Feature Article of Thursday, 9 August 2012

Columnist: Yeboah, L. Kojo

A Dead President Mills in J J Rawlings’ Ghana!

When news of Ghana’s President John Evans Atta Mills’ unexpected demise hit my ears, shock and disbelief boomeranged through my body from hair to toe. My reaction was so palpable that a Nigerian co-worker rushed to my side and asked what was wrong.

“Ghana’s President just died,” I told him dejectedly. “Oh! No! J. J. Rawlings died!” He exclaimed. My coworker is not illiterate. He has a bachelor’s degree from Nigeria and a master’s from an American university. Yet, he thought Ghana’s presidency is synonymous with J. J. Rawlings. I had to painstakingly explain to him that Ex-President Rawlings’ 19 year rule ended in 2000 and the constitution he helped to promulgate forbids his return to power.

Unfortunately, my ill-informed coworker is not the only person who thinks Ex-President Rawlings is Ghana’s Presidency and Ghana’s Presidency is J. J. Rawlings. There are many others of the same school of thought across Africa and Ghana. And Ex-President Rawlings himself appears to be one of them.

Much has been said about Ex-President Rawlings’ BBC Interview in Congo Brazzaville. Yes, he showed a lack of decorum, a blatant disregard for our sacred tradition of ‘speaking no ill of the dead.’ Yet, that is vintage Rawlings, the nonconformist who has always done what pleases him in Ghana, societal norms and sensitivities be damned.

In this particular case, he has at least apologized, sort of, in his own peculiar way; so why all the “woyoo, woyoo;” why this article? This article is impelled by Ex-President Rawlings’ answer to the BBC question: “WHAT KIND OF LEGACY IS HE (the late President Mills) LEAVING GHANA, FOR THE GHANAIAN PEOPLE?”

“Oh, he’s played his part,” Rawlings answered. “As my vice President, I think he was one of the finest.” One of the finest what? Rawlings had only two vice Presidents in his nineteen year rule, Arkaah and Mills. Was he saying that the late President Mills was one of the finest vice Presidents in the history of the world because he worked under the omnipotent, indefatigable J. J Rawlings? How dismissive!

Why could Rawlings not answer the question about the legacy of Mills’ three and half year Presidency without inserting himself into the discourse? Is everything in Ghana about J. J. Rawlings? Surely if anybody asks J. J. Rawlings about his own legacy, the answer will not be; “Oh, I played my part.”

Since Ex-President Rawlings could not think of even one legacy of the Mills’ Presidency, you, dear reader, are hereby entreated to pause for a moment and do the thinking for him. What is Mills’ legacy? On my part, I believe the greatest good Atta Mills did as president of Ghana is:

He single handedly put an end to the politics of vindictiveness. He refused to succumb to immense inter party pressure from the likes of Ex-President Rawlings to use the power of the Presidency and brand the opposition as enemies then go for their jugular. As President, Kuffour could not rise above petty revenge and Ex-President Rawlings is the evangelist of vindictiveness.

Mills’ singular failure was that he succumbed to pressure from others in his party and allowed the Jubilee/Flagstaff house to lie unnecessarily in waste. Ghanaians saw the glee and awe on his face when he toured the place with Ex-President Kuffour. Kuffour built it, so what? Did he use his own money? The man borrowed money from the Indians and saddled us (Ghanaians) with debt to our eye balls! How ironic to read that the late President Mills may be buried in the Jubilee/Flagstaff house! How strange that the very people who pressured him to keep his living body from that glorified edifice may now want his lifeless body to lie for all eternity in what some of them dubbed the “NPP Juju house.”

Does the NDC really think that the grave of ‘Saint Mills’ will help the party get over a dumb, immature superstition, a cantankerous, unwarranted, costly controversy of its own creation? Or is the party hell bent on keeping the “poor professor” as their sacrificial lamb, even in death? Hopefully, the proposal to entomb the late President at the Jubilee/flagstaff house is just a repugnant joke. AGYA ATTA, DUE! AGYA ATTA, DAMIRIFA! DUE NE AMANE HUNU!

Written and submitted by L. Kojo Yeboah, Raleigh NC, USA on 7/30/12. Facts discussed herein may have changed by the time you read this on a Website.