Though he was not physically at the funeral service of his former pal and comrade because he had to attend to an equally pressing national assignment on Accra's Radio Gold FM last Saturday, Kwesi Pratt was present in spirit to mourn with the New Patriotic Party on the death of Ferdinand Ofori-Ayim, Special Assistant to Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, Minister of Tourism and Diasporean Relations.
A couple of days earlier on Peace FM, he had eulogised Freddie, revealing how he had been in the trenches with the late activist and founding member of the NPP.
He also revealed how Freddie kept that relationship alive in his own non-partisan way by making sure Government adverts went to all private newspapers without discrimination, and on and on.
“Sad that independent-minded party people like Freddie should die at this time when we are making some effort to deepen our democratic processes”, Pratt, Managing Editor of The Insight, had lamented in apparent solidarity with the NPP on the programme last week.
Pratt was not the only non-NPP high-profile person who mourned with the ruling party; conspicuously and physically present at the funeral at Kibi on the occasion was Minority Leader Alban Bagbin, NDC Chairman Kwabena Adjei, Women's Organiser and 'radio MP' Ama Benyiwa-Doe, General Secretary 'General' Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, ever-affable John Mahama, Mp for Bole/Bamboi and NDC Communications Director, as well as senior media personnel such as GJA President Ransford Tetteh, Gina Blay of the Daily Guide, Kwame Sefa-Kayi of Peace FM and Adakabre Frempong Manso of Hot Fm .
George Opesika Aguddey, whose indomitable spirit as an Nkrumahist has kept him still visible as a CPP leading light, as well as the redoubtable Kweku Baako, also an Nkrumaist, were also around, as was former Presidential Spokesperson Kwabena Agyepong.
President John Agyekum Kufuor, visibly touched by that refreshing atmosphere, speaking off the cuff, after his tribute was read by Ports and Harbours Minister Christopher Ameyaw Akumfi, lamented how dirty politics in Ghana was becoming by the minute and how Freddie's death had provided the tonic that was needed by all to move the nation forward, regardless of the diverse political credos guiding the individual political entities in the nation.
“Politics in our part of the world is …indispensable dirt,” President J A Kufuor noted in his tribute to the fallen hero. “But Ferdinand Ayim, like J B Danquah, the Ofori-Attas and other big names in Okyeman, ignored the murk and helped to shape the destiny of this nation…It was in the blood, and so there was nothing he could do about it in spite of the frustrations associated with politics…I happened to have lived and worked with him, and so I understand the grief the family is going through now…
“Now whether NPP or NDC…here we are…all here acknowledging the work of a patriot who dedicated his life to the nation, and not the NPP alone…” He continued: “God has a reason for creating us differently…if he wanted us all alike, he would have given us one head…He didn't, and that is why some of us will belong to this party, and others another.”
Ostensibly calling for a toning down on the hate politics doing the rounds in the nation's body politic, the President advised: “If you have patience for us as we strive to build this nation the best we can, we will also have patience with you when the time comes for you to take the mantle…”
Earlier, some of Freddie's closest friends or relatives, including his cousin Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, NPP General Secretary Nana Ohene¬-Ntow and his former boss Jake Obetsebi Lamptey eulogised Freddie's tireless spirit and his knack for discovering the best fufu joint wherever he was.
“Freddie brought to his work enthusiasm, loyalty, a capacity for hardwork and a level of initiative that I have rarely encountered in this country. There are too many people in this country who when you ask them to perform a task come back so often for guidance that you might just as well have done the work yourself. With Freddie, it was explain how you want it done and, with an occasional check, it was done. He had real initiative: it meant that you could work more than twice as productively. He was a rare gem”, was how Tourism Minister Jake Obetsebi Lamptey put it.
“If tourism is now better appreciated in Ghana it was in major part because of what Freddie brought with him to the job”, he added.
Freddie was laid to rest at the Presbyterian Cemetary at Abomosu, in the early hours of Sunday May 21, 2006. Present at the cemetery was his former boss Jake, and family members.