How "Tarzan" was laid to rest
A well-attended funeral never witnessed before at the dam city of Akosombo took place last Friday.
The mourners were workers of the Volta River Authority (VRA).
The body of the deceased, known as ‘King Kong’, was cremated because according to the rumour mill at the funeral grounds, the man died of a contagious disease.
Ashes of the cremated body were bottled and some sprinkled at the site of the Strategic Reserve Plant (SRP) at Tema.
It all began on Wednesday with a funeral notice pasted at various VRA locations, announcing the homecall of ‘King Kong.’
The death, according to the notice, took place on September 18, 2003.
So on Friday at about 3:30 p.m., a fleet of vehicles, mostly private and tro tro, lined up at the VRA hospital mortuary at Akosombo to take home the mortal remains of ‘King Kong.’
As the mortuary attendants were preparing the body, “a fight” broke out among the mourners outside, which was later explained as a way of honouring the memory of the deceased, who was said to be a fighter.
After about five minutes of scuffle, the dust settled and immediately the heavens opened for a drizzle.
The casket bearing the remains of ‘King Kong’ was borne solemnly by its carriers from the morgue and placed in a pick-up that joined the convoy of vehicles transporting people clad in a variety of mourning attire - black, red and brown.
With the tooting of horns, the convoy stopped at the dam site roundabout where traditionalists poured libation and performed other religious rites.
The mourners waved excitedly at a white banner placed at the center of the roundabout bearing the inscription: ‘To God be the Glory, Great Things He has done.’
A few yards ahead, and at the entrance of the imposing Volta Hotel, another white banner proclaimed: ‘The uncircumcised Philistine is no more, To God be the Glory.’
After about 45 minutes the convoy headed to the Akosombo town, passing through the principal streets to the suburbs, called Namibia and Combine, drawing sympathisers from their homes along the route with the deafening blaring of industrial and automobile horns and finally ending at the community centre for the grand funeral.
The body of ‘King Kong’ was placed in an upright position, bearing a heavy moustache, in cream coloured trousers, a checked long sleeved shirt and a green helmet to match with the open coffin by it.
Mourners filed past the body and women shed tears.
Coins were dropped into the coffin “for the departed to buy water on the way and to pay for the ferry on its journey to the other world.”
An amount of ¢350,000 was realised from that collection.
VRA workers from Akuse who attended in their numbers presented 14 crates of soft drinks as their contribution, while a special delegation from Prestea offered a gallon of local gin (Akpeteshie).
The workers’ leadership read a tribute on the reign of ‘King Kong,’ saying that coronation of kings only revives unfulfilled hopes and aspirations. It was therefore not surprising that the arrival of ‘King Kong’ in Anyinaman was greeted enthusiastically.
Many an employee felt that continued inbreeding of leaders in Anyinaman had weakened its leadership qualities, since merit had been sacrificed on the Alter of patronage.
‘King Kong’ was therefore perceived as a personification of everything external, someone who would stand above the system of patrons and protégés.
Furthermore, a favourable image had already preceded him. His image-makers had sold him as a kingly man who would champion the interests of his subourdinates.
The sympathy he earned from low placement in the national political beauty contest also stood him in good stead.
Ghanaians have a soft spot for the underdog. No one therefore had an illusion that a candidate for the topmost office in the National Holding Company would be a failure. King Kong therefore strode in a colossus of a leader.
However, the dark spots soon began to emerge — he unilaterally reduced negotiated salaries which cou1d not be introduced before his ascension to the throne, he refused to pay overtime arrears, he slashed by half, hard-earned deferred leave of employees who had obeyed the instructions of their supervisors to defer it in the interest of the organization, he erected ramps on the road to the Provident Fund. He capped these with below-the-belt blows to two ministers of his regime.
To overawe the workforce he always threatened to unleash his external propaganda machine on it. It therefore became apparent to almost all the workforce that ‘King Kong’ had taken him or her by the hand preparatory to taking them by the throat.
The dark clouds of industrial unrest therefore started gathering for it was felt by the workforce that to be able to interact fairly with ‘King Kong’ it also needed to marshal all the forces it could command to neutralize King Kong’s weapons of mass destruction - political connection at the highest level, the use of the media which he claimed was bribable and high-handed, the trademark of his administration.
A skirmish between ‘King Kong’ and the workforce during the first year of his reign ended in a stalemate. The Abusuapanyin of Anyinaman Incorporated thought that ‘King Kong’ would learn the right lessons from the encounter, turn over a new leaf, and convert himself from a political agitator into a corporate executive.
However, this hope became a mirage. ‘King Kong’ demanded servile obedience. He expected all his subjects to become doormats for his feet. Seeming disobedience was punished with exile, demotion and abolition of position.
What became worse for the workforce was that it had nowhere to turn to for justice. Internally, their bosses were either too engaged in serious bootlicking or licking their own wounds after brushes with ‘King Kong’ to pay attention to their subordinates’ grievances.
Those who should have exercised sobering external influence on ‘King Kong’ soon developed allergy and lethargy after encounters with him. King Kong’s subjects were therefore instructed to accept him as he was or go into permanent exile.
King Kong’s subjects however decided that they would not abandon their ancestral home without a fight.
After some probing skirmishes in April the battle was joined on May 9, 2003. After a long war David killed ‘King Kong,’ aka. Goliath, on September 19, 2003. The families of both parties are weeping. The workforce is shedding tears of joy while King Kong’s family members are gnashing their teeth.
Down with King Kong! May he never resurrect.
May peace and prosperity reign in Anyinaman now and evermore! Hip Hip Hip Hurrah!!!
The national chairperson of the senior staff association on behalf of staff groups (Union and Senior staff) also sent a message:
1. We thank you all for your support during the crisis and wish to congratulate you for showing maturity in the face of all provocations.
2. Virtually we are being seen in the public eye as irresponsible. Therefore there is the need to prove them wrong by working more competently and harder.
3. Consequently, we must abide by the rules and regulations of the authority for all to see how responsible we are as workers of the authority the leadership of the staff groups will continue to lead you responsibly. We will keep you informed of any issues as and when they develop.
4. We will continue to rely on your unflinching support at all times, without which we cannot progress.
5. There are indications that the new management will meet the staff leaders next week and it’s after this that we will know the focus and direction of the authority.
6. We also take this opportunity to admonish staff against any intimidation and vengeance on our perceived enemies.
Rather we should exercise restraint; for vengeance belongs to the Lord.
Once again I say thank you.
Continue to keep the unity of the bond intact so that our beloved authority and Ghana will progress to greater heights.
May god bless you all. Thank you.
The body was lifted from the centre and cremated at an open field between the Ghana Telecom offices and the lorry park.
Again people fought over the ashes to signify the strength of ‘King Kong.’
As part of the ceremonies, the workers on Saturday converged at Akuse and had fun games after a walk.