The late NPP Secretary Honorable Sir John’s burial ceremonies are now in progress.
Sakora-Wonoo, a rural hamlet near Bonwire in the Kwabre East District of the Ashanti Region, was overwhelmed by the large number of mourners that flocked to the town to pay their respects to Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, the former General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
People from all walks of life, notably NPP members and the political elite, began coming at 7 a.m. Thursday in vehicles, many of them cross-country, to stream past the remains of the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission.
Sir John’s laying in state and burial later that day drew a huge number of SDA members, attorneys, forestry sector value chain actors, ordinary people who had come to mourn or see the body, and media practitioners who had set up for a complete coverage of the funeral.
Schools were shut down in anticipation of massive crowds disrupting classes.
Vehicles still approaching the town by 11 a.m. had to park far away and walk about a kilometer to the funeral site, as the location where the pre-burial service was held had run out of space.
Funeral chaplains, particularly those in charge of enforcing the COVID-19 protocols, had a difficult time persuading mourners to follow them.
Mourners were only allowed onto the barricaded Wonoo Basic School Park for the funeral if they wore face masks and had gone through a temperature screening, hand-washing, and hand-sanitizing procedure.
There was little social distance for the many others who could not get in, and most of them removed their masks as they strolled around in the blazing sun.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife Rebecca, Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and his wife Samira, Chief Justice Justice Kwasi Anim Yeboah, Chief of Staff Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare, Minister of Trade and Industry Mr Alan Kyerematen, and Minister of Communications Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful were among the dignitaries who attended the funeral.
Almost the entire crowd greeted the President and Vice-President with exuberant applause akin to what one might hear at a political rally.
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader of Parliament; ministers of state, CEOs of some public institutions, government agencies, and state-owned enterprises, including Dr K. K. Sarpong, the CEO of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), who was a classmate of the late Owusu Afriyie at the Bekwai SDA Secondary School; and others were also present.
Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, popularly known as General Mosquito, the General Secretary of the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), received applause from mourners as he led party faithful past the body of Sir John, with whom he used to spar in heated public debates when they were both general secretaries of their respective parties.
During the filing past, Auntie Hadiza, also known as Zongo Pioneer, who prides herself as the NPP’s one-woman supporter, drew the attention of mourners.
She was observed escorting a big retinue of head porters, known in Kumasi as ‘Paa-oo-paa,’ around the open casket of the deceased lawyer and politician, with pans on their heads.
Some individuals, on the other hand, believed that the mansion they erected as his final resting place was a complete waste of money, especially while many schools were still under trees.