Celebration of a Richly Lived Life – Final Funerary Rites for the Late Opanyin (Elder) Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie, Aged 87

Celebration of a Richly Lived Life – Final Funerary Rites for the Late Opanyin (Elder) Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie, Aged 87

The Final Funerary Rites for Opanyin (Elder) Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie (aka Wofa Yaw), Aged 87, will be observed on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, at 14 West 170th Street, Bronx, New York 10452, from 8 pm to 3 am. The Late Mr. Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie was a prominent and highly respected member, opinion leader and heavily consulted counselor in New York City’s Ghanaian Community. Nana Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie, who was legally blind, died at the Columbia University Presbyterian Hospital in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, New York City, not very far from his Edgecomb residence, on April 7, 2020, as a result of injuries sustained in a massive midnight fall while trying to use the restroom.

Born on December 20, 1933, to Opanyin Yaw Sarkodie, whose name he would carry for most of his life, and to Obaapanyin (Madam) Yaa Nimoh, of Afigya-Kwabre Kyerekrom and Adukro townships, respectively, Mr. Kwadwo Asiedu-Sarkodie immigrated to the United States in 1971 and permanently settled in New York City, although he also briefly and intermittently lived in Springfield, Massachusetts, where he worked at the Bay State University Hospital as a security officer. He would also work with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), having been recruited by the Local 1199 Health Workers’ Union, first at the Borough of Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, as a Hospital Police Officer.

He would quickly scale up the promotion ladder, by the dint of diligence, to become a Union Delegate and shortly thereafter a Labor Union Organizer. It was in the latter capacity that Nana Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie distinguished himself as an employment facilitator within the New York City Ghanaian Community. By some reliable estimates, Nana Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie would successfully help at least some 250 people of various nationalities and walks of life find jobs in the New York City Health and Hospitals System, into such major healthcare facilities as St. Vincent, Mount Sinai, St. Lukes-Roosevelt, New York University and New York Presbyterian hospitals, as well as the New York Hospital for Special Surgery.

Prior to departing Ghana for the proverbial greener pastures in the United States, Nana Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie worked as an Assistant Librarian at the Kumasi Polytechnical Institute (K-Poly), having also served as a clerk at the Manhyia Palace’s Royal Court of His Majesty, The Asantehene. He would also meet his future wife, Ms. Grace Oteng, a Detective with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS). Mrs. Grace Oteng-Sarkodie, a recently retired longtime Traditional African Mortuary Artist-Beautician, is more popularly known and affectionately called Maame Yaa Adowaa in New York City’s Ghanaian Community. And just like her late husband who, until his immigration and permanent settlement in the United Stated was the owner of Kanawu Enterprises, a foot-ware and suiting fabric importing company in Kumasi, Mrs. Oteng-Sarkodie is a Harlem, New York, storekeeper and trader in general merchandise.

The deceased, who is survived by his widow, Mrs. Grace Oteng-Sarkodie, and 11 adult-children and several dozen grandchildren and great-grandchildren, had also briefly worked as a Municipal Bus Service Conductor in Kumasi, the ancient and globally celebrated royal capital of the august Asante Federation. Among his surviving adult-children are Mrs. Otelia (Maame Nimo) Sarkodie-Donley, a New York City Social Worker; Ms. Gladys Sarkodie, an Accra-Ghana, businesswoman; William and Samuel Sarkodie and Matilda Yaa Asamoah, all of Kumasi-Ghana; Gloria and Nana Akyiaa, Sr., of Germany; James and Mark, of Italy and London, UK, respectively; Joseph Sarkodie, of Gabon, Central Africa; and Sister Akyiaa Sarkodie, Kumasi-Ghana. The late Opanyin Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie was predeceased by his last born and youngest daughter, Ms. Doris Asiedu-Sarkodie, who died while on vacation in Jamaica, the Caribbean, on Nov. 24, 2010.

In 1995, at 62 years old, Opanyin Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie lost his eyesight to glaucoma. But he did not let this visual impairment tie him down and continued to be actively engaged in the cultural, social and communal activities of New York City’s African American and Ghanaian communities. He had also been working as a licensed Gypsy-Cab driver and was a founding member and a mainstay of the Asanteman Association of New York.

His daughter Otelia Sarkodie-Donley fondly remembers her father as a man “who had great dance moves” and “continued to dance even long after he had lost his sight. There was one dance move of Daddy’s that my mother didn’t like and would always get annoyed when Daddy would do it, especially when he had promised not to do it.” Otelia also recalled her father often going far out of his way to help others, even to his own apparent detriment. But to Otelia’s attempt to restrain her father’s seemingly inordinate and faulty show of generosity, Nana Yaw Sarkodie would chuckle and gently respond that his seemingly faulty outreach to others would reap bountiful benefits to his children and grandchildren someday.

“Don’t you worry, Maame, if the blessings don’t come to me, they will someday come to my relatives and loved ones.” Even more remarkable about her father, according to Otelia, is that “The Old Man never claimed to be perfect. I believe this was because he knew he had made many mistakes in his life and tried to make up for them by helping other people. A lot of people still come up to me today with stories of how Daddy assisted them when they first arrived in New York. I also remember never being able to have my own room for months and even years at a time, because some uncle, auntie or cousin needed to stay with us. I could go on and on but I’m starting to feel sad. I miss my father sorely. He was a Man amongst men. He was perfect even in his imperfections. He taught me to ‘go where the love is’ and ‘make love contagious.”

A devout Christian, Opanyin Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie was a front-row congregation member of the Bronx, New York, Assembly of the United Methodist Church of Ghana, presided over by Rev.-Dr. Samuel Acquaah Arhin. Many who knew or were acquainted with Opanyin Yaw Asiedu-Sarkodie, described the deceased as an irreplaceable bulwark of the New York City Ghanaian Community whose loss would be seismically felt for quite a long time.

The recommended dress code for the ceremony is Black and/or Red.

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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr.

(Atumpan News Agency)

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