Tribute To Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John) By Doreen Ofori Manukure, A Former PA At GNPC
On July 13, 2002, I received a call from a man who introduced himself as the Human Resource Manager of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC).
I had been offered a job three months after submitting my application and was to report at the office on Monday, 15th July 2002.
I got to the office around 10:30am and went straight to the Managing Director’s office.
After exchanging pleasantries with him, he called Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie (Sir John) and introduced us to each other.
He told me to follow Sir John to his office since I will be his Personal Assistant (PA). He had been employed two weeks earlier so when he requested for a PA, the mantle fell on me.
That was the first time I met Sir John who would become the best and most wonderful boss I would ever work with.
He was the only one who called me Dee instead of Doreen.
He treated everyone with love and respect, but he shared a special bond with his subordinates and work colleagues.
As the PA to the Director of Administration and Legal, I enjoyed a lot of privileges. He treated me as a daughter.
Ours was not a boss-subordinate relationship but a father-daughter relationship. He did not spare the rod to spoil the child as he scolds you when you are wrong and praise you when you deserved it.
Never did I use my money to buy food because he always ensured that I was very much okay. He always had a way of making one feel special.
He was all over the place making everyone laugh so we always looked forward to going to work because you would not know what you would be missing.
If generosity were a person, it would have been called Sir John. He was always sharing money to people to the extent of going broke.
He was always borrowing money from us to give to people because as usual he had given out all the money in his wallet.
It was always a joy to lend him money because you are sure of receiving three times the amount you gave him.
Sir John will only look at your face and decipher that you have a problem. He will be like ‘Girl you are HIPIC, come for some money to make you happy’.
He always returned from his trips with gifts in hand for everyone. His office was like a consulting room with people trooping in and out with one problem or the other.
They always came out with smiling faces for their problems were solved.
There are so many instances he went out of his way to help people. I remember I had to attend a funeral at Kumasi but did not want to sleep in a hotel.
gave him a call and although he was in Accra at that time, he gave me directions to his house at Danyame and told his caretaker to make me feel comfortable by giving me his (Sir John) room.
He had resigned from GNPC and he was practicing his profession in Kumasi, but we still kept the relationship. He gave me money anytime I saw him.
This is the kind of man who is no more, who is lying very cold in the morgue and who cannot hear all the good things we are saying, writing and singing about him.
How can I forget about your knowledge of the bible and how you use stories in the bible to prove a point?
You were a proud Seventh Day Adventist and you told everyone who cared to know about it.
You made me understood a lot of SDA songs through your singing.
Sir John had his flaws because he was a human being. He always told me that he did not actually leave London because of GNPC but because of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). He loved the NPP to a fault and was so passionate about it.
I was not surprised when he was always defending the NPP with all his strength and finally becoming the Party’s General Secretary.
He was very tolerant, and I witnessed uncountable times some NDC members came to him including Aunty Ama Benyiwa Doe. I asked him why he entertained her when she always insulted him when they clashed on radio.
He told me it was clash of ideologies and that they were not enemies. I met a lot of his Lawyer friends who equally had good sense of humor like him.
He did not hesitate to introduce me to anyone who visited him in the office. He would say ‘meet Dee my PA, I do everything she tells me to including seeing you so you must accord her the needed respect else she will not let you see me’.
He challenged me to go back to school which I did. When he visited GNPC after being made the Chief Executive Office of Forestry Commission, I was the first person he asked of.
He sent about three people to look for me. He told us to be happy because our father, the president is in charge.
You looked like you were aging backwards because nothing had changed about you. I cannot stop the tears Sir John!
On that particular day, 1st July 2020 I had posted on my facebook wall that July was a perfect month, so I pray that everything be made perfect in our lives.
It was my birth month and was so happy about it. I did not know that, later that night the news of your demise will be all over.
The news of your death left me in a confused state, and I have still not been able to overcome it.
People kept calling and sending messages to me because they knew you even before you became a household name because I always talked about you.
Sir John, we had a lot of unfinished business.
You have left too early.
You have left a lot of people shattered.
You have left us in a confused state.
How could you do this to us?
Why do you have to leave now?
We try to be strong, but it is not easy.
A good man never dies.
Sir John you were a good man.
Your legacy still lives on.
Agya, as your ‘girls’ in the office used to call you because you were a father to us, I will miss you.
My memories of you keep me strong.
Eeei Awurade! Ewiase ben nie?
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, damirifa due, due ne amanehunu!
Sir John, nante yie
Agya Pa, da yie.
Till we meet again.
May your generous soul rest in peace.
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