Ghanaian Chronicle

A Politician: Learn From W. Churchill

Date published: January 30, 2013

Dr. Kofi Dankyi Beeko, the Author

My path crossed an Iraqi’s in the Middle East decades ago, and we became instant friends. He had studied Medicine in England, but being so “Arabesque” in every way one could imagine, he had “traced an Arab girl” from Saudi Arabia, studying Sociology in London, and had married her, when both were students. It was after meeting his wife just eight weeks after our own encounter, that I instantly understood how, and perhaps also, why his English was so impressive.  He had told me: “If you wanted to comb English books (not books in English), you ought to go to Hong Kong and look for a particular bookshop in Kowloon. You didn’t have to know the name of the shop.” He had once joined an excursion group from London to Hong Kong (then a  student), and had used most of the fourteen days in the Chinese Island City to comb through books from that large bookshop, so complex you could compare, perhaps, only to “Foyle’s” in the heart of London.  He so enjoyed it, he almost steadily emphasised it, as we met almost daily.  In the mid-fifties, during our schooling in Primary and Middle schools, teachers in Ghana knew a lot about World War II.  They had heard it all from ex-soldiers who had fought for the Colonial Master, Great Britain. They had followed radio programmes, and read books in libraries (Accra had public libraries, and Kumasi had at least one such thing). In secondary school, I was liked very much by two teachers – one from South Africa, who taught Chemistry, and the other, a Ghanaian, teaching English, and he was very passionate about it. The Ghanaian English teacher used to be part of a group of teachers, who, during the summer holidays, travelled to England on invitation to “teach English to English pupils.” Both teachers being mentioned in this text loved talking to students, and at times, in the midst of their lessons, about a war-time British Prime Minister, “Sir Winston Spencer Churchill”, who fought, and with the allies, defeated Adolf Hitler. You could see the joy on their cheeks and lips, whenever they mentioned this historical episode. Churchill, I grew to know, was British Prime Minister two times – May 1940 till October 1945, and then again, October 1951 till April 7th, 1955.  Among books written by Sir Winston Churchill alone, or jointly with others he was closely associated with, include “The Second World War” (six Volumes); “The last Lion” with William Manchester, “The Wit and Wisdom of Winston Churchill” by James Humes and Richard Nixon, “The Power of Words” by Winston Churchill, and the “The Prophetic Statesman” by James C. Humes, should make interesting reading too.

Winston Churchill was the product of an English father and a mother with American connections (as if that would be different from British). He was well above sixty years when World War II (WWII) broke out September 1st, 1939. He had been in politics this way:  He first joined the Conservative party. Then he left to be with the Liberals, before re-joining the Conservative party yet again, where he stayed and became first wartime Prime Minister. He lost that position shortly after the War in 1945, but bounced back in 1951, until his final exit in 1955. He died of natural causes in January, 1965, aged 91. When I got the opportunity to visit Hong Kong in 1987, Mrs. Thatcher had been Prime Minister and left the scene then. She learned all her politics from Churchill’s books, and speeches (it’s often said). It happened that she had “revived Sir Winston Churchill” in an unprecedented manner.  Books about Churchill, World War II, Adolf Hitler, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Benito Mussolini abounded in Kowloon, suburban Hong Kong. I grabbed a number, and I have since read many of them. Churchill was a rife politician when his contemporary Neville Chamberlain was British Prime Minister. Hitler kept irking everybody with his agitations for appeasement. He wanted “Lebensraum”, breathing space, at whatever expense! This was unacceptable in Churchill’s view, and the American President was of the same opinion.  The American President was, as a result of Poliomyelitis whilst an adult, rendered wheelchair-bound. Chamberlain would soon lose the Prime-Minister-ship through a vote of no-confidence.  Churchill would stay Prime Minister throughout World War II. He would lose this position though, shortly after May 1945, and the Labour Party candidate, Clement Atlee (Churchill’s war-time Foreign Secretary), would succeed him and continue the Potsdam-Conference with the other  BIG POWERS to determine the fate of Germany, and that of the rest of the world. Churchill is believed to have learned a couple of lessons. As war-time Prime Minister, England needed a “no-nonsense PERSONALITY.”  This, he was!  America and the allies had thrown in both materials and men from all fronts, and Germany had capitulated on the 8th of May, 1945.  With victory in Britain and Europe, and indeed, the rest of the world, no longer did Britain need an iron-fisted man. Churchill ridiculed his opponent for the elections in England after the capitulation. But, it was a leader with soothing speeches, after the suffering for six “cold but biting years” that the Union Jack needed then. Mr. Churchill had become too insipid for his own people. They turned their backs on him. Then again, the years thereafter were “hard” for the British people, IN SPITE OF ANY BENEFITS OF RAW MATERIALS AND CHEAP LABOR FROM THE COLONIES. News that Germany, under the Marshall plan, was recovering better, did not make the “Brits” comfortable. A strong man was again, being missed in the home-front, for the economy.  Churchill, in spite of advanced age, could once again bring some hope into Britain. This time, it was not a hope of liberation from oppression of war, the people needed shelter, and they needed milk and butter. Where was the man who brought them victory during the “Battle of Britain?”  In spite of advanced age with Winston Spencer Churchill, faith was not all lost in him – “the man with the hat on his head, and the smoking cigar between his lips. Victory came again in the polls of October 1951!!  Churchill, who, as a school boy, was not listed among “the brilliant”, collected non-the-less, “in addition to political triumph”, the Nobel Prize for literature in 1956.  Like all things that once started with vim, however, could wane, there was not very much left in him in April 1955.  He lost the elections yet another time. Churchill departed from this carnal world in January 1965, and it seemed the entire world (even Deutschland), mourned him. Queen Elizabeth II DID VISIT Germany, not long thereafter, and it seemed to show them mourning in some way.

kofi Dankyi Beeko, MD. E-MAIL :[email protected]

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