Alomele (left) and Mr. Kofi Asuman in happier days.
Life at times is very interesting; it is full of uncertainties and challenges. It is never a straight route – full of hills, curves, bumps and potholes. But death ends it all.
Yes, life is full of uncertainties and uncountable challenges but death puts everything to rest. My Editor, and my friend, Merari Alomele, popularly referred to as Alor, today rests; after all the curves, frustrations, challenges and uncertainties.
I never thought Alor would leave us so soon, though we were aware that he was not well. That illness, we never imagined, was going to end everything now.
Alor was indeed, a very good friend and a dependable colleague. I had known him way back in the 1980’s at the University of Ghana, when we were undergraduate students, at the Mensah Sarbah Hall.
While he was at E-Block, I was at C-Block. His room was not far from that of Kweku Ofosu Asare, my senior in Secondary School, and anytime I went to Kwaku, I saw Alor in the corridor, and we exchanged greetings.
Again, we all read Political Science with Sociology. Even though he was one year ahead of me, we did some electives together and we used to meet at the department, the lecture hall and the library.
In May 2007, when I took up the headship of New Times Corporation, Alor, then the Literary Editor of the Spectator, was on sick leave. However, he managed to call me and introduce himself. He assured me he would be coming to work in a few weeks and would see me then.
Two weeks after that telephone conversation, he resumed duty and came to my office. The moment he set eyes on me, he said: “MD, I know you from Legon.” I replied: “I know you too”. That meeting was the beginning of a good and solid relationship between us.
We became so close that in the evenings, after a hard day’s work, I would go to his office for a chat. The visits became so regular that whenever I was not in my office during the evenings, my Secretary would direct people who wanted to see me, to Alor’s office.
We shared ideas about our future, vis-à-vis the future of this dear country. He once requested me to write an article for publication, on how politics was affecting every sphere of our national life.
For him, the negative side of politics was very bad for the development of the country.
Our conversations were ‘deep’ and touched on many aspects of life. I remember advising him to change a particular aspect of his life; and his response was that he could stop everything except that particular one. It was too deep under his skin (unfortunately I can’t share that secret with readers). But well, that didn’t kill him.
Alor became my official teacher and proof-reader. Whenever I wrote any article, he was the first person to get a copy to look at, and critique it before handing it over to our Features Editor to finally work on it.
During working hours, whenever he was informed by his loyal Secretary, Esther, that I was there to see him, he would call out “Opanin, come, come, come”. He would then usher me into his office and the conversations and jokes would begin.
Hardly did I go to his office to find him sitting idle. His head was always buried in scripts or drafts. When I advised him to allow his subordinates to do part of the work, he told me that he had set certain standards which he wanted to maintain, at least for now.
One morning, I saw him walking into his office after parking his car and realised that he could not walk properly. I suspected my brother was not well. A little while after, when I thought he had settled in his office, I went to him, wanting to know what was wrong.
He admitted he wasn’t well. I asked him to immediately take casual leave and attend to his health but he, rather, pleaded with me to allow him to stay and complete the day’s work before going to see the doctor.
In the evening, loyal Esther brought the casual leave form to me for approval. Two weeks was all that he asked for. Before I left for the house, I went to see him and assured him of our prayers during the period of his medical treatment.
Little did I know, that was going to be our last interaction in the office. A few days later, I was told by Esther that Alor was on admission at the Cocoa Clinic. Quickly, I called his cell phone and he assured me he was responding to treatment. Two days later I went to the Cocoa Clinic but was told he had been discharged.
As usual, I called his cell phone and he told me that he was in the house, but the doctors had asked him not to talk too much. So, I even advised him to switch off the phone entirely or give it to his wife to receive the calls.
The next day, June 29, 2011, I called again but the phone was unanswered. In the morning of June 30, I called, but this time, the call did not go through. About 3pm, I was in my office when Mr. Charles Neequaye, Acting Editor of the “Ghanaian Times”, in a very sorrowful mood, came to inform me that Alor was no more.
That was a huge blow to me and to the staff of NTC. Well wishers from all walks of life and especially readers of Sikaman Palaver, Alor’s popular column in the Spectator, are affected as well. They have visited us individually and in their numbers to express their condolences. We are grateful to them.
Alor, you have left too early. You and I agreed that from September, this year (which begins today), the Spectator was going to see a massive transformation. Unfortunately, this could not materialise; all your laudable ideas are now beyond the reach of NTC.
I will always remember you, my Editor and friend, for your timely assistance when I needed somebody to bail me at the Economic and Organized Crime Office (formerly SFO).
Also, I will always remember that you stopped your busy schedule to follow me to the Kaneshie Police Station when a dismissed staff wrongly reported that I had assaulted him. And of course, I will never forget the wines and pens you gave me from time to time.
Because of your good works, although we will never see you in physical form again, we shall always remember you. Sincerely, I believe that one day we would meet somewhere. That will be Heaven.
My Brother, Rest in Perfect Peace.
The writer is the Managing Director of New Times Corporation.