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Opinions of Saturday, 23 April 2016

Columnist: A.R. Gomda

Now the day is over

When we were in the primary school the hymn which signaled the end of the day’s work was “Now The Day Is Over, Night Is Drawing Nigh, Shadows Across The Evening, Silver Across The Sky”.

We were then kids, too young to comprehend the significance of the words: now as adults we are better placed to understand the philosophical undertones of the composition. I now understand also that one day, the day would be over for every man born of a woman as the spiritual dimension opens up, a new realm, a higher one bereft of iniquities where our report sheets would be analysed.

When death lays its icy hands on a living being, when their times are up to proceed to the spiritual world, the day as it were, is over for such persons.

At the time that he lived, the late Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey was associated with the following Arabic words, “Insha Allah” to wit “If God permits”. Muslims are enjoined to believe that nothing happens if they are not willed by God to happen.

Only the Omnipotent, Omniscient God has the power over every development on earth. For a human being to talk about tomorrow as though they control their lives is to ignore the powers of God. The late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, obviously believed in this and so always added “Insha Allah” to every sentence coming from his mouth when these bordered on the future.

I was asked by somebody one day whether the now late Jake was a Muslim. I answered in the negative but since he believed in God and knew that nothing would happen if they are not willed by God, he was a creature of the Omnipotent, a believer, moreso he has submitted to the will of God.

There was no doubt about his religiousness. He appears to have seen the angels beckoning him to proceed to pre-earthly world and so directed his friends and relatives about the colours to be used for his funeral. Not everybody is able to be blessed with such spiritual signs.

He played his part on the ephemeral world leaving indelible footprints on the sand of history in the business and political spheres.

A poem recited by one of his relations, I cannot recall whether he is his son or so, touched my heart and enhanced the already somber mood of the occasion. Part of it read, “When Tomorrow Starts Without Me, Try To Understand That An Angel Came To Take Me Away….”

Ever since the authentic news about his death was received by the country following an earlier fictitious one, it was a fact that we had continued life without a man who was part of the political landscape in the country. We have understood, however, that an angel had come for him. He had been moved to a greater spiritual height where good people like him go to and feel no pain any longer.

Great men are only identified when they take their last breaths through the tributes of friends, relations and above all, the footprints they leave behind and which continue to add to the progress of humanity; providing succor to the famished and oppressed.

Yesterday, Jake as he was affectionately called, physically left mother Earth after an assortment of religious rites: spiritually he had exited the world weeks earlier.

The tributes which he attracted during yesterday’s state funeral for him said it all about who this great man was. At last Thursday evening’s religious service at the Ridge Church, Accra, a Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC) veteran in her tribute recalled how when Jake was an employee of the state broadcaster the politics in him was noticeable. He was always engaged in political discussions with her husband. No wonder he grew to become an astute politician in the country’s history perhaps continuing where his father left off having been detained under the harsh PDA of the late Kwame Nkrumah.

It is only during such tributes that we learn about the fine details in the lives of the departed, the biographies not able to capture all these bits. President John Dramani Mahama was one of the most prominent personalities to grace the solemn occasion and his tributes were particularly touching.

He described the deceased as a friend and a brother, their political differences notwithstanding. The words of the President were from his heart devoid of pretentiousness, largely philosophical and a testimonial about the achievements of the man whose life was celebrated yesterday prior to his final exit.

President Mahama said, “I will always remember Jake as my brother and friend”. He recalled the crude rumours which gained currency last year about Jake’s death by people whom he said wished the man dead. Yahweh had not called him at the time, he said, but now the time had come, news about which he received with a jolt.

He described Jake as a man who loved the arts with a passion, a description which is evidenced in the success he chalked in the advertisement industry, his name at a time becoming synonymous with the famous advertisement company, Lintas.

President Mahama pointed out the role of Jake in the victory of former President Kufuor recalling the various positions he held in the subsequent government. Jake, he went on, had his low and high points in life as are all other human beings.

The greatest tribute to the deceased, he said, would be using his death to ensure the peace and stability of the country, ingredients which, he added, are prerequisites for development. “Jake fare thee well” ended the President’s tribute which was read for him by one of his appointees as he sat on the dais and watched the religious rites proceed.

So soon Jake Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey has joined the swelling list of those who have returned to their makers. His name is now preceded by ‘the late,’ the manner all men and women would one day be addressed when they are called by their Maker.

The Islamic scriptures state that every human being shall taste of death. The Christian faith too has similar philosophical lines, the bottom line of which is that man is destined to die one day, death being a necessary end of all men.

The deceased Jake Nii Lantei Otanka Obetsebi Lamptey was born on 4th February 1946, the second of three sons of his father, Emmanuel Odarkwei Obetsebi Lamptey and his Dutch wife, Margaretha.

His father was a prominent lawyer and politician, one of the big six. His mother migrated to London during World War II.

A quotation in his biography which reads, “I had my early schooling here in Accra. I moved from Zongo Lane to my father’s new house on the Ring Road in what is now Kanda; but at the time we called it Nima,” summarises the early life of the deceased.

He had his early education in Accra until politics took a dip in the Gold Coast, a situation which informed his movement alongside his siblings to the United Kingdom. In this limited space, I can only compose so much proceeding only to repeat President John Mahama’s “fare thee well Jake.”