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29.06.2004 Feature Article

Who Sets The Tone For Reconciliation?

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If I was elected to give an appropriate headline it would be “THE MEETING OF PRESIDENTS”. I am not referring to the assembly of former American Presidents who congregated at the national cathedral to bid adieu to one of their own, former President Ronald Wilson Reagan over the weekend.

Early this week, President George Walker Bush hosted his predecessor, Bill Clinton to the White House as part of a programme to unveil a portrait of the former President. Unveiling a portrait of former Presidents is a favourite American political tradition At the meeting, described as exciting and enlivening both Presidents placed their political differences aside and shared jokes freely. At one setting, the two Presidents brought Americans together just like the death and burial of President Reagan achieved a week ago.

Is there any chance to reprise this event in “our winner takes all, loser is forever vanquished” mentality behind our politics?

Every Ghanaian knows that all is not too well between President John Agyekum Kufuor and his predecessor President Rawlings. They just don't get along. Their relationship is so frosty one gets the feeling they don't care for one another.

Another truth is that I am not the first person to raise concern over it. A kaleidoscope of personalities and institutions has weighed in on the issue and has asked the two leaders to close their ranks, bury the hatchet and learn to move on in the larger interest of Ghana and in the spirit of national reconciliation.

Our expectation is not that these very important sons of Ghana would become best friends or have something like a bonhomie relationship. What we want to see transpiring between them is what we expect from all rational human beings and that is communication.

As people who have served in the highest office of the land we expect our leaders to lead us the people into reconciliation.

But at the way things are going on in our country it would take us several years to get to the level of the Americans and all the rest of the developed world. President Kufuor is currently presiding over a highly polarized nation. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. Politics is a mainly high-octane issue for Ghanaians. Our politics have divided us

Professor Evans Anfom the very respected Ghanaian educationist and academic raised the issue of how polarized the nation is at a ceremony at the Castle, Osu in the 1990's. President Kufuor and former President Jerry Rawlings are the men chosen by fate to reconcile our nation and to lead Ghana into prosperity. As the sitting President and the only surviving ex-President of Ghana it behooves these two gentlemen to lead this nation of ours into the promised land of National Reconciliation.

But the journey should naturally begin with them. They need to set the tone for national reconciliation by resolving their differences and learning to get along.

In the near future posterity would judge the commitment of the two gentlemen and the importance they attached to the issue. History would be kind to those who viewed national reconciliation not merely as an exercise but as a therapeutic, healing process for all Ghanaians including the victims and those who perpetrated the acts of impunity against them. All the major religions in the world uphold the doctrine of crime and punishment. However exception is made when the party that inflicted the pain or committed the crime shows penitence and asks for forgiveness.

Ghana is bigger than any one person be they President Kufuor and former President Rawlings. That is why the motivation for and the focus of national reconciliation should be riveted on those coming after us. We have to leave this nation a better place for the next generation to build upon.

The last public encounter the two presidents have had in as many months was at the Kumasi Sports Stadium during the celebration of the Akwasidae festival. At the function both Presidents openly shook the hands and for good measure President Rawlings reportedly asked his daughter, Ms. Ezanetor Rawlings to go over to President Kufuor and pay homage.

I am sure this wasn't a photo opportunity or “fun-fool respect” as the former President is wont to say but was done with all the genuine intentions one could muster.

Like Oliver Twist, I join over 20 million Ghanaians to ask for more. We ask for more of these gestures from both Presidents Kufuor and Rawlings. We respectfully request the two most powerful men in the history of Ghana to take this camaraderie to the next level-its most logical conclusion- in order to facilitate a true and meaningful national reconciliation. By Paa Kwesi Plange For Gye Nyame Concord. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Paa Kwesi Plange
Paa Kwesi Plange, © 2004

The author has 52 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: PaaKwesiPlange

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