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Opinions of Thursday, 26 February 2004

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

The Politics Of Sorrow

?Grief drives men to serious reflection, sharpens the understanding and softens the heart,? President John Quincy Adams, USA



The two countries in Africa?s most troubled region are engaged in reconciliation jamboree as a tranquilizer, as a therapy to understand why all these troubles of yesteryears and then use it as reality thresher to soften their hearts that have been hardened over the years by their own stupidity. One has just emerged from ten years of one of Africa?s most brutal civil wars. The other emerged three years ago from one of Africa?s most totalitarian regimes. Both are former British colonies. One has collapsed making its security managed by an international force, the other was saved by the grace of its wits but its northern part over the past ten years has seen community bloodbath.

Please, welcome to Sierra Leone and Ghana, the two countries in the much troubled West Africa where national reconciliation commissions are on-going to sooth the souls of many of those troubled by years of idiocy and help keep the spirit of the nation intact after years of gruesome miseries. What emanates from the two countries truth and reconciliation platforms are years of treachery, evil, lies, deceit, tribalism, man?s inhumanity to man and a people who haven?t learn a bit from their past.

For the past two weeks, the Ghana National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), which aim to patch up tattered souls and bodies those wounded over the years in mainly military juntas, has turned into ?politics of sorrow? to use a term from Canadian Davorka Ljubisic?s new book ?A Politics of Sorrow: The Disintegration of Yugoslavia? (Black Rose Book, Montreal, 2003). The forum for healing has become the forum of ?new primitivism,? a forum for defensive postures and politics of blame and counter-blame instead of a forum for civility, healing and maturation. Ex-President Jerry Rawlings, a man with clearly weak cognitive powers, is either lying about his not having the video tapes purported to contain the interrogations and killings of some of those killed during his oppressive years or demonstrating total absentmindedness. In Rawlings? ex-security chief Capt. Kojo Tsikata we saw politics of sorrow if one reads statements and counterstatements from the figures that are alleged to have had inside knowledge of the bloody episodes of the Rawlings years. A carefully prepared drama projecting Tsikata as victim of the death of three judges and other senior military officers and other right violations give insight into how Ghana emerged from years of fear. Writes Capt. Tsikata to the global Ghanaian community as the politics of sorrow mounts on the pages of the media, ?The article is one long tissue of libellous distortions and outright lies. It paints Capt. Tsikata as a dubious and violent character likely to have killed Air Vice Marshall Boakye, Major Sam Acquah, Justice Fred Sarkodee and one Cpl. Seidu in cold blood. It also paints Mr. Francis Poku, National Security Co-ordinator, as a heroic victim of PNDC (and by innuendo Capt. Tsikata?s) harassment with cock and bull stories about his (Francis Poku?s) posters being posted around exit points from Ghana and helicopter searches for him in early 1982. This is evidently part of a media campaign being mounted to divert public attention from Mr. Poku?s history of participation in torture during the Acheampong regime. The Daily Guide is doing Mr. Poku?s dirty work for him presumably under his direction.?

In Sierra Leone, which before it fell to the ?newprimitives? pride itself as the most civilized in West Africa (the first university in West Africa, Fourah Bay College, was founded there), the heated national debate is increasingly revealing, like Ghana, how a culture of treachery, deceit, blackmail, stupidity and mindlessness fertilized the grounds for the decade long bloody Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insurgency. Writes a Dr. Alieu Iscandri in the Freetown-based Concord Times, ?And the great blame game continues?The APC has been out of power for about 14 years now, after a coup orchestrated by the SLPP, funded by the SLPP, supported both morally and financially by the SLPP. It sort of smack of gross hypocrisy that 14 years later the SLPP is still blaming the APC for mismanagement of Sierra Leone when they and their progenies the NPRC have had the past 14 years to create Nirvana in Sierra Leone?Now lets talk about Foday Sankoh and his band of merry warriors. It is a fact that most of the members of the present SLPP government supported the RUF and as a matter of fact even the President has admitted to that, quite noble of him, considering the spirit of reconciliation. In fact all of the videos of Foday Sankoh in the Bush, depict him wearing a GREEN bandana and claiming his membership in the SLPP. Now there's something that your so-called "democratic" party has to come clean about and its role in the formation of the RUF and its subsequent prosecution of an unjust war against the people of Sierra Leone.?

While in Iscandri?s quote we see attempts to explain how both sides of Sierra Leone?s political divide?SLPP and APC (who are responsible for the mess in the first place)?aided and abetted the bloody RUF insurgents, in Tsikata, who has been fingered in some of the horrible atrocities during the Rawlings era, we see a man attempting to put the record right purportedly in a country which has short memory. In both Ghana and Sierra Leone what we are increasingly hearing is the elites at the center of their countries sorrow for fickle reasons. You ask some of the now defunct RUF elites why the destruction of Sierra Leone and they can?t give you any reasonable answer. You ask Rawlings and his cohorts why all these murders and culture of fear unleashed on Ghanaians for most of the last 20 years in their era and they can?t give you any reasonable answer.

The Sierra Leone and Ghana reconciliation talks is practically reflective of the entire West Africa, a region that is the poorest in the world and a region that records most of the terrible developments in Africa. The healings talks should, therefore, radiate regionally to rejuvenate this long troubled area of Africa.


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