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10.07.2019 Feature Article

Why Did Accra Go Red?

Why Did Accra Go Red?
JUL 10, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

"Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy, it is absolutely essential to it," says Howard Zinn.

Indeed, whatever goes around comes around. And one cannot underestimate the beauty and power of democracy. Among other things, it gives the commoner and powerful, power of choice and right to organise civil disobedience, protests, ralies, demonstrations pickets, strikes whatever you may call it, whenever the people feel dissatisfied.

Isn't that beautiful?

In 1995, a massive demonstration occurred in Accra Ghana in opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) which was introduced by the Jerry John Rawlings NDC administration.

That protest dubbed 'KumePreko' meaning (You may as well kill me) was spearheaded by Nana Akufo-Addo now President of the Republic. Other leading members included Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr. Alhaji Malik Kweku Baako Jnr. Dr. Charles Wireko Brobbey and lawyer Akoto Ampau. I was there too. I covered it for 'The Ghanaian Periscope'.

Today, 24 years on, another one that mimics the anti-government demonstration has erupted like a volcano. It's called "Kum YenPreko," which means you may as well kill us. Per their rhyme the two may sound similar but what happened the KumePreko demonstrators over two decades ago was awful.The peaceful protest turned violent resulting deaths and police brutality.

Thank God Tuesday's demonstration began peacefully and ended peacefully. People went home went in peace not in pieces. Yes, I haven't read any reports that suggest, there was nasty incident or anything untoward.

Who are the organisers of Kum YenPreko?

It's an almagatiom of corporate entities, parties or groups. They're artisans from Obossey Okai, traders and drivers, customers of defunct financial company MenzGold, including political parties. They call themselves Coalition for Social Justice.

Why did Accra go red?

They think justice has gone extinct and it was time for a shakeup. In other words put government on its toes.There was sea of red. And everywhere the marchers passed, one could see the crimson colour bleeding the strees. Accra had been forced to go all red.

Red head gear, red armband, red polo-shirts, red flags, red footwear, and red scuff.

Red-eyed participants!

They sat their butts in the dirt amid wailings and lamentations. You know politicians know how to mingle .When in power they feel reluctant to come down from the high horses. And when they are out of power they find more convenient to flirt with the ordinary. I noticed some known faces. The General Secretary of the opposition NDC Johnson Asiedu Nketiah (aka General Mosquito), Bernard Mornah, Agyenim-Boateng, Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo and Samuel-- Okudzeto Ablakwa.

Lead Organiser of the demonstration Bernard Mornah told the media the demonstration had been triggered by hardships in the country coupled with attacks on the media.

Former President John Mahama on Monday declared his support for the March on Facebook.

Mr. Mahama wrote:

“Our country is on the downward trend, with an unbearable increase in the cost of living; the citizenry doesn’t feel safe and yet Government continues to oppress and intimidate the people including journalists."

“This state of affairs is a threat to our democracy especially as the moral society remain unconcerned and surprisingly silent on the developments in our country, Ghana.

He said: "I endorses and I encourage all to step out tomorrow (referring to Tuesday) and join the #Kumy3npr3ko demonstration organized by the Coalition for Social Justice."

“There is a lot of pent-up anger among Ghanaians and it’s beginning to manifest even among the security services. This manifestation gives all the allied groups participating in it, the opportunity to vent. It is in our country’s interest that we speak out and demonstrate our disapproval of the Akufo-Addo style of leadership, which has visited unprecedented hardships on Ghanaians,” he wrote.

Gordon Offin-Amaniampong
Gordon Offin-Amaniampong, © 2019

This author has authored 284 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: GordonOffinAmaniampong

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