After two weeks of grief, the events for the formal parting ofways withthe fallen hero of the moment begin today, when the body of Prof. John Evans Atta Mills is laid in state at the Banquet Hall of the State House.
President John Dramani Mahama, his able deputy, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, other top officials of government and other political leaders, are expected to file past the body to pay their last respects. Tomorrow would be the turn of the general public to view the body and bid farewell to the immediate past leader of the Ghanaian society.
On Friday, the mother of all funerals will reachits climax, with an inter-denominational service for the late President of Ghana. According to the official programme, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, would lead a team of clergy to officiate in what Kofi Totobi Quakyi, Chairman of the Funeral Committee,described as a funeral service that would not last more than two hours.
The service would be followed by the internment at the Castle Drive, which is the expanse of land between the Castle and the Independent Square. By all standards, the funeral would be a momentous affair, to be covered by 700 accredited journalists from various media houses across the globe.
Yesterday, Mr. Kofi Annan, the Ghanaian who led the United Nations as Secretary-General for eight years, went to the Castle to commiserate with President John Dramani Mahama and the people of Ghana.
Mr. Annan has been on an international assignment as a United Nations Special Envoy to Syria. But with the international community dragging their feet on the road map to peace, Annan tendered his resignation and rushed home to pay his last respects to the fallen Head of State.
Mr. Annan saw in late Prof. Mills a great leader and democrat. In some ways, the funeral is a celebration of the life of the departed Head of State as a "great leader and democrat."
The late Professor, in his own humble way, has contributed positively to the deepening of democracy in this country. And that is how The Chronicle is inviting Ghanaians to view the good old Professor, as the nation bids him farewell.
In the year 2000, when the National Democratic Congress, with Prof. Mills leading from the front, were beaten at the polls, there were a number of hotheads within the party virtually calling for positive defiance. In other words, there were agitations from within for the party to refuse to cede power.
The good old Professor calmed nerves by conceding defeat to the incoming administration of John Agyekum Kufuor and his New Patriotic Party. In 2004, the NDC was once more in a dilemma. A number of hawks, led by former President Jerry John Rawlings, pushed the party to reject the results of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Once more, it took Prof. Mills to calm nerves. By conceding defeat, Prof. Mills paved the way for the swearing in of former President John Agyekum Kufuor, and aided the forward march of this nation as a constitutional democracy.
After all these struggles, it was poetic justice when Prof. Mills won the 2008 elections after three rounds of voting. As Ghanaians bid farewell to our departed President, The Chronicle is inviting all Ghanaians to celebrate the life of the President, who has truly paid his dues to Mother Ghana.