The funeral rites of the Late NPP Secretary Honorable Sir John is currently underway.
Sakora-Wonoo, a farming community near Bonwire in the Kwabre East District in the Ashanti Region, was rendered too small to receive the great number of mourners who thronged the town to mourn the passing of a former General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
As early as 7 a.m. Thursday, vehicles, many of them cross-country, began arriving with people from all walks of life, particularly NPP members and the political class, to file past the remains of the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission. Popularly known as Sir John, his laying in state and burial later in the day also attracted a large number of members of the Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) faith, lawyers, forestry sector value chain actors, ordinary people who had gone there to either mourn or catch a glimpse of the body, as well as media practitioners who had set up for a comprehensive coverage of the funeral.
Schools were closed in anticipation of the large crowds that could disrupt classes.
By 11 a.m., vehicles still entering the town had to park far away and walk almost a kilometre to the funeral ground, as the place where the pre-burial service was held had no further space to accommodate them.
Chaperons of the funeral, especially those charged with maintaining the COVID-19 protocols, had a hectic time compelling mourners to comply with them.
Mourners were allowed onto the barricaded Wonoo Basic School Park for the funeral only if they were in face masks and after completing a temperature screening, hand-washing or hand-sanitising.
For the many others who could not be admitted in, there was very little social distancing, and as most of them moved around in the hot sun, they took off their masks.
Among the tall list of dignitaries at the funeral were President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his wife, Rebecca; the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and his wife Samira; the Chief Justice, Justice Kwasi Anim Yeboah, the Chief of Staff, Mrs Akosua Frema Osei Opare; the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, and the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.
Almost the entire gathering welcomed the President and the Vice-President with enthusiastic cheering similar to that heard at political rallies.
Also present were the Majority Leader of Parliament, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu; ministers of state, the CEOs of some public institutions, government agencies and state-owned enterprises, including that of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Dr K. K. Sarpong, who was a classmate of the late Owusu Afriyie at the Bekwai SDA Secondary School.
The General Secretary of the largest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, popularly known as General Mosquito, received cheers from the mourners when he led party faithful to file past the body of Sir John, with whom he used to lock horns in heated public debates when they were the general secretaries of their respective parties.
Also catching the attention of mourners during the filing past was Auntie Hadiza, popularly known as Zongo Pioneer, who touts herself as the one-woman supporter of the NPP.
She was seen leading a large retinue of head porters, known in Kumasi as ‘Paa-oo-paa’, with pans on their heads as they circled the open casket of the deceased lawyer and politician.
some people however felt the house they built as his final resting place was a complete waste of money especially since many schools were still suffering.