The final funeral rites of the late General Manager of The Multimedia Group’s Joy Brands, Elvis Koku Kwashie, took place at the forecourt of the State House in Accra on Saturday.
He died at the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC) on December 28, 2021 after a short illness and left behind a wife and three children.
His remains were sent to his hometown Asadame in the Volta Region.
There were tributes from ex-President John Dramani Mahama, Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Former Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, Sammy Awuku, Perry Okudzeto, Matilda Asante and several of his colleague journalists among many others.
Elvis Kwashie, was a seasoned professional with more than two decades of experience in media and communications, spanning print, online, radio and television.
Before rejoining the Group in 2010 as News Editor, Elvis worked with Metropolitan Life Insurance Ghana as the Head of Corporate Marketing & Communications.
Before that, he worked mainly as a journalist with the Multimedia Group Limited, Network Herald and Groove FM.
He had rich experience in recruiting, grooming, coaching and supervising reporters and correspondents across the country. Under his strong leadership, JoyNews has won more than 100 awards in the last 10 years, including two CNN African Journalist of the Year awards.
Having secured his journalism training at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, Mr Kwashie, also pursued further studies, acquiring a certificate in Multimedia & Online Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism, Berlin-Germany.
While at MGL, Elvis Kwashie, undertook courses in leadership at Harvard University in the United States.
His mother, Mercy Adzo Torkornu-Bonuedie, expressed enormous sadness over the loss of her son.
In a touching tribute read on her behalf, Madam Torkornu-Bonuedie, thought her firstborn would be the one to read her tribute when God calls her to eternal glory and not the other way round.
“Why should l stand here today reading your tribute when I was of the view that you will gallantly stand beside my coffin to read mine. Koku, l am short of words.”
According to the mother, being her firstborn, Fo Koku, as he is called at home, “had all the love and care of his late grandmother”.
Acknowledging her ill-health, Mrs Torkornu-Bonuedie, reminisced about how her late son was a source of encouragement to her, keeping her fit all this while.
Eulogising her 49-year-old son, she said Elvis’ passing has “broken down my human wall, but my hope is in the Lord that you are not dead; but rather gone to rest in the bosom of our father, Abraham.”
Former President John Mahama, eulogised for his outstanding contribution to the media in the country.
Mr Mahama, says the work ethics of the late media professional, earned him respect amongst his supervisors, adding that “Elvis was a young budding journalist who wielded enormous promise.”
In a tribute read on his behalf by Dr Omane Boamah, Mr Mahama, stated that “Elvis was a good person and his days with the Multimedia Group showcased his professional journalistic trait.”
“He was a classic example of how to play the gate-keeping role as a media person. Elvis Koku Kwashie was one of the people with exceptionally admirable and applaudable personality traits.”
“Elvis was quiet, courteous, unassuming, hardworking, firm and professional. Above all, he was ready to learn. He excelled in ways that will surprise many a radio and television listener because he was not a dominant voice you either heard on radio or saw on television,” Mahama observed.
The 2020 National Democratic Congress (NDC) flagbearer, recounted some fond memories of late Elvis Kwashie, describing his passing as sad.
“I first met him when I served our dear nation as a Member of Parliament and a Deputy Minister for Communications. We will interact more when he covered Parliament and I was at the front bench of the then Minority.”
“Elvis carved an unshakable niche for himself and perfected the art and science when given the opportunity. Thus, I was not surprised when Elvis Kwashie quickly and deservedly rose through the ranks to become the General Manager of Joy Brands,” he noted.
The NDC leader, further commiserated and prayed for guidance for his wife and children and the media conglomerate in this difficult moment.
“I visited him during his challenging moments at the University of Ghana Medical Centre when he was hospitalised. I am inconsolably sad Elvis was unable to pull through [but] I thank the Almighty God for the gift of his life which was well-lived.
“My heart goes out to his wife, Cynthia, their children, his mum and family, The Multimedia Group and all grieving journalists.”
Dr Omane Boamah, in his personal tribute acknowledged his 19-year friendship with Elvis gave him first-hand experience of the professionalism and calm with which Elvis carried himself.
Dr Omane Boamah, added that transparency was one of his hallmarks, both as an individual and in his professional work.
“I was at Elvis’ bed side the very first night he was admitted to the University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC).
“He was expected to be discharged to continue treatment at home in due course, then, a subsequent visit and further follow-ups showed that his condition changed, worsened and eventually passed on to eternity.
Elvis was a good man. A very good man, I must add. As an avowed devotee of Jesus Christ, he represented the very essence of goodness.
He was very transparent – even when he was wide awake in the hospital, he voluntarily handed over his phone to his lovely wife, Cynthia, not fearing any calls will come in. This is uncommon in many homes today”, Dr Omane Boamah emphasised in his tribute.
In eulogising his good friend, the former minister of state also stressed the good working relationship he had with Elvis, despite occasional disagreements, which he said did not lead to any feisty exchanges between them.
Dr Omane Boamah’s tribute adds to the tons of many others from many individuals who extolled the character and personality of the late Elvis Kwashie.
His children; Seyram Kwashie, Sedem Kwashie and Senam Ama Kwashie, said they had prayed fervently to God Almighty to heal their father who had been unwell for some time. They said not a single day passed without hearing Mr Kwashie complain of headaches and aches in all other parts of his body.
Their prayer was to see Elvis Kwashie bounce back to good health, going about his day-to-day activities.
But that was not the case, Seyram Kwashie said. She stated that God answered their prayer by ending the pain their father went through by seeing to his eternal repose.
