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Opinions of Thursday, 18 May 2017

Columnist: Africanus Owusu- Ansah

Change is a desideratum – Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings

Be silent always when you doubt your sense; and speak, tho’ sure with seeming diffidence. Some positive persisting fops we know who if once wrong, will needs be always so; but you, with pleasure own your errors past and make each day a critic on the last.

Alexander Pope

An Easy on Criticism

DESIDERATA (Latin: desired things) written by an American author, Max Ehrmann, has not ceased to catch my fancy, and to tickle me: ‘’ Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story…’’

Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, the darling wife of former leader Flt. Lt Jerry John Rawlings has achieved many significant and remarkable things for herself and the Ghanaian society, especially for women. You cannot forget her specially designed headwrap. She stood solidly behind her husband in the heady days of the ‘soi – disant’ revolutionary days when J.J. was the lord of all he surveyed, running through the humdrum and pedestrian democratic era, to the gloomy days in opposition.

Nana Konadu, born in September, 1948 to the late J.O.T. Agyemang was among the lucky few to earn a place at Achimota School where she met Jerry. She graduated in Art and Textiles at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi.

After her husband’s forays in town, she provided a home for him, and they were blessed with four beautiful kids, one boy and three girls, all of whose schooling expenses were borne by kind-hearted benefactors. Ezanetor has since graduated as a medical doctor. It cannot be Nana Konadu’s making that some of the sons and daughters of those consumed by the ‘ revolutionary fire, including Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa, Kutu Acheampong, Utuka, cannot, like the itinerant, nomadic gypsies, find a place to lay their heads.

Zanetor Rawlings is now a Member of Parliament for Klottey Korley Constituency. The sun has shone brightly on her and she is even being touted to partner anybody NDC elects as flagbearer, to be that person’s vice. That may, perhaps, tell the reason why despite the shoddy treatment by the NDC executives, J.J. still remained a member of the party and his daughter, Ezanetor toed the line.

After graduating from KNUST, Nana Konadu has earned several degrees certificates and diplomas, the most luscious of all being the doctorate degree which was bestowed on her and her husband by the Lincoln University, U.S.A.

She is credited with the formation of the 31st December Women’s Movement which taught women how to generate income and save money for community projects. The movement gave opportunities for women to be part of the decision-making process; women were propelled to adopt policies on health and education; was keen on adult literacy; discouraged early marriages and was formidable in the affairs of children to the extent of pushing Ghana to adopt the UN Convention on the Right of the Child.

Nana Konadu and her movement may be given the accolade for their crucial role in the adoption of the ‘Intestate Succession Law’ which is applicable to anyone dying without preparing a ‘Will’ or ‘Last Testament’.

On joy FM’s ‘Personality Profile’ recently, Nana Konadu declared: “I am happy there is a change… I am happy… because you can’t have a situation where we claim to be doing well, calling ourselves low middle income group, and live in a miserable situation… I went round the country and I saw poverty staring at me… the likes of poverty that I hadn’t seen since 1982 and it gripped my heart and touched every part of my body that this has to change… I am tired of the noise… At the final analysis, I am somebody who believe in honesty and hard work. As things started changing, I advised myself…” She enjoined critics of the new government who are lambasting it for under-performance to exercise patience, noting, “a party has taken eight years to destroy us and you expect somebody to use 100 days to fix it?”

Some people would dismiss this statement as ‘sour grapes’ – that is, disparaging NDC because she was denied the leadership position at the Sunyani Congress and that prompted her to break away and form her own party, National Democratic Party, becoming its flag bearer in the 2016 elections. When the fox in Aesop’s fable could not reach the grapes high up on the tree, it consoled itself by sneering at the grapes- they were sour! The change that brought Akufo Addo into office has shaken the whole country. It could be likened to a tsunami, or at best, a tornado. But, of course, it did not affect everybody the same way.

Other people believe in her frankness: she is ready to ‘tell it as it is’ or ‘tell it like it is.’ She means whatever she says. Everybody, especially those in opposition, is moving helter-skelter, unsure where to berth, so some people believe. Nana Konadu has stuck her neck out, and made a long-lasting confession. ‘You and I were not there’ to see which way the Rawlings’s household voted at the last presidential election! Did it go right or left? No one can tell—and we are all not seers or palmists.

Kwesi Botchway may do all the research. Perhaps, his committee’s findings may be a palliative. We are all waiting to see what the Committee has found—whether it was arrogance, or failure to listen to the grassroots, or refusal to give campaign moneys where they should have gone, or…

Are there any lessons to be learnt from all this rigmarole- the fuss about Nana Konadu’s statement? Oprah Winfred is quoted as saying: ‘’ Keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you’ll have to eat them, you can swallow it well.’’ It is advice for both the pro- Nana Konadu as well as the anti-Nana Konadu elements. People should refrain from calling her anything close to Biblical Jezebel. Nana Konadu may be the lucky person to have been married to the Africa Ranking’s 9th Richest Man, with an assessed wealth of 50 million dollars. It is the reward for his telling the court martial trying him in 1979 for mutiny that they should leave his men alone; he was responsible for their actions. At least, if you cannot call her Cinderella, don’t call her Desdemona either. Keep your mouth shut.