The Akufo-Addo government is redefining Ghanaian culture and traditional protocols surrounding funeral rites, by hastily taking advantage of the love for ex-President Jerry John Rawlings by the people, to make pronouncements which are not allowed by many cultures.
The Anlo chiefs and elders, The Herald heard, are feeling disrespected and getting angry at government and Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings’ attitudes, following the ex-President’s passing.
The Anlo chiefs and elders feel Konadu and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, want to bury Rawlings like an Akan, and they are not enthused about it.
Rawlings belongs to the Anlo family and they will bury him according to Anlo customs and tradition.
Per many Ghanaian cultures, the death of a beloved person is a moment of pain, grief, and sorrow.
As a result of Mr. Rawlings’ status, a statement should have been issued by his family or his office, which had a Director of Communications.
After this, his family; both nuclear and extended will meet to plan when it is appropriate to bury and perform the final funeral rites.
These arrangements are communicated to the community, especially the chiefs and elders to ascertain whether they are comfortable with the date and also get their blessings.
However, hours after the death of ex-President Rawlings, saw the summoning of his uncle, Col Joshua Agbotui, Michael Agbotui Soussoudis, Johnny Blagodzi, and Rawlings’ three grieving daughters namely; Zanetor, Yaa Asantewaa, and Amina Rawlings match to the Presidency to shockingly break the news to the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who had earlier announced the passing of Rawlings.
These arrangements are communicated to the State Protocol Department.
It is not clear, if the elders and chiefs of Rawlings’ maternal home in Dzelukofe in the Keta Municipality of the Volta Region, have been informed of his death, as tradition demands.
Same chiefs and elders had three weeks ago, helped Mr. Rawlings to bury his beloved mother Victoria Agbotui.
The chiefs include; Togbi Agbesi Awusi II- Awudada of Anlo, Togbi Gbordzor- Dusifiaga of Anlo, Togbi Nyaho Tamakloe- Mafiaga of Anlo, Togbi Addo IV- Paramount Chief of Klikor Traditional Area, Togbi Afede XIV- President of the Ghana House of Chiefs, Togbi Nukpornuka II, Togbi James Ocloo V, Togbi Amegashie Apeku, Togbi Joachim Acolatse V, Mamaga Bianah of Srogboe, Mama Ewie of Keta Keleta Family of Nkomikajaji- Nkomi Traditional Area, The Agbotsui, Adorkor, Ashiagbor Families, Tsikata Agbodzi, and Allied Families.
At the party level, the General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) Asiedu Nketiah on events relating to Mr. Rawlings’ passing so far, said: “We were sorely disappointed that the President of the Republic, even in issuing a statement of condolence, refused or failed to recognise the fact that President Rawlings was the founder of the NDC”.
“It is against all the different practices we have been engaged in, in the past, as far as the death of prominent members of the two political parties are concerned,” he said.
“The President has refused to recognise that the man belongs to NDC, and he is the founder of NDC”, he argued, adding: “Everything about this funeral, so far, depicts an attempt by an opponent to hijack the funeral of the founding father of our political party, and we don’t think the funeral of our party founder ought to be organised somewhere, and we get invited.”
He said: “We have called on the immediate family to share condolences, and we are beginning to discuss the way forward. We have directed all branches of our party countrywide to organise events countrywide that will give a fitting celebration of the life of our founder… We will participate [in the national funeral] but that will not stop us from organising our own thing.”
Interestingly, a book of condolence opened for Mr. Rawlings at the International Conference Centre was taken away by the government a few minutes before ex-President John Mahama and a team of NDC bigwigs could arrive and sign the book.
Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Peter Boamah Otukunor, has also said, President Akufo-Addo, erred by announcing the death of former President Rawlings.
According to Otokunor, customarily, the family has the authority to announce the death of their Kinsmen and not the presidency.
Reacting to many issues, including the release of a statement announcing the death even before his family issued a statement on Atinka FM with sit-in host, Kaakyire Ofori Ayim, Peter Boamah Otukunor, said it is traditionally incorrect for a non-family member to announce the death of a deceased.
“We were surprised that President Akufo-Addo who isn’t a family member and is not related in any way announced the death, but in spite of everything I will plead with him to caution his followers who are trying to play politics with the death,” he said.