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Opinions of Friday, 17 July 2009

Columnist: Amenga-Etego, SaCut

RE: The Essential J.J. Rawlings

I saw an article entitled `The Essential J.J.Rawlings` on Ghana Home Page on the 13th July 2009. I had just returned from taking shots of President Barack Obama in the Dungeons, and was still reminiscing over the experience. Usually, I read every article that has J.J. Rawlings in the title but, I did not read this one until the following day when I got a signal from one of my comrades to get the Chronicle of 13th July 2009 in which the same article had been published.

At first, it seemed to me that the author, Benjamin Tawiah, was giving his readers a transcript of a News File program on joy fm—a program that we all monitored on the airwaves. It had to do with a statement attributed to the former president who accused opponents of the Mills administration of being behind the recent upsurge in armed robbery in the country.

Yes, it is true that that News File Program on that Saturday was taken into the gutters by Malik Kwaku Baako and Mr. Akomea. They went on the rampage to virtually insult the former president to the embarrassment of the host of the program and the annoyance of the listeners like me. And for this, Mr. Tawiah, the writer extols them. What he failed woefully to recognize is how easy, provincial and unintellectual it is to insult during debates. Unless you don’t understand a debate—which obviously Mr. Tawiah would need to appreciate before extolling Mr. Baako and his ilk.

I am not even here to talk about how true or untrue it is that opponents of the Mills administration are behind the recent armed robberies in Ghana. That is what former president Rawlings has said. And many others, including his personal aid have already spoken to this issue. I will not question him because he knows what I do not know. Period. You can call me a hero-worshiper for not questioning him like some one said to me the other day. Just remember it is worth worshiping a hero provided that hero is a winner. What the writer did was to hero-worship Malik Kwaku Baako—a looser. That is the difference. His attitude towards Mr. Rawlings on radio is born out of pure cowardice, and sheer jealousy of a peer who started off with him and left him way behind. He did not as a youth, have half of the courage of Mr. Rawlings to stand against injustice in this country. He did not have the `balls` to lead his colleagues against all odds. When it was time for `concrete action`, Mr. Rawlings was there. All Mr. Malik Kwaku Baako has ever known how to do—and very well—is to be an informant—even against his comrades in `struggle`. What is courageous and dignified about a man who sells information even to his `enemies` for a pittance? And yet, Mr. Tawiah the writer extols and worships such a man as a hero. What Mr. Baako does on radio, to say the least, is show of `cosmetic courage`.

Now, to the main point. The writer asked a question `Why does nobody ever hear the often laudable suggestions he (Rawlings) offers`. This is where there is gulf between my understanding and the writer’s. People who do not know sense usually would call everything nonsense. I know one thing for sure—you need just more than a school certificate to be wise. Those who look for wisdom in the class room never find it. No doubt the writer and many other `scholars` cannot understand when Mr. Rawlings speaks, and in their warped understanding, they turn to ridicule his statements in order to feel better about their own sorry selves. Does it not expose the writer as an ignoramus when he goes on to say that `Revolutionaries do not behave like diplomats: They are not schooled in the art of protocols and diplomacy; they carry their nature with them, like guns`. For his information, Nkrumah was a revolutionary. He also was the greatest African diplomat. So what are you saying about revolutionaries and diplomacy? Besides, are these not simply approaches? Why don’t people just bear with his approach?

Mr. Tawiah concludes his article with a question `what do we intend to advise regarding the ex-president’s comments and utterances? Should we adopt the Kwaku Baako bitter-never-let-him-be approach, and drown everything the ex-president says in a sea of adjectives, or digest his words with a Nana Akomeah gentle but biting castigation`? I can not see the difference here. Both approaches are one and the same. The former president put out an issue. Do you tackle the issues or the personality? Those who tackle the issues have great minds. And those who tackle the personality of Mr. Rawlings have all the `schooling` but luck proper education to decipher between the issues and the personality. What we must do is take away our personal sentiments and biases and keep opened and analytical minds then we can debate the merits and demerits of his statements.

Sitting on radio and calling the former president names other than his real name is just simply seeking cheap popularity. And by the way, Malik Kwaku Baako was barely known until he rode on the back of the name Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings to become famous or rather infamous, and I suspect that the writer Mr. Tawiah wants to employ a similar strategy. As he rightly put it at the end of his article, Mr. Rawlings has a great legacy that is as enduring as donating his hunger award for the building of a university for development studies. I would ask Mr. Tawiah, the writer to join me to begin an advocacy for the naming of that university as the Rawlings University for Development Studies (RUDES UNIVERSITY). Wouldn’t that sound great? Now, those who call his statements and actions `infantile` should go build a legacy for themselves.

Singned:

Amenga-Etego SaCut (National Secretary)

Youth for Leadership in Ghana.