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Opinions of Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

P. V. Obeng's Death Shocked Only His Beneficiaries

P. V. Obeng's Death Shocked Only His Beneficiaries And Friends

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The beauty of death is that it does not ask the victim when and where to strike. It simply strikes at will, even as the great English poet-dramatist, William Shakespeare, wrote some three-hundred-and-odd years ago. It simply strikes by lottery. But let no one make the egregious mistake of facilely presuming the Leveller to simply strike without any rhyme or reason. For death does have both rhyme and reason; it simply does not operate at the beck and/or call of humans. Being as mundane as a mound/coll and the kegya-leaf, death occurs simply with time. And now, Baafuor Owuo tells us that it is time for Owura Paul Victor Obeng (1947-2014) to set sail.

What is certain is that this godforsaken nation-wrecker was heavily relied upon by quite a remarkable number of malcontents who envisaged their only hope of realizing their dream of living high on the hog, as it were, was by simply rocking the democratic ship-of-state. For as legend has it, it was P. V., as Mr Obeng was popularly known - and even affectionately called - by both his admirers and adversaries alike, who surreptitiously conspired with the Trokosi Nationalists and their allies to remove the popularly and democratically elected Limann-led government of the People's National Party (PNP) from power and cursed us with the veritable albatross that is the former Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and his so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). He would shortly be named Chairman of the Committee of Secretaries, the equivalent of Prime Minister in a democratic political culture by his most significant beneficiary, Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.

But what made Mr. Obeng, a mechanical engineer locally trained at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, the formidably repugnant and, indeed, irredeemably odious personality that he came to be widely perceived, was primarily the fact that as an Asante-descended Ghanaian, Mr. Obeng also came to be envisaged as the symbol of massive Asante support for the patently anti-Akan junta of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council, that singularly and peremptorily dominated the Ghanaian political landscape and ruthlessly traumatized its citizenry with its inexorable reign-of-terror that engendered what the immortalized Prof. Albert A. Adu-Boahen at the time characterized as "The Culture of Silence." Indeed, so ingrained and pervasive was the latter regime that Ghanaians have yet to fully recover from this morally and emotionally stunting and blistering crisis of the psyche and national identity.

Barely twenty-four hours following the official announcement of his passing, a good friend of mine resident in the Maryland and Washington, DC, metropolitan area - and he is always the first to call with any momentous news from or about Ghana - called to bitterly lament to me the fact that P. V. had, reportedly, been ferried in, of all vehicles, a taxicab to the LEKMA Hospital, in Accra, where he had been officially pronounced dead from an apparently massive asthmatic attack. "You know, had P. V and his fellow rascals like Rawlings built a decent healthcare system for the country, he would most likely have been transported to the hospital in a state-of-the-art ambulance, fully equipped with resuscitation equipment."

The fact of the matter is that who really wants to revive a dying devil's incarnate? I thought to myself. And then nonchalantly, I responded to my friend thusly: "Well, I don't know that it really matters how a dying man gets transported to the hospital." P. V. just may well have been felled by over-exhaustion from having organized the so-called National Economic Forum (NEF) at Senchi, in the very region in which yours truly was raised, just a couple of days ago.

Hearing of P. V.'s passing, former President John Agyekum-Kufuor was reported to have poignantly observed as follows: "We will all die one day or another.... Any death shocks, but this particular one is really more shocking than usual." And, perhaps, this stems from the fact of my good, old Uncle Kofi Diawuo's having reportedly shared a joke with P. V. at the fifteenth-anniversary celebration of the Asantehene's golden enstoolment just last week.

Well, if it is any consolation to my distinguished Uncle Diawuo: just a little over a month ago, I also had occasion to exchange pleasantries with one of my African-American neighbors, Tommy Lee Alexander, a strapping and burly personality of about 7-feet-6-inches tall, who weighed between 300 and 400 pounds; one who readily made our beloved Gentle Giant look like a Ba-Twa pygmy. Well, as the almighty fate would have it, barely twelve hours later, my dear friend and neighbor was reported to have died. Gone forever!

It really makes you wonder to what effect or end, these perennially shameless displays of political pomposity on the part of our largely self-imposed leaders.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York
Board Member, The Nassau Review
May 18, 2014