Stampede At Santo's Funeral
The Nigerian Voice gives daily news updates of the country Nigeria INTERMITTENT HEAVY rains could not diminish the strong desire of thousands of people from all walks of life to witness the final journey of the ace comedian-cum-actor, Bob Santo, to the grave at his hometown, Akyem Awisa, about 5 kilometres from Akyem Oda in the Eastern region.
Santo, otherwise known as John Evans Bosompem, died on May 30, this year, at the age of 62. Prior to the funeral at his hometown, hardened criminals had disrupted the public wake-keeping at the Arts Centre in Accra on Friday night by raiding the place and stealing every valuable thing that they could lay hands on.
The criminals stole mourners’ mobile phones, necklaces and money. They were rushing to remove all the valuable items used to dress the corpse when the few soldiers and policemen available professionally intervened for Santo’s corpse to be whisked away, thus bringing the wake-keeping to an abrupt end, three hours before the close of the function. At Awisa, the crowd could not be controlled either, even with the persistent rains as various concert parties, prominent actors and actresses, musicians and all those who mattered in the arts industry, descended on the Awisa Methodist junior secondary school park, the funeral grounds.
The grassy turf, turned “grassless” but muddy from thousands of dancing and stampeding feet by mostly people who have travelled from the surrounding areas to catch a glimpse of some prominent concert stars and musicians who have been appearing on TV, but whom they have not seen physically. Two-and-half feet tall Adjoa Smart stole the show of the funeral as her unusually diminutive stature made her the biggest attraction. As soon as Adjoa Smart in the company of Bob Smith, a popular film actor and producer, and Prince Yawson, alias “Waakye”, also an actor, arrived at the funeral grounds, hell broke loose. There was spontaneous joy, laughter and prolonged applause to greet Adjoa Smart’s arrival and wherever she went, scores of people trooped behind her to admire her until somebody suggested that she should be sent away completely to avoid those curious eyes. The Minister of Finance, Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, who is a cousin and classmate to Bob Santo read a moving life history of the late Santo.
He mentioned that Bob Santo was very versatile, intelligent as well as cunning. “Santo could do almost everything from bicycle to crab catching”, he observed. According to Mr Osafo-Maafo, Santo displayed his prowess as “concert man” at a very tender age and entertained the children at Awisa in the evenings after school. Such entertainments, he said attracted a finger of plantain or tuber of cassava as gate fees. “Though one of the smallest in class, Santo could beat most of the people in the class during fights, but used his apparent strength to protect the weak. He was exceptionally jovial and his jokes were apt”, he said. He noted that even though Santo did not have long education, he was able to nurture his God-given talent to become a very important figure in society. From 1972 to 1998, Bob-Santo joined various concert group, including Akompi Guitar Band, F. Kenya’s Band and the African Brothers Band of Nana Ampadu as singer and a comedian. He has also featured in 10 local films.
Tributes were read by concert parties union, Video and Film Distributors Association of Ghana (VIFDAG), the president of the Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA), children and widows. One group that Santo made name with is a TV series, “Efiawura”, being shown on TV3 on Thursday evenings. He was the principal character in the serial “Efiewura” meaning “landlord”. Speaking to the Daily Guide, Mr Emmanuel Donkor, alias Katawire, who has taken over the role of Santo since his death, described Santo as a very good friend through whose instrumentality he was invited to join the group. He noted that he was very distraught about the demise of Santo, but asserted that he believed he could well fit into his shoes as the lead character in the TV series. Another actress of the group who was Santo’s ‘girlfriend’ in the TV series, Ms Helena Atta-Hughes, also expressed her deep sorrow about the death of Santo and described him as a lovely and easy-going man.
The group expressed the hope that “Efiewura” will grow from strength to strength, even with the demise of Santo.
Prominent comedians, concert artists and musicians who were present at the funeral included Bob Okalla, Agya Koo, Iced Water, Maame Dokono, Adjoa Smart, Waakye, Bob Smith, Katawire, Super OD, Nana Ampadu, Paa Solo, Obuoba J.A. Adofo, Prince Osei Kofi and many others.