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Opinions of Thursday, 4 June 2009

Columnist: Amenga-Etego, SaCut

June 4

Some people--and I mean young people--lit the flame for the june4 movement several years ago, and it is young people of today who must continually fan this flame to carry forward the aspirations of that movement. But these must be young people who have a good appreciation of the history of this country. I don’t mean the `mis-history` as written by Adu Boahene neither do I mean the half truths and untruths as written by Prof. Mike `Apparatchiks` Oquaye.

I mean the history as taught by the experienced grass roots people who lived through the bush fires and drought of the 80s, the forceful repatriation of Ghanaians from Nigeria, the `Kalabule` and its associated long queues. These same grass roots people witnessed the opulence and open dissipation by the ruling elite of the time. These are the real historians. Go out there and talk to them. Ask them about Ghana before the advent of JJRawlings and the young courageous revolutionaries who shared similar convictions.

As one old woman said to me, `Ghana was at a cross-roads, and God sent that young man to our timely rescue`. She was emphatic. She added, `Ghana did not know where she was going before JJ but now, she has a direction in mind`. This is history without propaganda infusion. Many elderly people who are living witnesses to the uprising of june4 say that it was a period of great excitement that can be compared only to the Independence Day frenzy. `It was our second independence`. One old man remarked. And if it was, then JJRawlings was our second Nkrumah. He led it. He was young and courageous. His colleagues equally were, but his charisma put him in the lead. They knew the consequences of their actions. They knew the penalty for failure to accomplish their mission was death. It was a sacrifice.

I have heard Major Rtd Boakye Djan beat his chest and say that he was the architect of the june4 revolution. He wants us to believe he was the boldest of all the young soldiers of the time. I have also heard Capt. Adabuga Mathew make similar statements to the effect that JJRawlings was just `made` chairman after the operation was over. In his seemingly unedited and incoherent book (I don’t want to promote the title) he blamed Rawlings for cold feet attitude during the uprising. I don’t really know that kind of `history` these unaccomplished old soldiers want to teach us but I can tell it is inconsistent with the `Jr. Jesus` we all know. If these people were the kind of soldiers that they want to portray, why did they not finish the battle? Why did they abandon the ship when there was storm? Chairman Rawlings once described these category of people as his `fair weather friends` and I couldn’t agree more with him.

I was young at revolution time but I remember the song, `The revolution has a long way to go.....And has come to stay`. Did these people stay the course of the revolution? And did you know that these quasi revolutionaries who fell out are blaming Chairman Rawlings for all the `excesses` of the revolution? But these are the same people who carried out atrocities in the name of the revolution. Capt. Adabuga, I am told carried out a famous massacre near the Elwark stadium. He probably was high on illicit drugs. He run a Peacegoer into a crowd--killing over a hundred people instantly--yet managed to get away in the name of the revolution. All these `excesses` have been regrettably acknowledged and accepted by chairman Rawlings as part of the sacrifices that had to be made in order to consolidate a new foundation of true democracy in Ghana.

June4 represented and still represents `positive defiance` to a decaying `shystem` (shitty system). In my books, june4 and its consequences represents the biggest lesson in our history as a nation. It brought out the best in the young people of that generation. After the uprising which was led by JJ and the other junior officers--but which was largely supported by many young students and graduates--our country witnessed and was governed by the youngest and most progressive group of brains in our history. And these were those both capable and committed. It was a complete test case for the capability of the young people to lead, and in my opinion, it has been a success story.

First, there is no historical evidence to derail the argument that but for the firm conviction of the june4 movement and its architects, there would have still been coups in Ghana for a long time and we wouldn’t have been democratically ahead of Nigeria as we say now. Why? Consider all the coups since 1966. Each one of them could not stabilize their regimes. May be they didn’t know how to. May be they didn’t have the support of everyone else or may be they were simply not brutal enough with their reactionary forces.

People argue that there was an abandonment of principle when 31st Dec. came in being. Well, I don’t share in that argument. As long as the revolution had come to stay, as long as it had a long way to go, it was even pre-matured to handover power to a clueless civilian who had to idea how to consolidate and to stabilize the system. It is an open secret how the Liman government was falling apart due to internal wrangling and confusion. We are even told that Liman virtually Beckoned JJRawlings to come to his rescue before he would finally be devoured by the vampires who formed a circle around him. At the same time, the then rubble rousing opposition PP/NPP was lurking around and waiting for an opportunity to take us back to the pre-june4 days. That could not have been allowed to happen when the revolution had come to stay and still had a long way to go.

You can just imagine the many lessons we can draw from the june4 experience which we are refusing to utilize. Some politicians still act as though the people who voted them into power do not matter. They only think about themselves and their families. They still underrate the effects of mass/popular resistance. In recent times we had a day-light example from Madagascar where the masses put a Disc-jockey in the lead to oust the sitting president. Rajolina is only 34. So is it a coincidence that the masses will always choose a young man with courage to bring a change?

There is a lot to NOTE about the june4 and all the events following it. It may even require serializing write-ups on this subject. However, June4 lays special emphasis on the crucial and intervening role of the youth in leadership. The youth involvement in government can not be over emphasized. The youth can always bring dynamism and direction to a nation, and I dare say that JJRawlings and the rest of his comrades rose to the occasion when the people’s voice was raised in 1979. They rescued their generation and they left a great and enduring legacy for the present generation. What legacy are we going to leave for the future generation? Do we have courageous men and women in our generation who will rise to the occasion today when the need arises? I double doubt that as many of us are loosing our sense of nationhood through all the `mis-history` of the past several years.

But not to worry. I believe there are still many progressive youths imbued with the conviction of those young revolutionaries and who are committed to social justice today no matter the cost. But we must study the right history of our country first. If June4 was seen as our second independence, and the lessons taught without malice, and the heroes of that movement celebrated, we will certainly gain a new consciousness of using the lessons of the past to prevent a repeat of our history. And i sincerely think that the community of revolutionary intelligentsia would have to lead this struggle.

I remain a fanner of the June4 flame.

Amenga-Etego SaCut (National secretary) Youth for Leadership in Ghana