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Opinions of Saturday, 10 June 2006

Columnist: Dadoto, Habel Awuku

June 4 The Awakening of Ghana.

The decline of our Ghana is the problem of us all as individuals not to see the importance of making it great

As June 4 1979 comes to revision, we will be reminded that it was the awakening day of Ghana and so it became Ghana's day of waking up from the slumber in which it was. To those who stood for the justice that eluded Ghanaians before June 4 1979, I salute you.

Ghana before June 4th Ghana has been setting trends in Africa affairs since the late1940s when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah's 'POSSITIVE ACTION' forced Britain, the colonial masters to heed demands for "Self-Government Now". Continued agitations led to Ghana's Independence on March 6, 1957. At the time of Independence, Ghana was one of the richest British colonies. Today, our Ghana is a HIPC. Congrats to those who campaigned tirelessly for that status. Their visionless foresights saw Ghana degraded to its present status. What more could they do?

Ghana was in coma by the end of 1978. There were many events that brought Ghana to her technical death (coma) in the years that followed Independence. Events such as Coups, military governments , four digit inflations, massive corruptions, acute food shortages, smuggling, black marketeering (Kalabule) just to mention the few.) Prior to June 4 1979, Ghana's economy never existed. That is zip and zero. The rains stopped falling. The fishes vanished from our rivers and the sea. The bushes and the forests were so dried waiting for the fires. Our abundant bush meat were no where to be found. Accra, other cities and towns were as miserable as an orphan, and the only thing visible were the long queues. I used to be in a line or queue for up to three days just to get a seat on a truck to my home town just 100 miles away. Ghana was described in those days as "A woman in labor waiting in agony for the arrival of a mid-wife" Courtesy Rawlings. In that extreme suffering Ghana remained the example Africa could talk about, from abundant to lack For what has happened and the process which was begun much earlier and which brought our proud people to their knees is one in which most of Africa was and today is involved. Many ordinary Africans were keenly aware of this home fact and from every corner of the continent, voices calls for a change. By the end of 1976, the Military Ruling Council (SMC) saw the death of the patience they were treating and proposed a Union Government that they thought would save Ghana. Ghanaians yet made another political History when civilians (credit to our students) proved that through sustained campaign and many personal sacrifices, they could resist that selfish idea. That civilian opposition brought down a very strong, stubborn and foolishly arrogant military Head of State and forced changes to be made in the ruling council to re-think their medical preposition for Ghana. General Acheampong then Head of State and the brain behind "Union Government" was toppled from power in a Palace coup by his deputy General F.W.K. Akuffo. General Akuffo later abandoned the Union Government concept and made it clear he was going to return the dying body (Ghana) to a civilian doctor to take care of. A new country governing law (Constitution) was drafted. Time table for election and handover was set for July 1979. Ghanaians breathed the sigh of relief. Soldiers can't prescribe the right medicines much more perform a good autopsy so they waited patiently for the civilian team to come. However, that relief was short lived when on May 15 1979 an unsuccessful demonstration (uprising) was staged by some men of the Air Force. The uprising was quickly brought down by men of the Army led by the Army Commander General Odartey Wellington. The news spread in the early hours of the day and Ghanaians wore the anger of disapproval on their faces as to why a coup is warranted at that time. The open trail of the participants of the uprising and the explosive revelations of the leader of the failed uprising lifted high the reasons behind their action. The Ghanaians mindset of none approval of the uprising shifted and they started to ask why it did not succeed?

The beginning of June 4th On 15 May 1979, the name Jerry John Rawlings was first head by most Ghanaians and first by the International Community (news).He was named as the leader of the early day's abortive uprising in Ghana. Major General Odartey Wellington in his Broadcast to quell the uprising made it clear it was purely an insurrection by a few misguided individuals rather than a conflict between the armed Forces. However, as we later understood, it was a conflict between the lower ranks and officers in the Armed forces. Rumors had it that Rawlings was to be executed if found guilty and guilty the verdict will surely be as we all expected at that time.

The dawn wake-up call In the early hours of June 4 1979, Rawlings' prison gate was broken loose and released from cell by dissidents among the lower ranks. "The ranks have just got me out of my cell. In other words the ranks have just taken over the destiny of this country. Fellow Officers, if we are to avoid any bloodshed, I plead with you not to attempt to stand in their way because they are full of malice. Hatred, hatred we have forced into them through all these years of suppression. They are ready to get it out the venom we created. So for Heaven's sake, do not stand in their way. They are not fools. If you have any reason to fear them, you may run. If you have NO reason to feel guilty, do not move.

After the Broadcast, some sort of mixed feelings came on the faces of Ghanaians. Few were gripped with fear and the majority raised their hands to the Heavens thanking God for sending the Junior Jesus to save Ghana from the coma in which it was. June 4 gave Ghana another first. As the hours followed, Ghanaians were confused when Broadcasting House became the battle ground. General Odartey Wellington again tried to put down the popular revolt until he was caught up in it. There was a period of silence from the mid-day into the early evening before the voice of General Joshua Hamidu Chief of Defense Staff was heard. He announced the success of the take over but with little details. He returned later and this was what he said.

