Rhapsodies On 'Kindness' - Verse 4
Dr Kwesi Botchwey's flirtation with fame began that faithful day, December 31st 1981, when Junior Jesus' coup, sorry, revolution - no national anthem was played - catapulted him from the relative obscurity of the parched mud of Legon into the office of Finance Minister of Ghana. Like a 'flash of lightning across a serene sky', Dr Botchwey abandoned the sterile world of academia where he had hitherto basked in the adulation of the febrile nerds of the Legon intellectual left who made up his New Democratic Movement (NDM), and rattled sabres over Marxist theory with the 'stoned' cast of the radical June Fourth Movement. (JFM) But, in his new digs, Dr Botchwey, much to his chagrin, discovered that, despite the gospel of socialist solidarity that he had always believed in, the soon-to-disintegrate Soviet Union, Libya and Cuba could offer Ghana nothing much more ! than little green books, socialist pamphlets and People's Defence Committees (PDC). With his tail between his legs, he had to seek help from the same institutions that he and his afore mentioned colleagues had chastised over the years - the World Bank and the IMF. But such sudden elevations into prominence or near omnipotence can obfuscate the clarity of one's reason and Mr Botchwey's mind, it seems, was plunged into a miasma filled with a fatalistic yet giddy sense of his own grandeur. To him, dancing with the Breton Woods institutions did not amount to capitulation. In his mind, he was a modern day Lenin presiding over the New Economic Policy (NEP) of Ghana. To the uninitiated, Lenin, the founder of the disintegrated Soviet Union, invented the NEP in 1921, after the civil war when war communism had exposed the peasants and workers to such extortion, brutality and excesses that, a measure of capitalism was needed as a concession to the 'free market and capitalist in! stincts of the peasants an petty bourgeois'. True to history, the farc e of Kwesi Botchwey followed the tragedy of Vladmir Lenin From his perch of high office, much like "master bullfrog, grave and stern", he unleashed a sturdy diet of poverty-laden acronyms on the unsuspecting mass of Ghanaians. His undelectable SAPs (Structural Adjustment Programs) so sapped the ingenuity of Ghanaians such that the only jewellery that the masses could fashion out was the 'Rawlings Chain' of emaciation. And when Ghanaians could take it no longer, he introduced PAMSCAD, which my grandmother thought was a new 'kaba' style, but which was meant to alleviate the suffering under SAP. Then like the great Moses in the bible he watched as SAP and PAMSCAD worked together to create the great 'exodus' of Ghanaians out of the country in search of greener pastures. For close to thirteen years, Dr Botchwey presided over our economy as $5 billion poured in from donors, lateral and otherwise, and filtered through the hands of grateful friends, wives and party fai! thful of the powers that be, men and women who were elevated to dollar millionaire status at the table of patronage. When providence, through the 1983 bush fires and drought that almost collapsed the cocoa industry, pointed a way out to Ghana to diversify the economy, it was Dr Botchwey's commitment to neo-colonization that revived the cocoa farms, and thus Ghana stayed the course of economic dependency and low national income as a result of added-value loss. But Black Mamba, as Kwesi is affectionately and ominously called, was not one to stand idly by whilst his colleagues and friends wallowed in the spoils of office. Just like the phonetic pronunciation of his name, Bo-twe, he cast an intoxicating influence over the 'damrifa' of the female Canadian Ambassador and after an intense period of 'nyassing', a fine baby was born. This in turn led to an embarrassed Canadian Foreign Affairs' transfer of the said ambassador. Alas, after thirteen years, the bubb! le burst but unlike Shakespeare's Macbeth, Dr Botchwey decided that ev en though he was "in blood stepped in so far" it would be better to get out than continue 'wading to the other side". This event was marked by a resounding "talk-true slap" - a backhand, it is rumoured - that was dished by Junior Jesus, when Kwesi informed him of his plans to leave the government. Apparently Kwesi was leaving in protest against Tsatsu Tsikata, an avowed spendthrift with public money, and also a nerd from the same parched mud of Legon. Junior Jesus had employed the 'backhand' because he thought Kwesi was bolting from the mess that his poverty-laden acronyms had caused. But leave Kwesi did, and it is rumoured that as he climbed the stairs to the plane that would take him away from his beloved Ghana, he turned and took one last whiff of the faeces-laden Accra air and peremptorily announced to no one in particular, "I shall return!» Thus ended the first part of the saga of Dr Botchwey, Finance Minister of Ghana. From thence he would commit himself ! to a program of self-improvement. A professorship at Harvard and Columbia, an advisor to his beloved World Bank and IMF, and seven years later, Dr Botchwey is ready for his second coming. Much like the carpenter's son who came for the 'lost sheep of Israel", he offers himself for the Presidency of the country to save the suffering masses he had created and left behind. In true triumphant form, which according to the Chronicle, was reminiscent of Jesus' - not Junior - triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Dr Botchwey entered his party's headquarters, pulled out crispy twenty cedi notes to the tune of 20 million cedis and paid salary arrears of the staff. Merely by giving a donation of about $2,500, a mere fraction of his monthly Harvard pay, Kwesi is already buying voters for his show-down with Prof Atta-Mills, yet another nerd from the same parched mud of Legon. And lest Junior Jesus have any ideas about issuing more 'backhands', Kwesi has now surrounded himself with some! 'well-built' men. It is not immediately known if Kwesi's 'hoodlums' w ere recruited from the mean streets of Los Angeles or are just local 'jaguda'. Suffice it to say that, he came prepared. Dangerously, Kwesi is now armed with a more sinister acronym - NEPAD - the voluminous 'kneepads' that African leaders have sworn to wear as they grovel to industrialized countries for foreign exchange to build roads and reduce poverty among their peoples. Kwesi is armed with no new theories on Ghanaian development. He continues to sing the same old tune of a "massive inflow of investment and incredible change in the level of domestic investment". Perhaps he aims to beat his old record of $5 billion in thirteen years, but to date we have no inkling on how he hopes to achieve this. But much like our other politicians who have mastered the art of attacking their opponents when they have nothing much themselves to offer, Kwesi has began picking on Dr Kwesi Nduom, Minister for Economic Development, a man who seems to exist in a confusing world of ! 'no head, no tail'. "Inside this no head, no tail" as Fela was won't to say, Dr Nduom, through some mathematical manipulation that hinges on putting a factory in every region within the next five years, hopes to improve Ghana's per capita to $1000.00 in eight years, and Dr Botchwey, with no alternative plan of his own, is screaming foul and calling the plan 'unrealistic'. With our country men caught between these confusing rocks and hard places, while imbibing the toxic fumes of 'capacity building', 'stakeholders', 'stable macro-economic environment', 'good governance' and the bleak prospect of a 'golden age of business', a national malady of a short memory of suffering might just one day catapult Kwesi to power. What with a gullible electorate such as we have, his past performance will be forgotten, and his delusions of grandeur will be realized as Ghanaians vote him President some day. Or will they?