Kofi Asare Brako Abatay: Tribute to My Mother

She gave birth to 11 eleven children losing only 1 in the process. I was the tenth born child.

Exactly 20 years today she passed on. As a single parent at the time while she lived, she still pressed on that her tenth born will further his education because she believed in me.

She told my eldest brother and her first born, Mr Isaac Boateng Brako who was then teaching at Oda Secondary School to come and take me to live with him on campus at Odasco because she did not want me stay at Akyem Oda Old Town and ‘spoil’.

My mother believed in me, that, with just a little push, I could get to the heights that great men have reached.

After completing ‘O’ Level and with no one to help me to continue my education, she took me to Foso Training College (FOSCO) to pursue further studies because she had heard that the students there were being paid allowances whilst they study. She could no longer afford to raise money to take care of my academics. She knew I was a brilliant child and she didn’t want that God-given talent to go waste.

On the day of my admission to the training college in 1991 and on my way to school, she didn’t have anything on her but she still asked me to wake up early in the morning at about 4 a.m so we could reach Assin Foso early enough.

Just when we left home, she asked me to stay outside somewhere whilst she goes to tell a certain woman near our house that she was taking me to school. Indeed, there was no hope. The little money she had on her was the one she used to buy me a trunk and chop box and some small gari. She could not even affort to prepare ‘shito’ for me.

She came out from the woman’s house and I could see vim on her face. My heart gladdened. Apparently she had gone to borrow money from the woman to take care of our transport to Assin Foso and back.

We arrived on campus and she helped me through all the admission processes. Whilst she was leaving me on campus, I remember she sat me down on a small wall in front of the administration block and advised me. She said a lot of things but the one that stuck so deep in my mind at the time was, “Finally, take these three things I’m going to tell you, Fear God, Behave Well, Study Hard.”

My mother could not even complete Standard Seven and had not heard her speak English ever but here she was, uttering those three inspirational and instructional words into my brains. Yes, it stuck deep. She later laid her hands on my head and started praying for me. Whilst praying for me, she started crying and all I saw was I was also crying.

She finished praying and wiped the tears on my face. I was just 18 years then.

She left and I assured myself that I wasn’t going to disappoint my mum for bringing me this far.

Assin Foso was far from my hometown and life had just began for the little boy.

For the first three months, our allowances had not come but my mum was always sending me some small small money through Assin Foso drivers from Akyem Oda. I told her to use the money for her upkeep because I don’t miss the Dining Hall. Morning, afternoon, evening, I was always present when we could not even afford a three square me at Akyem Oda Old Town. Here I was, assured of three square meals a day!

Our first three months allowances came and it was huge! 74 cedis at the time!

After collecting it, I quickly took an exeat home and brought all the money to my mum. I wanted to take good care of my mum for all her efforts in my life. My mother cried and I also cried. She later divided the money into three and gave me one. I came back to campus.

Since that time, I made it my mind that I will always send her two-thirds of my allowances at the end of every month which I did.

On completion, I was posted to a small village in the Sefwi Wiawso district. I continued to do same with my monthly salary for my mum. After three years in the teaching field, I quit teaching because I wanted to earn more money and help my mother. I engaged in a private business, printing of Music In Words book and it was enough to help take care of my mum.

I got married at an early age, 26! And still, was taking care of my mum. Five months after getting married, I got a job at Peace FM. When news broke out at Akyem Oda that Akosua Agyeman’s son was speaking on radio, she could not hold back her tears. Yes, it was tears of joy! Only the first son or one of the first sons of Akyem Oda to be speaking on radio at the time. My mum was so proud of me. She was always being pointed at on the streets, that, this is the woman whose son has been speaking on radio. That indeed brought total joy to her that her struggle to see me at the top did not end in vain.

Only nine months after securing that job at Peace FM, my mother died at age 66. She did not leave to see the fruits of her labour. If Abatay cries at the news of a dead person today, people would not understand. Maybe there were so many untold stories and there were many things left undone. I wanted to take good care of my mother but death took her away at a time things were blossoming.

Before she passed away, my wife had delivered only two months away. I had assured her I pray the baby would be a girl so I could name her after my mum, Akosua Agyeman. Lo and behold, it was a girl and born on a Sunday as well so I named her ‘Akosua Agyeman’, after my mum. My wife delivered on December 5, 1999 and just two months after, my mother died on February 7, 2000. We had a naming ceremony on December 14, exactly two weeks after delivery and my mum was at Accra to join us in the festive occasion. It was total joy to see my mum cuddle her granddaughter named after her from her lovely child.

After the naming ceremony, we planned to do a grand outdooring on February 27. Invitation cards had been sent out already only to be informed that my mother had passed on after a short illness.

I wept like a baby because I loved my mum. I cancelled the outdooring and the rest is history.

Because she did not live long to reap her gains, I assured myself I would take good care of my first daughter the same way I would’ve taken care of my mother.

Today, my first daughter named after mum is at the University of Ghana, Legon, Level 300.

Only God knows what plans I have for her on completion.

Maame, all has not been well since you left but it has not bad either. I know you follow me every step of the way with your ‘sunsum’. People have tried to bring me down but your sunsum is always with me. We’ve not reached where we want to reach in life but with you behind me, I know we shall get there someday.

Rest well, Mummy, till we meet again someday.

I’m all tears today, but it is well. God has not disappointed me.

Abrabɔ no nnyɛɛ yie saa, but, yekurakura mu nkakrankrakra.

Adom wo wim!

Onyame mfa wo kra nsie yie, Maame!

To all fathers, please let us not leave the care of our children unto their mothers alone.

To all mothers who are single parents, keep on keeping on, push hard for your children. If they’re not able to take care of you in future, you may be placing them at a more comfortable position to be responsible adults, and what you could not do for them, they would do for their children and their children’s children.

Maame, da yie.

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