They Called Him Prof
July 27, 2012 § 3 Comments
Attah Mills is gone. I never knew the guy. In fact, if you’ve read or heard what I’ve said about him, you might think I probably hated the guy. I didn’t. I don’t think I thought very highly of the man. I often thought of him as a puppet; probably a buffoon- ok, not that last one, but I always thought I had much smarter ideas for this nation than dolts like him. And, maybe I’m right in thinking I have the right ideas, but until now, I don’t know if I’d taken a moment to consider whether knowing I had the goods meant I needed to verbally eviscerate those I didn’t think so highly of. It’s so easy to get lost in one’s brilliance or one’s perception of his own brilliance that some of the simplest and profound truths about this thing we call life escapes even his mind: we’ll all die one day. And that makes trivial all the nonsense we often convince ourselves to be meaningful and necessary. I’m not saying I’ll change who and what I am overnight, but it’s always good to have events like Mills’ passing to bring some things into perspective for some of us.
I’ve always seen our leaders as cronies who use their offices to their personal benefits at our nations’ expense. For the most part, there is irrefutable fact with insurmountable evidence to back up that assertion. But over the past two days, I learned more about J.E. Attah Mills that’s got me thinking a bit more about the motivations and influences of those who get to lead their nations. Yeah, they’re all ambitious, and selfish, and narcissistic (that’s probably a prerequisite for the job), but I also realize now that at some point, there has to be at the very least, a sliver of civic pride and a sense of duty to serve one’s country- and sometimes at risk of one’s personal safety, especially death. Steve Jobs held his position as Apple’s CEO until officially relinquishing it for Tim Cook around this time last year. I couldn’t tell if he’d held on for so long because Apple really needed him at the helm, or for selfish reasons, or whether he really believed he really needed to keep working even when it seemed he had only so long left. Attah Mills had throat cancer, and it seems his health had been failing him, but the man decided to run for a second term. It’s a tough question to ask especially when we haven’t walked in those shoes.
Before this week, I would’ve said he was just being selfish, but when you take some of the most vicious attacks from every conceivable corner on a daily basis, yet face heckling opposition with cute jokes, always the consummate gentleman, keep the busy schedule of your office, and quietly suffer from a debilitating illness- if his stay in office towards the end wasn’t partly for honorable reasons, then call me a fool, but I’ve now a profound sense of respect for devotions like his, and he the man. Yesterday evening, I watched a primary school girl struggle to hold back tears while she recited a poem she read for the late president during his visit to her school not so long ago. I couldn’t help but get emotional and even teary-eyed, too. This is when it really hit me: Attah Mills really is dead and gone and I’ll never hear him again. I kept a similar emotional detachment to Michael and Whitney’s untimely passing until that simple truth hit me. It’s the not hearing from them again that really gets to me.
I don’t know what happens to us after we die (and you don’t know, either!). But I hope for this stately gentleman, if there’s a reality for our spirits after this life, that his is splayed underneath a coconut tree on a quiet breezy beach between a pitcher of fruit cocktails and a stack of long Russian and English-authored novels as he enjoys his everlasting peace. It’s a bit sad saying this now, but I miss him. John Evans Attah Mills hailed from Tarkwa in the Western Region. He was Fante. He taught law at the University of Ghana for some 25-odd years before becoming vice President for Jerry Rawlings and finally winning the presidency in 2009 after two previous attempts. He was 68.
Goodbye, President Mills.