The Bell Is Tolling

Feature Article The Bell Is Tolling
MAY 12, 2022 LISTEN

Early in the days of the PNDC Revolution, I was at the Arts Centre in Accra one hot afternoon when Captain Kojo Tsikata, then Special Advisor to the PNDC, came to give some speech – honestly I forget now what function it was, but I so well remember when he said: “The bell is tolling, it is tolling for you and I…”

When I was in elementary school in Jinjini back in the 1960's, before coming over to Achimota School, I was the bell boy for the Jinjini Presbyterian Church, and early every morning at 05:00 hours, I will walk from my mother's house to the roadside and ring the bell… toll the bell… to call people for regular daily morning worship.

In the context of Captain Kojo Tsikata's speech, he was talking about the fact that today this man is gone, tomorrow it might be you, or me… the bell is tolling.

Last week was most unfortunate for me, a week I wish I could quickly forget, two very close friends were served with writs of summons from Almighty God to appear before His eternal Justice.

Bailiffs of death first visited NANA YAW KWAKYE, for more than four years a member of my theatre group, Theatre Mirrors, a journalist working with Radio Gold and a traditional ruler in one of the Fante communities not too far from Agona Swedru. I remember so well the day Nana Yaw Kwakye was installed as a divisional chief, sitting in a palanquin, borne aloft, shoulder high, on the streets of the little community.

Now he has to stand before the justice of Almighty God.

Next, I just saw a text message on my mobile phone, and John Ndebugri passes away… Oh, Good God, my dear old John is gone?

How can I forget December 31, Revolution? In the heydays, when he was PNDC Secretary for Upper Region, and how he carried the torch of the Revolution. Those were the days when because of 'integrity', probity and accountability “public officers lived austere lives, shorn of ostentation and opulence, and tried to be honest as practicable with state resources.”

Then John fell out with the Revolution, became a lawyer, and tried to survive as a lawyer and a northern based politician and, invariably faded away with time.

He too has surrendered to the inevitable summons facing all mortals to appear before Almighty God.

And so, reader, I ask myself, all this running around, buying cars, building houses, calling ourselves all manner of titles – to what end?

Because of the sin of Adam in eating the forbidden fruit, all mortals are doomed to die, either today or tomorrow. If not through motor accident, perhaps through sickness, or just through old age.

The other day at 37 Military Hospital, where I had gone for regular check up, guess who I saw… a frail very aged but decent elderly person… could that be the famous Professor Evans Anfom? Yes, it was, and not long after, I heard that he has passed on, at the age of 101!

It is no wonder King Solomon, echoed by President Barrack Obama, said that “vanity of vanities – all is vanity.” Today shall give way to tomorrow, and there is nothing new under the sun.

One scene, which I will never forget, which is always at the frontal lobes of my brain, is the fresh face of Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings lying in the coffin just before the casket was finally closed – seen on television – and then eventually lowered into the grave.

He who could physically beat up his vice president at the hallowed offices of cabinet room, he who could shout on tree tops, screaming probity, accountability, integrity – there he laid, motionless, lifeless, no move, unaware of what was going on around.

Reader, I strongly recommend that let us seek the face of God in everything we do, because all we have is NOW, the present, as you read these lines. Tomorrow may never come.

I was scared to the bone marrow when I saw a very big banner in red near the Holy Spirit Cathedral with the inscription: “God did NOT promise you TOMORROW.”

But King Solomon said it, that the ever menacing fear of death should not occupy you – no. Rather, enjoy life to the fullest, because you don't know what will happen after you.

As a court going lawyer for thirty six years, and more practically as a three-year-old head of a very big family in Berekum, I see it, daily, that a person dies, and his estate, very usually drifts away, his children at each other's throats for control, rampant dissipation of the estate, sale of the vast properties left behind. Reader, you know, lawyer E D Kom told me something in 1987 – “Captain, use your law money to build a house for yourself in Accra and a small cottage for yourself in Berekum, and use the reminder of your money to give very good education to your children, then, Captain, enjoy life to the fullest, don't bother about what will happen after you.”

May all the faithfully departed, my classmate, Hoenyefie Bodza Lumor, my Theatre Mirrors member, Nana Yaw Kwakye, and fellow compatriot, John Ndebugri rest in perfect peace.

Reader, the bell is tolling.

From Nkrabeah Effah-Dartey

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