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“My goal is Simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all.” – Stephen Hawking
Last week Friday had come promising to be commemorative as I was preparing to travel to Peki Adzokoe. I took goofy face pictures and as the age require, I updated my status, thanking God for a good week. I was particular grateful for the progress Africa Learn was making and it’s VFund to help grow great ideas.
I head an Operational Risk Department for a strong and resilient bank, a new career path that had been inspired by the man for whom I was going to Peki. Clement Agbo was the Head of Operational Risk at UT Bank when I was an Enterprise Risk Analyst, I was pioneering Risk Analytics, Credit Risk Modelling and Portfolio Reporting at UT Bank and was known for my own mastery.
Clement had however inspired me to see what was possible with an opportunity in Operational Risk considering my diverse experience across various departments in the bank and my passion for data, systems, process and people. He had died at the age of 48 years, a death that had broken all our heart and only heightened my understanding of the consequences of the collapse of the banks, death that had given me more focus in pursing the movement to teach how to build sustainable businesses in Africa and live the next generation examples of such enterprises.
Today, however, is not exactly about Clement and definitely not about me, it is about Emmanuel Boakye Yiadom. Please note that, this writing is purely therapeutic for me and so pardon the round tripping as you sit in my shrink sessions.
He was my family’s favorite Uncle as we all looked forward to him coming home. He seldom came home but the memories with him was some of my fondest growing up. He showed me what life could be beyond the small town of Duayaw Nkwanta. He always came home in his car even in the early 90s and I was sure to receive a gift whenever he came. My ‘closeness’ with him came from the fact that, he always slept at our house on my bed. He slept in my room and it was always nice to have him around. He was the one uncle who gave a child like me an ‘important’ relative to aspire to. We knew him to have a successful career in banking as he retired as a Chief Internal Auditor for a good bank.
Dad Boakye, as I always called him was hospitalized in Korle Bu Teaching hospital, my Dad had called me within the week to inform me he was at the hospital and encouraged me to go check on him. I had been somewhat a prodigal son who had taken the hustle personally, grinding and had not been around since I was told. I did not quiet think it was fatal and I was going to check on him anyway after my trip from Peki. My Dad was making a 7 hour trip to visit him that Saturday after which I will meet them when I returned from the funeral.
Strangely, I missed the bus to Peki and thus was left with one purpose for the Saturday, be a good boy and go spend some time with my uncle, the man I had lived with for my early months when I came to Accra in 2010. The man I had last heard from on December 7th, 2018 when we both met home when we had gone to visit. Before last hearing of him, we had spoken last when I was lunching my book I think.
It is exactly one month since 2019 began and I must admit the year had been progressive thus far, the 31 days into the year and the hopes for the New Year did not include a vision of a gruesome death of a man I had grown to respect greatly. I will conclude with the story of his death but I can’t write without telling the lessons each time teach me:
- The choice of a life partner will make or unmake you in life. As I reflect on his life in comparison with some people I know, I have concluded that perhaps, the simple act of marriage is the next most important event after birth. I am convinced your life partner will most likely determine the quality of life and legacy and so focus on that decision for the future and not the present.
- Investments in quality of relationships may perhaps enhance quality of life more than a career that ends. As I observed the events after his death, I am convinced good quality relationships perhaps mean more for impact and legacy.
- Witchcraft may be real, but if even it is not, there are more unexplainable things in life for which faith in God is the only rational option to reconcile such inconsistencies and randomness.
My uncle’s car we are told caught fire and as he sought to check the smoke he got burnt horribly from head to toe. The car that started the ‘fire’ did not burn neither was there any known explosion as we are told. The car was moved normally after the incident. Police investigators have only questions as much as we have.
I have cried within the week and do now as I write this, I cry not because he died, I have reconciled the futility of humanity, but I cry because of the nature and manner of his death. He suffered the worst pain imaginable in his last 7 days, pain I can’t define or imagine anyone go through. Unexplained things have happened after his death but above all I will end with a quote from Stephen Hawking, a man who was known as a mind trapped in a vegetative body, “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”