Through the tributes, trickled in fresh information for the reconstruction of the final days of Elvis Kwashie, the Joy Cluster manager for Multimedia Group Ltd.
“Not a single day passes without you complaining of headaches and aches in all other parts of your body,” his daughter Seyram Kwashie’s tribute reads.
Talk of the bombardment of the city of his body through sudden, rushing missiles of pain. His body, his personal Ukraine, shelled by headaches, violence rampaging its way through this bodily city. The plundering pain was aiming to capture the twin capital of his brain and heart for a quick surrender.
Perhaps beyond the tributes, it was Yolanda Adam’s hit song of 2000, ‘Fragile Heart’, a tribute to her own manager who died in 1998, that captured Elvis Kwashie’s final battle. The lyrics floated through the PA system at the State House in Accra, the funeral grounds.
“There’s only you and I”
I can’t think about ever giving,
I can’t give up (up a fight)
No, no, no, no, no,
The only thing that matters
When I’m going through
Is giving my fragile heart right back to you”
When a stroke struck like a Rocket-Propelled-Grenade (RPG), it hit Elvis’ capital. His heart was weakened by the violence, and he surrendered on December 28, 2021. A shockingly quick war was over.
“You told God to give you your miracle. Koku is this the miracle?” his wife, Cynthia’s words helped create a sense of Elvis’ desperate need, his hoping against hope, a certain mental concession that his troops, his body was laying down the tools, much to his own surprise.
“We are happy not because you left us but because we couldn’t bear the sight of your suffering,” Seyram confessed finding relief in her father’s surrender.
Laid out in a coffin, almost the exact colour of his skin, Elvis was placed in the centre of the grounds, surrounded in all four corners by the four groups that laid claim to his loyalty and commitment – his family, his faith, his work, his friends.
“His great concern was his children,” a friend who became family, Kofi Ansah, former Joy FM Programmes Manager said. Kofi had spent as much as five hours by his bedside to store those precious last words, those final expressions of a dying man’s arching desires.
His work, The Multimedia Group family abandoned the beehive of Kokomlemle, almost completely in a way that perhaps has never been seen before.
On this Saturday morning, Newsfile was there at the grounds when it would have been on air. The two Sams, the visible host Samson Lardy, and the invisible producer, Samuel Odame left national issues for this very personal issue.
Elvis’ faith was there at the funeral. His Christian denomination, The Church of Pentecost, where Elvis was an elder, camped under the canopies to pay their last respect as captured in their tribute. Elvis raised journalists, but he also raised pastors, elders, a choir, and raised funds and faith.
“Many people have become better committed Christians and leaders through his impactful and exemplary leadership,” the church eulogised.
The sermon was an invitation for all of us to confront the reality of death. The pastor ripped into death, calling it an enemy that destroys marriages, changes the direction of children who without their fathers become prone to vagabondism.
His preaching was forceful in English but fiery in Ewe when he changed to speak his dialect intermittently. The Ewe drew stronger responses of approval from his audience.
But when he asked “Who will follow Koku?” the crowd, despite a great love for Elvis, maintained a silence.
As he lampooned death and how it disturbs family structures, dark clouds lurked over the red-and-black canopies, threatening to push the programme into some sort of injury time.
And as the sermon went on, Madam Mercy Bonuedie, his wheelchaired mother, gazed at Elvis in the coffin like how she had gazed at Elvis in a cot when he was born at Asadame in the Volta Region.
“The birth of Koku brought so much joy to me and my family as the first child of the family,” her tribute read.
“Why should I stand here today, reading your tribute when I was of the view that you will gallantly stand beside my coffin to read mine?”
Kwesi Twum, a father-like figure for Elvis would be thinking along these lines too. He wept. As publicity-shy as Elvis, Koku was a sort of mini KT. The two had similar traits. Cholerics who frowned at the limelight, preferring to work behind the scenes.
When The Multimedia Group mounted a guard of honour, it was a meandering queue of more than 130 journalists and reporters, with something to report about the kind of rapport they had with Elvis.
Like JoyNews editor, Araba Koomson. She talked up a certain Elvis Irreplacability theory, explaining how hard it is to lead a newsroom of talented egos, making himself small enough for the big boys and girls to feel free to work and large enough to cool boiling egos to room temperature.
And in the many stories, there were many tears. Among the fair complexion, the skin beneath the eyes, reddened with salty tears. The fairer, the mourner, the teary the tears. And those with deeper melanin, handkerchiefs frequently patrolling the face told of the emotional struggle.
Elvis, a strong man of 49 years, was carried on shoulders and walked into his hearse, bound for the Volta region where he would be buried in his hometown. He had swapped the JoyNews branded four-wheel drive for this final, long, black car with registration number GR 1818-20.
Elvis had prayed desperately for a miracle in the midst of his illness. But as his coffin moved into the hearse, perhaps a quiet answer to his prayer was inscribed on the cloth that covered the coffin.
It was The Multimedia Group cloth. Embossed in it, the phrase “Christ@work”.
That while painful illness ravaged him, Christ is still working through that body. Elvis’s faith, repairing the damage, his hope, repairing our disappointment, his love for Christ, repairing his flesh into one glorious body, to be presented back to him and us, resurrected.
Then Christ, at work throughout the age, would have his work complete in those who trust in him, like Elvis Kwashie.
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