Tears flow for Major Mahama
There was a show of military bravado and honour by the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) after the memorial service yesterday at the State House to bid the late Major Maxwell Mahama farewell.
With the civilian activities out of the way, the military took over with their march of precision and honour to pay their last respects to their departed colleague.
With the civilian activities out of the way, the military took over with their march of precision and honour to pay their last respects to their departed colleague. Right after the closing prayers, his giant photo, decorated with flowers at the edges, was first marched off, followed by eight pallbearers and four trumpet blowers surrounding the casket draped in national colours. Fourteen fully armed soldiers mounted a guard of honour while the pallbearers lifted the casket and marched with it, before putting it in the hearse amid blowing of dirges by the trumpeters.
From there, the crowd moved together with the hundreds of military men, women and officers to the driveway of the State House, where police motor riders were at their acrobatic best ahead of the procession.
From the entrance of the State House to the entrance of the Military Cemetery, his comrades lined up in military uniform, their heads and guns down, but as the hearse carrying his body drove past, they cocked their guns and saluted while some well-wishers shed tears and others cursed the murderers of the late promising military officer.
The cortege was led by a combat-ready detachment of soldiers followed by a mixed military and police band rendering dirges.
The hearse moved behind the clergy. Following closely was the family, with Mrs Veronica Bamford-Addy, the late Major Mahama’s mother, with her right arm around her daughter in-law’s neck — showing solidarity in their moment of grief.
By exactly 12:26 p.m, the casket was pulled out of the hearse and carried to the cemetery.
As part of the graveside rituals and in conformity with military tradition, a detachment of 14 military men, constituting a guard of honour, fired three volleys from their rifles as a sign of paying last respects to the deceased, who entered the Ghana Military Academy (GMA) at Teshie in Accra on October 6, 2005.
At 12:55 p.m, he was lowered into the grave amid tears. It was almost an hour past mid-day, but it was the sun setting on a short but decorated life and career.
Before Major Mahama’s journey, thousands of mourners yesterday stood united in grief at the forecourt of the State House with his family in a ceremony dominated by civilian rituals, military tradition, honour and religion.
Many cried silently as dirges and tributes poured out for the 32-year-old whose brutal killing sparked shock and outrage across the country.
It was a day in which the sun was as merciless as the violent death that Major Mahama suffered. Tears mixed with sweat streamed down the faces of the mourners.
The remains of the young military officer was laid in a closed casket draped in the national flag with his cap and sword on the coffin, surrounded by flowers and a larger-than-life framed photograph.
Beside the casket stood military officers with their back to the casket and their heads lowered in a show of respect to the soldier, who suffered a gruesome murder while on national duty at Denkyira Obuasi in the Central Region.
Under the more than 50 canopies were downhearted mourners from all walks of life, including almost everyone who mattered in the country’s politics and governance, including Vice-President Mahamudu
Bawumia, former Presidents J.A Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama; the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Mike Aaron Oquaye; acting Chief Justice William A. Atuguba, ministers, Members of Parliament and leaders of political parties as well as a number of religious leaders and chiefs.
At exactly 8.45 a.m., the Vice-President arrived in the company of his wife and went straight to pay his last respects to the fallen soldier.
Among the mourners was the widow of the late soldier, Mrs Barbara Mahama. Flanked by a number of women who took turns to engage her. She sat quietly, with her arms folded on her laps.
With a white handkerchief in her hand, she occasionally wiped her face.
Except a few head nods to those around her, her only other body movement was to tap her bare feet, occasionally, to the hymns.
She said little and her eyes difficult to read behind the sun shade. To her left and about six people away was her mother-in-law, Mrs Bamford-Addy, who was sandwiched between other close relatives and former President Mahama, who occasionally held her hands while consoling her.
Mrs Bamford-Addy said almost nothing. Her mood was pensive.Almost in tears, she stared blankly; probably lost in her thoughts while looking at what was left of her beloved son — a casket surrounded by flowers.
Almost in tears, she stared blankly; probably lost in her thoughts while looking at what was left of her beloved son — a casket surrounded by flowers.
When it was her turn to read her tribute to her late son, she passed the arduous task to a family member.
As the tribute flowed, with the reader sometimes choking on her words, Mrs Bamford-Addy closed her eyes, her head going back and forth.
“I am falling to pieces. Tell the killers they have destroyed me. Tell them he was a special son, forever my boy, calling me mummy, mummy, mummy.
“The gruesome and horrific way my poor baby was snatched from this earth is beyond any words. It is as if my heart has been ripped from my chest. I feel hollow, just moving about like an
empty shell,” she said in a tribute that moved many mourners to tears and shouts of “aaaaw! Awwww!”
Her daughter-in-law showed courage. In an incredible demonstration of strength, the widow, sandwiched between a female soldier and a pastor, walked to the podium to read her tribute and that of her children.
Silence fell over the gathering as many stretched to see the young widow whose husband’s death united the nation against mob justice.
Mrs Mahama, in a soul-touching tribute, recalled her memories of their time spent together but consoled herself saying “the years ahead will be full of memories but I wanted more than memories, it is fine, I will manage. You wanted us to grow old together but God needs you where you are because there are too many obstacles and temptations here on earth. You are so safe, I am glad.”
A father’s tears
His father, Captain Dennis Adam Mahama (retd), who took to tears, described his son as a gentle and caring person that “one wonders whether as a soldier he could even kill a fly.”
In a sermon, the Founder and Presiding Bishop of the Lighthouse Chapel International, Bishop Dag Heward-Mills, urged the congregation to think about the aftermath of death, and whether the destination for the human soul was heaven or hell.
Before the body was carried to the cemetery, Vice-President Alhaji Dr Bawumia laid wreaths on behalf of the government and people of Ghana. The Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Obed Akwa, on behalf of the Ghana Armed Forces and other security services; and former President Mahama and Mrs Bamford-Addy laying it on behalf of the spouse and children.