Composed, measured and affectionate, Rebecca Akufo-Addo has emerged as an exemplary first lady. Brought to the public limelight through her husband’s political career, Maa Becky has maintained an impressive and consistent demeanour of grace, charm and dignity.
In the immutable history of First Ladies worldwide, they have come in various shades and colours. The dramatic, the fearful, the forceful, the traditional, the policy wonks, the ceremonial and the moderate. Maa Becky has carved a niche for herself as a figure of respect.
Gentil but driven, accommodating but assertive, self-aware but unflappable, Mrs Akufo-Addo, is the definition of the politics of moderation. You’d think that considering her length of exposure to the public limelight because of President Akufo-Addo’s long, action-packed and storied career in politics, she would have espoused a more banner-head, incurably present and implacably bullish position in public life.
However, that’s not her style. She’s the queen of unflappability. While some first ladies have become the bane of their husbands, constantly seeking to intrude and meddle, endlessly seeking attention and creating power bases that are either parallel, deleterious or inimical to the administration, she has maintained a temperament that can only be admired. Calm. Composed. Considerate.
She has instead dedicated her time and attention to human interest issues and social causes. Her effort towards providing support to some of the most neglected, needy and vulnerable in society is admirable. At the core, she is humanistic, empathetic and egalitarian in her worldview. Through the Rebecca Foundation, she has worked assiduously to use her power and position to serve the poor, sick and voiceless. The Rebecca Foundation has several projects and initiatives. These include, Women’s Economic Empowerment program TEREMA, the Because I want to be Initiative, Learning to Read, Reading to Learn Initiative, Let’s go green Initiative, Health facility construction and renovation and medical outreach programs.
Each of these areas is critical to maintaining good health, promoting economic empowerment, improving literacy levels and safeguarding the environment. For instance female education and empowerment has been a huge challenge over the years even though the literature has showed major benefits from educating and empowering females especially in a constantly evolving world. In Rebecca Akufo-Addo, Ghanaians have found a stolid advocate in these important sectors.
Her facilitation of the construction and equipping of the modern Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and a Mother and Baby Unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi stand as prime examples. She has been instrumental in the setting up of crèches for market women to ease the burden of balancing work and family life. In 2020, her random act of donating about $20,000 to Emmanuel Apraku who was suffering from liver disease was extolled by many.
She has dedicated herself to mobilizing the resources and working collaboratively to find solutions to the many critical areas of national life. In so doing she has provided much needed alleviation to many.
Her work in addressing childhood cancers is worth highlighting. She built a 54-bed hostel facility for families of children undergoing treatment for childhood cancers at Korle-bu Teaching hospital. Not only that, she advocated strongly for the successful inclusion of the cost of treatment for childhood cancers under the National Health Insurance Authority. Hopefully her vision of improving the lives of women, humanity and building sustainable communities continues to receive the needed attention and support.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo, through her actions, brings to the fore the values of empathy, collaboration, persistence, compassion and love. By virtue of her work, she challenges all of us to reconsider our purpose in life and what we can do with the opportunities and positions bestowed upon us. Her actions show that even when in a place of comfort, we should continue to think about those less fortunate, dedicate oneself to a cause and commit to having a lasting impact.
None of these have come easy for her as she has tirelessly worked, persistently, reached out and effectively mobilized to get the initiatives underway and actualize various projects. In short, she is a paragon of compassion and persistence. Her unfailing efforts and the attendant results show that if we are willing to dedicate the time and effort, the change we desire can always be attained.
By G. Etse Sikanku