Growing up in Akim Oda, in the 90s, I had the opportunity to live in the boys quarters of the then District Secretary (DS) which we now call the District Chief Executive (DCE) . As the official seat of government, the president (J.J) and his entourage will always come to the residence to refresh anytime he visits the then Birim South District. The mammoth gathering was always made up of soldiers and officials. Those days, most of our roads were not tarred so their cars will be very dirty and we will be washing some of the cars whiles they give us tips.
The regular visit of Papa J or Nana Kunadu brought excitement to us. This is because, the DS will bring people to cook assorted food to serve all the visitors so it was like a party for us. Some times , 100s of poutry fowls will be slaughtered and we will be helping our late dad who happened to be a caretaker of the bungalow to dress them. Sometimes, when Papa J visits the place, we will be gathered to catch a glimpse of the most important man in the country then, though the soldiers will be all over giving protection, I recall vividly how, he will defy all the protocols and come to where we the kids have paraded to give us a hand shake.
If you’re fortunate to touch his hand, the excitement and bragging right will live throughout the year till his next visit. He once came around with his son, Kimathi, he was very fat, well groomed and handsome of about 8 years but his stature was far developed than many of us.
His regular visits with the military to our place was beautiful that, I developed interest to be a soldier in the future but that childhood dream foiled. Nevertheless, I became a school army cadet patron. Normally, on his arrival we will be hanging around the soldiers who will be eating their food as if they have not eaten for years. The speed was amazing. Some of the soldiers who comes to secure the place some few days and hours before his arrival were friendly.
Some will send us on errands and the joy alone as a young boy was a big motivation. Rawlings was usually seen on the only television station GTV, he will join military men fixing light poles, railway lines etc. Recently, I saw how he got out of his car to direct traffic to ease movement. He doesn’t Lord himself and makes everyone feels important. He doesn’t discriminate by any means. He was passionate about the poor and wanted everyone to live a better life. His consistent call for transparency, probity and accountability tells his integrity, selflessness and incorruptible nature.
In 2000, while campaigning for the late Prof Mills , I recall he came to lodge at the Rabbson Hotel in Akim Oda bungalow. We troop there to see the hero. I saw him standing and using a phone. I think he was typing a message and was stacked at a point , he called out to one of his aid and said ‘how do we spell a certain word I have forgotten, upon me hearing that, I was very surprised. As a student at ridge experimental, I knew how to spell it and the whole president couldn’t spell it. I was like then, I can be a president.
At that age, I thought he as a president should know everything. I saw him as a special human being. He inspired me and many other young people. I believe in his principles and ideology. He was honest and sincere, he criticise his own party and condemn the wrongs in society.
His demise, though it’s a shock, I think, we shall celebrate his good works and unparalleled personality.
You served us well, you showed us service leadership, you brought us stability and patrioticism. You inspired us for the future.
Rest well Papa J.
We love you and will miss you.