Maafio, The Great Thinker and Wit – A Tribute

In the wake of the seismic passing of Obaapanyin Grace Afua Ofosuah Henaku (1940-2018), I gently asked my 13-year-old son and namesake, Nana Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, III, to seriously consider writing a tribute to the memory and honor of his maternal grandmother. I thought that making him write a tribute to the memory of Maafio, as his grandmother was affectionately known, would relieve some of the pain and anguish he had felt the evening that he learned of his beloved grandma’s death. And, by the way, Nana Kwame, III, says that he will remember Maafio for her good food and the fact that the old lady never stopped worked until she departed this life. At his grandma’s passing, Kwame, III, had flatly refused to eat his dinner and had to be convinced by his eldest aunt, that is, my senior sister, Nana Adwoa Apeakoramaa Okoampa-Ahoofe Amoh, who, like Maafio, is also affectionately called Maame Ketewa, that her grandmother’s spirit would not be pleased to learn that he had gone to bed on an empty stomach upon hearing of her peaceful passage into the glorious bosom of Divine Providence.

Well, on this particular day, a couple of weeks after his grandmother’s transitioning into eternity, The Ages, as former US President Barack H. Obama had to say of South Africa’s President Nelson Mandela at the latter’s funeral in Johannesburg, Nana Kwame quickly shot back with a resounding No! I asked him, a bit surprised, Why not? and he pointedly but wisely retorted, Daddy, you know I barely knew grandma, so any tribute I write is likely to sound phony. About all I can say about her is that ‘Grandma, Maafio, was a good woman.’ But, of course, you know that would be absurd. Actually, Nana Kwame had used the more mundane American street-talk abbreviation of BS. I further asked him, Why not? to which he quickly responded, You know Grandma, Maafio, deserves more than that. I found my son’s response to be both witty and profound. Like grandma, like grandson, I chuckled quietly to myself beaming with pride.

The main thrust of my tribute here is that when one peeled off the superficial veneer of classroom education, which circumstances beyond her control had deprived her most of, Maafio was a great thinker and a wit at heart, in much the same manner that was said of the Anglo-Irish poet-playwright, George Bernard Shaw. My relationship with Maafio, as her favorite son-in-law, I am convinced of, was largely conducted by phone � sometimes on Skype � for some 14 years before we finally met, at her incessant insistence, in July and August this year, in both Accra and at Abiriw. Then we spoke again while she was on her hospital bed, which was also to be her deathbed, at the Koforidua Central Hospital, just a couple of hours before we received the report of her passing. So, I can confidently say that I fully appreciated the essence of her humanity in a way that only a poet could. You see, Maafio was a quintessential stateswoman who successfully raised five children, grandchildren and several other relatives and, I hear, even total strangers. She also knew how to balance a shoestring budget in ways that ought to make the loudest of some of our upstart local politicians bow their heads in shame.

I know Maafio was a stateswoman because we often talked realpolitik and about the wobbly economic situation in Ghana because like me, the old woman badly wanted my paternal uncle, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to win the 2016 Presidential Election with a landslide in order to turn things around. Her one great pride was the President’s auspicious implementation of the long-anticipated fee-free Senior High School System, though she had also expressed a bit concern about the slow pace of the country’s general economic development, in particular the grim level of unemployment.

But above all else, Maafio was a devoted Christian whose fellowship with Christ reminded me very much of my own guardian and maternal grandfather, The Rev. Theodore Henry (Yawbe Aboagye) Sintim (1896-1982), of Akyem-Asiakwa and Begoro. Which was precisely why when I first learned of Maafio’s passing on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, the first thought that flashed through my mind was one of grandpa Sintim’s favorite scriptural verses, namely, Psalm 113:3, which reads as follows: From the rising of the sun and the going down of the same, the Lord’s name be praised. Amen!

Source: Modern Ghana