GRIEF-stricken residents of Asante-Akim Agogo and other mourners, including the New Patriotic Party (NPP) flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday poured out in their numbers in red and black to mourn Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu.
The most pathetic sight, however, was the late minister’s 90-year-old ailing mother, Madam Yaa Tiape.
Unable to hold back her tears, the old lady told the Daily Graphic in Twi, "Na meretwen se mewu na Kwadwo asie me," literally meaning, "I expected Kwadwo to bury me when I die."
As she struggled to speak, Madam Tiape, who suffered a stroke about two years ago, asked, "Dee m'anyini aduru yi aden nti na mesie me ba?" meaning, "At my age, why should I be the one to bury my child?”
Family members and other sympathisers who had gathered round the old lady could not help but shed uncontrollable tears.
She said Mr Baah-Wiredu had visited her on September 10 and informed her that he was travelling and that he would be back very soon. However, just as she was about to have her meals last Wednesday, she had a message that her son was.
Mr Baah-Wiredu was the sixth of Madam Tiape’s 11 children, three of whom, including Mr Baah-Wiredu, are deceased.
Yesterday it was as if Agogo was under siege. From the entrance of the town to the area in front of the palace, the young and old wore the traditional mourning colours of black and red.
They wailed and sang dirges in typical Ashanti tradition and custom.
Some drivers moved their vehicles around carelessly and the policemen who were deployed in the town had a hectic time controlling them.
Many mourners also held posters of the man who was to contest the Asante-Akim North parliamentary seat on the ticket of the NPP.
The Omanhene of the area, Nana Akuoko Sarpong, was out of town but the other members of the traditional council were in full attendance.
The Akwamuhene of the traditional area, Nana Kwame Boamah, who acted in the absence of the Omanhene, said the traditional council was shocked by the death of Mr Baah-Wiredu.
He told the Daily Graphic that the council would surely give the late minister a befitting funeral.
Nana Akufo-Addo, who was in the middle of his campaign at Sefwi Wiawso in the Western Region, suspended the campaign and moved to Agogo to express his condolences to the late minister’s family.
Nana Akufo-Addo, who was in black attire, was visibly sad and in a pensive mood.
From Konongo to Agogo, women and children lined up the road wailing as Nana Akufo-Addo's convoy passed by.
In line with custom, he was welcomed at the Agogo Palace by the Akwamuhene, Nana Kwame Boamah.
Nana Akufo-Addo presented drinks, in line with custom, to the bereaved family and also went to Mr Baah-Wiredu’s family house to console his mother, Madam Tiape.
NPP party stalwarts who accompanied Nana Akufo-Addo to Agogo included the Ashanti Regional Minister, Mr E. A. Owusu Ansah, and his deputy, Mr Osei Assibey Antwi.
Others were Prof Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, Papa Owusu-Ankomah, the NPP Chairman, Mr Peter Mac Manu, Mr Alan Kyerematen, Mr Kwabena Agyepong, Mr Stephen Asamoah-Boateng and Mr A. E. Amoah, the Western Regional Minister.
Nana Kwame Boamah said Mr Baah-Wiredu was a royal of the Agogo Stool and that his effective contribution to President Kufuor's administration did not bring fame to only Agogo but the entire Ashanti Akyem area.
Meanwhile, Akwasi Ampratwum-Mensah reports from Sunyani that a number of people in the Brong Ahafo Region have expressed their sentiments about Mr Baah-Wiredu’s death.
They said his death was not only shocking but also a blow to Ghana as a whole, his family, the NPP and his friends in particular.
Many people who spoke to the Daily Graphic on expressed their profound sympathies and condolences to the bereaved family, the government and the NPP.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, described Mr Baah-Wiredu’s death as pathetic, saying that Ghana had lost a gem, a man who was dedicated to his work for his constituency and the nation.
“Hardly do we meet people so diligent and dedicated to their work schedules like Mr Baah-Wiredu, who was a brilliant political gentleman,” he said.
The Brong Ahafo Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr John Owusu-Agyeman, who is also a legal practitioner at Techiman, said on telephone that the “sudden and surprise death of the former minister is a big blow to Ghana and the nation has lost a great son”.
He said Mr Baah-Wiredu worked very hard for the country as the Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Education, Science and Sports and, until his demise, Finance and Economic Planning, adding that he was a complete gentleman in his entire demeanour, speech and interaction with people.
According to the NDC regional chairman, Mr Baah-Wiredu was so simple that if someone did not identify him, it was difficult to make him out in public, pointing out that he was one of the most respected people in the NPP and that his death should unite Ghanaians.
The Assembly Member for the Akokora Kwadwo Electoral Area, Mr Stephen Kwabena Agyekum, noted that with only a few months to the general election, Mr Baah-Wiredu death was, indeed, a shock.
The 1997 Brong Ahafo Regional Best Fish Farmer, Mr Amosah Asare, said, “If I say Mr Baah-Wiredu’s death does not pain me, I will be telling a lie,” adding that at a recent workshop in Kumasi for fish farmers, the late minister had given the assurance that those farmers were going to be provided with a credit facility with the view to boosting fish production in the country, adding that with his demise, things would be difficult.
Mr Stephen Yankyera, an NPP activist, said “Obrempong Atutu”, meaning a great man had fallen.
Mr Charles Obeng, a member of staff of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in Sunyani pointed out that both the NPP and the nation had lost an asset and a legacy and wished that the Almighty God would give Mr Baah-Wiredu a good rest.