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Opinions of Monday, 27 July 2020

Columnist: Raymond Tuvi

The legacy of Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, an end to the politics of divisiveness for national devt

Even though William Shakespeare penned, through the funeral oration of Mark Antony to the slain ancient Roman ruler, Julius Caesar, that, “The evil that men do lives after them; but the good is oft interred with their bones”, glowing tributes to all good men ring true. And, according to the Biblical Book of Revelation, the good works of the blessed that die in the Lord will follow them. They will be remembered.

Such is the epitaph that is already shaping up for the late Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as “Sir John”. Tributes of grief and shock continued to pour in from Ghanaians from all walks of life to the former General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party, whose One Week observance was held last Wednesday at his hometown of Sakora Wonoo in the Ashanti Region.

Messages from both sides of the political divide describe a man who prosecuted his main preoccupation of politics, devoid of rancour and divisiveness which, sadly, are attitudes that have largely characterized the manner in which we discharge the sacred trust of our people.

President Akufo-Addo, in his tribute, described “Sir John” as “Energetic, ebullient, jovial, with an exceptional sense of humour”, attributes of the man, which the President said, “affected positively every person with whom he came into contact.”

And one such person would certainly be Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress. At one time, Mr. Owusu Afriyie and Mr. Asiedu Nketiah, were the respective General Secretaries of the two major political parties in the country. And while leading the charge of what could be scathing campaigns to either retain or wrestle power for their respective parties, “Sir John” and “General Mosquito”, as they were affectionately called, struck up and maintained a most genial and healthy rivalry that lifted some of the gloom off our contemporary politicking.

That professional relationship was taken to an amazing depth and strength of personal friendship and solidarity when General Mosquito lost his mother. Sharing fond memories of his late friend in his tribute on a local radio show, Mr. Asiedu Nketiah recounted how Sir John spent three days in his house after all the mourners to his mother’s funeral had left.

That rare act of trust and camaraderie, more so for the kingpins of the rival political establishments of our times, has become the gold standard and a recurring reference point of what politics for a developing country like ours, that requires all human capital, laser-focused on our chronic cancers of ignorance, lack, disease, corruption, squalor and bigotry, ought to be. That, espousing differing political ideologies or philosophies need not ignite toxic relationships whose ultimate loser is the nation. This expectation is more imperative for the teeming followers of political leaders, within whose ranks the lines of battle or confrontation are often needlessly drawn.

It goes without saying that, Ghana, at this stage of her development, can ill afford the luxury of needless and pointless political intrigue and divisiveness.

That is why it is heartening that, the flagbearer of the NDC, former President John Dramani Mahama, in his tribute, described as “my good friend”, the man who proudly, yet jocularly, proclaimed himself as “kookoase krakye” (or “cocoa farm gentleman”), but who still earned the accolade of the only “Sir” in Ghanaian politics, until Wednesday, July 1, 2020, when he took a final bow off the stage of Ghanaian politics. It is the same man whose legacy includes the famous admonition, “Fear delegates!”, recalled again in this year of elections when the issue of monetization of politics is trending.

So, as we join his family, the rank and file of the NPP, and the chiefs and people of Sakora Wonoo, his beloved hometown, to mourn him, may the late Lawyer Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie’s affable life remind us, in the words of iconic American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “that, we too can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints in the sands of time.”