I began sending feature articles to Ghanaweb.com for publication, I received a nondescript e-mail from someone named Michaela Naa Afi Wellington. I thought to myself, “I hope she is not one of those Ghanaians bent on scourging me with the rod of malevolence.” It turned out differently, however. She had come in peace, offering ideas and suggestions to help make Ghana a better place for Ghanaians. She loved her nation – and she believed that her country needed fresh leadership and bold ideas. My ramparts of skepticism were crumbling. Our friendship had begun in earnest.

Kela loved her children. She doted on them. Like any good parent, however, she worried about her kids. She envisioned for them a bright and prosperous future, doing her best to guide them in the right direction. Even now, I am certain that she has asked God innumerable times why He allowed her to be taken away prematurely from those beautiful children. Life is, without a doubt, not fair. I am certain of one thing, however: Kela is definitely asking God every day to make sure that those kids neither go hungry nor lack other basic provisions of life. She must be giving God an earful even as I write this piece. I would expect it from Kela – the woman who loved God, her family, her friends, her associates.

As time passed, I got to know more about Kela’s family, future plans, and love for higher education, via our almost-daily e-mails and occasional phone calls. Through our conversations, Kela became convinced of the expediency of a university education. Naturally – and she is no different from the rest of us – she had her doubts. Successfully combining the rigors of higher education, a demanding job, and the exigencies of parenthood, Kela bemoaned, would not be easy. I answered in the affirmative. I then shared with her what I knew from personal experience: that there would never be a better time to return to school, since humankind and problems were like conjoined twins! In other words, it is rather easy to blame our inability to pursue a dream on the tough circumstances in which we find ourselves. In fact, for as long as our planet has existed, I continued, humans have always offered a compendium of excuses why something could not be done. It is enmeshed in our DNA, I added.

Convinced and energized by our pithy, yet extraordinarily powerful, conversation, Kela, a graduate of St. Mary’s Secondary School, Accra, Ghana, applied and received admission to African University College of Communications (AUCC), the Kojo Yankah-superintended private university based in Accra, Ghana. With grit and fortitude, Kela excelled in the classroom. Indeed, she was about a semester or two shy of graduation – she and I had agreed that I would attend this important event! – when the frosty hands of death separated her from those she loved and those who loved her. Fate could not be crueler.

Because of the three-and-a-half years Kela spent pursuing this coveted “diadem,” she deserves a college degree. And I do not mean an honorary degree. After all, she completed about 90-percent of the required coursework. As a result, I implore the leaders of AUCC to posthumously bestow on Michaela Naa Afi Wellington a well-deserved Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies. It would be the right thing to do, Mr. Yankah!

One of the things Kela cherished dearly was an ode I had written for her about two years ago, which she left on her Facebook.com page, until it was taken down after her death. I reproduce, verbatim, the ode – modifying the stanzaic appearance, of course:

She is gap-toothed. She has a smile that can quake the surroundings. She has the poise of a contingent. She is methodical and circumspect. She is selfless and self-deprecating. She has a great sense of humor. She is enmeshed in humility. She loves to be pampered. But she also has the tenacity of a lion. And can put up a fight if called upon. She is, in fact, a mélange of different emotions. Thus a microcosm of what we all are!

Whatsoever Kela found to do, she did with all of her might. Indeed, she was the epitome of hard work, selflessness, and dedication. She was a true and dependable friend – and I speak from personal experience. Although we never met face to face, she had become a member of my family. Although we were not affiliated by consanguinity, she was like a younger sister to me. Those who loved Kela will never stop loving her. Those Kela left behind will keep her memory alive forever. Kela was a gem who departed this earth too soon. But we are also comforted by the fact that she trusted in the good Lord. Indeed, the angels would have said to her, “Welcome home, Kela, welcome home.” Even as we continue to mourn her shocking demise one year later, we have the assurance that she is resting in the bosom of the Most High God. Kela, may God continue to give your soul eternal peace and rest!

© The writer, Daniel K. Pryce, is a doctoral student who also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Criminology, Law & Society at George Mason University. He holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from the same university. He is a member of the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration in the U.S.A. He may be followed on Twitter: @DanielKPryce. He invites the reader to join the pressure group “Good Governance in Ghana” on Facebook.com, which he superintends. He can be reached at dpryce@cox.net.