On Thursday afternoon, I went to a restaurant near Multimedia to eat. I met Asempa FM’s Kwadwo Asare Baffuor Acheampong, popularly known as Kaba, eating there.
“Do you also eat here?” I asked him. “Because you have started eating here, the restaurant will become too expensive for some of us o.” It is a common joke I share when I meet the top presenters of Multimedia at a restaurant.
“I have always been eating here,” he told me.
“Then how come I’ve never met you here?” I asked and went to take my seat.
Kaba was not his usual jolly self that Thursday afternoon. He did not respond with laughter or a joke. He just went on with his meal.
After eating, he sat for what appeared to be a long time. When I lifted my eyes from my phone, I saw him staring fixedly and meditatively at nothing in particular. I took particular notice of him and started to gossip about him with myself. He had shaved freshly. A bump at the back of his head had healed completely.
“Some time back, it appeared these bumps had no cure and men had them at the back of their heads,” I thought to myself. Then his wedding came to mind. He had invited me to the reception at the Banquet Hall of the State House, but I couldn’t make it. It was a week or so after I had brought trouble upon myself by publishing a story about a Ford Expedition “gift” a contractor who had been awarded government of Ghana contracts gave to the President of Ghana. I had decided to stay out of the limelight and did not want to meet politicians, who were sure to attend Kaba’s wedding reception.
As these things replayed in my head, I watched Kaba take out a 10 cedi note and produced another five cedi note from his side pocket before calling the attendant to come for the money.
He left the restaurant without saying goodbye to me. This was uncharacteristic of Kaba. He would have called out loudly, “Manass!” or “Bongo Boy!” emphasizing the “B” in the Bongo.
Later that evening when he was leaving the station after his show, I met him at the stairs in front of the Multimedia radio building chatting with a female Joy News reporter.
“Kaba, do you know Favour?” I asked him. “That’s his girlfriend,” I said, pointing at the lady. We all laughed and I walked away.
The following morning, I travelled to Kete-Krachi. I had not heard or thought about Kaba since our last meeting until my friend and Member of Parliament for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, called me Saturday morning to ask whether what he was hearing about Kaba was true.
“What have you heard?” I asked him nervously.
I hadn’t been on social media that morning so I quickly went to the Whatsapp platform of my media house. I kept scrolling and reading posts, knowing that the news appeared to be true, but still hoping against hope that it would turn out to be the usual social media hoax. I kept reading, trying to find an authentic confirmation or denial until I came across a post from someone who had spoken with another person at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, where Kaba had been sent: “Unfortunately, it is true.”
I called Ras Mubarak back and repeated those same words, “Unfortunately, it is true.”
It is true that Kaba has ceased to live. It is true that his life and works on this planet had ended. It is true that audiences of his popular afternoon political talk show on Asempa FM, Ekosii Sen, will not hear him again. If they ever hear any voice of Kaba, then it is a recording of what transpired before Saturday, November 18, 2017.
I have always doubted the sincerity of tributes, but Kaba is one of the people whose tributes are generally a reflection of his personality. He was not an angel. Like everyone else, he obviously had his faults. But as a journalist, especially a broadcaster as he was, much of his life was lived in the public domain. So people who have heard him or encountered him on the personal level will testify about his good human relations.
“He is one person you cannot get angry with,” myjoyonline’s editor, Malik Abass Daabu, observed.
You could not pass by Kaba without noticing his imposing figure. Apart from his figure, one thing you could hardly miss on him was a perpetual smile.
Kaba was a household name. He earned fame. But he learnt to tame them.
Most radio and TV personalities tend to be arrogant and snobbish, as if the whole world were a delicate egg that rested on their shoulders and that everything else would collapse if they decided to smash it. They walk about with the presence of mind that they are the best things that ever happened to humanity after Jesus Christ. They go about with the “that’s me!” disposition. Kaba was not like that. He had no issues with his ego. If he did, he left it at home before coming to work each day.
I had appeared on his show a number of times to talk about my investigations and have had the chance to make a suggestion or two to his show. A month ago when he hosted the president of the diabetes association, I rushed to his producer and requested to take charge of the production because we had information that would nail her. The woman had said she would not speak to Joy FM so being on Asempa FM was good enough for us. The producer agreed and alerted Kaba immediate. It was delightful producing Kaba. My intervention was at a very short notice, but he cooperated and within a minute or two, Elizabeth Denyo, for that was the guest’s name, was fumbling and contradicting her earlier claims.
The death of Kaba is an enormous loss. These are hard times for his parents. He was their only child. These are hard times for his wife, with whom they had spent less than a year and a half of married life. His seven-month old daughter, Nana Yaa, will have her grief postponed until she is old enough to know what Saturday’s misfortune really means.
The Multimedia Group will find it tough having to go without a colleague and even tougher to proceed without one of its top presenters. The enormity of the loss will be different on everyone depending on how Kaba touched them with his 37-year old life on this planet.
Death is the biggest irony of God’s creation. It happens everyday but it still remains a mystery. We expect it and know it can strike anybody at anytime but it still leaves shock in its wake anytime it hits a target. We know it can happen to anyone – young or old, rich or poor, saint or sinner, healthy or sick – yet we are always unprepared for it.
While we mourn Kaba or any loss of friends or relatives, we should console ourselves with the biggest lessons their deaths teach us. If there is any benefit of death, then that is its constant reminder to the living about the things that really matter while we have breath.
Before Ras Mubarak and I ended our conversation on Saturday, we talked about how meaningless life could be. We spoke about how nothing matters anymore when the moment of truth arrives, how nothing we toil and struggle to acquire has no say in how long we live or how we die.
After that conversation, I was thinking about it and it occurred to me that our lives on this planet is like checking into a hotel. The hotel is not a permanent home. It is temporary. And when you’re leaving the hotel, you leave behind the things you met there. The fittings and furnishing and the architecture and the things you see may be marvelous in your eyes and but when you’re checking out, you leave them behind.
So like each one of us, Kaba lived in a hotel. The difference between this proverbial hotel of life and the real life hotel is that occupants of the former have no idea when they are checking out. That makes it even more worrying. Besides, in the hotel of life, you don’t check out with your own belongings. Kaba would not go with his cars, clothes, house or anything he acquired in his nearly four decades of hustle. Now matter how big his wardrobe is, he will go with only one attire.
What matters is the legacy he left behind. All those paying tributes to him do not mention anything about his material possession. They talk about his character or how he touched them in one way or the other with his God-given potential. This reminds me of Nelson Mandela’s potent words:
“In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being: humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity and readiness to serve our fellow men – qualities within the reach of every human soul.”
I am not in anyway preaching against the acquisition of wealth. There is nothing wrong with it. And we must not fear death and refuse to sleep. But there is something we should be concerned about in our pursuit of better living conditions and that elusive treasure called happiness.
When one looks at certainty of death and the uncertainty of when, where and how it will come, there is no point in being greedy, fraudulent, corrupt or murderous in one’s pursuit of wealth. If you were told that you had 12 hours, 12 days or 12 months more to live, what would be your priority?
Sometimes people say, they are employing crooked means to build a solid foundation for their children but there is no guarantee that parents will die before their children`. In Kaba’s case, his parents will have the painful ordeal of burying him.
Like Kaba, we are all living in hotels. We don’t know when, where and how we will be compelled to check out without any notice. When it’s time to leave, we will go empty handed. What will matter most in our unannounced exit will be the impact we make in the lives of others.
The noblest of all human achievements are within the reach of every human soul.
May Kaba rest in peace. And may we live in peace.