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Give me my flowers when I can still smell them

Funerals permitting, I start my Saturday mornings resting peacefully with my radio.

Joy FM’s “Home Affairs” which starts soon after the 6 a.m. news dovetails into the Weekend City Show around 7.30a.m. and then crosses-over into Newsfile at 9 a.m.

While the first discusses family issues and relationships, the third discusses serious current affairs on national issues.

However, the “Weekend City Show” (WCS) is a comedy show designed to make listeners laugh and in the process hopefully, bring down unruly high blood pressures to the 120/80 doctors demand of us.

On Saturday, September 17, 2022, one of the quotes which came up during the humorous “Weekend City Show” programme was: “Give me my flowers while I can still smell them!”

Before delving into what the quote means, what is “Weekend City Show” about?

Show

As stated, this is a Saturday morning comedy show. Hosted by Sammy Forson, it involves two actors, Joseph Langabel of Black Stars Cheering Squad fame and Reuben Adarkwa of Dome-Kwabenya fame.

Joining the cast himself, Sammy Forson humorously leads this trio as an “agent-provocateur” to entertain listeners.

They call themselves “weekend doctors” who heal listeners of their ailments by making them laugh during their comedy show.

After Langabel and Reuben had taken listeners to the moon and back by trying to explain the quote “Give me my flowers when I can still smell them,” Sammy Forson explained what the quote meant.

In the words of the American rapper Kanye West, it means “if you admire somebody, you should go ahead and tell them.”

Simply put, if you admire someone for any positive reason, make the person aware of it by praising him or her while alive.

Do not wait till after their death before showering them with praises.

Flowers

Said to have started in ancient Graeco-Roman times over 2000 years ago, the physical act of giving flowers is a form of expression to show others one’s appreciation, love and gratitude for their good deeds.

The use of the quote took me down memory lane.

Bob Cole

At a Saturday night “dance” in an Accra nightclub in the 1970’s, Ghana’s ace comedian/musician Bob Cole, who was going through difficult times financially, made a passionate appeal to the revelers that those who appreciated him should show their love to him while he was still alive.

He added that flowery praises, huge expenditures on a grand funeral to honour him after his death would serve no purpose as he lay motionless in his casket unable to appreciate goings-on.

In effect, “Give me my flowers while I can still smell them!”

Bob Cole’s situation resonates with that of many Ghanaian oldies who live in penury and die miserably.

However, on their death, their children living abroad jet in to give them grand “befitting funerals” at which money is splashed about rather obscenely!

The question often asked is, if such children had that much money, why did they not take good care of their parents?

Friend’s quip

Congratulating a friend on his book launch some years ago, a lady quipped saying humorously in Twi, “Daakye w’ayie ase beye fe paa!” to wit “someday, your funeral will be a beautiful/grand one.”

Asked why that unusual way of congratulating him, she simply answered, the number of people there and the goodwill and love shown were testimony to what people thought and felt about him.

To her, he had been given his flowers while he could still smell them, living.

Abraham Lincoln

The 16th President of the United States, who was assassinated in 1865 for abolishing the slave trade, Abraham Lincoln said, “A nation that does not honour its heroes will not long endure.”

Over time, it has been modified though with the same import to, “a nation that does not honour its heroes, is not worth dying for!”

Has Ghana honoured our deserving heroes?

In September 2001, Zimbabwe’s Centre for Peace Initiatives in Africa (CPIA), honoured the first African United Nations Force Commander, Ghana’s General E.A Erskine by naming a Centre after him called the “General Erskine Research and Documentation Centre” (GERDC.)

With his death in 2021, hopefully a monument will be named after him posthumously.

However, there is a waiting opportunity to honour Ghana’s second UN Force Commander and former Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), General Seth Obeng, while he is alive.

While there certainly are others, I have restricted myself only to the institution I know well, the military.

As Bob Cole said, multitudinous platitudes heaped during thanksgiving services mean nothing to the deceased as they lie stiff in the “chop-box” as a little boy called his grandfather’s casket!

While they are alive, let us give deserving individuals the recognition, praise and honour for their contributions to Ghana or humanity and also to encourage the younger generation to make sacrifices, in the words,

“Give me my flowers while I can still smell them.”

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO, African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya & Council Chairman, Family Health University College, Accra..

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