The late Vice President, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur deserves every tear shed by his beloved wife, Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur. From all indications, he was everything that a wife wanted to see in a husband.
And as she cried for her soul mate, so also have some of us shed tears for him as a friend, affable and warm in character. Indeed, one of the most recent deaths that has moved me so close to tears is that of the former Vice President. He was someone I would describe as a distant friend in that when circumstances brought us nearer, we exchanged pleasantries.
He was my Cape Coast 1969 Year Group mate as the Mfantsipim 1969 and Wesley Girls High School 1969 Year Groups tried some time ago to establish some fraternity. In 1971, we met up again as undergraduates at the University of Ghana. We developed first name terms even when he became Vice President. The last time we met was about four weeks before his death when he came to Ridge Church for a thanksgiving service.
The news of his sudden death shook me and thousand others many of whom have attested to his warm personality through the outpouring of tributes since his demise.
So Mrs Amissah-Arthur’s sudden outburst against her late husband’s critics was utterly misplaced when at the funeral, all eyes were on her as she delivered a beautiful eulogy she had written for her “soul mate, her best friend, her roommate and her prayer partner”. It was a solemn ceremony where people from all walks of life had come to mourn not only her but the rest of the family, including the aged mother.
It was not a time to shout and accuse political opponents and call them names because they went to sympathise with her. I struggle to understand because this was a state funeral for the kind of statesman the late Vice President was. At that point, partisan politics was not in the picture. The casket was draped in the colours of the national flag and not his political party colours. So, was that recognition not healing and reconciliatory enough?
The problem lies in the kind of partisan politics we practice in our country where even angels get demonised by their political opponents in the heat of campaigning for power. Otherwise, yes, this is Ghana and when somebody passes on, no matter the ideology, we mourn with the bereaved and pay respect to the dead. It is very Ghanaian.
Indeed, we all wish we would continue to live as a people with a common destiny and not allow partisan politics to destroy us. Unfortunately, that is the kind of politics we have all supervised. All of our political leaders, one after another, have suffered bitter insults and personal vicious attacks from their political opponents. The 2012 and 2016 general elections saw two of the bitterest partisan political campaigns in recent years. And why should it be so?
That is why I love the eulogy of the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church, Most Rev. Titus Awotwi-Pratt when he praised the selfless lifestyle of the incorruptible late Vice President at the funeral service last weekend. He wondered why we play politics of bitterness and division when we can come together as one people to mourn a departed Vice President. In his view, the only thing that unites us is football, and he was right.
This is Ghana indeed and we have a treasured tradition to sympathise with the bereaved. Most bereaved families also make room to receive sympathisers in their homes as part of the mourning process. So, from her outburst, would the former Second Lady have preferred those she described with such strong words as “spinning false accusations, treachery, deliberate change of things to make others look good, lies, wickedness and false accusations”, stay away from going to sympathise with her and the family?
Many would agree that knowing the late Vice President, he never would have used such strong words for even his political critics at a solemn funeral like this. One even wonders if he really harboured grudges against any of his political opponents. He has too matured a statesman for that. And as one of his childhood friends said, paying tribute to a friend he knew so well, he said the late Mr Amissah-Arthur went through politics but politics did not go through him. And that is very true.
He certainly had an accommodative heart as attested in all the tributes so far heard. He made a lot of fun out of situations and knew his audience as an astute civil servant, aware of what to say at any given time. He would have mourned with those who mourn because this is Ghana.
Losing a dear one, especially where he or she was everything including being a prayer partner, is difficult to accept. And in the case of widows, the pain triples and quadruples when family members of the late husband pile up hassles on the widow and make widowhood look like a punishment even in this twenty-first century Ghana.
We believe this widowhood period would be a peaceful transition for the former Second Lady and she would live in peace with all who matter in her life. That is more important than what transpired during the heat of partisan political campaigns. I am sure the late Vice President himself moved on long after the die was cast.