Celebrating living legends/leaders, phasing out posthumous observances

BY: Michael Owusu Tabiri
Celebrating living legends/leaders
Celebrating living legends/leaders

From the above, it is imperative for all to respect and honour our leaders wholeheartedly when they are alive.

I have been inspired and compelled to write this article after reading a publication by the Daily Graphic on Wednesday, November 28, 2018, dubbed: “ Special Supplement to celebrate a statesman, ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor at 80” (page 63).

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This is a kind of celebration all Africans, particularly, Ghanaians must embrace and promote wholeheartedly, instead of celebrating the dead or terming the demise of someone as “celebration of life.”

Isn’t it paradoxical to consider the death of a beloved one as celebration? Is it possible, for the government of Ghana to replace state funerals with birthday celebrations of these people?

The verb, ‘to celebrate’ means to mark a happy or important day, an event with a social gathering where people can enjoy themselves’ (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, 1995).


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In other words, prototypically, the meaning of celebration is enjoyment. No wonder nowadays people go to funerals to enjoy themselves instead of to mourn.

It is highly necessary to phase out the phrase ‘celebration of life,’ when a person dies. Is it possible, to change ‘celebration of life’ to observance? Why should we term an obituary or observance as celebration?

Celebration is synonymous with commemoration (which is an act of honouring someone). It is, therefore, crucial and advisable to honour people, particularly, our leaders by celebrating their birthdays with pomp and pageantry when they are alive, instead of celebrating people posthumously.

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It is not scriptural or biblical to celebrate the dead, but it is biblically significant to celebrate our parents/guardians, grand-parents, our spiritual/religious, academic and political leaders as well as loved ones when they are alive, instead of waiting to see their demise.

What is the essence of celebrating or praising the dead hyperbolically and posthumously? It is high time we started celebrating our leaders.

This is because no dead person can be considered as celebrant.

It is incumbent upon us all to weed out posthumous celebrations and encourage birthday, marriage, graduation, investiture and ordination celebrations as Ghanaians.

I know a renowned presiding bishop who gave out his vehicle to enable one of the assemblies he established to acquire a permanent place of worship, but unfortunately he could not even complete building his house before he passed away.

Ironically, an exorbitant edifice was erected by a rich church member to house his body, but the family head of the late bishop together with armed police intervention took away the body by force to the village. (Celebrating or criticising? Owusu-Tabiri, 2017).

Why didn’t this affluent church member put up a decent house for the bishop when he was alive? Church and family members/Christians must learn to celebrate their leaders when they are alive, instead of spending colossal sums and fighting to claim ownership of the body at one’s death.

This is because; no one who has been called to eternal glory will cherish any expensive funeral and embellished/exaggerated tribute or state funeral.

Let us learn to overlook and stop disseminating the shortfalls of leaders and start celebrating their visible achievements as Ghanaians or Africans.

I know a leader in Ghana who has impacted on countless lives and has even established a university, whose achievements surpass a whole nation, but recently, some Ghanaians have been propagating his purported shortcomings on various social media platforms as having contributed directly or indirectly to the collapse of a financial institution. How many people have been sharing his good deeds or exemplary leadership?

Also, if it is possible, Parliament should enact a bill to promote real celebrations like birthdays, marriages, graduations, ordinations, investitures, inductions and concurrently a law to ban exorbitant funeral rites that have been coined as “celebration” instead of observance or mourning.

Let us stop promoting posthumous celebrations and spreading bad news, and start celebrating our living legends as well as disseminating good news everywhere as Ghanaians.

The writer is a lecturer at the Ghana Technology University College and a minister at the Bethel Prayer Ministry International, Weija/New Gbawe-Mallam.

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