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John Mahama’s tribute to the late Ama Benyiwa Doe

As I reflect over the life, contributions and untimely passing of our dear departed sister, one can only arrive at the conclusion that Ama Benyiwa Doe fits that biblical description in Proverbs 17:17 – “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

Aunty Ama epitomized that friend with unquestionable loyalty, and that sister who was born for adversity.
Indeed, just like that friend described in the holy bible, Ama Benyiwa Doe was loyal and devoted to her party and country, and as a sister, she never backed down in the face of any challenge, no matter how difficult it was to surmount.

Our sister, friend, and comrade Ama Benyiwa Doe’s sterling record in selfless service to our nation speaks for itself. It is evident in the various capacities she has served and distinguished herself: as a member of the PNDC under Chairman Rawlings, as a three-time Member of Parliament for the Gomoa West Constituency, a Deputy Minister, as Central Regional Minister, and in the latter years of her life in public service, as a Member of the Council of State of the Republic.

At the party level, Ama was a National Women’s Organiser and a member of our party’s Council of Elders. In every position she held, she acquitted herself admirably and stood out.

Without a doubt, she was embodiment of limitless courage, commitment and passion for service. During her days in active service in Parliament, particularly under President Rawlings, President Kufour and President Mills, she was in many cases the lone female ranger who stood out among a sea of male faces, holding her own, earning the respect of her colleague lawmakers through her contributions, and ultimately ensuring that she made an impact that would lead to positive national development.

My sister Ama and I first forged a close relationship when President Rawlings appointed me to the Ministry of Communications, while she was appointed to the Employment and Social Welfare Ministry. In those days, one needed experience and tact dealing with a tough, often uncompromising labour front and therefore effective communication was essential to prevent misunderstandings and unrests.

We, as a matter of course, got closer to each other as we frequently engaged and thought of ways of navigating our way through possible turbulence. By working together, we enjoyed many successful outcomes.

So yes, some people described her as “Ama Chavez”, because of her tough exterior, but she was also a very considerate and sensitive person at heart. She however strongly abhorred any form of discrimination, injustice or cheating. On that score, she was uncompromising.

The icon that she was, Ama was a thought leader and change maker, a gender activist and champion of women’s rights. Indeed, it would be almost impossible to document the history of women leadership in our country without including the role played by Aunty Ama. She broke the glass ceiling and blazed the trail of political leadership, thereby, paving the way for increased women participation in politics. She demonstrated that it could be done and done well.

Although not the tallest woman, Ama was larger than life and her presence was felt whenever she entered a room. Even as she aged and had the occasional illness, one always thought that just like the many challenges she had conquered, she would be restored to full health. But this was not to be.

As crushed and sorrowful as we feel following her demise, we can only be grateful to the Almighty God that He gifted us and this country a friend, a mother, sister and comrade who lived a purposeful and productive life in full service to her community, party, country and to her maker, God Almighty.

Farewell, Comrade. Farewell, legend.
May God keep you safe now till eternity.

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