Many approached the podium at The Vine Church Sunday night to share remembrances of Godwin Kotey.
“I’ve traveled place to place looking to meet people like him, people who make an impact from the moment you meet them,” Guy Perticone, a graduate student from Oswego, N.Y., in theater, said of his late friend.
Kotey, a graduate student from Ghana in speech communications, came to the university in 2010 on a scholarship to pursue his doctoral degree. During his stay in Carbondale, Kotey became terminally ill and died March 5, three days after he
returned to Ghana because of the severity of his illness.
Kotey, 47, was a husband and father of two children, ages seven and five.
He was known in Ghana for his work in the performing arts, where he won several prestigious awards. He directed and produced nine films and 11 documentaries. He also acted in several films, commercials and theater productions.
According to his website, Kotey was also senior lecturer at the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana, Legon. He was a renowned playwright and CEO of Dream House Studios.
Gabriela Ponce, a graduate student from Ecuador in theater and a classmate of Kotey, was a key speaker at his memorial.
“It was an honor sharing the stage with him,” she said. “When you heard his voice project you just knew his passion for theater, for life.”
Ponce said Kotey’s focus of work at SIUC was tearing down borders and accepting diversity.
“We worked on a long-term project together, and his enthusiasm and educational prosperity seemed to rub off on everyone he met,” she said.
Vivian Gato, a close friend of Kotey, said he was extremely humble.
“He never talked about his successes in Ghana. Most people never even knew about his magnificent career or achievements. He emulated humility,” she said.
Gloria Pindi, a graduate student in speech communications from the Democratic Republic Congo and friend of Kotey, said there was a community of people there to support him when he became ill.
“He did so many things for other people and was extremely selfless. He built lasting relationships,” she said.
Kotey’s illness eventually left him unable to speak.
“He had a look of strength in his eyes. Even when he couldn’t speak you could tell he was trying to stay positive,” Pindi said.
In her closing words, Pindi said she will always remember her friend as outgoing, personable and always smiling.
“He was the person you met once and it changed your life forever. He connected to people in a way that not many
can,” she said.
The memorial service ended with Kotey’s friends and loved ones honoring him by dancing and singing in an African
Donations for the family and to help with shipping costs of Kotey’s musical instruments, books and other belongings can be sent to his sister-in-law, Pamela Kittoe at 16605 Hardwood Oaks Court Apt. #204 Dumfries, VA 22026.