Jul 31, 2012 at 3:56pm
Finding A Burial Place For President Mills
COMMENTARY ON FINDING A BURIAL PLACE FOR PRESIDENT J.E.A.
The sudden death of President John Evans Atta Mills has sparked a wave of complex circumstances for the nation to unravel.
The complexities stem from the fact that this is the first time in the history of Ghana that a president has died in office.
Thankfully, some of the knotty issues occasioned by the sudden death of President Mills, such as the swearing-in of the Vice President to assume office as president as required by the 1992 Constitution, have been tackled smoothly.
At the moment, Ghanaians are waiting for President John Mahama to fulfill another Constitutional requirement of nominating a candidate for parliamentary approval for the office of Vice President.
From the signals gathered so far, this constitutional exercise is also expected to pass smoothly.
However, one issue that appears to be problematic now is a place to bury the late President.
Initially, the government had announced that the late President would be buried at the Flagstaff House in Accra but it later retracted that announcement, indicating that the funeral committee had been mandated to search for a befitting burial place for the distinguished former President.
In the search for a burial place for the late President, two schools of thought have emerged.
The first is that being a statesman, and given the dedication and selflessness with which President Mills served the nation, he should be laid to rest in a special burial monument which will, subsequently, be used for the burial of other presidents of Ghana.
Proponents of this school of thought have cited many places, including the Castle, Military Cemetery and Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum as suitable for the burial of our Presidents.
The second school of thought, spearheaded by family relations of the late president, prefer, his burial to take place in his hometown in the Central Region, citing tradition as the chief reason.
Both schools of thought have merits and demerits, but for a good number of reasons, the merits of burying the late president in his hometown seem far superior to those of burying him outside his hometown.
In the first instance, whatever reason advanced for wanting to bury the late president in Accra can equally be served if the burial takes place in his hometown.
That is to say, the state can build a burial monument and accord him all the courtesy of statesmanship in his hometown.
Moreover, burying Professor Mills in his hometown can serve as a tourist attraction and that will help generate some income for the people, develop the town and encourage the youth to emulate this illustrious son of Ghana.
The place of the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra is very unique because Nkrumah was an illustrious son of Africa, not just Ghana.
As a nation, we should avoid the tendency of making Accra the only place of national honour and celebration.
Anyone, including foreigners, who are inspired by the dedicated service of Professor Mills to Ghana, must not find it burdensome to travel to his hometown to pay him homage and respect.
The people of Ekumfi may not have gained anything for all the years of dedicated service the late President rendered to the nation.
So they must not be denied this last moment of glory for all that their son did for the nation.
While solidarising with Ekumfiman, it is also pertinent to discuss how the search for a burial place for the late President has exposed our lack of national vision for some matters of great importance.
It is very difficult to appreciate why the nation should sit down without thinking of building a befitting national monument for the burial of our Presidents, knowing very well that death is inevitable.
And all of a sudden when the inevitable had struck, we want to provide that need in barely two weeks’ time.
What will be the quality of such a national edifice and the depth of national consensus for its construction?
It appears there have been too many knee-jerk reactions in the wake of President Mills’ death.
These are moments for deep, sober reflections and well-thought initiatives that would best serve the dignity and memory of the late President.
They are not times for serving parochial interest and political expediency.
BY: EDMUND KOFI YEBOAH, A JOURNALI