Political leaders across the divide yesterday paid glowing tribute to the memory of Fathia Nkrumah, wife of Ghana' first President, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
During the state burial service held at the forecourt of the State House in Accra, key political leaders hailed Madam Fathia as an affable, loving, caring and forgiving mother who set the tone for others to emulate as a true mother of the nation.
In separate interviews after the solemn ceremony, the leaders described Madam Fathia as a gallant and affable woman full of patience, love, charisma and the power to forgive.
Convention People's Party (CPP) stalwart and close confidant of Dr Nkrumah, Mr K.S.P. Jantuah, said the marriage of Madam Fathia to Dr Nkrumah facilitated the rapport between North Africans and their West African counterparts in the struggle against colonialism.
“Nkrumah married her for this unity and she has represented this unity, both in life and in death, with her burial beside her late husband today,” he added.
The flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) for Election 2008, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, commended the late First Lady for her gallantry and support to Dr Nkrumah in the background during the trying times of the First President.
Dr Edward Mahama, presidential candidate of the People's National Convention (PNC) in the 2004 elections, said Madam Fathia was a forgiving woman who, despite all the ill-treatment meted out to her husband and herself, forgave Ghanaians who perpetrated the wickedness against her by asking that she should be buried in Ghana.
Other tributes were paid by the government and the President of Ghana, the CPP, the children, the family and the South African government.
Preaching the sermon, His Grace Bishop Antonious Markos, the Bishop in charge of African Affairs at the Coptic Orthodox Church, likened Madam Fathia Nkrumah to the Biblical Ruth and said she made Dr Nkrumah's people her people, went where he went and decreed to be buried where Dr Nkrumah was buried.
He said the late Madam Fathia was a great lady of Africa, a daughter of the Nile, descendant of the Pharaohs of Egypt and member of the Coptic Church.
He announced that the Coptic Orthodox Church had decided to establish a foundation in Accra and Nkroful, the home town of Dr Nkrumah, in honour of Fathia.
Madam Fathia died at the Badrawy Hospital in Cairo, Egypt, at the age of 75.
The third daughter of a civil servant, she was born and brought up in Zeitoun. After completing her secondary education, Madam Fathia worked as a teacher in her school, Notre Dame des Apostres. Teaching did not appeal to her, however, and she took a job in a bank.
On December 31, 1957, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, then the Prime Minister of Ghana, married Fathia in Accra.
The last time Madam Fathia was in Ghana was in March 1997 to join in celebrating Ghana's 40th anniversary. She was again expected to attend the Golden Jubilee celebrations in March this year but she could not make it because of ill-health.
President J. A. Kufuor, during an official visit to Egypt recently, visited Madam Fathia at the hospital, where her son Gamel on behalf of the Nkrumah family, thanked the President for the immense support they had received from him and the government through the Ghana Embassy in Cairo.
Story by E. Kojo Kwarteng
& Donald Ato Dapatem