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19.10.2005 Feature Article

The Life And Times Of J. J. Rawlings - Part 6

The Life And Times Of J. J.  Rawlings - Part 6
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The recent appearances of ex-President MacBeth on South Africa's national television make for a very interesting study of the pathologically contradictory profile of the man. On September 15 and 16, 2005, the longest reigning former dictator of Ghana vehemently denied charges that during his execrably protracted tenure, tens of hundreds of unsuspecting Ghanaians, literally, vanished into the thin, equatorial Ghanaian air.

On the preceding score, this is exactly how Ghana's Daily Guide reported the event: “During his two appearances on SABC's morning programme '180 Degrees' on September 15 and 16, 2005[,] the former president dismissed allegations of disappearances during his regime”( 9/20/05).

Furthermore, reports: “In a verbatim report of the interviews made available to Daily Guide from South Africa, Mr. Rawlings said [that] the charges of human disappearances were [sheer] propaganda [meticulously fabricated] by his distracters [sic], but admitted that the disappearances were necessary. He said [that] like the French Revolution, it is [sic] necessary for some people to die to save the lives of others”( 9/20/05).

Indeed, that the preceding is rather curiously interesting can hardly be gainsaid. But that the man who misruled the pioneering modern African republic of Ghana finds it extremely difficult - almost impossible, to be certain - to distinguish between veritable and incontrovertible truths and abject mendacities more than staggers the imagination of the well-meaning global citizen. In sum, the preceding paints an incredible and indelible portrait of a pathological criminal and a terrorist who does not appear to fully appreciate the fact that he is terminally indisposed.

For starters, just why does Mr. Rawlings vehemently deny the quite verifiable fact that his protracted regime entailed a “Pinochetian” expropriation of the fundamental human rights of the majority of Ghanaians and yet, paradoxically, within the same rhetorical breath pontifically and smugly and priggishly insist that like the French Revolution, “the disappearances were necessary”?( 9/20/05). Necessary for what purpose? And on whose terms? One may aptly demand. And, of course, the allusion to “disappearances” eerily adumbrates on the brutal abduction and troglodytic execution of the three Ghanaian High Court judges - Koranteng-Addow, Agyepong and Sarkodie - and the retired senior officer of the Ghanaian Armed Forces and former director of the Ghanaian Industrial Holdings Corporation (GIHOC), Major Sam Acquah.

And here again, as we did with regard to the primitive culture of “Trokosi,” the global Ghanaian community calls on Mr. Jeremiah John Rawlings to promptly explain just why he staunchly and firmly believed that the “disappearances” were absolutely necessary, particularly those pertaining to the three Ghanaian High Court judges and the retired army officer. It would also be quite intriguing to learn just how the pontifical patriarch of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC) and the so-called National Democratic Congress (NDC) arrived at such a sanguinary conclusion. And also, upon what set of criteria the selection of candidates for “disappearances” was conducted And also just why the former Ghanaian Air Force pilot felt the necessity of importing an Eighteenth-Century French political culture into a Twentieth-Century, postcolonial Ghanaian geopolitical milieu.

Furthermore, if, indeed, Mr. Rawlings firmly believed that “like the French Revolution, it [was] necessary for some people to die to save the lives of others,” then why did he elect to execute three Ghanaian High Court judges of Akan extraction, instead of three Ghanaian High Court judges of Ewe extraction, the very ethnic sub-nationality of our great executioner?

Needless to say, after playing a toddler's game of catch with Ghana's National Reconciliation Commission, his two most recent South African television appearances may yet signal the very beginning of the indictment of Mr. Rawlings for the extra-judicial killings of the three Ghanaian High Court judges and the retired army officer, as well as tens of hundreds of other far less prominent Ghanaians who mysteriously disappeared during the extortionate 20-year tyranny of the P/NDC.

And here, we must also take remarkable note, or cognizance, of the fact that the SABC television program on which the former Ghanaian strongman was hosted on September 15 and 16, 2005 was titled, or designated, rather prophetically “180 Degrees.” Could it, indeed, be that the producers of the latter program suspected what many Ghanaians have believed and known for some twenty-two long years: That it was only a matter of time before this criminally murderous and pathological liar exposed his naked and warty flanks, and then his prats and hindquarters?

Needless to say, with the preceding portrait of the man in full glare, is it, indeed, any wonder that Flt.-Lt. Jeremiah John Rawlings would rather cavalierly and presumptuously insist to the host and producers of SABC-TV's “180 Degrees” that he has absolutely no regrets for staging his two sanguinary coups detat, in fact, the two bloodiest coups in the quite placid postcolonial Ghanaian political history?

And if, indeed, Little Jeremiah sees anything akin to the Biblical Messiah, the Christ, to be precise, in himself, then why didn't the cowardly career coup-plotter sacrifice his own life, even as the exemplary Biblical Jesus did in his time, rather than vacuously insisting, rather cynically, that “like the French Revolution, it [was] necessary for some people to die to save the lives of others”?

Needless to say, there is a vatical term for the preceding gross exhibition of insolence: It is called 'Blasphemy.'

In his two-program interview with SABC-TV's “180 Degrees,” Mr. Rawlings also asserted that “June 4 [1979], which [he also] classified as a class struggle, transformed everything[,] including the political oligarchy”( 9/20/05). To be certain, about the only things which June 4th “transformed” were the hitherto woebegone fortunes of Mr. Rawlings and, perhaps, a handful of his fellow thuggocrats - the Obed Asamoahs, P. V. Obengs, and the Kofi Awoonors, Tsikatas and the Ahwois. For, most of the street urchins and overgrown thugs who perennially hang around Mr. Rawlings continue to reside among the ever-teeming ranks of the proverbial Lupenproletariat, the veritable Wretched of the Earth, apologies to Frantz Fanon.

Some twenty-odd years ago, in the wake of his exuberant, but hardly edifying, incursion onto the Ghanaian political landscape, a joke made the rounds among the nation's intellectual circles. It was to the effect that Mr. Rawlings was the most prodigal of privileged Ghanaian youth, having attended the august Achimota College, a stone's throw from the even more majestic campus of the University of Ghana, the country's flagship academy. The joke went that instead of making something quite decent of his fortunes and himself in polite society, Little Jeremiah had opted for the unorthodox culture of a Mafioso. Little Jeremiah, the joke concluded, preferred to use his muscles much more than his gumption or noggins Which may, indeed, be why nearly three decades later, the people-power demagogue still believes in surgically liquidating his enemies and political opponents, members of polite society, the proverbial intelligentsia, in order that the Verandah Boys of Chorkor and Sogakope may hail him, fulsomely, as the venerable Prophet Mohammed Rawlings of Larterbiokoshie. *Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., teaches English and Journalism at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is the author of “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana (, 2005), as well as eleven other volumes of poetry and prose, all of which are available from,, Barnes & and Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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