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Opinions of Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Columnist: Nathan Gadugah

KABA, Ekosii Sen?

The late Kwadwo Asare-Baffour Acheampong (KABA) The late Kwadwo Asare-Baffour Acheampong (KABA)

If death was an orchestra, we will be cheering you by now because you left when the applause was loudest. But death is death! Cruel and heartless and when you die when the applause is loudest the void you leave in the hearts and minds of your loved ones becomes a gorge, difficult to fill.

Kwadwo Asare-Baffour Acheampong (KABA) Ekosii Sen? Where have you left us?

On a busy Saturday morning when those on duty were preparing for their scheduled programmes on Asempa, Joy and all the multimedia platforms, you kept us busier, sweating, hoping, calling and praying that it was false, a bad joke.

Even those who were not on duty and were sleeping in the comfort of their homes had suddenly become uncomfortable because the tonnes of messages blasting through the Multimedia whatsapp platform had become an alarm with an unbearable content. The calls flooded in from your friends, loved ones itching to be told what they were hearing was another silly rumour.

Kwadwo Asare Baffour Acheampong (KABA) Ekosii Sen? Where have you left us?

There is nothing more difficult for a journalist than calling to confirm the death of a colleague, one he had shared a joke with, ate with only the night before.

Yet on Saturday morning you gave I and the entire Multimedia group an unpleasant task of calling to confirm your death; a task we were not ready to perform; a task we were ready to fail even for a company where failure is never an option. The pangs of your death was one too difficult to bear.

Ekosii Sen? KABA.

I called but you never picked up. I called other colleagues, they did. They confirmed you were gone never to return. I still didn’t believe it. And when I read one of my colleagues saying he was standing beside your lifeless body I became numb. Then I remembered the story of Jesus and Lazarus. Did Jesus not raise Lazarus four days after he died? Was He not four days late but still on time? What will He not do for KABA my colleague who is just sleeping? I said to myself on my bed. I turned to prayer and hoped for a miracle but it never came. I guess my faith was not so strong after all. KABA was gone. Gone for good.

Confirming the death of a colleague journalist is one thing; writing the story of death and a profile is another. And when the death story is that of KABA, words fail. My words failed me. They hardly do but I guess they died too! I sat on my bed tried in vain to string a piece together but nothing came. I read with passive abhorrence the news of your death from competitor networks. They were doing their job. I failed in mine.

KABA Ekosii Sen?

But this is the only time when competition matters little for a company built on the spirit of competitiveness. Even with the full facts of your death confirmed, not just by the family you work with but by those of your birth and those with whom you shared the sanctity of a marital home, we still could not break the news of your death. Getting the story out first was never an option. Who was ready to break it? On radio TV, or online? For hours we grieved, many others were peeved for you never told them anything. All you said to them and to your cherished listeners was we will meet again on Monday but now we know we will meet no more.

The same platform we used to discuss some of the most controversial issues, share headline stories and make fun of each other had become an epitaph with one colleague after another sharing a condolence and remembering the last conversation they shared with you. Your last conversation on that platform, was to shake your damn head (SMDH) to a damn little comment by Ridwan, the only garrulous man who could say just anything to anybody yet nobody got angry. You will shake that head no more; you will comment no more and you will leave that platform poorer because you were richer with news and information from across the political divide.

You became the news none of us wanted to hear or break. For who was a better news breaker than you? Your great interviewing skills and your ability to draw from the most unwilling politician the biggest secret he or she has been hiding set you apart. You were good at what you do but for many of us how you did it was most endearing and gratifying. Your natural humility could not escape attention. Even your listeners with whom you had little personal contact had testimony to share about your humility.

A taxi driver I picked to town, who had no clue where I worked nor the faintest idea about my relationship with you was telling me how good a man you were even though he had never met you. All he knew was your voice and how you handled your guests and your topics. I knew more. You were huge but never intimidating. For a company with a culture of addressing everyone, from the CEO to the driver, by their first names, you broke the rule with my last name. “Mr Gadugah” you would call anytime we met at the doorway and share a joke about how the last story I did, got some of the politicians calling you and begging if something could be done about it. And I would say, the story is already gone and there is very little we could do about it. You knew what joke to share with whom and made everybody comfortable around you.

But where are you now? Where have you left us? KABA.

Your wife Valentina Asare Acheampong, the woman you loved, your little girl whom you cherished dearly and who is barely a-year-old, are here still in shock but holding on to a memory, your memory that will never fail. Your kind gentle heart would forever remain a memorial to us all because it made a lot of difference.

If we cry today, we cry because you lived well; you touched the lives of the people with whom you shared your life. You demonstrated with your life what it means to follow a dream, pursuing it and living it. In class six you wrote to a CNN news anchor, announcing your dream to be a broadcaster and even though the path to becoming one was was tortuous in your case, you stayed focused until you achieved your dream. You became one of the biggest broadcasters, a colossus none could ignore.

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia referred to you as a professional, a neutral arbiter and he could not be more right. You were a perfect gentleman. Losing you is like losing the salt of the earth. We will miss you. Your journey on earth has come to an end and you left when the applause was loudest. Fare thee well till we meet again.