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06.11.2008 Social News

Tribute To The Late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu

Why, Oh Why, Oh Why? As the clouds gather over Agogo for the final repose, I still can't stop asking Why, Oh Why, Oh Why?

Kwadwo never forgot who he was, nor where he came from.

He never forgot his home town, never forgot his primary and middle schools, and he never forgot Kumasi High School, Prempeh College, School of Administration or the Vandal City- Commonwealth Hall, University of Ghana.

He remained true to himself.

Humility was for breakfast, lunch and supper and even his eating habits reflected his humility and modesty.

The trappings of power and influence did not change him.

Consider how long it took him to move from his humble surroundings to Cantonments.

Kwadwo was at home everywhere and anywhere and with anybody: Child, adolescent, man and woman.

 

The individual's circumstances did not matter.

He was not politically myopic or colour blind and did his work for humanity, not forgetting that all human beings are God's children and unlike him, so many others may have been denied the little window of opportunity that came his way.

Meeting Kwadwo was rather fortuitous. Having left Prempeh College for Ghana Secondary Technical School (GSTS), Takoradi in 1971, I went back as part of GSTS sixth formers' traditional trip to the KNUST open day in March 1973. We stayed in Prempeh College.

 

While in Prempeh College, I was pretty jovial, full of energy and 'va va vum', and Kwadwo heard someone call me on the corridor between Ramseyer and Butler houses and came over to ask if I was the Akosa he had heard so much about since coming to Prempeh College in October 1972.

We were to meet again on my many trips to Vandal city as a Viking from Sarbah Hall.

 

I could walk there with impunity and wore my Viking image on my chest and shoulders.

 

We were to meet again and again, while I was President of Prempeh College Old Students Association from 1999-2005.

We had many more meetings when he became a minister. I believe that Kwadwo should have been kept as Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, at least for the duration of the first term covering 2001-2005.

The districts of Ghana would have been transformed beyond recognition by now.

 

The excesses of the DCEs would also have been checked. There has been no minister comparable to him.

 

I consider that ministry as pivotal to Ghana's development strategy.

In the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, I am glad we met to discuss the School Feeding Programme, which had come out of the 'Imagine Ghana Free of Malnutrition' strategy of the Ghana Health Service in the offices of the World Food Programme.

 

 I feel sad about the implementation and people putting their personal interests above the national good. 'Eating' moneys meant for schoolchildren's food is no blessing.

In the Ministry of Finance, Kwadwo excelled. His intellectual astuteness was sharp and only a hair's breadth away. He worked hard, anticipated well and made up through great ingenuity.

 

His exhibition at the now defunct Ghana Investors Advisory Council was legendary. He seemed to have thought about everything.

Being out of town, I got a call from home and my dear wife broke the news to me. I shouted: 'who'? And exclaimed Why, Oh Why, Oh Why?

Why should it befall the most humane person in the Government and of all its supporters?

 

I asked what had happened and was told it had happened in far away South Africa.

 

I thought immediately that he had probably gone to a conference and had been seized by an apoplexy.

 

Was he under so much pressure to balance the budget that only the sale of Ghana Telecom could do? Then news came back that he had gone to South Africa for an operation.

Why South Africa? Did Kwadwo not believe there was any doctor in Ghana competent and capable to fix whatever it was?

 

Then I remembered I was not in Ghana because Kwadwo would have called to ask as he had done on many occasions before.

 

I am yet to get the full facts but I cannot believe Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu is no more.

I am not one bit surprised at the pouring of grief and emotion, and tributes to him.

 

I will ask his colleague ministers which of them will get anywhere near the effusive tributes that have been paid to Kwadwo by Ghanaians from all walks of life and from the political divide.

 

They must ask themselves why.

I had always told Kwadwo, and let me repeat it to all and sundry, that he was an NPP member because he was an Ashanti and felt all Ashantis had to be NPP supporters because of the 1954 invocation.

 

He also felt I was a CPP member because of my father. He did not answer to the scripted description of them and surely did not act as one.

Good people, it is said, die young — so why should we be good?

Kwadwo, in his 56 years, rose from the most humble of beginnings to be a cabinet minister for eight years and held three very important portfolios.

 

He, however, never lost himself. He accosted me when I said on Peace FM that every Ghanaian's fufu, banku, kenkey and omo tuo must be the size of his or her fist and that if the good Lord wanted us to eat any bigger, he would have made our hands and, therefore, our fists bigger.

 

He loved fufu.

How good spirited, how well-mannered and how has the most humble been transposed to the heavens beyond!

You shall be remembered as one of the favourite sons of Ghana and your place among the faithful shall be guaranteed.

I make these suggestions for his immortalisation:

Parliament must institute an annual award for the most humble, not subservient, and effective Member of Parliament.

 

The award shall be the Kwadwo Baah Wiredu Award for Humilty and Excellence.

Government of Ghana (of all political persuasions) must also institute an award for The Most Efficient Minister, also to named after Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu.

 

I have noted with appreciation and admiration the Kumasi High School headmaster's keenness to name the assembly hall/library complex after him.

I will pay for a slab for Kwadwo when the Prempeh College Appian Way project restarts. He will own a piece of Prempeh College.

Vandal City and the School of Administration, or is it the University of Ghana Business School will, no doubt, come up with a befitting tribute of their own.

He deserves to be immortalised in more ways than one. Fare thee well, Kwadwo!

Blessed are those who live to serve others for their progeny shall be blessed and taken care of. Your wive and children shall be blessed, protected and provided for.

Your life was a light onto the nation!

God be with you till we meet again.

By Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa

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