It is with a heavy heart, full of sorrows, distress, melancholy and anguished feelings of bereavement that I write this piece about my cousin Francis Amoah who died at the Breman Asikuma Catholic Hospital in the early hours of last Sunday.

Francis died at the age of 75years, having been born in 1937, thus being my senior brother by two years.

As it is well-known in our Akan tradition, the word ?brother? is applied not only to siblings of the same parentage but also to children of one?s mother?s sisters and brothers and children of one?s father?s brothers and sisters all of whom in English are called cousins. In Akan, all these relatives are called brothers or sisters, simplified in one word: ?menua?. Francis Amoah was the last-born son of my fathers? dear brother, called Kwesi Yamoah who unfortunately died when Amoah was in his mother?s womb yet to be born. In tune with our Akan custom, Amoah was called Kwesi Antobam (meaning, Kwesi who did not come to meet the fathers? lovely pampering, like the provision of biscuits and toffee and children?s dresses and cloths and other luxuries). In other words, he was Kwesi (born on Sunday) who did not come to meet the father?s ?bam: fathers? loving graces and care). That is, ?Kwesi a ?annto bam? shortened as Antobam.

My father who was popularly called Yaw Mensah, but traditionally named Yaw Kuranchie, succeeded his elder brother Kwesi Yamoah (the father of Francis Amoah and took care of him and his siblings) until my father himself died in 1950. That is to say, my father, Yaw Mensah looked after Amoah and sent him to school, one year before I was also sent to class one. There were two strange things concerning Amoah?s names. He was a Catholic, just as I was, and when the Dutch priest, Father Gabriels baptized him, the Christian name Francis was given to him.

But unfortunately, his father?s name Yamoah was misspelt as ?Amoah; hence his name Francis Amoah instead of Francis Yamoah. It is to be noted in passing, that the name ?Yamoah? has its derivative from persons who say they don?t respond loudly to provocations but only act?, which the Akan express as ?ye-mmbua?. Thus, Yamoah, Amoah and Yeboah are all variants of the same name. The second strange thing about Francis Amoah?s name was why he was called Kwesi Gyato instead of Kwesi Antobam. In Fante, the word ?Gyato? means red or purple. Thus anyone who singularly appeared to be reddish or very fair in colour is called ?Gyato?. Amoah?s eldest maternal sister, late Efua Twuwaa (shortened form of Twum waa) once told me that when Francis Amoah was born, he looked very reddish (very fair in complexion), therefore, he was called Kwesi Gyato.

At school, Francis Amoah was very clever, and his position in examinations was first or second. As I have already mentioned, we were both attending the same Catholic School; and in 1948, when I was in class three, and he was in class four, something aberrational or untoward happened in their second-term examination. He came out of his class weeping, actually shedding tears. His class-mate who had earlier tried to outrival him in the exams and had therefore wept when he was in second position, had this time outshone him Francis, and Francis had become the ?second boy?, hence his tears. It was all a childish fun as the two intelligent rivals, Francis Amoah, and Bernard Essel (later called BAKE) both living at Mbraa Street of Breman Asikuma sought to outdo each other in exams.

Interestingly, these two rivals plus myself, became Mass Servers attending to the Catholic priest during worship (which was called ?Mass?). And whenever we began to recite the Latin responses to the priest?s Latin prayer, Francis Amoah proved to be more excellently eloquent, especially when we recited the Latin prayer: ?ad deum que latificat juventu tem mea?. (It is flimsily remembered though, as this was repeated from 1948 to 1954, a long time ago). Fact was that Francis Amoah was very intelligent and clever at school. He was not very much interested in school sports, except that he sometimes played football and volley ball. When my father died in 1950, he became a triple orphan, since his own father and mother had earlier died and my father was looking after all of us. Sometimes Amoah, myself and our elder brother had to lay bricks to sell to pay for our school fees.

Fortunately, through the marriage of his elder sister, Abenaa Adowaa, Amoah got a well-to-do brother-in-law by name Kwame Annto who catered for him, giving him ?chop-money? and paying for his school fees until he finished his elementary education in 1954. Amoah preferred to be trained as a typist immediately after school. But that couldn?t materialize as he expected, because the funds for his ?Commercial? education weren?t ready then. He therefore helped his brother-in-law on his cocoa farm for a year, before he was sent to Pitmans? Commercial College at Cape Coast in 1956. At Cape Coast, Amoah was a day-student at Pitman?s, and I once visited him. He lived in a small room where he spent some hours typing, after classes had closed. And he went to school very early. I was indeed very much impressed by his exceptionally quick typing speed.

After his graduation at Pitman?s, he got a job at the Sekondi Railways as a typist. But he was later transferred to Tema when the two entities Railways and Ports and Harbours were amalgamated. At Tema, his intelligence and hardwork and exceptional typing skills qualified him to be recommended to purchase one of government?s bungalows in Community Two, thus outdoing some of his colleagues who were not chosen for the purchase deal. After his retirement, an astute businessman, Commander Charles of Breman Asikuma employed him in his establishment in Accra. Commander Charles is married to our niece, Tina, and both loved his services, until he chose to retire completely from any salary work.

At Tema, both of us were visiting each other, although not very regularly, and both of us have been participating in each other?s deliberations and rites about our daughters? marital affairs. When both of us heard of the death of our niece Mary Nkrumah (Ama Akumaniwaa) about four weeks ago, both of us planned to go to the funeral last Friday at Breman Asikuma.

STRANGE EXPERIENCE

A week prior to our intended trip to Breman Asikuma, I had a vision of a coffin being pushed into my room. But I shouted upon it and it was withdrawn. When I woke up, I interpreted the vision as death coming to me or my wife. I summoned all my children and grandchildren, and we all fasted on Monday and prayed hard over it. But I alone continued with that spiritual exercise until Wednesday evening. On the morning of Thursday, my wife had gone to her garden around, and I was on my bed when my stomach began churning me fiercely. The next moment, I found myself breathing sonorously and I saw I was dying. In fact, I was in death?s throe, seeing my late wife whom I divorced in 1986. She was happy, cracking some jokes to me, but I dismissed her at once and all I saw was that my legs and arms had stiffened and I couldn?t come into my body. But in a trice, I came back to life. I called my wife and children and told them. And all of them were sadly surprised. Is that what death is? I wasn?t feeling very well, so I rang Amoah and told him that I wasn?t in a position to travel to Asikuma. I never knew Amoah was also going to Asikuma on Friday only to die early Sunday morning. It is still a strange occurrence to me ? death trying itself on me and failing, and on my brother Amoah and wining? Why? Death, why? I am still surprised at what happened to me and Amoah. And my precious readers would have missed my weekly ?Controversy? articles thenceforward. Reader, thank the Lord for me, and pray for me!

VISION OF ELECTIONS

The following day, last Friday (right at dawn) I had a dream that some women in white apparel with some broad white bands on the waist and white talcum powder sprinkled around their necks had invaded a certain hall in a queue, in a beautiful dance singing and saying their party and leader had won the elections. Their leader came and entered an adjoining hall for a declaration, and the hall was full of joy. People were clapping and dancing and rejoicing. And I know that this is exactly going to happen. For, the Lord has never revealed anything to me which has not happened. That party or leader is going to win but I won?t mention his name. However, it is either NDC or NPP. So I advise other parties to spend prudently, for the results of the December 7 elections have already been fixed spiritually. And nothing can change it. Don?t waste much money! In fact, I was startled or surprised at the results. It?s an NDC-NPP matter.

By Apostle Kwamena Ahinful

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