This was my grandfather’s birthday ... until fifteen years ago. In 1993, he stood still at a cliff of the highest peak of his life, spread out his wizened wings and, without a chance to look back, he flapped and flapped and flapped, and flopped! Gone forever! His birthday became a morbid memento of (when I think of it) my first true best friend. Nuhu Bin Abubekr died aged eighty-four. He called me “Senior Brother”, and I miss him very much. He had wanted to live a few more years to enjoy the adult me.
Before I happened on the scene, Nana Abu had proudly boasted a strapping political life. Not quite swashbuckling, but still a great strike for the home team (whatever it was). He went to the great Mfantsipim School, and graduated on a certificate named for Cambridge. A life that had struck a sparkling light and shone was flogged by fickle factors. From then on, every rich strand of history he knew, and every brilliant strategy skirmished on his political précis was learned and earned by single, silent assimilation. He was a “wicked” registrar of the Adansi Traditional Council, which had some powers of a court.
He was already sixty-eight when I came along; robbed and roughly ravaged by the cruel and coldblooded timekeeper. But he was still very tall and elegant; ramrod straight with a very handsome face. He taught me how wrong and insular the Ghanaian saying “I’m sure” was, for the benighted Ghanaian was really saying “I think”, “I believe” :)
Nana Abu died sitting upright on a rainy June morning in a Kumasi hospital :). I did not break down and cry when I heard the terrible news, for the great man had gone out smiling, fighting and refusing to lie down.
Happy birthday, Nana Abu. Writing this suddenly makes me feel so very lonely.