“Death never takes a wise man by surprise; he is always ready to go”- Jean de la Fontaine (1621-1695)
I was preparing to go to the main University of Ghana campus to support a friend graduating for a master’s programme last Saturday when the news reached me. I just could not believe my ears. Kwadwo Asare-Baffour Acheampong, popular referred to as KABA, gone for good?
I was in denial for a while because I had spoken to him on phone on Thursday and he was hale and hearty. But I eventually accepted the reality because I know the Bearded Old Man Above has created us as mortals.
KABA was someone I knew for close to six years. He was an ardent reader of this column and never hesitated to call and criticize me anytime he felt my words were too harsh. Of course, he also called to shower praises on me whenever he was impressed with my write-up. Being an ardent listener to his programme “Eko sii sen” on Asempa FM, I reciprocated the gesture whenever I had encouraging words or complaints for him.
I’ve read and heard many tributes about him. The only theme that runs through all the eulogies was the fact that he had a very good heart. Yes, we are a people fond of singing praises of the dead even when they don’t deserve those praises. But trust me when I say this is not one of those instances.
Certainly, KABA has embarked on the journey to Samanfoland too soon. We never expected him to have gone there at this tender age. But who are we to question the wisdom of the Bearded Old Man Above?
As we grieve the unannounced departure of our beloved friend, father, uncle and colleague, one question keeps on ringing in my ears: “What has KABA’s sudden demise taught us?”
You see, a time will come for us to visit Samanfoland whether we like it or not. Yesterday it was Komla Dumor; today it is KABA; tomorrow it may be you or me.
A day will come when you will be dressed beautifully and placed in a box, or wrapped with a piece of white calico and lowered in a pit and covered with the soil. You will be cremated if you don’t believe in burial. It does not matter how; you will be disposed of somehow regardless of your status on the land of the living.
While sojourning in the land of the living, you are told about heaven or hell. The existence of those two places can only be confirmed in Samanfoland. You will never have a second chance to come back to the land of the living to correct your mistakes.
If you lived a pious life and heaven and hell happened to be in existence, you might have gambled correctly. If they happened to be creations of myths, you lose nothing. The fulfillment that came with touching lives positively during your days on earth should be enough.
But if you lived a life of wickedness, lies, hypocrisy, fornication, adultery and backbiting and believing that heaven and hell never existed, then you will regret till eternity.
We all walk on earth so convinced that it is not yet our time to depart from here. If we live life taking cognizance of its unpredictability, we will probably be, more circumspect in our dealings and interactions.
If we ever doubted that life was short, KABA’s unannounced journey to Samanfoland is a reminder to us to revise our notes. Life is, indeed, short. One minute you have life, the next you are lifeless.
After the eulogies, speeches, pain and all the “big” grammar about how we feel about death, we forget and go back to our old ways. We forget and continue cheating the helpless. Pastors forget and continue milking the church. Politicians and civil servants forget and continue raping the nation. Members of Parliament forget and continue defending party at the expense of nation. Hon. Adongo forgets and continues vomiting bitter lies about his political opponents like one who has drunk five bottles of Adonko Bitters. How hypocritical can we be!
Although we are pained by KABA’s demise, we are consoled by the fact that he is having eternal rest. It is my prayer that his wife, family and friends are able to navigate these turbulent waters.
I end with words from a poet in Wreath of tears, “We would have sent flowers, but seeing how they had fallen callously into disrepute, we did not. Instead, from the garden of memory; suddenly blooming, as with first rains, we plucked with care, a rose here, an ivy there, ferns, lilies and chrysanthemums. And tear by tearful drop we wove a wreath from our personal loss. We wear it around our heart, privately. It will outlast any tombstone. And you would have preferred it that way.”
See you in the next world, Deo volente!