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Opinions of Friday, 22 February 2008

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

RE: Much Ado About Rawlings

Michael Ampong is a True, Admirable Patriot

Not quite awhile ago, somebody authored an article titled “Much Ado About Rawlings,” which was published in the edition of February 11, 2008. The gist of the rather intemperate, if also incoherent, article by the writer was that some of us vehement critics of Mr. Jeremiah John Rawlings had been so successful as to decisively threaten the purported legacy of the founding-proprietor of the so-called Provisional National Democratic Congress (P/NDC).

What was also quite fascinating about the afore-referenced article was the impudent and outright criminal attempt by the author to impugn the dignity and common sense of those of us who would not have certified murderers and thieves running their riotous foul-mouths in our nation’s hallowed public spaces, in the dubious name of “democracy” when, in fact, all along, they have unabashedly demonstrated themselves to be both the inveterate enemies of democracy as well as the dictatorial architects of a patently unsavory culture of silence.

And talking of thieves and robber barons, it is quite intriguing to hear the unconscionable likes of Mr. Johnson Asiedu-Nketiah, the general-secretary of the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC), spewing the kind of unprintable invectives only worthy of bastards and malcontents. And here, also, the unmistakable allusion is to the near-irreparable bastardization of Ghanaian politics by butchers and certified lunatics. But, of course, the latter description of the human species could never have half-nearly been as “successful” as they have become, without the staunch support of servile clowns like Mr. Asiedu-Nketiah (a.k.a. General Mosquito).

In the wake of the most recent New Patriotic Party Delegates’ Congress, for instance, during which momentous event Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo was elected the NPP Presidential Candidate for Election 2008, “General Mosquito” was widely quoted to be claiming that some ardent thieves had congregated and elected their foremost thief as their presidential candidate for Election 2008. And, needless to say, it was only natural and logical for rank-and-file members of the ruling party to vehemently demand a prompt and unconditional apology from “General Mosquito.”

Needless to say, the preceding reminded yours truly of 1979, when shortly after summarily executing eight of his predecessors, among them Generals I. K. Acheampong, F. W. K. Akuffo and A. A. Afrifa, Flt.-Lt. J. J. Rawlings – in a classical “Kawukudi-style” – demanded that all Ghanaians, including secondary school students, hand over their newly-issued, and hard-earned, ¢ 50 (Fifty-Cedi Notes) in exchange for currency notes in smaller denominations. Mr. Rawlings’ pretext was that the SMC-II’s printing of the ¢ 50 notes had caused hyper-inflation in the country and a concomitant skyrocketing in the prices of the so-called essential commodities.

Students, such as yours truly, lined up and nervously and charily handed over our monies to some senior students designated for the purpose, had our names written down on slips of duplicated receipt papers, with the solemn promise of having the exact value of our re-denominated monies returned to us within a couple of weeks. And, dear reader, need I recall for your benefit the fact that that was the last time that any of us, students, saw or heard about our pocket monies?

In retrospect, we recognize that the very first legacy of Mr. Rawlings to the unsuspecting and utterly defenseless people of Ghana was naked and broad-daylight robbery at gunpoint. Perhaps the likes of General Mosquito and that shameless lickspittle who wrote that “baloney” (sandwich of an article) titled “Much Ado About Rawlings” could tell us exactly where our monies went. Not that we are, in any way, whatsoever, bereft of our creative faculties or imagination.

Indeed, we decided to highlight the foregoing in view of the glaringly eerie fact that the Butcher-of-Dzelukope has become a canonized bugbear of postcolonial Ghanaian politics. In the heat of the New Patriotic Party’s presidential primary, for instance, Mr. Michael Ampong, one of the verbally most caustic operatives of a privately-favored presidential aspirant, shamelessly cited the purportedly massive influence of Mr. Rawlings on the postcolonial Ghanaian political landscape as a salient reason not to vote for Nana Akufo-Addo. Mr. Ampong’s thesis was that being an inveterate enemy of the sort of jungle ethos that is personified by the infamous Butcher-of-Dzelukope, the election of the current NPP presidential candidate was apt to hurtle Ghana to the brink of civil discord. This is what political scientists call “the politics of fear.” It is almost invariably purveyed by the morally pusillanimous as well as the brazenly opportunistic. Fortunately, the preceding canker is curable.

In the case of Mr. Ampong, such cure came in the form of the resounding acclamation of Nana Akufo-Addo by the NPP national delegates who converged on the august campus of Ghana’s flagship academy, popularly known as the University of Ghana, or the School that Dr. J. B. Danquah Built.

And so when the former leading campaign operative of Mr. Alan Kyerematen heartily congratulates Nana Akufo-Addo and expresses utter delight at the victory of the man whom he once equally delightfully vilified, it is all in synch with what expert political theorists term as “Realpolitik.” On one level, it is tantamount to a politics of personal expediency which, in political culture, is perfectly legal and even admirable. For it points to the salutary recognition, on the part of the practitioner, the fact that the first law of survival and relevance is self-preservation. It is also the enviable hallmark of an astute political strategist.

Needless to say, in the wake of his December election as NPP flagbearer for Election 2008, aside from the elected Presidential Candidate or Flagbearer himself, it was Mr. Alan Kyerematen whose superstar-status was the most resplendent, largely for his rather mature and unquestionably conciliatory gesture towards both his principal political opponent – I prefer “rival” – and the good fortune of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and, by logical extension, the nation at large.

It is also indescribably heartening to hear Mr. Ampong caution both Nana Akufo-Addo’s campaign machinery and the ruling New Patriotic Party, at large, against the unproductive politics of complacency. For, in the final analysis, a campaign primary, as the very term suggests, is only the beginning of greater things to come.

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “When Dancers Play Historians and Thinkers,” a forthcoming essay collection on postcolonial Ghana politics. E-mail:

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