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Opinion | Aug 8, 2018

Matilda:  A Widow Whose Grief Turned To Anger

 Matilda Amissah Arthur
 Matilda Amissah Arthur

“Over the last few weeks, I have been amazed at the number of people who have come to show us love and I asked myself, is this Ghana?. Are all these people in Ghana? Because the maligning, the lies, the treachery, the wickedness . . . the mischievousness…I ask myself is this Ghana? I ask myself is this my own husband that people have come to pay tribute to?” Matilda Amissah-Arthur, wife of Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, the late Vice-President of Ghana.

And there he sat at the funeral ground, weeping as though his wife had died. From all indications, you don't need a rocket scientist to tell you that the widow of Mr. Amissah Arthur was directing her insinuation to Mr. John Mahama and his cohorts who treated the former vice-president so shabbily. If the late Professor Mills had treated Mr. Mahama, who was his veep, the way he and his gang treated Paa Kwesi, I don't think Mr. Mahama would have liked it. When Mills died, it was Mr. Mahama who told Ghanaians that the late president virtually gave him an 'open cheque' to rule the country. For the eight years that the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama partnered Mr. Agyekum Kufuor, nobody ever heard anything bad about their relationship. The two worked together as friends and anytime Mr. Kufuor travelled outside the country, the late Alhaji Aliu played his role as the president as the constitution prescribed. In fact, the two treated each other with respect and they worked as brothers for the sake of the country.

But for the presence of the high dignitaries, I can bet with my last cedi that Matilda would have spat more fire. The fact that the late Amissah-Arthur was meek, mild and soft did not warrant the way he was treated. At a point in time, when the NDC was in power, Mr. Amissah-Arthur was sidelined and his position taken over by Lordina Mahama, the wife of ex-president Mahama. We all saw it but because it was someone else's 'home matter' we ignored the way the man was treated. During the 2016 electioneering campaign, Mr. Amissah-Arthur was made to look as if his role was not needed. In the Brong Ahafo Region, where Lordina Mahama hails from, huge billboards were erected across the length and breadth of the region with large pictures of John Mahama and Lordina embossed on them as though she was also contesting.

If a mere presidential staffer could command the vice-president who had gone to Nigeria on an official duty to return to Ghana with the presidential jet immediately, then something more serious might have happened to the man. The people of the Central Region, Mr. Amissah-Arthur's home region, might have noticed what was happening to their kinsman. That was why they punished the NDC in the 2016 general elections.

A speech was written for Matilda to read at the ceremony but out of anger she threw the speech to the dogs and went extempore. Just look at how she unceremoniously stepped down the podium and walked as if she was going to pounce on somebody. The woman was peeved and 'boiling' with anger. I don't agree with people who complained that the lady broke protocol by using the solemn occasion to chastise those who 'tormented' her husband when he was alive but turned around to shower him with high praises after his demise.

The Akans have a saying that the one who sits by the fire is the one who knows the type of heat he or she is feeling. After all, as a wife, the husband would tell her the pain he was experiencing. That is why the sages say the one who is weeping in the rain is the only person who knows where his tears are coming from. I would like to advise Matilda to forgive but not to forget. She should remember that even grief recedes with time. Yes, I agree that for now, she will carry memories of her husband and a voice gone forever. She should continue to hug her grandchildren; that is the way God planned it. Life is too short.

As a political party, the NDC is becoming notorious for the way they treat their vice-presidents when they are in power. Apart from the late Mills who treated John Mahama as his son, the rest treated their veeps so badly. Look at how former president John Rawlings treated the late Ekow Nkensen Arkaah, another man from the same Central Region. There was a cabinet meeting and Mr. Arkaah was in attendance. Per the constitution, anytime the president could not attend a cabinet meeting, it was the vice-president who should chair the meeting.

Prior to the incident, Mr. Arkaah candidly criticized the NDC appointees for being corrupt and the newspapers carried his stories anytime he exploded. When Rawlings heard that Mr. Arkaah was chairing the cabinet meeting, he 'zoomed' into the hall and subjected Arkaah to severe beatings to the extent that Arkaah's coat got torn. But for other members of the cabinet, the old man would have been beaten to death. Mr. Arkaah reported the matter to the police with his torn coat as exhibit but the case died at the office of the CID officer who was to investigate the case. Power sweet! Mr. Arkaah left the NDC and joined the NPP in what was called Great Alliance in 1996. When the NPP lost the election, Mr. Arkaah withdrew from active politics. One day, as he was returning from town, a yet-to-be identified pickup crossed his way and the man suffered severe injuries. He was flown to the UK where he died.

Look at the cordial relation between President Akufo-Addo and Alhaji Dr. Bawumia and compare it to that of Arkaah and Rawlings, and John Mahama and Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur!

Mr. Mahama has served notice that he is going to contest the flagbearership race of the NDC for the 2020 general elections and that is good. The problem is not about winning the flagbearership race. The problem is what awaits him during the electioneering campaign. The skeleton in his cupboard will make him uncomfortable when the campaign starts.

The other time he went unopposed and needed a simple endorsement by the delegates, so many delegates voted against him. This shows how he is being viewed by some of his own people. Barely one and half years after leaving office, his veep also died mysteriously like Mills. Since we started the 4th Republic journey he is the only sitting president to have lost hugely and he could not complete his eight-year term like Rawlings and Kufuor.

So far, six persons in the NDC have expressed their intentions to vie for the flagbearership race. Any of the six who will eventually emerge the winner will have a big problem. The party is fragmented. What is most disturbing is the silence of Mr. Rawlings, the founder of the party and his wife Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings. Who knows what the two are planning considering the fact that Rawlings told delegates at their Cape Coast congress that he would not talk too much but rather he was going to wait for the 2016 general elections. He said after the 2016 general elections, he was going to go round the country to re-organize the party. He saw the sign boldly written on the wall that the NDC would lose the 2016 general elections and it came to pass.

Nana Konadu's National Democratic Party (NDP) is still kicking. She may spring a surprise which may hurt the NDC. She is still bitter and given the chance she can hurt the NDC seriously. The woman and her husband played pivotal roles in the formation of the NDC but looking at the way the two are being treated, the future is very bleak for the NDC. As for me if I go to my farm and see the eggs of a cobra burnt into ashes I will thank God for his mercy. A word to the wise . . .

By Eric Bawah

Eric Bawah
Eric Bawah, © 2018

This author has authored 71 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: EricBawah

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