19.06.2014 Feature Article

Love And Forgiveness For Whom?

Love And Forgiveness For Whom?
19.06.2014 LISTEN

My nature has always been to fight. My faith forces me to forgive

Cindy Martinusen Coloma.
Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be true to yourself. How you treat yourself sets the standard for how others will treat you.                                                                                             

Steve Maraboli
When anger rages,
Resist the urge to speak.
Words will only wound;
Resolve is what you seek.

A little learning is a dang' rous thing,
Drink deep or taste not the Pieriam Spring;

There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again.
Ah ne'er so dire a Thirst of Glory boast
Nor in the Critick let the Man be lost!
Good Nature and Good - Sense must ever join

To err is human, to forgive, divine.
Alexander Pope (1688 - 1744)
An Essay on Criticism
Pretences to be a motivational preacher, an evangelist or someone in the mould of a pastor? No, let that cup pass me by. Given the handicap of my inability to sermonize. I find it equally difficult to analyse the theme for a sermon, taking whatever my priest chooses for me as 'given'.

This year's Father's Day fell last Sunday, the fifteenth of June, 2014. Father's Day is a day when persons show appreciation for their father and father - figures who include stepfathers, fathers - in - law, male guardians, foster parents and family friends. During the day, fathers receive presents like chocolate, items of clothing, neckties or serenades of music. Some persons arrange for breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner at home or in a restaurant for their fathers. Father's Day was originated by Sonora Smart Dodd who was inspired by the American Mother's Day celebration and planned a day to honour fathers early in the 20 th century. The first Father's Day was celebrated in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910.

Thirty five years after eight Ghanaian army generals were callously murdered at the Teshie Range, a solemn memorial service was held at Christ the king Church in Accra on Monday, 16 th June, 2014 for them.

Those murdered included three former heads of state: General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, of the National Redemption Council (NRC) and later the Supreme Military Council (1972 - 1978) General Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa of the National Liberation Council (1966 - 1968), General F. W. K. Akuffo of Supreme Military Council (II).

The others were Major General Robert E.A.Kotei (Chief of Army Staff), Air - Vice Marshall George Yaw Boakye  (Chief of Air Staff), Real Admiral Joy Amedume (Navy Commander), Major - General E.K. Utuka (Border Guard Commander) and Colonel Roger J.A.Felli. (Commissioner for Foreign Affairs).

All these murdered generals were in their forties at the time of their deaths. Thirty five years later, some may still have been alive to celebrate the Father's Day, enjoying or fretting over the importunate demands of their grandchildren- just as the architect of the atrocities, J.J. Rawlings may have enjoyed during that day.

The generals were killed after what people believe were trials in 'kangaroo courts'. Professor Kofi Awoonor, the philosophical writer had no sympathy for the coup of February 24, 1966, led by Colonel E. K. Kotoka and Major Akwasi Amankwaa Afrifa. He writes: 'February 1966, many commentators believe, was the beginning of Ghana's drift into political chaos Nkrumah's inconceivable inability to make a proper appraisal of the role of the armed forces in his program, and his rather inexplicable coddling of the military brass gave birth to the audacity that gave the army the nerve to challenge his authourity. A leader who proclaimed he was building socialism kept, nursed and pampered a neo-colonial army with indolent generals, brigadiers and a heavy top brass which was virtually a clique of national leeches that spoke the language of the British mess and in their borrowed British uniforms believed they could effectively challenge the political order with impunity. Coups are conspiratorial affairs, perhaps limited to small cabals'.

In trying to explain the rationale for coups d'état in Ghana, Professor Awoonor writes: 'It must be evident to all Ghanaians by now that for some reasons that were not yet clear, Ewes in the armed forces have achieved the reputation of being notorious coup plotters against successive governments. This could be ascribed partially to the fact that the Ewes, the second largest ethnic group in the country, see themselves in opposition to all governments in Ghana which inevitably become Akan (Ashanti) dominated. As it were, the contest for power is reduced in simple terms to a fierce contest between the Akan (Ashanti) and the Ewes. The large Ewe presence in the civil service, the military, and in institutions of learning, is seen as an effective check on Ashanti efforts at hegemony'. Not all Ewes nor all Ashantis share this attitude, but that is the divisive statement that came from the good old professor. People are entitled to their opinions. But the question posed is:'What is the 'Ashanti efforts' at hegemony?

So, it came to pass. The June 4, 1979 Revolution; the atrocities of the time; the execution of the generals - for treason and corruption, with some using their political office to borrow C50, 000 (today's GH 5) from a bank. Reverend Father Campbell, the Parish Priest at Christ the King Catholic Church, Accra, exhorts the children, grandchildren, wives and family members of the departed generals to 'forgive'. He stressed: 'Forgiveness is not human. Revenge is human. Forgiveness is divine. The more we love, the more we forgive and the more we forgive, the more we move forward.' Very fine sermon, based on philosophical precepts and biblical and reverential edification. It is to assuage the seething pain, resentment and anger the victims harbour.

'Thanksgiving' Yes, to give thanks to the Almighty for having seen the families and children through all these years. They did not have fathers to cuddle and hug them. They did not have fathers to guide them through life. By some miracle, they have lived through these agonies for the past thirty five years. Thank God for their lives. The white clothes they wore symbolized victory. Victory over the forces of evil, victory over the agents of devil. But to whom are they being urged to extend hands of 'love' and 'forgiveness'- to phantoms, to fairies, to non-existent personalities?

Major Boakye-Djan who, with a coterie of men, got J.J. Rawlings out of the dungeon, is not talking. J.J. Rawlings whose attempt at a coup was botched on 15 th May, 1979 is all over the place extolling the virtues of June 4 th , lighting a revolutionary flame at the Revolution Square as if he was head of state and justifying the executions on the grounds of curbing the rot in the society.

Thirty five years have passed and what do we see now? What were the aims of the Revolution? What was the rationale for it? What was the justification? Is Ghana rid of corruption? Is Ghana now inhabited by saintly men and women? Any lessons from 'Erewhon'? The Constitution of Ghana, 1992, has a provision in the Transitional Provisions, 34(1) 'No member of the Provisional National Defence Secretary, or other appointees of the Provisional Defence Council shall be held liable either jointly or severally, for any act or omission during the administration of the Provisional National Defence Council'.

Is the provisional National Defence Council an off-shoot of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council? Perhaps and perhaps, the best vengeance is forgiveness. The generals are not around to revenge; their children are being urged not to avenge. The advice by the children of Utuka to J.J. Rawlings comes apposite: 'We advise him to be very circumspect in his future utterances about the injustices he committed against our father and his colleagues. We say to the self-righteous Rawlings that no precious human life is worth sacrificing even during the overthrow of a government. The so-called excesses that took place during the June 4 coup d'état were human beings- people's fathers, husbands and siblings'.

The ghost in 'Hamlet' addressed Hamlet thus: ' I am thy father's spirit; Doomed for a certain time to walk the night, And for the day to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison-house, I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul; freeze thy young blood; Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, Thy knotted and combined locks to part, And each particular hair to stand an end, Like quills upon the fretful porpentine; But this eternal blazon must not be To ears of flesh and blood.-List, list, O, list!- If thou ever thy dear father love

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