Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back – Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor.
Human as we are, death is inevitable, and at the thanksgiving service of the former First Lady, Theresa Kufuor, at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi last Sunday, the Archbishop, Gabriel Yaw Anokye, stressed this ‘fact of life’. Listening to the Sermon, one could recall what Seneca, the Younger (4BC-AD65) says: “I cannot escape death, but at least I can escape the fear of it.”
Theresa Aba Kufuor, the “loving” wife of Ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor, breathed her last on October 1, this year. She had been married to the Ex-President since they came together as a couple in 1962. In a tribute, Ex-President Kufuor states: “My first impressions of my beautiful Aba were that of a soft-spoken and well-mannered lady, and within a year of bonding and courting, we both discovered that we very much enjoyed each other’s company. We had the same cultural tastes in art, music and cinema, and shared similar social preferences. Consequently, we decided to tie the knot, and this we did at Brompton Oratory in Knights Bridge, London, on September 8, 1962.”
The part of the tribute that touches the heart of Kwame Awuah, Esq is: “…a shocking and unexpected coup d’état”, 54 of us, Cabinet Ministers, Junior Ministers and some Members of Parliament would remain in jail for a minimum period of between 12 and 15 months…. This angel of a woman… would not and could not be broken. She survived on very little then; and she truly kept our hopes alive. When allowed to visit me in prison, she left me with a sense of optimism that was most assuring. I survived my incarceration of 15 months, largely because of Aba. She was a woman of sacrifice, devotion, humanity and resilience…”
On Thursday, November 16, the Requiem mass was held for the former First Lady at Christ the King Catholic Church, Accra and later a State funeral at the forecourt of the State House in Accra. All the protocols that go with the observance of a state burial were observed. The President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife, Rebecca; the Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife, Samira; Former President John Mahama and his wife, Lordina were present. So were the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei-Opare; the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin; the Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo; Nigeria’s Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The body was then flown to Kumasi in the evening, on its way to Daabaa in the Atwima Nwabiagya, North of Ashanti, Ex-President Kufuor’s home-town. The burial ground is an exquisite, plush, mighty mansion on a hill. It was a private burial. Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, the Nigerian musician has a juju song: ‘What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.’
On Thursday, the brother of Ex-President Kufuor, Dr. Addo Kufuor, demonstrated brotherly love by hosting a cross-section of some personalities of Kumasi in his Danyame home.
It was a well-attended ceremony, and the occasion made it possible for Kumasi residents to see Kufuor at close range after the episodic incident. The Gentle Giant appeared to remember every person who approached to greet him.
The big one was at Heroes Park (Kumasi Sports Stadium). It appeared as if the whole of Daabaa had come to the funeral grounds. The families of the Kufuors were on a raised dais, and one could see all those who mattered in Apagyafie present. The traditional rulers came in their numbers amidst the firing of musketry – all were important in their respective places.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife, Rebecca, were present. So were the Vice President, Alhaji Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife, Samira. They were hailed by some of the supporters. Though it was a non-NPP affair, some die-hard admirers could hardly be constrained. It was a solemn occasion and Ex-President Kufuor and his family deserved the peace and solemnity, but the crowd had their own way of showing their love and respect!
The donations kept pouring in. The President and his Vice, the Ministers and Members of Parliament, the Chiefs (traditional rulers) and various companies (including Ghana Link) dished out heavy amounts. Proverbs 10:3 says: “The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish, but he casteth away the substance of the wicked.” Put simply: “The Lord will not allow the righteous to go hungry. But he will reject the craving of the wicked.”
At around 4pm the heavens opened, and there was fear of a downpour. However, it turned out to be drizzle to bless all the funeral attendees. Just about 30 minutes later, the drizzle ceased, and the organisers were relieved to carry on with the programme. Of course, like him or hate him, one could not help appreciate the intricate syncopations of Ing. Nana Poku Agyeman, son of the late affable Nana Akwasi Agyeman, Ex-Mayor of Kumasi (who would never keep old currency notes in his pocket). The Kete drummers and singers gave a good account of themselves. They were assisted by the traditional singers and drummers from the northern part of the country who accompanied their chiefs.
On Sunday, a thanksgiving service was held at St. Peter’s Basilica. It was the third mass of the day, specially held to crown the funeral celebration of Mama Theresa. The Catholic Archbishop, Gabriel Yaw Anokye, reminded the congregation about the inevitability of death. “Death will come when it must come,” he reminded the congregation that his father was called John and his mother was called Theresa – a reference to John and Theresa Kufuor.
Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, attended the thanksgiving service and expressed gratitude to Asanteman and Ghanaians for showing love to one of his own, you could see this from the smile on his face as he came out of the church building.
There would be much we could write about our mother, Theresa, but let us note this: “Boys will be boys, and girls would be girly.” The Global Association of Past OLA Girls has this piece in their tribute. One of her surviving classmates, Madam Theresa Grunitzky, recalls Mama Theresa’s jovial, mischievous temperament. Reminiscing about their Keta convent days, she says that whenever a teacher was absent or late for class, the young Theresa would stand in front of the class, mimic the teacher and make her classmates laugh. This always landed the whole class in trouble with the Reverend Sisters, but her classmates loved her to bits.
In his tribute, Kwame Panin writes: “True mother to a nation, Aba is gone and with her is disappearing some of the graciousness, humility, simplicity and duty of care that characterised her tenure as First Lady and Mother of the Nation. Aba, greet Maame Ahenfie for us, she whose love and command for languages you inherited! Aba, give a hug to your siblings gone before you and a big one to J.H. for his 95th birthday! Aba, give our love to our irrepressible nephew, Albert, and tell him we miss his quick wit and little annoyance! And Cote d’Ivoire President, Alassane Ouattara, ‘Je vous prie d’agréer, Monsieur le President, l’assurance de ma haute consideration.’ Did I hear anyone say Amen?”
By Africanus Owusu-Ansah