“We are still in shock and in denial about your departure, but what can we say? We all love you very dearly but we could not do anything about your terrible headaches. But the one who loves you far more than we could ever love you has taken you away from your suffering. We asked God to heal you without a trace of whatever sickness you were suffering from and He answered our prayers but just not in a way we all expected. How can our Koku become just a memory….? Your girlfriend, Seyram, your photocopy Sedem and your little princess, Senam.”
Seyram described Elvis Kwashie as a mentor, best friend, playmate, problem solver and boss.
In his tribute, Sedem pledged to make his father proud as Mr Kwashie used to tell him “You are my only boy and you will make me proud, amidst your reminder for me to be courageous.”
Senam Ama Kwashie, recounted how her dad used to ensure that she was well taken care of at all times.
“I miss how you used to take me to school every morning and how we always used to do devotion in the car, I miss when you used to take me out for breakfast before taking me to school, I miss when you used to tease me about my nose, when you used to tell me about how big it would become if I didn’t stop rubbing it, and how it’ll be shaped like that of a pig, I missed when you used to call me young adult but now there is no one to call me that.”
For this reason, she said, “we’ve all missed you dearly, we will really miss you.”
“Not a single day passes without you complaining of headaches and aches in all other parts of your body,” his daughter Seyram Kwashie’s tribute reads.
“You told God to give you your miracle. Koku is this the miracle?” his wife, Cynthia’s words helped create a sense of Elvis’ desperate need, his hoping against hope, a certain mental concession that his troops, his body was laying down the tools, much to his own surprise.
“We are happy not because you left us but because we couldn’t bear the sight of your suffering,” Seyram confessed, finding relief in her father’s surrender.
“His great concern was his children,” a friend who became family, Kofi Ansah, former Joy FM Programmes Manager said. Kofi had spent as much as five hours by his bedside to store those precious last words, those final expressions of a dying man’s arching desires.
His work, The Multimedia Group family abandoned the beehive of Kokomlemle, almost completely in a way that perhaps has never been seen before.
Elvis’ faith was there at the funeral. His Christian denomination, The Church of Pentecost, where Elvis was an elder, camped under the canopies to pay their last respect as captured in their tribute. Elvis raised journalists, but he also raised pastors, elders, a choir, and raised funds and faith.
“Many people have become better committed Christians and leaders through his impactful and exemplary leadership,” the church eulogised.
The sermon was an invitation for all of us to confront the reality of death. The pastor ripped into death, calling it an enemy that destroys marriages, changes the direction of children who without their fathers become prone to vagabondism.
His preaching was forceful in English but fiery in Ewe when he changed to speak his dialect intermittently. The Ewe drew stronger responses of approval from his audience.
But when he asked “Who will follow Koku?” the crowd, despite a great love for Elvis, maintained a silence.
As he lampooned death and how it disturbs family structures, dark clouds lurked over the red-and-black canopies, threatening to push the programme into some sort of injury time.
And as the sermon went on, Madam Mercy Bonuedie, his wheelchaired mother, gazed at Elvis in the coffin like how she had gazed at Elvis in a cot when he was born at Asadame in the Volta Region.
“The birth of Koku brought so much joy to me and my family as the first child of the family,” her tribute read.
“Why should I stand here today, reading your tribute when I was of the view that you will gallantly stand beside my coffin to read mine?”
There were tributes from others;colleague journalists, friends and well-wishers
- “Koku you are undoubtedly one of the “cleanest”, thoughtful yet tough and principled human beings with good morals that I have come across in this life. Death may have taken your body, but death cannot take you from my heart,” says Randy Koku Donor, a life-long friend of the late Elvis Kwashie.
- “I have lost a great friend, my confidant, a business partner and a role model. You epitomized who a human being is. I will never forget you and what you stood for. You lived an exemplary life that pleased men and God. You were gentle, calm, caring, intelligent and hardworking,” tribute by Mrs Linda Kotey.
- “You, Elvis are irreplaceable to your wife, children, family, friends, colleagues and the Multimedia Group; all of whom my thoughts remain with at this difficult time,” former colleague of Elvis, Dzifa Bampoh.
- “You are a good man Efo! Stories about Angels abound but you are indeed an angel.” God bless and Keep your gentle soul,” JoyNews’ anchor, Emefa Apawu judged her late Manager.
- “Elvis in fact you taught me how to use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them and treat others with the same kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves and that we can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures,” tribute by Frank Dotse Awudi stated.
- “Yours was a different kind of leadership. You were a father, a friend, and a big brother rolled into one,” JoyNews Assisting Editor, Araba ‘Rabs’ Koomson eulogised her late boss.
- “For the decade that I’d known you, you were a dependable person that a lot of us could count on any day. You were a deep well, filled with care, love, and affection that many drew from. You had time for everybody. And that was exemplified by how there was almost always people waiting outside your office to see you; the young and old; guests and staff; managers and interns,” JoyNews’ Joseph Gakpo.
- “Elvis was a remarkable human being – he was adept, really firm, fair, and a good listener who sought balance for stories, in my case, political stories. I engaged him mostly on assignments and stories that Joy FM and other Multimedia platforms carried especially in the heat of our campaigns,” Deputy CEO of National Petroleum Authority, Curtis Perry Okudzeto.
- “Elvis was one of the neatest guys I have ever worked with. He was stern and disciplinarian. He possessed great leadership skills among other qualities words can’t describe. He was never greedy. He was content with the little you shared with him and thanked you profusely as though his very being depended on it although he could afford many times what you had shared with him,” Larry Dogbey, Managing Editor of The Herald Newspaper.