Exactly eight years ago, 21st July 2012, was the birthday of the late President, Prof. John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills. The day was a Saturday. The previous day, Friday, 20th July, the Council of State, of which I was a member, had met and appended our signatures to a birthday card to be sent to him. Because I also served as his chaplain and saw him almost every day, I was sent with the card as the post master to deliver it to him.
Prior to that, he had invited me to his office the Thursday, 19th July to plan for a Thanksgiving service for his birthday on Sunday 22nd July, a day after his birthday. He told me he had been reliably informed of an outdoor worship service that was being planned by some people for the Sunday, but he wanted me to keep it simple and nothing unusual. He asked that the service should take place at the chapel from where we had our regular Sunday services in the Castle; which was then the seat of government. He insisted however, that, his Presiding Bishop, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana, The Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Kwaku Asante, delivers the sermon. I promised to do as he had instructed; we prayed and I left.
Saturday, 21st July, in the company of my wife, I sent the birthday card from the Council of State to him. I met him seated on his usual chair were he sat in his bedroom when we had our morning devotions every morning of the week – Monday to Friday. He was there in the company of some family members; I dropped off the card as a good post master; wished him a happy birthday; prayed for him and left for Grace Baptist church, Sakumonu where I was scheduled to preach at a wedding.
On Sunday, 22nd July, I was told, the late President left his residence for the Castle in a very high spirit, excited about the Thanksgiving service for his birthday he was attending at the chapel. But somehow, when it was time for the service, he did not show up. He however directed that after the service, those who attended the service should come upstairs shake his hand and wish him a happy birthday instead. He also requested to meet with Ministers and Government officials who were at the service. At the meeting, he fervently thanked them for their support during the time that he had served as President and wanted them to know that he was grateful for their support. After a few pleasantries, he left for his residence.
That Sunday was the last day of setting my eyes on the late President alive; someone who had been my friend from the day our paths crossed at the Legon Interdenominational Church ( LIC) some twenty-four years ago.
May his beautiful soul rest in perfect peace. He was indeed, a father to the nation. As today, 21st July 2020, would have been his 76th birthday, we fondly remember him and his stand for peace as Asomdwehene of Ghana politics. Till we meet again, sleep well, my friend, brother and late President.