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Sir John was a Saint!

Feature Article Sir John was a Saint!
JUN 27, 2022 LISTEN

“Others condemned the dead man’s exaggerated tomb for its stupendous beauty and luxury! If you visit Sakora-Wonoo today, his shrine springs out from the earth like a mini cathedral ─ a glamorous resting place for the living rather than the dead! Sir John was flamboyant all the way to his grave!”

I know the name “Sir John” may be abhorrent to many sensibilities in Ghana today. But he was a national hero only yesterday!

Sir John was an all-conquering, all encompassing, all dominating voice in the NPP, and indeed in our national politics. He was a respected lawyer who rose to prominence when he became the General Secretary of the NPP in 2010. He was appointed CEO of the Forestry Commission by President Akufo Addo in 2017, a position he held until his death on 1st July 2020 at age 63.

But Mr. Kwadzo Owusu Afriyie had a rather humble, noiseless beginning. His modest upbringing often infiltrated his political machismo when he exploded into genuine smiles in a hearty conversation or showed strands of kindness and humanity to the needy. Sir John’s kindness often revealed a heart of gold behind his public bravado and pretentious effrontery. He was a hawk in public, but a dove in person. Let’s say simply that he was a man of two parts ─ his natural simplicity and his adopted political pomposity.

His death on 1st July 2020 swept through the country like a marauding volcano. Radio and television stations, Sunday sermons, family gatherings and school convocations all contemplated the passing of a political firebrand that some people regarded as a mentor. He left prematurely, almost abrasively without ceremony, just like his borrowed exterior.

His funeral itself was drowned in national complication. The farming community of Sakora-Wonoo, near Bonwire in the Ashanti Region, received large crowds of people and dignitaries who arrived in the community to pay their last respects to one of the biggest names to have emerged from that vicinity. But the event turned murky. Most of the mourners disregarded all known Covid 19 protocols in favor of a free-for-all mourning fanfare. I remember reading a press release from Occupy Ghana condemning what it feared to be a Covid 19 super spreader funeral led by the state!

Others condemned the dead man’s exaggerated tomb for its stupendous luxury! If you visit Sakora-Wonoo today, the shrine springs out of the earth like a mini cathedral, a resting place for the living rather the dead! Sir John was flamboyant all the way to his grave!

But all that is nothing compared to Sir John’s magical collection of lands, houses, flashy cars, businesses and fair women. Unfortunately, he could not carry even a bottle of wine along with him to his new home. We came into this world empty-handed, and we shall return empty-handed.

Sir John’s garage of properties make other decent men look like jokers, timewasters, principal idlers, provocative flukes, mistaken pretenders, wife-disappointers, dupes and dullards.” The gamut of his acquisition is most emphatically creepy, especially considering the short time he acquired most of them.

But more disturbing is his audacity to amass such obscenity in the full glare of Nana Akufo-Addo and his anti-corruption executives and law enforcement officers ─ if indeed, there is evidence of foul play in his method of acquisition as it is being alleged.

Even the Achimota Forest was partitioned among the associates of the former Forestry Commission boss. But Sir John was too talkative. That’s why his property data surfaced in public. I am thinking now about noiseless politicians and strategic thieves perhaps in this government or the previous ones who captured expensive public lands and assets by virtue of greed and are enjoying it irreverently in the solitude of retirement. How different are they from Sir John?

For all you know, Sir John was a modest saint compared to unknown records of loot-and-share by quiet politicians who are now enjoying their plunder far away from the public eye!

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