A large crowd of mourners from all walks of life thronged the forecourt of the State House in Accra yesterday, to pay their last respects to the late Mrs. Theodosia Okoh, the designer of the country’s National Flag.
The mourners, in black attire, defied early showers to catch a glimpse of the remains of the 92- year-old national icon, before the casket was finally closed and draped with the National Flag, her handiwork which catapulted her to fame.
President John Mahama had earlier paid his last respect in the morning before emplaning to Abuja, Nigeria, where he would be joined by other world leaders to witness the historic handing-over ceremony of former President Goodluck Jonathan to the incoming President, Muhammadu Buhari.
In attendance to lay wreath before the body was interred at the Osu Cemetery, were Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, the Vice President, who laid the wreaths on behalf of the people of Ghana and the government, Dr. Mrs. Sylvia Boye, for Accra Ridge Church where she fellowshipped before her demise, and Kwesi Okoh, on behalf of the children. The occasion was graced by the Police and Military bands which provided hymns and dirges.
Mr. Richard Akpokavie laid a wreath on behalf of the hockey fraternity where Mrs. Okoh devoted much of her lifetime to promote the sports to the extent that her name was immortalized when the National Hockey Pitch was named after her.
Madam Janet Esseku completed the list of laying a wreath on behalf of the Agogo Old Girls Association.
Other dignitaries who defied the rain to pay their last respects were Former President Jerry John Rawlings the wife, Nana Konadu, Atukwei Okai, a celebrated poet, Paul Afoko, National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and his General Secretary, Kwabena Agyepong, and many Akoras” (Achimota Old Students) who exhibited that aged old tradition of “goodbye” to their departed ones.
Paying the Presidential tribute, on behalf of The President, Dr. Omane Boamah, Minister of Communications, described the life of Mrs. Okoh as remarkable which, when reflected on gave a deep sense of patriotic citizen.
He said the artistic ingenuity of the lady ensured that as the British Union Jack came down on the eve of Independence Day, Ghana had her own flag to hoist for the whole world to see.
President Mahama said since then, thenational flag had provided inspiration for many African countries whose national colours after independence had mimicked the red, gold and green Ghana which adopted, especially, in sub-Saharan Africa.
He said the flag had also been a source of inspiration for Ghanaians, especially sportsmen and women when they represented the country outside the shores of Ghana.
President Mahama said it was heartwarming that Mrs. Okoh’s casket was draped with the National Flag, saying, “perhaps no single individual deserved that more than her”.
One of the officiating Ministers, Rev. Fr. Prof. G. Ankrah-Badu, who delivered the sermon based on Proverb 31, said perhaps King Lemuel was prophesising about Mrs. Okoh 3000 years ago when he spoke about virtues of his mother.
Preaching the sermon on the theme, “Theodosia, a woman of noble character,” to depict King Lemuel mother’s virtues, he described Mrs. Okoh as an icon of a woman who was God-fearing, honest, humble, hardworking and disciplined.
By Lawrence Markwei