Usually, it is the death of a very close blood relative that invokes in most men a deep sense of loss and grief. But Libanius, the ancient Greek rhetorician, in his funeral oration upon his sovereign and friend, the Roman Emperor Julian, had helped put in the appropriate words on an occasion such as this, which invokes mourning over the loss a friend and a brother, whose unique life, helped defined his journey on earth Hear Libarnius:
O thou that dost fill but a little spot of earth by thy tomb, but the whole inhabited world with admiration…. O thou that art more to be regretted by fathers than their own lost sons, by sons than their own fathers, by brothers than their own brethren.
Since 2011, at the end of the year, my final piece before we go on break has always being titled, “Why I am Grateful For…….), you can fill in the years, since 2011.
This year unfortunately, I have to end it, with a tribute to a friend, a brother, whose passing left a big vacuum in our lives.
Despite the uncomforting title of this piece, I know that the greatest gift God gave to us, was getting to have a brother and a friend like Philip
Yao Dogbey (Prof), so for all the pains his death, have caused us, I am grateful for knowing him.
Prof. was a man of many epithets; he gave everybody who came in contact with him, a lot of who he was, he does not believe in tokenism, he shares without holding back, that was the kind of person he was.
Prof loved life, he lived as if they was no tomorrow, he appreciated the essence of life and was able to make the best of his short sojourn on earth.
Words cannot express the shock I had on hearing the news about your sudden demise. It is difficult to believe, but to the glory of God, we owe your entire life.
Prof, when I last spoke with you few days before your passing, little did I know that, it was the last time I will be hearing from you. Prof! If life is to be a transaction, we will offer to buy and elongate your life once more, but then, death is beyond man.
All of us at The Herald will really miss you! It is no longer fun, writing your last words about people, you have shared a lot with, getting to do it every year, with a heavy heart is not the life I longed for and wish, but who am I, we are all like pencil in the hands of the creator.
Your last words that will leave with me forever was, when you asked me to pray for you to get well, in fact it was your last Friday and I was actually on my way to the mosque to observe the Jummah prayers, only Allah knew what I told him, but as it is said, his ways are not our ways, he knows best brother, and I know you are having eternal rest.
This is in fact one of the most difficult tribute I ever had to write, I could not control the tears, alone in my room with my thoughts, the thought that, you are gone forever, is simply unacceptable.
Prof. you shared what you had, you lived like they was no tomorrow, when I am hungry, you are hungry, you never came to the office without bringing something to share, because I was your Kotokoli brother, Kola nut, never passes me.
The table in my living room which have become my study desk , was done by you, it was your handy work, a testament to your many talent.
You will encourage and scold us, we sometimes had our quarrels, heated arguments sometimes, but like brothers, we pat each other on the back, we smile and we forget it ever happened.
Despite the fact that, you were way older than me, you called me ‘Boss’. You thought me humility, love and kindness.
Many people did not understand you, me inclusive, we thought you were difficult to deal with, but over the years, I learnt to understand you, you do not countenance injustice.
You spoke your mind, no matter the consequence, you hold no grudge, when something is bothering you, you do not mince words, you say it as it is, and shame the devil, as we say.
Last December at our last meeting, you made peace with all of us, that was your parting gift or your way of telling us, you will not be with us next year (2016). You asked for forgiveness from any one you had offended, you told us, you would turn a new leaf. We all laughed over it, with the usual shout of ‘Prof Prof’.
When you took ill, I prayed for your speedy recovery, we all did, never a day passes without us discussing you in the office or Accra Newtown with the guys, when we go there to print the paper, and how much we miss you, we were all looking forward to your return.
The question we kept asking ourselves day after day is, when will Prof be back, little did we know that, when you left Accra for home, that was the beginning of your journey to meet your maker.
You have left a bigger part of yourself than what you are taking away with you. If you were a politician, I will say you were the voice of the voiceless and the emperor of the suffering masses. What took some of us weeks to say, you will say in a minute, without batting an eye lid.
You thought us to be courageous, I sometimes wonder what you were made of, whether steal or sand, the only one Prof I know, who will scold and pamper at the same time.
You know I had lots of questions to ask you, if only you are in a position to provide answers, chief among them is, why you left us so soon?
A journey that begun happily has ended with tears, you have left all of us devastated. We will forever miss you, till we meet again, we cherish the moments, you spent with us.
The vacuum your death has created is so wide that I do not know how and who can fill it. However, we take solace in the fact that, you shared what little life you had with us.
We promise you, we will make you proud, we will carry on from where you left of, we will achieve realize your dreams for you, we will make The Herald big, it will be among the best newspapers in the country, until we ourselves breathe our last.
I would like to end my tribute by saying something to Prof. as I never got a chance to say goodbye to him before he parted from this world:
RIP Prof. we love you and will always love you and will never forget you. You were a true example to us. Prof, you were our best friend, and we always looked at you as our senior brother even though you always humbled yourself to call all of us your boss.
My heart bleeds now that you are gone, and words cannot express how I am feeling right now. From knowing you personally, I know you are in heaven right now. May your soul rest in peace”.
Goodbye, dear friend and brother.