WIFE OF the late Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Margaret, threw thousands of mourners into a state of sorrow when she bid a solemn farewell to her life-long partner at the forecourt of the State House in Accra yesterday.
“It is with a very deep heart and an unbearable lump in my throat that I write this tribute. Knowing that you have left me all by myself is painful to bear. Knowing that I will never see you again is something quite hard to believe. My beloved husband, rest in perfect peace in the arms of the Lord until we meet again,” Mrs. Baah-Wiredu stated in a tribute read on her behalf.
Recounting the memorable times she had shared with her late husband, Mrs. Baah-Wiredu said there was never a dull moment in their 30-year marriage, describing her late husband, who would be laid to rest at Asante Akim Agogo in the Ashanti Region tomorrow, as irreplaceable.
“Kwadwo, my dear beloved husband, you married me and my entire family. Our families referred to each other as 'odo ye wu'. Our love for each other grew and overflowed over time. You fondly called me 'Buddy', an obvious reference to me as your best friend, counselor and soul mate. I will always love and remember you, Kwadwo.
“I never heard you raise your voice or express anger. I have lost my best friend, a patient husband who tolerated all my inadequacies with overflowing love and affection. Kwadwo, you set off on a trip to South Africa on 11 September, 2008; five days later, you invited me to join you and I did, without knowing that it was going to be the last time of our shared life. “Buddy', 'Ode ye wu', why did you invite me, just to die in my arms? Oh death, how can you be so cruel to me?”.
She described her late husband as a wonderful man with a heart of gold; a kind, generous, loving, honest, compassionate, and a humble gentleman.
The children's tribute portrayed the late Minister as a model of peace and unity in their immediate and extended family. According to the children, things would never be the same with the absence of their father since his death would forever leave a huge void in their lives.
Thousands of mourners from all walks of life converged on the forecourt of the Parliament House to pay their last respect to the late Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu.
Among the mourners were President Kufuor and his Vice Alhaji Aliu Mahama and their spouses, Theresa and Ramatu; the Speaker of Parliament, Ebenezer Sekyi-Hughes; Chief Justice Georgina Wood; flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his running mate Dr Mahamadu Bawumia; flagbearer of the Convention People's Party (CPP); Ministers of State; Members of Parliament; Members of the Diplomatic Corps; Members of the Council of State and other government officials.
Conspicuously missing at the well-attended state funeral were both the flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Prof. Atta Mills and his party's founder, Jerry John Rawlings who had earlier issued separate statements saying that the late Baah-Wiredu was a nice and gentle statesman. Flagbearer of the People's National Convention (PNC), Dr Edward Mahama was also not present.
Many mourners wept uncontrollably as they filed past the body of the late Minister.
The late Finance Minister's office threw the entire mourning grounds into a state of grief, especially when the Chief Director, Nana Juaben-Boaten Siriboe narrated how the office received the shocking news of the Honorable Minister's transition.
Describing September 24, 2008 as a black Wednesday in the annals of the ministry, the Chief Director said the day would forever remain unforgettable.
Explaining, he said the office had pinned red ribbons on their doors on that faithful morning with joy because they were launching the ministry's 'AIDS Awareness Programme' even though the Minister was away in South Africa.
He said they were in high spirits looking forward to welcoming him to the management meeting to render accounts and receive his usual esteemed 'Ayekoo', when suddenly they received the devastating news.
He recounted, “Our red ribbons of joy, pinned to the doors of the ministry turned out to be a disastrous coincidence”, asking if it was a case of “coming events casting their shadows.
“Could we have saved this precious life if we had done otherwise? Why didn't the red ribbons symbolize the blood that saved the sons and daughters some thousands of years ago?” a question that made most of those gathered at the function shed tears.
The Chief Director said, “Baah-Wiredu has slipped through our hands like a mirage; the closer we attempt to go, the further he moves away from us”.
What saddened the Ministry most, Nana Siriboe noted, was that on the eve of 12th September when the late Minister left the shores of Ghana, he did not demonstrate any sign of illness nor his actions indicate he was biding farewell.
“Earlier, when he was asked to take some rest, he jokingly remarked that there is more rest after death.
“Bad news they say hit you twice as hard if you are not prepared for it.”
The Chief Director was however quick to take consolation in the fact that the late Minister's death brought the rich and poor; the north and south; and far and near together, stressing, “We mourn, not as individuals, but as one nation with one vision.”
There were other tributes from the Government, the Legislature, and the Ministries, NPP, the international community, friends and sympathizers.
Four wreaths were laid on behalf of the Government and the people of Ghana, Parliament, the Ministry, the widow and children.
A moment of silence was observed for the late Minister as his name was mentioned three times with a response, “Thanks be to God”, to end the burial service.
Knowing that their beloved was leaving the land of mortals never to be seen again, most of the mourners wailed uncontrollably when the casket containing the remains of the late Finance and Economic Planning Minister, draped in the national colours was lifted.
Born in Agogo, Asante Akim North District in the Ashanti Region, Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu died at the age of 56 in South Africa where he was receiving treatment.
The late Finance Minister introduced the 'Action on Budget' and 'The Citizens Guide to the Budget' so that ordinary Ghanaians especially school children could read, understand and appreciate the national fiscal policy.
He led Ghana as the first sub-Saharan African country after South Africa and the first post-HIPC country to access the International capital market with the debut Eurobond which was highly over-subscribed. He established the Financial Literacy Week to educate and demystify financial and economic issues to all Ghanaians.
During his tenure, Ghana chalked many successes; no wonder he was recognized and voted for on two occasions by the international community as the Best African Finance Minister. His achievements culminated in Ghana being voted as one of the top 10 global economic reformers and the leading reformer in sub-Saharan Africa.
He was married to Margaret and had eight children.
By Sheilla Sackey, Awudu Mahama& Emelia Ennin Abbey