Kwesi Pratt and Hon Ken Agyapong are, so far, the only two people who have been bold enough to put a finger on what lessons need to be learned from KABA’S death.
They have at different times and in different commentaries called on all who are hailing KABA’s personality and wailing his demise to also learn the deeper lessons from his death.
I found those calls particularly significant considering the way KABA passed and how his passing has sent shock waves all around the country.
Undoubtedly, KABA’s death has taken the nation by surprise; most, if not all, who knew him are still in shock and can’t still come to terms with the fact that he is no more.
His poor wife, we hear, says Baffour can’t be gone and that he is still alive. You can’t blame her for such thoughts.
Friends, family, colleagues and even strangers who did not know KABA on any personal level have been touched in very profound and personal ways by his painful death.
Past and sitting presidents have spoken about the man KABA and his untimely death and how much of a loss it is.
Political parties have made statements through their various mouthpieces. Colleagues of his have broken down with tears and some are still crying.
His bosses at work have been seen crying openly and visibly shaken. Ministers of state could not resist showing their human sides so publicly: some cried without self-awareness.
The sight of the vociferous Captain Smart with hands on head crying like a baby was infectious and it was one spectacle that forced streaks of tears down many faces.
Then there was Countryman Songo who took grief to another level by intimating his resolve to join KABA in death.
In what looked like a grief-induced stupor, the Fire-for-Fire man was spotted standing in the middle of a road with teary eyes and in obvious disarray beckoning on-coming traffic to do him in.
For Countryman Songo, it was Juliet in Shakespeare all over again: “Oh Happy Dagger, this is thy sheath therein rust and let me die”.
I also listened to my omni-present, indefatigable and good old friend, Robert Coleman, eulogize the man KABA with a very subdued demeanor. He was visibly shocked and concluded by affirming his belief that the world is indeed a stage.
Coleman is right; however, there are times when we are forced, or force ourselves off the stage by our actions and inactions.
People of all backgrounds have been genuinely touched by KABA’s sudden and supposedly unexpected departure, and from all that we have heard about the life of this young man he was a good human being and a great professional with endless potential.
The wailing and hailing hit a crescendo at the forecourts of Joy FM the Monday following that eventful Saturday where the Multimedia Group were joined by other well-wishers to dedicate almost the entire morning to KABA’s memory.
It was a sorrowful and a subduing event which unsurprisingly produced countless crying moments. Even for some of us who listened on radio we just could not help it but to cry wherever we were.
As I listened to the program on radio, and as I drove about in Accra with episodic streaks of tears flowing down my cheeks, the dominant question on my mind was what exactly had taken the life of this brother so early in his life and whether his death could have been avoided.
Young people should not die like that, I mused.
All this while, cause of death remained sketchy. We were hearing high blood sugar and low blood sugar. We also heard some inarticulate accounts of a prayer camp complicity.
As in all such cases initial narratives and conspiracy theories come forcefully and in confusing versions, but the truth always remains unyielding.
And the truth broke. He was a confirmed hypertensive and diabetic patient. It was also clarified that he was not rushed to the hospital from a prayer camp. In fact, he died quietly on the laps of his mother who had sent him to the hospital together with his driver.
The man KABA was an only child. He had just recently married and blessed with a seven-month old daughter. Could not be any more heart-wrenching.
Things began to fall in place for me to make reasoned deductions. The man KABA by all accounts was not as healthy as the smile that constantly construct his personality.
I should say that I never met him. I did not know him and had never even seen a picture of him to know who he is or how he looked.
Eventually when I saw his picture, my thoughts and suspicions were validated. With that huge frame of his I needed no one to tell me that KABA could potentially be a health risk.
Not that he was any more at risk of death or sickness than I am, but there is something called obesity which gives the initial ominous signs of health risk.
Our brother’s risk was real. It had apparently manifested in concrete terms and that is why he was a diagnosed hypertensive and diabetic.
KABA was thus susceptible; he could have suffered any fate at any time and that should not have surprised anyone who knew his medical history. Unfortunately, he did suffer the fate and here we all are wailing and hailing.
The question then is why are we so surprised? Well, I think I know the answer. Another loved one is gone for good. We will not see him again till we qualify for heaven and that loss naturally instigates melancholy and emptiness.
But, are we also not pretending, and I mean those who were closer to him and knew his medical condition? Are we just pretending we did not know he needed help?
Did anyone know about his condition and what was done to help him? Even if we did not know about his health condition are we not educated enough to know and understand that his frame and size, and possibly professional demands and the obsession to excel put him at risk?
Did his employers and employment conditions support employee health and wellbeing and in this case KABA’s well-being?
What did his colleagues and friends know about his health and what were their thoughts and actions when he came to work on Thursday and Friday complaining of not feeling well? What did they do? Why did they just leave him to go home to rest?
Answers to these questions, if otherwise, could have saved him and KABA would have been here today with us.
He is gone and as we do always, we are gathered together crying and reading tributes. Some have even pontificated that he certainly deserves a place in heaven. Nice thought, Akrobotu!
Yes, by all accounts KABA is a good man and a great professional. But those who knew him watched him as he became so obsessed with his work and at the cost of his health.
No one pointed it out. No one helped him. We are hypocrites!
Many that knew him were aware of his condition yet did nothing to remind or encourage him to make the requisite health and behavioral choices.
Unless we say we do not know or understand the risks of obesity, and the risks of a life stuck in an office chair with pressures from upstairs to perform.
Unless we say we did not know that KABA was diabetic and hypertensive and that he could have died suddenly at any time. If we knew all these why are we so shocked?
We are all hypocrites! We did not do anything to help him, including his employers, and today we are here wailing and hailing him. We are hypocrites!
But, let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt only if we can learn some painful lessons from KABA’s untimely demise.
Our health and our families should always come first. When we see friends, colleagues and family members maintaining happy smiles on their faces as they increase in weight with sedentary lifestyles we should say something and do something.
We should truncate that widely held traditional worldview that glorifies “fat” as beautiful or a sign of arrival.
Heart-related diseases have reached a public health crisis in most of Africa and here in Ghana. It is time to know and understand that the first sign of an unhealthy and an at-risk lifestyle is in the way we look. Let us commit to changing our lifestyles and health choices.
KABA looked happy all the time, we are told. His warm smiles defined his personality, yet both outwardly and inwardly he was a sick man walking.
His death should not surprise anyone even though painful. He unfortunately sat on a time bomb while we all watched as spectators. Now let’s be citizens.
Dr. Bob Offei Manteaw, is a lecturer and a socio-ecological change advocate. He is also a cultural critic. He could be contacted through: email@example.com