April 24, 2024

On September 8, 2023, President John Agyekum Kufuor and his late wife, Theresa Kufuor, marked 61 years since they got married, a milestone that many joined them to celebrate.

But in the late hours of Sunday, October 1, 2023, news broke on the death of the former First Lady Theresa.

Until now, it had been one of the most admired high-profile relationships in the country, and as GhanaWeb continues to reflect on the life of the retired nurse who later became First Lady of Ghana, we chanced on a snippet from a book that catalogued the love story between the two.

In the unidentified book, with the chapter on Between Faith and History, John Agyekum Kufuor’s love story with his Theresa is detailed, starting from the streets of London.

The two first met at the celebration of Ghana’s attainment of a republican status, during an event to mark it in London.

“Of all these encounters, which Kufuor cherished in London and also at Oxford, none would be as lasting as the one with Theresa, a young Ghanaian lady he met in London on 1 July 1961 at the Ghana High Commission during an anniversary celebration of Ghana’s attainment of Republican status. Kufuor had completed law studies and this lady, who had studied Nursing in Edinburgh for four years, was going to the Oxford University Hospital to continue a Midwifery course.

“The coincidence tickled Kufuor but it also marked the beginning of their friendship. In conversation, it became clear that Theresa Mensah or Nee Mensah had lived in Kumasi previously and that her brother was the well-known economist J.H. Mensah,” the book snippet showed.

It also indicated how the young John Agyekum Kufuor fell in love with Theresa Kufuor, including her culinary skills.

“From the first invitation to go out and the others that followed, Kufuor and Theresa settled in well in Oxford as students. Theresa was friendly and supportive. Occasionally, she would prepare him Ghanaian food as they strengthened their friendship.

“’I realised I was in love with Theresa and so when I decided to do the right thing – to get married, I was convinced she was the right choice.’

“Quite quickly and to the amazement of many of his friends, Kufuor decided to marry Theresa within only two years of knowing her and when he was two years from finally leaving Oxford. The engagement was fixed for July 1962 at his mother’s home near Muswell Hill and Barima Kwaku Adusei, an Asante royal who later became the King of Asante-Otumfuo Opoku Ware II was invited to preside over the ceremony. Two months later, the wedding took place at Bloomington Catholic Church opposite Harrods Department Store. After that, the couple returned to Oxford again for Kufuor to complete his studies.

“Because they would not be staying much longer in Oxford, they rented a flat in the fashionable Woodstock Road, near St. Anthony’s College. On 6 September 1963, just a year after the wedding, Theresa gave birth to a son, John Addo Kwarbo Kufuor whom Kufuor named for his beloved uncle. Kufuor explained why things were moving so fast for him: ”I was too serious. I also wanted a focus. I just did not want to be distracted at all,” the book said.

There is yet to be any official statement on the death of the former First Lady from the family, or even the government.

Meanwhile, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commiserated with the former president, John Kufuor, describing the late Theresa Kufuor as a composed and articulate person who exuded a lot of kindness.

“Her passing reminds me keenly of human mortality, that is that Almighty God will come for each and every one of us at the appropriate time.

“She was a composed and articulate First Lady, polyglot, fluent in several languages including Ewe, who brought great dignity to the position.

“I knew several members of her family, especially her celebrated brother, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to know her too.

“Her warmth, kindness and grace were exceptional. She bore the vicissitudes of life with great stoicism and an unshakeable belief in the sovereignty of Almighty God,” he wrote.

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