16.08.2020 Feature Article

But You Are All Criminals, Anyway

But You Are All Criminals, Anyway
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In one of the excerpts – actually, it is a combination of excerpts and an editorial interpretation of the Kwamena Ahwoi memoir titled “Working with Rawlings,” the author bitterly complains that at some point after standing down from the Presidency, as the British would say, former Flt-Lt Jerry John Rawlings virulently accused some of the key operatives of the erstwhile Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC), who had helped the career coup-plotter and military dictator to criminally hijack Ghanaian democracy, by overthrowing the popularly elected Dr. Hilla “Babini” Limann-led government of the People’s National Party (PNP), of being criminals (See “Rawlings Called Us Criminals – Prof Kwamena Ahwoi” 8/10/20).

I could not help bursting into a guffaw, for Rawlings was telling the God-honest truth, except that like the self-righteous megalomania that most Ghanaians have always known him to be, Mr. Rawlings haughtily insisted that the joke ought to be on Messrs. Kojo Tsikata, Ato Ahwoi, the elder brother of the memoirist, PV Obeng, Kwame Peprah, and Kofi Totobi-Quakyi, the man with the deliciously funky name. For those of my readers who grew up during the late 1960s and the 1970s, “Totobi,” the marinade-softened hide of the cow or ox, was a very delicious meat, especially if it was prepared with either palm-nut or peanut-butter soup. In my mother’s case, the soup could be almost as thick as a stew. When I left the country in July of 1985, Mr. Totobi-Quakyi was the Information Minister in the classical mold of Squealer, in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.”

The Ghana of 1985 was a veritable Animal Farm. We were under a 12-hour curfew that began from 6 O’clock in the evening to 6 O’clock in the morning. Our AK-47-armed soldiers were authorized to shoot-on-sight any ordinary citizen found to be in breach of the curfew. Once, I came close to being felled by flying bullets volleyed across the legendary tree where Okomfo Anokye’s Sword is widely alleged to have been planted and the double wooden gate on the fence that divided the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) from the old Fourth Battalion of Infantry Barracks, adjacent to the Guardroom, where the charismatic Osofo Asare was briefly detained, prior to being summarily executed in a hail of bullets at the Kejetia Roundabout, in the heart of the Kumasi Municipality, as the Asante Region’s capital was then designated, and charred to ashes beyond recognition.

As of this writing, of course, Kumasi had been designated a Metropolis or a Metropolitan Area. In the opinion of the second of the three infamous Ahwoi Brothers, the putative inventors of nepotism in the Rawlings Era, the third among the trio being Mr. Kwesi Ahwoi, the former Agriculture Minister and later Ghana’s Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa – the crime for which the former Chairman Rawlings wanted these three brothers banished from the Republic, as it were, was that these National Democratic Congress’ stalwarts and ideologues, you may choose to call them “gurus,” in the opinion of an Anally Retentive and palpably agitated Chairman Rawlings, had dared to switch their allegiance from the Trokosi Nationalist Generalissimo to the latter’s handpicked Swedru Declaration dynastic heir and successor, to wit, the then-President John Evans Atta-Mills.

In other words, according to Prof. Ahwoi, the half-Scottish waif could simply not abide the very notion that the political spotlight or cynosure of the National Democratic Congress could be focused on any other leader or personality of the party than Chairman Rawlings. In sum, Chairman Rawlings voraciously craved a level of personality cult that eerily rivaled that of Ghana’s “Founding Postcolonial President.” The institutional identity of the National Democratic Congress was clearly inextricable from the personality and identity of Chairman Jerry John Rawlings. Which vividly reminds me of a period during the 1990s, when an interviewer from a Nigerian newsmagazine – it is always a Nigerian newspaper reporter – asked the then-Chairman Jerry John Rawlings to name one or two Continental African Leaders whom he considered to be either his heroes or role models.

Well, to the predictable chagrin of many among his audience and readers, Chairman Rawlings curtly snapped that he was darn too busy trying to get Ghana’s economic difficulties resolved to worry himself silly about ideological and political icons and heroes. That was when yours truly also decided that, after all, the Rawlings’ Revolution was not worth the trip and the paper on which it was strategized prior to its being “summarily executed” by a platoon of some ragged uniformed AK-47-toting goons and a couple of World-War II-era fighter jet pilots.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

August 10, 2020

E-mail: [email protected]

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