By Kayla Albrecht and Schuyler Durham
Originally published in Public Agenda on August 3, 2012
Tuesday, July 31, marked the one-week anniversary of the demise of former president, Prof John Evans Atta Mills. The residents of Accra observed this event at the Efua Sutherland’s Children’s Park during a regional celebration. Thousands of mourning Ghanaians gathered to form a sea of red and black, while waves of powerful music and rhythm danced their way through the Children’s Park.
The celebration was officiated by Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Afotey Agbo, Accra Mayor, Alfred Oko Vanderpuije and other executives in the region. It also featured a number of musical performances, military exhibitions and speeches, including an address by the sitting President, John Dramani Mahama.
The occasion at Children’s Park exemplified Mills’ efforts while in office. “His death means a lot simply because he has united the whole nation,” explained Nicholas Rocky, National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) organiser of the Trobu-Amasaman constituency, the entirety of which was in attendance. “All parties are here.” Mr Rocky, in commemoration of President Mills, urges Ghanaians to not see the next election as a fight and hopes that the one who wins will be given a fair chance to rule.
The death of President Mills was a heartache felt internationally, and mourners from various foreign nations speckled the massive crowd. Kimberly deCaires from San Francisco, California, United States, commented, “I can speak more from the position of the wife of a Ghanaian… His loss was really personal to a lot of people, including my husband.”
James Ichitey, the husband of Mrs deCaires, recalls his tears that followed the news of President Mills’ passing. “My wife and I were playing drums together, and when the news came we just stopped.” Mr Ichitey explained that Prof Mills had not been merely a president to him, but a father figure as well. “This was a man who was for all – he wasn’t just for one person.”
The jubilant activities began before noon and continued through the evening, offering a perfect space for the residents of Accra to bid farewell to a beloved and respected man; it was an event that President Mills was surely smiling down on.
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