Like a comet blazing across the evening sky,
he was gone before we could gather our thoughts;
Like a rainbow fading into the twilight,
he disappeared before we could blink an eye;
Like a star shining and sparkling, we lost him
before his splendid light shone brightly on the horizon.
He was just here shining and sparkling in thoughts
But before our eyes he was gone like sunlight
On a cloudy afternoon.
We all know we will die one day, but it is this unquestionable cruelty of nature, to cut off an innocent blossoming flower just when it has just started to flourish without any rain or dew from anywhere, makes us to question those up in the blue clouds “What were you thinking; what do you want to say, and what do you want us to make out of Prosper Tsikata’s death? Was he born to amuse, to inspire, to delight just for a second, and then leave without a goodbye or a trace? Or he was created to be like the sunset that dies with the rising of the moon?
From childhood, Prosper Yao Tsikata was a self-starter, who eked with his mother to go through school, and mortgaged every human joy on his road to excellence to become self-made. Those who knew him from childhood to age know the bee-hives he fought through and survived with scars, the aches and pains, the bitter limes and brambles he nursed in his soul all these years. All these experiences made him to build a stoic character, not giving room to chances. He was therefore a serious and disciplined man, though he never resisted the opportunity to have a laugh with friends and loved ones, given half the chance.
From Anlo Secondary School to his life at Ada Teacher Training College, through to Cape Coast University, Prosper Tsikata saw a world ravaged by pain, greed, deceit, inhumanity, and an uncertain world oblivious to humaneness even in filial relationships. On his return from London, after a brief stay, his experience with betrayals understandably influenced his views on the world in which we live and he himself grew up in. In the end, he became who he was based on things that impacted him from the world of his own and the world of adaptations. Even to the point of cruelty, Prosper Yao Tsikata was the true son of the land, whose vision of our world choked the greed and avarice that many embrace. To them that hate his affront of abuses in society, he became an outcast who did not deserve our tears. But to those he redeemed and taught to be upright and true to humanity, he will forever enjoy ululations yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Prosper Yao Tsikata lived his life as an intellectual, and believed in duty, decency, reliability, honor, dignity, respect: these are all qualities that he not only cherished and held in high esteem, but also practiced every day during his time on this earth. They will call and appellate his name at every worship of the ancestors and on every altar of human conscience he will remain indelible. By his death, a vacuum has been created in the society. What shall we put in his place? To every society he has become the intellectual foundation stone for every youth struggling to achieve greatness; he has become a role model of those speaking to truth, and to our world a voice that confronts the decaying structures of the land.
Indeed, parents are not supposed to bury their children, but it is unfortunate that the mother of Prosper Yao Tsikata is now obliged to identify the son and live with the shock, and watch in disbelief and grief when she sees the face of her beloved child in the casket.
What will Maimuna tell the children when they wake up and asked about their father? It’s difficult to imagine him not being around and no one is sure of how the family will cope with his absence. In life, his joviality and good nature attracted the children the moment he walked into the house, and no one can ever forget his showy and contagious laughs.
To the Valdosta State University, students, faculty and staff, a beloved professor had unexpectedly passed away. In the academic arena, Dr. Tsikata was revered as an excellent professor and a brilliant man. His fearlessness, his adeptness, his devotion to student success is unqualified, and he will remain in their hearts forever. As the son of Ghana, he is that bold individual, who lifted the lid over a canker that was biting deeply into every fiber of not only the Ghanaian intellectual community, but that of the entire Africa. His ambition was to speak of a new Ghana, to see education become more honorable and revered than bread and butter.
In this world, we are born fighters, where birth marks a beginning, the tombstone a destination. Between them— the quiet whispers of our souls cached like a secret note on a quiet journey. And when we finally surrender whatever it was that we had chased on this earth, our pain distills all suffering into purity. Removed from this ecstatic struggle we step through the soul’s quixotic looking glass where our body’s chaff separates from the soul’s grain. It is then and there that we feel the comfort of letting go into God’s warm heart, God’s gift to us— of peace, of oneness, of harmony that is not grasped until in death.
Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata was a fierce fighter—an Admiral in the Army of Truth and Justice.
He was born a gentleman—well-mannered and polite, but always quick with witty remarks.
Though gone too soon from earth, his works will remind us always that all the elements of nature are all well mixed in him that we can say unequivocally that: Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata was a man with wit and integrity and it will take the earth years to give birth to such a man again.
Dr. Prosper Yao Tsikata, Xede nyuie. May you rest in peace now and forever.
BY A FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE, PROF. PADMORE AGBEMABIESE
(The writer is Professor Padmore Agbemabiese, a former teacher of Dr. Tsikata and a close friend).