I think I heard Prophet Isaac Owusu Bempah claim he prophesied about the demise of former Vice President Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur?! Yes, he did. Okay, so I am waiting to hear which prophet would claim ownership of the fore-knowledge of Kofi Annan’s death, that is if no one has claimed it already.
Even the collapse of the banks; one self-styled Eagle Prophet claimed he prophesied about it. Hmm. And he only came public after it had happened. Even Dr Mahamudu Bawumia predicted some eight banks were in trouble and they would collapse the entire economy if they are not stopped. So I don’t really see what is spiritual about that. Is Bawumia too a prophet?
Anyway, let’s get back on track. I have seen several beautiful tributes from all over the world flowing in for the illustrious son of Ghana and of Africa; the first Sub-Saharan African to have been UN Secretary-General, Busumuru Kofi Annan. The tributes are apt, given what we all know Kofi Annan for – a peace builder extraordinaire, to say the least.
But I can quite remember the late former Vice President Amissah-Arthur had similar glowing tributes, even from his fiercest political opponents at his death. In death, it was as if he had no enemies.
So one wonders if indeed all the nice tributes flowing in for Kofi Annan are indeed honest tributes that would not trigger any rantings from his widow Nane Maria Annan. At least we all know that the tributes the late former Veep got turned out to be nothing more than a smokescreen, and they triggered a heavy dose of honest rantings from his otherwise reserved wife, Matilda Amissah-Arthur.
Let’s recap what Matilda Amissah-Arthur said about the tributes paid to her late husband in her famous “Is this Ghana” tribute to her own husband.
“Over the last few weeks I’ve been amazed at the number of people who have come to show us love and I ask myself – is this Ghana – are all these people in Ghana”?
“Because the maligning, the lies, the treachery, the wickedness, and the deliberately changing things so that we could look better than others and the mischievousness…I ask myself, is this Ghana”?
“I asked myself is this, my own husband, they have come to pay tribute to? And today I ask the same question did people really know my husband – did they take their time to know him – is this Ghana,” she questioned.
Obviously, Mrs Amissah-Arthur was not amused by the beautiful words and the supposed show of love from the haters who switched into pretentious lovers at the demise of her husband.
It is not surprising she spoke the way she did, because Africans, particularly Ghanaians are so fond of praising the dead at all cost. No matter how much evil an African wishes for a person, once that person dies, they conjure very nice words and say about that person. It is almost like an unwritten code, that once someone dies, it is a taboo to say anything bad about him or her, no matter how honest it is. In other words, for Africans, tributes to the dead must only be hypocritical and probably never honest. It is very worrying to hear the glowing testimonies people give in their tributes to the dead, and yet very often, none of it reflects the true character or what we actually think of the dead person.
In the words of the chief of Tebeso at Bosomefreho in the Ashanti Region, Nana Owusu Ansah, most tributes Ghanaian pay to the dead are nothing but “hypocritical tributes”. He thinks it is time tributes to the dead are made honest so that the living will learn and change their ways to avoid brutally honest tributes.
My dad told me two real-life stories about honest tributes:
The first was about two deceased top Ghanaian journalists who were archrivals in their hay days. Dan Ansah of THE VOICE and George Nakene of the CATHOLIC DIGEST. The two battled it out fiercely in the media till death. When Dan Ansah died, George Nakene wrote a tribute to him, titled “RUST IN PIECES”, instead of “Rest in Peace”. It was a very callous tribute but very honest, given the history between the two. When Nakene died there was no one to retaliate for Ansah. Dead men don’t talk, so Nakene rested in peace. Haha!
The second story was about my dad himself. His senior brother was his role model in terms of academic performance at the basic level. But the table turned when they got to secondary school, and it was because his brother went wayward. When his senior brother died, my dad wrote an honest tribute about that.
In a BettyBlueMenz Perspective, I think there is no point in people shying away from the truth in their tributes to the dead. Like Nana Owusu Ansah, I also find most tributes quite hypocritical, for two reasons: one, because we fail to show people love while they are alive but when they die we find the nicest words to describe them and pretend to care so much; secondly, even when we honestly know the true character of the dead person, we pretend they were angels while they were alive.
In my personal experience, I have been with people who never find anything I do pleasing. There have been times I have been bashed so hard by these people to the point of almost shedding tears. They often bring back past mistakes I have apologised for and leave me feeling really bad.
The little chance they get, they act like they are perfect and I am the worst of the worst. They always bring up my flaws and drag my past into every conversation, leaving me feeling guilty, as if they never make mistakes. I find that very toxic to the soul, but I understand it is human nature. Yet if I fall dead today (God forbid), I can only imagine the things these same people will say about me. They will probably cry the loudest, even more than those who truly care about me. They will mount the podium and read sweet tributes as if their tributes can bring me back to life.
Our respect and value for the dead more than the living in our society is absurd, to say the least. In fact, most of the things people say in their tribute to the dead is a pack of lies.
I believe we all saw the viral video of a South African politician, Julius Malema paying tribute to the late Winnie Mandela. I just loved how he exposed the hypocrites openly and kept saying he was waiting for a sign from the ghost of Winnie Mandela to know what to do with the hypocrites. If such a tribute was read in Ghana, it would have been the talk of the town for the whole year because we are never truthful in our tributes.
Matilda Amissah-Arthur’s “Is this Ghana” tribute, may have been the ranting of a widow, but it was an honest ranting, and better than the hypocritical tributes she shot down. If such hypocrisy could trigger such honest ranting from an otherwise reserved widow, then my advice to the world is, let’s be honest with our tributes to Kofi Annan because on the day of “judgment”, his unassuming and reserved wife Nane Maria Annan, will have her say, and she may just surprise everyone with a tribute titled “Is This the World”?
There is a saying in Ghana that “if you don’t know how death looks like, look at sleep”. We have seen what a widow can do to pretentious haters of her late husband. Nane may find reason to take a cue from Matilda; don’t underestimate her.
On that note, let me start with my own honest tribute to Kofi Annan:
May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace in the bosom of his maker. I remember him as a peace builder. May heaven remember him as such.
I rest my case here…