"I am happy to announce that the hypocrisy of Acheampong and Akuffo since 1972 has been brought to an end. All members of the regime are to report to the Air Force Station or any nearest Police Station now for their own safety. We wish to assure you that Election procedures will go on as planned. It is in the national interest. We have suffered too long. May God bless this nation. I lived closer to the barracks at the time and could hear the whole Ghana on applause and the thanks they offered after General Hamidu's broadcast. I saw also tears of happiness flowing down many Ghanaian eyes.

The re-birth of Ghana Let the blood flow! The following day, Ghana and the world understood the takeover was not the normal type of Africa coups. Not the same old game to play in its symbolism. Rather a popular revolt of military against the military and the social injustice which crippled once a great nation. Fear gripped Ghana in particular, extended to the rest of Africa and the world. Let the blood flow, Action, Action, were the battle cries of the lower ranks and widely supported by the students and the general public. AFRC hands were tied as tensions rose to their limits. Power was in everybody's hand. Students took to the streets, joined by workers. Even our rural folks were not left out. Demonstrations came from all angles calling for Justice and proper punishment for offenders. Ghana regained life and awakened from her coma.

AFRC and the house cleaning The mood expressed in the battle-cry 'Let the blood flow' extended far beyond the armed forces and the students. It was shared by the vast majority of ordinary Ghanaians including religious leaders. They openly voiced the view that things had gone too far in Ghana that a change of direction could only be achieved by letting the blood of those who 'chopped Ghana so small' flow. They also demanded the executions of civilians as well as military men to encourage the house cleaning exercise set by the AFRC. Here I quote few out of the many.

1. "I fully support the toppling of the SMC and I endorse absolutely the determination of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council to wash the country clean with the blood of the corrupt. I have been telling my friends for some time now that Ghana's only cleansing lotion is the blood of those who so badly let her down through selfish and corruption. My only fear now is that the AFRC may not do a thorough job of cleansing which requires the execution of at least500 people. This figure is a studied guess. Ghana is so heavily soiled with corruption that the blood of 500 can be enough only for the removal of surface dust. To remove the grime and ingrained dirt, the AFRC has to go a great deal further. Let us pray to Almighty God that they have the nerve and stamina to go the whole distance. To those of us not directly involved. we owe it as a duty to Ghana to receive the news of these executions with the utmost courage as the good of the common man in Ghana depends on these executions encouraging future politicians to behave" Dr. Seth C.K Agodzo the co-coordinator of the National Youth Council at the time addressing a rally in Kumasi

2. Father Kwamina Damuah wrote an Editorial in the Catholic Standard "This revolution is not a wedding party.This is the time to literally baptize the whole nation.We do not love those executed less, but we love our country more.Of course, the executions are not the only solution, but they certainly form part of the solution" So here we all as Ghanaians accepted that our house needed to be cleansed of the dirt that was brought in it by some few greedy people. From the barracks to the offices, the classrooms to the dock yards, came revelations of the misdeeds of those who were put in positions of trust. A country awakened to see the captain and his crew has done away with all the cargo on board.

Ghana's match forward. As much as the AFRC could do, there was no time at their disposal. The promise to go ahead with the elections as planned and agreed to by the AFRC was strictly adhered. Dr Liman and his PNP won the elections and power handed over to him. Democracy returned to Ghana. Dr Liman promised to continue the house cleaning exercise from where AFRC left. Surprisingly, after the hand over, attempts were made to discredit the AFRC and the popular revolution. All members were offered cash and scholarships to study abroad. Britain and America were particularly suspected as the powers that offered those scholarships and cash awards. It was for them (AFRC) members to take rest and a break in its meaning. However, I think it this way "when the cat is not around, the mice will surely play" Rawlings rejected all the offers predicting what will happen should they all be driven out as though they were criminals. Some of them took the offers and Rawlings was right. There were many publications as to why those who fought against injustice were right to accept a $200,000 and scholarship awards. It was all an attempt to discredit the revolution when all players are gone and Liman's fear of living under Rawlings popularity and the revolution. PNP was later engulfed in a power struggle when Mr. Imoru Egala suddenly died. Remember, Dr. Liman played little part if any in forming PNP but was invited by his uncle Imoru Egala to lead the Party when he (Egala) was banned from holding any public office. After Egala's death, Dr. Liman had no actual control over the affairs of the country as a whole and the party in particular Things started to return to the old style. Ghana was awakened and never again will it be allowed

Conclusion. To the best of my understanding, God has good reasons for not allowing the May 15 1979 uprising to succeed. Was it to be successful, the planners would have gained much control over the affairs and their plans perfectly carried out. That will be going the Ethiopian way as Rawlings said in his statement read by the prosecutors. Accra would have been littered with blood and the whole Ghana would have seen blood flowing up from Paga down to the Keta lagoons. How merciful God is to save Ghana on May 15 1979, and accepted June 4 1979 to awaken her? As we hear today from the four corners of the country and beyond, those few people who were either the benefactors of those days rotten system or perhaps saw not how it was before that dawn wake up call echo's the rhythm of condemnations to the ears of the world. Nonetheless, June 4 1979 shall remain the day Ghana woke up from her coma to the shock of the world.

God Our Homeland Ghana. And Long Live The Black Star Of Africa.

Habel Awuku Dadoto,
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