Ghanaian tribute to Muhammad Ali

Many regret circumstances of their birth

Yet who can determine or discern where and when we are to be born?

But Ali used adversity to his advantage

In fearless parlance he talked and yelled his way to glory

In fisticuffs and intrepid pugilism

His pugnacious proclivity sublimated

And propelled his punches towards sporting stardom

Like the proverbial Asante Kotoko porcupine

He knew no retreat nor surrender after Olympic gold in 1960

He silenced pundits by making much out of paucity

Much as he believed in his punches,

He relied on his hunches to make forecasts

Ali taught us to believe in ourselves, the powers on us bestowed by the Almighty

Ali taught us to share unstintingly with the world whatever talents we are endowed with,

That the more we share, the more we become fulfilled,

And the better the world becomes

Ali lived his dream to the full,

In accordance with the maxim,

‘To whom much is given, much is desired’ (cui multum datum)

 

Once it was ‘thrilla in Manila’,

At another time, it was ‘rumble (Rambo) in the jungle’

Some would quip, “He was full of mumbo jumbo”

Yet again at another time, it was ‘Russian tanker and bazooka with rope-a-dope’

‘Stinging like a bee and floating like a butterfly’,

Ali had ‘the audacity of hope’ to cause mega media frenzy and kerfuffle

He agitated and ignited the whole world with his riveting antics and showboating

He had the charisma and persona to daze and cause the media buzz

He hypnotized with unalterable utterances in rhythmic stanzas

Ali threw the world into spasmodic trances,

He was not short of mirthful dances

Gyrating like a marble on a spin in his trainers or boxing trunks,

He dished out exquisite dances,

Coupled with sharp, fleet, and foxy footwork artistry,

He unleashed a flurry of stinking staccato jabs at his opponents,

Himself he had transformed into a phantom moving target,

Bobbing, weaving, ducking, darting, dancing, prancing, parrying, pursing, pushing, shoving-

He stung like a Mustang on a beeline,

And floated sleekly like a Chevy or Thunderbird or Pontiac on a straight course tarmac,

Imagine caged in with hulky giants on the line-up: Henry Cooper, Floyd Patterson,

Oscar Bonavena, Karl Middleberger, George Chuvalo, George Foreman, Joe ‘Smoking’ Frazier, Larry Holmes, Leo Spinks, Jimmy Ellis, Don Quarry, Sonny Liston, Zola Folley—the list is listless,

With all those, Ali fought and demolished majority of them like a pack of cards,

Of all those, Frazier was a brazier,

Above all of them, he soared and soared like a meteorite,

Or like mercury in a vial inside a fiery furnace,

Ali was not scared by anyone as he played mind games on them

He earned the pseudonym-Louisville Lip,

Ali’s magical mechanical-like hands

Darted, bobbed, and weaved to and fro among his foes,

Like two deadly agitated cobras,

Feigning and sizing up to prepare to strike,

Paradoxically, Ali walked the talk more often than he did the talk,

He was perceived brash, burlesque, brilliant, and full of wit,

His media hype matched his actions and deeds

He predicted knockouts and actioned them

He created charities and funded them

Ali was the quintessential universal donor

He put mind over matter and philosophised on the essence of life

From obscurity of poverty in Louisville,

He created prominence and prosperity to global renown,

He was feted and toasted by Kings and the powerful,

To whom unfailingly he played the clown,

And characteristically won his crown

 

I remember years ago when I was 14 in 1964,

Ali visited Africa’s Mecca of Accra in Ghana,

He stood tall, handsome, black and proud in his gift of resplendent Ghanaian Kente toga,

With Africa’s Showboy and Black Moses, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah by his side,

In unforgettable photogenic photos,

Emblazoned in the national tabloids of the Daily Graphic, The Spectator, Ghanaian Times, and The Mirror,

Ali, you endeared yourself to all Ghanaians and Africans as you gave us hope to be what we wanted to become,

Your warmth of heart and bubbling persona was infectious and unsinkable,

You successfully navigated the tempestuous gales in the Cold War,

You snubbed conscription to Vietnam,

You told off American equivalent of apartheid

During the uneasy days of the Civil Rights riots and race imbroglio,

You indeed knocked them all out cold, like you did in the ring,

Powerful words from a sage like you could silence or defuse bombs,

For, bombs can kill, maim, numb and devastate,

But ultimately thereafter, they fall silent,

Words of wisdom prevail and stand tall to eternity,

Ali, the world is better off by your contribution,

Let the young of this day and generations to come

Celebrate your humungous fighting spirit,

And build you mammoth monoliths to your sterling character,

Your exploits forever etched in gold on a singular stele or obelisk,

To perpetuate the memory of your unmatchable achievements,

Farewell the world’s Champ,

Farewell King of the Boxing World,

Ghana says, ‘Dammarifa due.

Da yie. Yema wo kos3 kos3. Y3ma wo yaako’

 

By Dr Kwesi Sakyi           © 2016

Email: kwesiattasakyi449@gmail.com

Muhammad Ali and Kwame Nkrumah in 1964

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