PRESIDENT J.A. KUFUOR on Friday, dug deep into his soul to find appropriate words to describe Ghana's modern day heroine, when a 20-man delegation from the family of the late first Vice Chairperson of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Madam Hawa Yakubu, visited him at the Castle to formally announce her demise.
'She was a meteorite…a shooting star .. who walked the national stage.. indeed the African stage because wherever you turned in the sub-region…you would find Hawa ..' the President recalled with fond memories.
The President was responding after the spokesman of the family in Ghana, Mr. Bernard D. Moro had finished briefing him about the death and introduced members of the family and delegation of the late Chairperson, presented cola nut, two bottles of schnapps and invited the President to grace the funeral.
President Kufuor thanked the family for doing the right thing and announcing the death to him in the presence of his executives, Messrs. C. K.Tedam and Francis Afoko who are members of the Council of State; Mr. Kwadwo Mpianim, Mrs. Gladys Asmah, Ms. Gloria Akuffo, Mrs. Rose Okudzeto, Alhaji Musah Abdul Rahman, 3rd National Vice chairman; Hon. Kwamena Bartels, Hon Paa Kwesi Nduom, Hon. Kan Dapaah, Mr. Allan Kyeremanten and Mr. Paul Afoko, member of the Finance Committee of the NPP.
Asked to speak before he (the President) would add anything more, Hon Kwamena Bartels, the Minister for Information recognised the role of Hawa as a lone voice in the Parliament of 1993 when the NPP had boycotted the elections and recalled her sterling performance in the house which was then dominated by one party.
Mrs. Gladys Asmah revealed that not only was Hawa her colleague in the house, but also that Hawa's son Derrick was married to her niece so they shared the same grandchildren. She said Hawa was an extraordinary woman who was passionate about issues that concerned women and was resolute adding that even though she was no longer with us, she hopes that other women would aspire to be like her.
Taking a cue from Mrs. Asmah, the President surprised his audience with an account of his relationship with Hawa Yakubu for the last thirty years when they were both involved in the constituent assembly when Hawa was in her late 20s.
He recalled that even at that time, she was always to be found in the circle of men twice her age, mixing it with them, and being a cynosure of all eyes.
Then their paths crossed again when she crossed over to the United National Convention (UNC) while he stayed with the Popular Front Party after Hawa declined overtures from him to join them in the PFP. 'She stayed with Harry Sawyer and Obed Asamoah in the UNC', the President recalled, until the events of 1981 when he became a Secretary of local Government for seven months in the PNDC government.
Then things happened and he resigned and later left for London where he received a call from Hawa one day after which they met and had a long lunch appointment where Hawa filled him up with issues.
Fast-forwarding to 1992, President Kufour recalled that Hawa refused to join the NPP in 1992 and preferred to enter parliament as an independent candidate in 1992.
Continuing an unusually full tribute and testimony of Hawa's role in politics, President Kufuor said even though they sometimes disagreed, it was never in bitterness.
He recalled the period when Hawa dropped a letter on his table which turned out to be her resignation letter from the Ministry of Tourism.
'She wanted me to add Culture to her portfolio, and I would not give in to her demand.' He said he recalled that for the period that she worked at the Ministry, she worked with some distinction.
As the gathering of Ministers and family members listened, the President gave an account of Hawa, the politician who could not be caged, and how she swept the NPP elections with such an overwhelming margin.
She was also not just a national figure; she was influential across the continent. 'Sometimes, I would receive a call from somebody like Nelson Mandela, and I would find that Hawa would be there. She frequently would send a message to me from countries like the Phillipines, Nigeria and others and I used to wonder how she does these..', President Kufuor reiterated.
The President assured the family members that the Government and the party would work closely together towards her funeral; 'we would give her a fitting funeral… and I believe that is what the people would want us to do', the President promised.
Also present at the solemn function was, Nana Kofi Coomson, publisher of The Chronicle group of newspapers.