The year was 2007 and it was Ghana’s Golden Jubilee of Independence. The atmosphere was charged and the spirit that blew through people made it seem like the first day of independence.
Moreso, there was this large billboard which was actually a photoshoot, with two very important Ghanaians looking at each other and laughing, certainly enjoying a joyous moment.
The two were President Dr Kwame Nkrumah and President John Agyekum Kufuor. The picture looked so real with the two first gentlemen looking like age mates. Nkrumah would have been ninety-eight years old in 2007 and twenty-nine years older than Kufuor if he were still alive.
The socialists were not too pleased with that picture and made attempts to make it look unworthy. But Ghanaians accepted it as the meeting of the first and the current president, with fifty years apart between them.
That was not only what the socialists were against. In fact, that picture was just minimal problem to them.
The bigger issue came from a former president. Ex-President Rawlings was invited to be part and parcel of this important event to symbolise Ghana, but Rawlings, crudely rejected that offer.
Among the load of reasons why he refused to take part, the following are of interest. He said, “In what sort of country do we celebrate this 6th March?
Ghana is faced with pervasive corruption at all levels, missed opportunities for genuine progress, nepotism, tribalism and known cases of political torture and killings.
There is also decay of our local industry, the breakdown of our educational system, and an empty façade of “good governance” which earns the applause of those who seek to control us.I deeply regret that I cannot therefore join Kufuor’s government for this anniversary. My conscience and my principles will not permit me.”
If this had not come from his office, any Ghanaian would have doubted that Rawlings made such a statement.Pervasive corruption, he said, when during his time, $20 million of taxpayers’ money was gifted to a foreigner, a certain African American called Cotton who came to Ghana to say she would grow rice, but to be allowed to disappear with our hard currency to join the ranks of millionaires in her United States. She came to Ghana with only $40.00 and left a rich woman.
Pervasive corruption, Rawlings said, when CHRAJ found three of his ministers culpable for acts of corruptions, living beyond their means and yet he Rawlings, instead of dragging them to court, white-washed them with a Government White Paper. The list is rather long.
Missed opportunity for genuine progress, he said, when he Rawlings pulled down Ghanaian owned businesses and industries and ordered Ghanaians not to patronize goods and services from Ghanaian owned private companies.
Nepotism and tribalism, he said, when he Rawlings attacked Akans, especially Asantes even though he married one. When in the Office of the President any document with the initials ABNA written on it, meant it was for All-But-Not-Asantes.
Was it not Rawlings who disrespected Asanteman when he angrily poked his fingers into the face of the new Asantehene, who came to pay a courtesy call on him after he was enthroned king of Asante? The king had done nothing wrong.
And, listen to Rawlings talking about political torture and killings, when during his reign as head of state, Ghana recorded the largest cases of institutionalized killings.
Murdering three former heads-of-state and five senior army officers who he later said it was necessary to sacrifice them, who were innocent, to save the lives over eighty guilty ones.
Youth activists like Kyereme Gyan, Godwin Kofi Mawuli Dra-Goka, Yaw Brefo Berko, Samuel Boama Panyin, Samuel Charles Aforo and Richard Charles Koomson, were among hundreds of Ghanaians killed during the PNDC era and dumped in mass graves. When his bosom friend W.O. Salifu Amankwa murdered 70-year-old pensioner, Norbert Quarshie and was sentenced to death, did Rawlings not pardon him?
And look who was talking about decay of local industries, when he, Rawlings made sure thriving Ghanaian owned industries, especially those belonging to Akans were brought down to the ground.
To make sure that Ghanaian businesses do not thrive, he signed Ghana into a binding international trade agreement, where all we had to do is to import products we could easily produce here.
He went on to make sure that such products become very expensive to produce in Ghana so that the inferior imported ones which were cheap, became more affordable.
I need not waste time commenting on the rest, because every Ghanaian knows that it was Rawlings who destroyed our educational system and governance under him was dictatorial with no democracy.
The 1992 Constitution, most Ghanaians are rejecting today, was made for Rawlings and he fully enjoyed and benefited from it for eight years with no one complaining and he enjoyed it to the day he died, because the Constitution forbids anyone taking him to court to defend his numerous acts of improprieties in 1979 and from 1981 to 2000.
Shamelessly talking about himself, he decided to blame Kufuor for the very wrong acts, he, Rawlings committed as an excuse not to attend the 50th Independence celebrations.
He blamed Limann for wrecking the economy, but for his nineteen years as head of state, Rawlings supervised an almost 245,000% depreciation of our cedi to the USD. When he came in December 1981, the USD was $1.00 to 2.75¢ and when he left in January 2001, the USD was $1.00 to 6,750.00¢.
In March this year, March 6, to be precise, Ghana celebrated her 66th Independence Anniversary. Before the day, a former Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo came out to suggest that, though the celebrations must go on, instead of spending money on durbars and parades, that money should be used on meaningful projects that will benefit Ghanaians.
She suggested that although it was good to mark the occasion, infrastructure projects and other investments would have better served the populace.
She went to say that selecting a deprive district and building a school to be named Independence School or upgrading a ramshackle district hospital and naming in Independence Hospital, would be better.
Former President John Dramani Mahama, took a leaf from his mentor and political god father, Jerry John Rawlings when he flatly refused to attend this year’s celebration with reasons which were rather founded by socialists and his (P)NDC tradition.
He explained that the Independence Day celebration which is a national eventwas going to be turned into a political jamboree by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).And with this he was not going to associate himself with such political event.
He would only attend Independence Day if it is characterised by the sense of nationalism, he added, accusing the ruling NPP of busing its supporters in branded party shirts to the venue of the Independence Day celebrations, which he felt did not speak well of the celebration.
Well, Rawlings all through his nineteen years as head of state turned March 6, into a (P)NDC event preaching revolution, socialism and dictatorship in an event marking freedom from such things. John Mahama, never saw this to protest while he was member of government under Rawlings.
The only reason John Mahama gave for his absence from the celebration that I will agree with was his mentioning of being sidelined at the grounds during the celebration of the event in Tamale, last year. If what he stated is true, then it is unpardonable and gross apology must be rendered to him by the event organizers.
By the way, is Mahama aware that Nkrumah used March 6, celebrations to promote the course of the CPP and socialism instead of making it a true and wholly national event to embrace all Ghanaians?
Rawlings came out to disapprove of the celebration of our 50th Independence anniversary, with reasons which were nonexistent under the Kufuor administration, things that he, Rawlings, himself stood accused of doing.
Sophia Akuffo would prefer developments in deprive areas to durbars and parades and John Mahama would not want to see political party T-Shirts and colors at March 6, celebrations.
NDC’s Kosi Kedem is saying March 6, cannot be our day of independence and should not be celebrated, since at that time the Queen and the Crown were still in control of this nation.
He even went to say that in the context of what Nkrumah said, Ghana cannot be called an independent nation since our first president declared that, “The independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of Africa.”
Kosi Kedem, a socialist and Nkrumaist said Ghana could only be truly independent, in the real sense of the word, within the context of a united Africa with a common market, common army and a common currency. Amen, somebody.
The question lingers on, “Then, what is the right time to celebrate Ghana’s independence?”
By Hon Daniel Dugan