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General News
‘Atta The Mortuary Man’ 1/18/2010
President Mills over the weekend dropped the ''Atta'' in his name after founder Jerry John Rawlings associated it with a mortuary man at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, who was running away when nobody was chasing him.
“From today, after listening to the former president about the story of Atta, the mortuary man, I have on a lighter note decided to drop Atta from my name,” he remarked to laughter from delegates at the congress.
Mr. Rawlings who took his turn to address the NDC National delegates congress in Tamale left party supporters spellbound when suddenly he started narrating a story about “Atta the mortuary man”, which coincidentally is the name of the current president.
According to the former president, Atta his friend was a heavy drinker mostly described as a “moving brewery” and could not do without alcohol.
His drunken behavior was a source of worry to Rawlings who advised him against alcoholism on health grounds but he was impervious to this advice and persevered in his drunken career.
His health status deteriorated as he kept drinking, making him look too feeble for his job.
He said Atta told him that one day, while on his job at the 37 mortuary, he was unable to go home because it had rained heavily that night.
As a result, he stayed over at the mortuary and when the night got too cold, he took a white sheet off one of the corpses and wrapped himself with it to keep warm.
In the course of the night, he felt like urinating, so still wrapped up in the white sheet, he went outside to take a pee.
While doing that, a soldier came around and seeing him, the military man thought he had seen an apparition. Atta also saw the soldier and thought it odd that he was looking at him, having forgotten that he was wrapped in a white sheet.
After glancing at each other with suspicion, the soldier took to his heels while Atta followed him.
Eventually, they both ran up to take refuge in a room, only for the soldier to realize that Atta was no ghost, but a mortuary man.
Lanky Atta, the former president narrated, eventually gave up his drinking habit and transformed into a healthy worker at the renowned military hospital to the surprise of many who knew about his love for alcohol.
Atta’s u-turn on drinking surprised the former president, his longtime friend, which he said served as a source of inspiration to him.
Overwhelmed by Atta’s new image, Mr. Rawlings said he presented a parcel to him and also resolved to quit smoking in view of the fact that he was also a chain smoker or “a locomotive chimney” at that time.
Full of surprises, the NDC founder stated that Atta in return promised to ‘powder’ him well when he (Rawlings) dies.
Soon after the humorous narrations, party faithful were confused over the moral of the story while others interpreted it to mean his advice to the President Mills, as he claimed on several platforms, were not heeded.
It was also anticipated that the story would compel the president to eventually heed his advice, be a changed person and reward him as “Atta the mortuary man” opted to do.
Close allies of the former president said the story was not a strange one as he had narrated it on several platforms long before Atta Mills became President of the Republic.
Contrary to assertions by party supporters that the story was directed towards the President, they indicated that it sought to explain that everyone is important in society and can contribute to the transformation of his/her brother.
The intriguing question that was left on the lips of many was whether many understood the tale of Rawlings and Atta ‘the mortuary man’ who did not receive a hamper from the former president this year.
Mr. Rawlings is widely noted for parabolic statements and usually leaves his audience bemused.
Others after listening to the story were of the view that the former president could have used a different name even if the name of his mortuary friend was ‘Atta’, to preserve the President’s dignity.

From Stephen Zoure and Awudu Mahama Tamale

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