Rawlings as a Paradoxical Symbol of Inspiration
At a mentoring session for some young women in some economically deprived communities, the Minister of Inner Cities and Zongo Community Development, Dr. Mustapha Hamid, was reported to have stated that it was the brutal political persecution of his ex-serviceman father that drove Dr. Hamid into becoming interested in politics. According to the Zongo Community Development Minister, then-Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and his associates and hangers-on had accused Dr. Hamid’s father of conspiring to unseat his government. The elder Mr. Hamid – his rank in the Ghana Armed Forces at the time is not given in the news report that is the subject of our discussion – had to flee the country (See “ ‘Rawlings’ Action Against My Dad Compelled Me to Enter Politics’ Hamid” Modernghana.com 9/14/19).
As I vividly recall, this open season of persecution occurred throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s when the Anlo-Ewe Trokosi Nationalists literally ruled the roost and summarily decided which of the 10-to-12 million Ghanaian citizens at the time deserved to live or be dispatched to join their ancestors. It was a direct continuation of the bloody four-month period between June 4th and September 4th, when the Rawlings-led junta of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) decided to embark on what Chairman Rawlings and his associates and minions then called a “Housecleaning Exercise.” I vividly recall this most bloody era and, especially, its equally bloody follow-up between December 31st 1981 and January 7th, 1992, because the Rawlings Posse also dispatched some uniformed scouts who came to my maternal grandfather’s paternal hometown of Akyem-Asiakwa, who came to enquire whether any of my soldier uncles – about five of them, on my mother’s side of the family – had recently visited or spent some time in our village.
It would be shortly after the two or three scouts or spies had left town that a neighbor would come into our house and let on to my maternal grandparents that the two or three soldiers were actually on an enquiry mission to determine whether any of my uncles had participated in a recent military coup attempt to oust the Rawlings-led junta of the PNDC or the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). Indeed, those were the Dark Days of Ghana’s postcolonial era, much, much darker than the period that marked the auspicious overthrow of the country’s first postcolonial leader, namely, Mr. Kwame Nkrumah. For the Board Chairman of the National Youth Employment Agency, Mr. Sammy Awuku, a generation younger than Dr. Hamid, and yours truly as well, however, Chairman Rawlings represented an emulative beacon of the ideal Ghanaian leader.
Not surprisingly, Mr. Awuku was reported to have stated that his great admiration for Chairman Rawlings was diametrically opposite of how his own parents who, like those of us rear-end Baby-Boomer Generation, found the leadership of a politically entrenched Chairman Rawlings, that is, from about 1983 to 1991, to be immitigably and unpardonably repulsive. Indeed, it is quite obvious that any comprehensive assessment of the leadership stature and significance of Chairman Rawlings would, perforce, have to take the proverbial Generational Gap into account. It is also very tempting for any critic to presume the Rawlings Revolution, so-called, to have been underlain by good intentions, with the organic development of the entire country at the forefront of the same. But, in fact, even right from its verdant inception, the Rawlings Cabal left absolutely no critically thinking observer in any doubt about the fact that the PNDC junta was strictly about the effective colonization and the genocidal cannibalization of Ghana’s Akan majority populace, notwithstanding the fact of the wife of Chairman Rawlings’ being at least partially of Akan/Asante descent.
What is also crystal clear is that the Rawlings-Tsikata Revolution was a massive failure of unprecedented proportions. In retrospect, it well appears that Ghana would have been the better off if the Rawlings-Tsikata mini-scaled anti-Akan ethnic cleansing agenda had never occurred. The sort of ethnic-cleansing pogrom that occurred in Ghana under the Rawlings junta was decidedly politically and ideologically motivated. As it turns out, the Akan Civilization and Culture that was the prime target of the Rawlings-Tsikata Revolution was rather much too established and radically entrenched to be so easily extirpated by the clinically unconscionable nation-wrecking architects of the Trokosi Nationalist Revolutionaries.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York
September 15, 2019
E-mail: [email protected]
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