By Femi Fani-Kayode
Great leader, fearless warrior, courageous fighter, gallant soldier, standing till the end. Deliverer of the oppressed, champion of the masses, a friend of the poor, voice of the voiceless, the saviour of Ghana, the pride of Africa: forever you shall live in our hearts. You served your people with honour, dignity, respect and pride and now the great call has come and you have gone home to rest. You have gone the way of all flesh and you have passed the baton of gallantry and leadership to the next generation.
Yet know this: that you live in our hearts and that we shall meet again in the halls of Valhalla where the brave shall live forever. And even now, like an irrepressible phoenix, your memory lingers. You were like Horatio at the Roman gate. You were like King Leonides and his 300 Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae. You were a case study in audacity, courage and strength, climbing every mountain and levelling every valley.
You were like Achilles at the siege of Troy, William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk, Alexander the Great at the Battle of Gaugamela and Bonny Prince Charlie at the Battle of Culloden. You overcame every obstacle that stood between you and your destiny and you climbed every hurdle and swam every river that stood between you and your glory. You were like Aragorn at the Battle of Gondor and Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards. You were prepared to give up your life that others may live. You were like Karl Drogo of the Dothraki, Ragnar Lothbrook of the Vikings and King Shaka of the Zulu: magnificent in your quest for justice and in your rage, passion, power and splendour You were courageous, forthright, disciplined, accountable, fair-minded, strong-willed and faithful till the end.
You were everything that they said an African leader could not be. You proved them wrong and made us proud. You led your beautiful nation Ghana but you were also the father of modern Africa. Friend of Muammar Ghaddafi, brother of Thomas Sankara and follower of Madiba, the great Nelson Mandela, all others pale into insignificance in your gargantuan shadow. You will live forever in our hearts O proud son of Africa and we shall meet again in the halls of Valhalla where the brave shall live forever.
I remember your famous words spoken with conviction, confidence, aggression, passion and strength after you took the reigns of power by the force of arms for the second time in Ghana. You said, “For the second time I have risked my life for mother Ghana. There is no justice in this nation and I daresay where there is no justice there can be no peace!”. I fell in love with you that day when I heard those words and I longed to have your strength, your fearlessness and your conviction as a guiding light and principle in my life. Though you never knew it from that moment you became my hero and the hero of millions in my generation from all over Africa because you dared to do what others feared to think. You were our very own Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. You walked where angels feared to tread. You did what needed to be done and were prepared to risk all, including your life if you failed. Those words which you spoke in 1981are as appropriate today as they were then and the lack of justice that you spoke of and fought against so valiantly then are a true reflection of the situation in most of Africa today. Yet who shall inspire and deliver us now that you have gone? Who shall guide us and lead us to greater heights? What shall we do without you O great warrior? What can we do without you O great son of Africa? It can never be the same without your voice, without your smile, without your humour, without your charm, without your rage and quest for fairness and justice and without your glorious sun shining. Our hope lies in one thing and in one thing alone: that one day when the Lord sees fit to call us home, we shall meet again in the halls of Valhalla where the brave shall live forever. Now rest in peace great and gallant soul and wherever they bury your body, there we shall go to pay homage to your spirit and to honour your memory. We shall bow before your bones, pray by your grave and as we leave we shall look at you one more time with pride and say “here a Roman lies!”