The mortal remains of legal luminary and former National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Bernard Joao da Rocha, were yesterday interred at the Asokyeano Cemetery in Cape Coast.
The good old don died last February in Accra after a protracted illness, and a burial service held for him at the Christ the King Catholic Church in Accra was attended by President Atta Mills, former President John Kufuor and the crème-de-la-crème of the opposition NPP.
John Kufuor, in his tribute to the late da Rocha, expressed regret that the old man had passed away at a time the NPP was not in power.
“B.J. da Rocha was a great man by all standards… even politics aside, he was an outstanding lawyer. He was a man of tremendous character and indeed a pillar of great height. We have lost a man and as Shakespeare wrote, 'Markus Brutus the whole world would stand up and say this is a man',” Kufuor said.
He described da Rocha as a stalwart and a wise man whose departure is a great loss to the NPP.
President Mills only filed past the body when it was laid in state and left almost immediately.
Mr. da Rocha played a noteworthy role towards the formation of the NPP and until his demise, was one of the very few NPP living-legends who could speak their minds on party matters without fear or favour.
He was the first National Chairman of the NPP when it was formed in 1992 and was renowned for making everybody know that he was the person in charge during his chairmanship days.
B.J. da Rocha was a fellow of the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) and first Ghanaian Director of the Ghana School of Law when it opened in 1958.
He lectured at the school for almost two decades before retiring in 1992 as the first Ghanaian Director of Legal Education.
The following year, the Ghana Bar Association honored him for his contribution to the legal profession.
Though not many of the current generation of political students have the best of ideas as to who exactly da Rocha is and his contribution to the political history of Ghana, his strong-heartedness is still fresh on people's minds.
Not too long ago when NPP flag-bearer aspirant, Alan Kyerematen said he had left the party, da Rocha was one of the few NPP founding fathers who asked that Alan should be left alone to quit the party if he so decided, describing him as a loose cannon.
Again, when the selection of a running mate to the then presidential candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo became a thorny issue, da Rocha authored a rather explosive letter, to chide Nana Addo on his declared preference for Hajia Alima Mahama.
By Halifax Ansah-Addo