“I am in the world's extreme corner.
I am not sitting in the row of the imminent.
But those who are now lucky sit in the middle and forget.
I am in the world's extreme corner.
I can only go beyond and forget” – Song of Sorrow by Professor Kofi Awoonor
When war broke out in neighboring Ivory Coast after the disputed elections, the late President Fiifi Atta Mills, in an answer to a question by a journalist said, Ghana was not going to get involved in solving the problem. He said the Akans say “Dzi wo fie asem' (Mind your own business) and so he was going to mind his own business here in Ghana. Readers of this column will recall that the following week, I wrote a piece captioned: “Archaic Dzi Wo Fie Asem Diplomacy”. I wrote that in this global village, there is nothing like “Dzi wo fie asem” because what concerns your neighbor must concern you as well.
This year marks the twenty third (23rd) anniversary of this Angel Gabriel column and I am dedicating it to cadres of the 31st December Revolution, most of whom are poor, unemployed, unemployable, demented, useless, illiterates, drunkards, too old to work, abandoned and discarded by the NDC and living from hand to mouth, and also, unable to get three square meals a day. Harsh? That is the stark reality. I still insist that the 'Dzi wo fie asem' philosophy is now history. Even though I never supported the 31st December Revolution and suffered a lot for my opposition to the 'soldier power' madness, I moved in sympathy with those who were misled to actively participate in the bloody revolution and put their noses on the grindstone to make the revolution survive. Many died along the way and others got maimed to recover no more. No wonder the sages say revolution devours its own children.
The People's Defence Committee (PDC), The Workers Defence Committee (WDC), The Militia, The Citizen Vetting Committee (CVC), The Committee For the Defence of the Revolution (CDR), The Commandoes, the 31st December Movement, etc, were the pillars of the revolution and those who operated under all such outfits cowed down Ghanaians and strutted the land with impunity. They seized properties of some Ghanaians and drove many to run away into exile. In fact, they incurred the displeasure of many Ghanaians as they used the revolution to settle personal scores. There was the culture of silence and so no one could even cough. But for these cadres, Rawlings and his revolution could have been overthrown by mutinous soldiers who were very peeved and did not like the way Ghanaians were murdered 'by heart'. Two hundred and forty six (246) full-blooded Ghanaians got missing during the revolutionary days to be seen no more by their relatives. Ask prickly Kwasi Pratt. He even published the names of these missing Ghanaians and their hometowns in the newspapers. The number of those who died through extrajudicial killings runs into thousands of poor souls.
Before the NDC was founded, Rawlings had no political roots except the cadres who followed him and propagated his gospel. To start a political party which will be accepted by Ghanaians, Rawlings and his wee-smoking soldiers and cadres roped in some UP and CPP stalwarts to add up to a few intellectuals to found the National Democratic Congress. It was the coming together of people from different ideological backgrounds. When the ban on partisan political parties was lifted, Rawlings and his team established the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and charged Justice Josiah Ofori Boateng to be in charge. During the registration of voters for the 1992 General Election, cadres of the revolution were used as registration officers. They went from house to house with exercise books to register voters. A typical example of mockery of democracy. In other words, the whole electoral process was usurped by the PNDC and nobody dared challenge them. After all, the gun ruled supreme and obstreperous bullying by drunken and drugged soldiers was the order of the day.
Opportunistic modern-day Don Quixotes like Agyenim Boateng, Okudzeto Ablakwa, Sammy Gyamfi, Felix Kwakye Ofosu and the other babies with sharp teeth were not born in those difficult days of the formation of the NDC or the metamorphosing of the PNDC to the NDC. If they were born at all, they were born too late to know what happened in those days of fire and revolutionary fury. Today, these boys are riding luxurious cars and living in state-of-the-art mansions whiles the cadres who worked beyond exhaustion and human endurance to bring the party this far, wallow in abstract poverty. In fact, some of them, like 72-year of Baba Ansoma in my holy village who was a terror in the revolutionary days, is living alone in a single room roofed with thatch. Five of these former cadres still live in my village and their financial situations are the same. Very poor. Even Sammy Gyamfi, who was not conceived by his mother when Rawlings launched his 31st December Revolution, just married with ex-President Mahama and top NDC gurus in attendance at the wedding ceremony. How well his pride is with him! Monkey dey work, baboon dey chop. Baba Ansoma spent all his youthful years serving the revolution and as such he could not get time to marry, not to talk of raising kids of his own. He is now useless if not hopeless and children tease him anytime he moves around the village. Old men and women who saw him in his hey days treat him like the way you treat a madman at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle. He has taken solace in the excessive drinking of Akpeteshie to sooth his disturbed soul. The funny aspect of the story of Baba Ansoma is that he has literally painted his thatched single room with the posters of J.J. Rawlings. When children who tease him shout 'revo', he will raise his hoax voice and respond, 'revolution'. He is still proud to be part of the defunct and wish-to-be forgotten bloody revolution despite his sorrow state.
We have thousands of the likes of Baba Ansoma across the length and breadth of Ghana. They are treated by the NDC like the way a farmer treats his hoe. When the rain falls, the farmer will use the hoe to make his mounds and later hang the hoe on a tree when the rains stop. Similarly, when the season of election comes, the NDC will visit these poor souls with salted fish, T-shirts, second-hand clothes, bottles of Alomo Bitters and Akpeteshie, etc., and top them up with a few cedis, and ask them to intensify the campaign for the NDC to come to power. Like endangered animal species, the number of these cadres of the revolution are dwindling because they die as the years roll by. The leadership of the revolution who are still alive and rich like Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, Ato Ahwoi, Kwasi Ahwoi, Obed Asamoah, Sherry Ayitey, Huudu Yahaya, Alhaji Issifu, Totobi Kwakye, Sippah Yankey, Ibrahim Adam, Dan Abodakpi, Kwame Peprah, and the rest have kept quiet and are indifferent over the plight of the cadres. By now, anytime they remember those days when they used the cadres to prop up the revolution, their consciences are disturbed. It is now each for himself and God for us all. Onipa nye!
Nobody should tell me that considering the wicked things that these cadres did to Ghanaians, it serves them right. These people were misled into thinking that the revolutionary project was going to move Ghana towards the Eldorado. They believed in the tenets of the revolution like, Probity and Accountability, Equal Rights and Transparency, among others. They were misled because at the end of the day, their leaders did not account to Ghanaians and neither were they probed. They were not transparent in their dealings which included the sale of more than three hundred state-owned factories, The Black Star Line (the national shipping line), all ten Catering Rest Houses in all the then ten regions, all state 5-star hotels across the country etc. And no Jupiter questioned what they did with the loans they contracted. After all, there was no Parliament for the eleven years that Rawlings and his cohorts held the nation at ransom. At the end of the day, all of the leaders of the damned revolution became fabulously rich and took the opportunity to educate their children in prestigious universities abroad. Dreadful, vexatious, painful and heart-breaking story of misled cadres who used their teeth to crack palm kennels for upstarts to eat! Can somebody lend me a handkerchief to wipe my tears as I continue to weep for the discarded cadres of the revolution?
BY Eric Bawah