Diaries from Davis Ansah Opoku (OPK), MP for Mpraeso.
Tribute to Wofa Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John)
I have read and seen many people eulogizing Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly called Sir John. He deserves it because he, in the eyes of the public, was a passionate man who always was ready to lend a helping hand and support to anyone who came crossed his path.
Well, I have a unique experience and a story to tell about this man who lived the true meaning of his name, John, “Graced by God”. Sir John provided me with enough comfort and support in difficult moments of my life. He showed so much love when unwarranted hate gazed at me. In times when all I needed was acceptance, Sir John appeared. He was there for me when it mattered most and was always ready to defend “his OPK”. Sir John genuinely embraced me and offered me unfettered access when others shied away from me.
Before the 2014 NPP elections to select National leaders, I lingered in a deadlock dilemma; Sir John vs Kwabena Agyepong? Who do I support? Sir John supported my days of activism as a fresh graduate from the University of Cape Coast when I leapfrogged and joined the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG). The very day I got introduced to Sir John through some great friends of mine, we connected right there. Too soon, he believed so much in me and will always invite me to the Party Office to run errands for him and sometimes made me execute critical assignment while he was the General Secretary of our great party.
Faced with this quandary on who to support, Mr Kwabena Agyepong, the outspoken “elections engineer”, was one politician I had a stint with and admired so much from my school days. I have had the exclusive opportunity to work closely with him and served him. I always thanked God for linking me with him as his aide throughout the 2010 Presidential primaries. One night, after my usual Dez Amis engagement with friends and members of AFAG, Sir John, responsible elder as he is, called me around 11 pm to discuss the race for the GS, a position he was contesting against Kwabena Agyepong, and the decision I intend to make. Quirky of his kind and in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, we decided simply for our mutual interest.
We agreed that judging from my circumstances and closeness to Kwabena Agyepong, it will be prudent that I support Mr Agyepong. He told me how he admires me for my confidence and will always admire me despite my resolve to campaign for Kwabena. He respected diverse views and choices even when he was involved. He was a true patriot. In fact, in one of the handing over meetings at the party head office after Kwabena Agyepong won, Sir John openly told Kwabena, in the presence of other executives, to always trust my judgement. That showed a man who loved me without boundaries. Occasionally, He will call to pass on advice during the turbulent times at the party office. Sir John was just unique!
When the NPP won in 2016, I struggled. Some people did not want to see me close to power for non-existed absurd reasons fuelled with deep-seated odium. Through my employment as a Deputy Director at the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), when I faced unjustified stiff opposition, the legendary Sir John and some other great friends stepped in to ensure that I was offered a position to cater for my family. He cared for me and will always support my family. On uncountable occasions, Sir John invited me to his office at the Forestry Commission to give me hope. I never visited his office on any day and found his secretariat empty. Party and non-party folks trooped to his office every blessed day. He was a people’s person with exceptional people skill. He just loved mankind.
I loved his company and the valuable time with him, always interspersed with wise sayings and love for human beings. He will sometimes buy me flight tickets to the United Kingdom and will occasionally travel with me to see him receive laurels and make sure that I lived a comfortable life.
When I conceived the idea of contesting to represent the good people of Mpraeso, Sir John was one of the very few I discussed with. As a true patriot who believes in building and positioning the youth for the future, Sir John did not resist my decision to contest as MP. This came as a surprise to me as I anticipated he would advise me against the timing and other considerations. He urged me on and fully supported my campaign serving as the chief campaign advisor. Indeed, Sir John will go to lengths to call some ‘big men’ on my behalf and provide me employment opportunities for my constituents. He was there for me!
The depth of a man’s love for his son is when he provides a shoulder to lean on in difficult moments. I owe a lot to this great man who taught me some rules in Politics and life. To love unconditionally; love when it cost me, friends; to love when it matters most.
I have lost a great mentor, Dad, friend, and political Godfather!
Wofa, to the glory of God, that which you imbibed in me and encouraged me to become has come into fruition. I wanted you around when I have become a Member of Parliament. I owe a lot to you, and I am determined to make you proud, Sir.
The hardest part isn’t losing you; it is learning to live without you because like Don Corleone in the popular Mario Puzo, The Godfather movie, you taught me that “Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of the family”.
Rest well; The only Sir in Ghanaian Politics
Wofa, Damirifa Due!
I love you.