When Rawlings salutes Mills' grave
8/16/2012 2:30:04 PM -
By Emmanuel Akli
The Akans have a saying that when you see a rat roaming the bush in broad daylight, it might have been chased out of its hole by hunters. The rat lives in its hole throughout the day, and only comes out in the night. In our side of the world, it is not common to see a military man saluting a civilian's grave, which is a high military mark of respect.
I am, therefore, not surprised with the decision by ex-President Rawlings to salute the grave of the late President Mills at the Asomdwee Park a couple of days ago, as the late President Atta Mills was the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed forces.
Obviously, the man was denied courtesies which would allow him to express his respect, yet he saluted the grave of the late President to the consternation of the mourners who had gathered at the Park, but true to form, went further to break protocol by walking out of the place without waiting for the President to first leave.
When President Mills passed on to glory, Rawlings' first interview he granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) was not anything palatable. The man simply launched a blistering attack on the deceased, as he used to do when the law Professor was alive. In our customs and traditions, we do not do that, and I expected the former Head of State to have known this.
In my article, 'Rawlings is a Heartless Man', which was published in The Chronicle a couple of days ago, I drew the attention of the former occupant of the Castle that when Mills was alive, he used all manner of unprintable words against him, but the late President never stood on any platform to respond to his harsh criticisms, including the outright insults he heaped on him.
To, therefore, go on air to tell the whole world that if the man was wiser, he would have lived an additional six to seven months before his death, to me, was a complete breach of etiquette. What broke the camel's back was the claim that Mills died from throat cancer, as if he instructed his daughter, Ezenator Rawlings, to examine the late President before he gave up the ghost. Obviously the Dzelukofe-born ex-military strong man did not have sympathy for the Law Professor,let alone his wife, son and family he left behind. I also pointed out in the article under reference that if his children would not be happy when people say that the man whose hands were tainted with blood had passed on, then he must be careful the way he attacks people.
Of course, I received a lot of flak from readers on the internet, with some even threatening me for attacking their mentor, and describing him as a heartless man. But no matter the situation, I still stand by the words I used in the said article, because as a former head of state, I expected Rawlings to live above reproach.
He should have known that per our customs and traditions, we don't insult the dead, but rather sympathise with them. May God forbid, but should Rawlings pass on to glory today, everybody would be talking about the good things he did for this country, even though, as a human being, he has his shortcomings, which could be used against him.
For him to go on air to attack Mills, as he did a few hours after the man died, was reprehensible. But, whilst condemning Mr. Rawlings for his behaviour, I think it is equally wrong for Dr. Cadman Mills, younger brother of the late President Mills, to ignore him when he was asked to give a vote of thanks at the burial ground on the day Mills was interred. Despite the conspicuous presence of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) founder, Cadman did not find it necessary to acknowledge his presence, let alone thank him for the role he played in the political life of his brother.
It is a known fact that Messrs Goosie Tanoh, Kyeretwie Opoku and Ms. Emelia Arthur broke away to form the now comatose National Reform Party (NRP), following the decision by Mr. Rawlings to pluck the late President Mills from political obscurity, and made him his running mate for the 1996 elections. Against all protestations, Mr. Rawlings again, supported the former Law and Tax Professor to contest the 2000 elections, which the then ruling party lost.
In 2004, Rawlings decided not to support any of the candidates who contested the primary, which included Eddie Annan and Alhaji Mahama Iddrisu, but he eventually threw his weight behind Mills immediately he won, and campaigned vigorously for him during the national elections, which the Law Professor lose again. In 2008, when everybody thought Rawlings had finally bid goodbye to his former Vice President, he emerged at the last hour, and campaigned strongly for him, by touring the length and breadth of this country.
Again, when the Electoral Commission announced that an election would be held in the Tain constituency to determine who wins the 2008 elections, Rawlings was the first political figure to arrive in the constituency, before Mills himself could drive to the place. With all the instances I have enumerated, one would have expected that when Cadman Mills was asked to give a vote of thanks, he would have remembered Rawlings and thanked him for the role he played in the political life of his brother, before he passed on glory, but this did not happen. I suspect that despite all the attacks on him, Mills himself, realised that Rawlings had played a role in his political life, and that was why he decided not to respond with equal force to the way his former boss was insulting him.
Indeed, but for the support Rawlings gave to Mills, which led eventually to his ascendency of the presidency, Cadman himself would not have been probably become a member of the Economic Management Team, drawing economic policies for the country. Again, his sisters would not have been driven by a car, led by a state-owned motorcade, if their brother had not become president. This alone, shows that despite all his unnecessary attacks on Mills when he was alive, Rawlings still deserves a bit of praise from Cadman and his sisters.
The brother of the late President obviously, forgot that some days to his death, Mills himself invited Rawlings to the Castle to have a closed door meeting with him. I do not think the former President would have done that if he was so hurt by the way Rawlings was attacking him. When Jesus Christ cured the ten lepers and only one of them returned to thank him, he asked for the whereabouts of the rest. If Jesus Christ who, we, Christians, believe is God, was so hurt because people he had cured failed to appreciate it, then how much more Rawlings who is a mortal?
Unless Cadman Mills and his family have incontrovertible evidence that Rawlings had something to do with the death of their brother, which I doubt, I insist that they did not show any appreciation to the latter, and must apologise to him if their actions were not deliberate. The way Rawlings broke protocol, and the subsequent salute he gave at the grave, was not the best, but one cannot blame him for that because he acted as a man who had been hurt.
If despite all the attacks on the deceased, the Rawlings still found it necessary to participate fully in the funeral programme, he ought to have been accorded praises deserves, and not the way he was treated at the grave side.