The Author, Dr. Kofi Dankyi Beeko, MD.
When men in the group of Ghana’s “Big Six” must have been “talking politics”, only a few of the parents of our present-day practicing politicians were alive. This was the era, when the world had just emerged from the catastrophe of the most devastating war ever fought on earth, and you may euphemistically call it World War Two (WWII).
It was also the era, when in Africa, one country populated by “Negroid” people had just been granted independence. Many who had joined in the jubilation did not quite understand what it all meant. They called it “Fa wo ho di.” It literally meant and means, to the people, freedom without limit, or even freedom without responsibility.
Perhaps, one should spare the population the boredom of hearing it yet again, what they may been hearing for the umpteenth time. Freedom for Africa! This Freedom was meant to be managed by us Africans, and not any longer by the British, or French, or Portuguese, and don’t let us forget the Belgians. But, nearly as much by way of zeal of “ruling one’s selves” was happening in East Asia, as well as in Latin America. Let us, for the sake of limiting it to “among ourselves as Africans”, to Africa.
The pomp and pageantry that greeted the transition from Colonial to Indigenous Rule however, did not last long in most places. In Ghana, Nkrumah had to deal with scandals, such as a wife of his Foreign Minister purchasing a GOLD BED, in the beginning of the sixties on a shopping spree at Harrods in London.
Nkrumah got nervous about the “grabbing” urge among his Ministers, many of whom he had picked from among followers from the beginning, and they were popularly dubbed “verandah boys.” In a dawn-broadcast in the early sixties he, President Nkrumah, was heard saying it loud and clear, they should cool it, “One man, one car!” On another occasion, it was “one man, one house.” That was meant to drum into everybody’s head, passing through the ears, the message of socialism. Even in England, where some of the wealth must have entered from Ghana in the form of Gold, and/or Diamond, during the Colonial days, egalitarianism was being sung by the Crown, through Parliament, as the welfare state.
Around the same time, in Uganda, Milton Obote’s regalia-wedding, as Head of State had come under sharp criticism. It seemed therefore, that things were under control, and that the resources still under the ground in Africa were going to be unearthed, and the proceeds made available for development.
There was a lot of catching up to do. Most of the “Underdeveloped World” was in Africa. But, it seemed the forces that would soon begin to differ, and hence push for a new course, were too impatient to wait. In government after government, the newly-attained independence was whittled off, at lightning speed. The army took control everywhere. But, those who are religiously inclined keep reminding everybody, “Everything will pass away, except the Word of God.” After the decades, during which some dictators in Africa crowned themselves, a kind of democratisation got ushered in.
Again, just like with freedoms post-World War II, starting from Ghana in 1957, the military, in most states, either fell, or the leaders, like J.J. Rawlings in Ghana, dumped the “Shiny Uniform”, which had slowly lost admiration with the people, and damned NT-smock.
When he, Rawlings, visited the Ashanti King, he appeared in a beautiful traditional Kente as reward and honour for the former President of the Republic. There has been more fear than reality each time there are elections that “things could tip over an abyss, for disaster.” But, the news has not been the same, when talking of Kenya under President Kibaki, and/or in Zimbabwe under President, Robert Mugabe.
What is presently being observed in the Ivory Coast, since the beginning of December, 2010, is perhaps, a mix between the Zimbabwe-concoction, or the Kenyan mix. Just why some leaders think, once in power, you better stay in it all the time, and at all costs, is a dilemma, which not even the sharpest Anthropologists seem to comprehend, let alone teach it to anybody else. Nor is it typical only to what Africa is often “tickled with and annoyingly spoken of as “Black-Africa.”
In Burma (Myan-mar), the military prevented the well-educated lady from being sworn-in, in spite of having won a “landslide victory” two decades ago. In 1938, Nazi-Germany annexed Austria against the will of the people. There have been elections in the Middle East, Far East, and Eastern Europe, of recent times, where 99% of the people are believed to have voted for a leader.
These have been situations dealing with “one-party-states.” In other situations, it may not be clearly defined, whether a “Theocracy is operational.” In a well-wide observed scenario, a prominent European Head-of-State visited a group of African nations in pursuance of African Union (AU)-European Union (EU)-Co-operation.
The executive jet carrying the prominent European statesman landed shortly before the fifth and the last Moslem prayer-time for the day. As the African Head-of-State stepped on the red carpet to receive his distinguished guest from Europe, it was exactly time for the prayer. The welcoming ceremony went ahead as planned, and this was shown on state-television, and not the Salah.
As it turned out, the Imams turned on the Director of the state-television with the query, as to why the Salah was “pushed away” in favour of the state-reception of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. The Director had the very ready answer, “My dear Imam, God would forgive, but Mubarak would not.”
The matter is believed not to have been pursued any further. In recent times, a dictatorial African head of state had a crown designed in Paris, and in a ceremony which was “well-invited-to”, and also “well attended, including prominent French politicians,” the Dictator CROWNED HIMSELF” as an Emperor, not only an Africa Head of State. His empire doesn’t exist anymore.
Decades earlier, the Shah of oil-rich Persia crowned himself, and his son, as Crown Prince. The Islamic Republic which superseded the Shah’s Kingdom has no use for the crown, whose whereabouts nobody seems to have any knowledge of as of now. Presently, a new but unique situation has sprung up (according to some political crises-analysts, not quite unexpected) – A Republic with two concurrent Heads of State. The people are shivering from fear of a déjà vu. The country now in crisis was once West Africa’s bread basket.
Well, leadership, and the zeal to get it or take it is as old as mankind itself. We all have felt it in the family, where there may have been several children, or sometimes up to a dozen, different talents, different ambitions, and at times, unfortunately, different states of health. The parents don’t have it easy, and the situation worsens when one day, the protection, the guidance and authority they may have wielded may be gone, as an occurrence of God’s plan, if you tend to be a believer in God.
The story which grips every visitor who visits “Taj Mahal” in India is that the Emperor loved his wife beyond what Shakespeare described in Romeo and Juliet. And it goes further in Agra. The Queen lost her life in a disaster called “post-partum hemorrhage.” (She bled to death, after delivering her 12th child).
The King built the Taj Mahal as a burial place for his wife. His last son, as an adult, killed his eleven brethren, he usurped power from his father, whom he put under house arrest until the old man died, not having finished building his own Sarcophagus. It is not documented how happy the young King became, looking back at all that he had done to his brethren, and his dad.
The Crown and the Authority with comfort must have driven him. The same drives mankind, men and women. If you have missed it elsewhere, just go to the Ivory Coast.