Santa Cruz, CA, USA: July 1, 1999. -- At long last two decades of Rawlingstocracy is grudgingly drawing to its tethers. Very soon, it will be time for J.J. to go on a BLIND DATE with history, chaperoned by over eighteen million eagle-eyed Ghanaians. It will mark the end of two decades of Novocainal monotony of news headlines about the Rawlingses in our tax-payer-sponsored "Daily Graphic", "Ghanaian Times", GBCTV and GBC Radio. And the beginning of a new chapter? I think I know how some (if not the majority) of Ghanaians feel. It's been two decades on the political roller coaster for some. We have been ensorcelled! A lot of Ghanaians have gone through agonizingly painful ordeals at the hands of J.J and his cohorts' deeds and misdeeds. Luckily for the Rawlingses and Co., and especially for the Nation, while a handful may be on revenge autopilot, most of us are not looking for a splash of revenge. But the more one thinks about it, the more one wonders how the Rawlingses have survived all these years, and equally important, how Ghanaians have endured this Rawlingstocracy. Here is a guy who first jumped on to the political landscape as a "leveler" but will be leaving as a "skewer";
Here is a guy who has a penchant for and enjoys slapping manacles and tantrums on people and throwing punches even on his cabinet members;
Here is a guy who can gleefully insult his "own people" and the people would nod approvingly;
Here is a guy who takes great delight in contumacy - blantantly defies his "country's" constitution with impunity and imposes the celebration of his pet manque twin-evils of "revolutions" on it while members of the Judiciary drink to palm wine to toast the celebrations; Yup, here is a guy that the Judiciary is prepared, on his behalf, to slap you with a lese majesty for privately bad-mouthing him even if he doesn't file charges against you;
Here is a guy who can't function unless he is causing dysfunction, and we all in unison sing "he can't help it; this is what he does; he does what he wants, allelujah!";
Here is a guy who can take one day to assault a centuries-old institution, cause a kerfuffle and make a whole ethnic group go completely bananas;
Here is a guy who talks about reconciliation, but when asked to reconciled with his "people" vanishes into some nattering nimbus of negativism;
Here is a guy who has brought "integrity" into a whole new stratosphere and given it a completely different name;
Here is a guy who before our very eyes has blossomed to be the Commander-in-Chief of Hypocrisy - he supervises over a declining educational system but sends his kids abroad for schooling and no-one raises an eyebrow; Etc, etc, etc etc., ;
But how has J.J. been able to do all that for two decades? Of course, to say that he is good at politics is stating the obvious. He knows how to play on people's emotions, and more importantly how to play one group of people against another. Plus he has unprecedentedly creamed off the most foul-mouthed, chi-chi, poisoned-penned of the Ghanaian intelligentsia, who have perfected the art of Spin Doctors, and are not afraid to "draw daggers" on perceived enemies. However, he couldn't have done it without the obsequiousness extraodinaire of Ghanaians. In fact, Ghana aptly qualifies as a place where Tolerance is brewed in an African Pot. It's refreshing that the "elasticity of our tolerance" can still be stretched even at the margin!
So with a blind date with history knocking on his door, what is Rawlings' Moira?
For the country at large, this is a new phenomenon to us - our Heads of State haven't been allowed to voluntarily fade into the sunset of the political lives, thanks to people like J.J. So we really don't know how to deal with J.J., but somehow we will figure it out. But the real Moira of the country lies in our preparedness to defend the constitution, in case another green-jacketed, unable-to-pay-his-"lapiiwa"-bills guy wakes us up at dawn and greet us with the familiar phrase "I Private Okumnipa, unable to pay my "lapiiwa" bills, have decided to overthrow the constitutionally elected government. All 1,000-and-above cedi notes have been confiscated and should be sent to my bank account at the nearest bank or police station. All should remain calm and wait for further directives.". I am not very convinced will be able to do that. Part of my skepticism emanates from the fact that we haven't been able to stop Rawlings from celebrating the unconstitutional June 4 and December 31 "revolutions", thereby compromising on our democratic ideals and thus setting a bad precedence. One would have wished that all democracy-loving Ghanaians, especially the Opposition Members of Parliament and NUGS could have defied the celebrations by going to work and school on June 4. Maybe I am being too pessimistic. I hope that is the case. The Moira of the Rawlingses, however, lies in their own hands! It's Evita - Don't cry for them, Ghana! They have a wide menu of choices, which has been made wider by their latter-day globe-trotting, to choose from. Let's examine few of them:
1.Since the Afram Plains apparently is his favorite place (that's the impression one gets from his two decades of rhetorics), the Rawlingses can acquire a piece of land there and engaging in farming. By that they would re-confirm the nobleness of the oldest profession in human history and thus set example for others, especially the rural-urban drifting youth to take to farming to help in the development of our beloved country. There they would get the chance to meet my public-service-happy senior brother Joe aka (also known as) "Abannipa". And there they will receive political supplicants, and ask for favors from the vast group of politicos and policy hands under the Rawlings family protection;
2.How about trying some teaching at Rawlings' Alma Mater, "Motown"? Or they could try the University of Development Studies(in dire need of teachers) or any one of the other tertiary schools in the country, after all they both have "doctorate degrees". How this would be a boost to pedagogy!
3.You've gotta love this option: how about a joint venture with Okumkom to start a Waste Management Company? J.J. Intergrity-Okumkom Waste Management Company Ltd., not a bad name at all, uh? Plus this is one area Ghana needs investment.
4.Or if J.J. thinks (he's always convinced) that he still has some wizardry of public policy wonkery left in him, he may decide to run for parliament from Afram Plains, and his wife the shadow mate of Mills? Think about J.J. as the Solon from AP. We may witness more foatsam and jetsam of fisticuts or kickboxing on the floor than bills passed. But boy, a little more public service from the Rawlingses and we will all perish.
5.With the recent globe-trotting, we know that there will be plenty of international positions lined up for J.J. Given his background and wealth of experience, Kofi Annan can offer J.J a UN job as the UN Ambassodor for the Prevention of Coup D'etats in Africa. Not a bad job.
6.Lastly as a coup d'etat cognoscente, he may decide to come out of the retirement carapace and do a come-back. After all this is Ghana, and what can Ghanaians do? There will be initial grumblings. Just promise few pigeon-headed loud-mouths cabinet appointments. Then play your favorite "Ehuru a ebedwo", and say I'm back a la the "second coming" of Michael Jordan. Can we embark on a levy en masse?
As we brood over the post-Rawlings Ghana, it is very hard to know what the Moira of Rawlings and that of the nation will be. One thing is for sure: Ghana will move but backwards, forward, horizontally or vertically? It depends on you and I.