On Tuesday, 25th August 2009, one of our nation’s folkloric wise sayings came full cycle, when Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jr. went to town on the former President of our Republic, Jerry Rawlings, in a manner only a man who had had enough could.
Where I come from, the elders say: “When you help nurture the ailing teeth of the chimpanzee, it will exercise them on your maturing maize”. This statement became manifest in Kumasi over the weekend, when the former president in his usual characteristic holier than thou posture, went to town on the Prof. Mills administration’s poor performance. He was reported to have repeated his “Nungua Declaration” that his self-assessed “man of integrity”, Professor J.E.A Mills is heading for a one-term presidency.
That Mr. Rawlings thinks Prof. Mills is not good enough as President is no longer news. The news is that Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jr., the man who championed the course of Ghana’s Democratic development in near-equal measure with people like Prof. Adu Boahen, Nana Akufo Addo, Kabral Blay Amihere, Kweku Baako Jr, Tommy Thompson, Haruna Atta, and many others I am not able to immediately remember, is only now realising that Mr. Rawlings is bad news for our democracy. On what planet did Mr. Pratt spend most of his time in the last 8 years?
What many of us have known about Rawlings for years, Mr. Pratt learnt painfully over the weekend. i.e., that Mr. Rawlings thinks he is the only person with a brain to rule Ghana. And as long us he is not the one giving the orders, nothing is good enough or acceptable. He thinks he must give orders to the police, the military, the courts, and every one else for that matter. He has a right to disagree, but cannot tolerate anyone else who disagrees with him. This trait of the former president should not be far fetched from any objective analyst who is out to find it.
You only need to look at the treatment he gave to the people who brought him to power; namely, Major Boakye Djan, Akatopore, Sarkodie, Cpl. Tasiri Azongo, Adabuga, and others; or even his recent treatment of his long time aide, Mr. Victor Smith, whom he dismissed with an “SMS text message”, to find your answers.
To a large extent, Mr. Rawlings, through our fault or complicity has grown accustomed to issuing orders and having them obeyed without question. He became head of state in his twenties; abolished our national social and legal order and replaced it with a system that switched in the direction of his choosing.
Whether we know it or not, anyone who has had the type of absolute power that Mr. Rawlings had, at the time that he had it, and the duration that he had it for, would definitely have withdrawal symptoms, when he is “forced” to retire at the age of fifty.
Rawlings is the luckiest politician alive that I know. This is a man who changed our national educational system and replaced it with a system that became a conveyor belt for a factory sending untrained (some say untrainable) youths into the employment desert; yet did not find the system he created good enough to train his own children, even though they would have access to the best schools in town. In any advanced democracy, this would be enough scandal to last his entire generation’s career in politics, if they ever attempted to have any.
Yet, in Ghana we think that the man is entitled to it. And he also thinks he is. Those of us, who criticise his life long contradictions, are thought of as half sane at best.
The palpable contradiction that Mr. Rawlings is, shows up in every aspect of his life. This is a socialist who rides in Jaguars (not one); the man who never believes in multi party democracy, but presided over, at least, three political parties in the so-called “progressive alliance”; the anti-corruption campaigner who killed people for having more than one water closet at their homes; and turned around to build a mansion for himself at Adjiringanor in Accra. The mansion is probably serviced by a near-by K.V.I.P. (public place of convenience).
This man assassinated retired full-blooded Ghanaian military rulers for over-throwing constitutional governments, promised to end all coups, only to show up with a dawn broadcast, barely 2 years after handing over the reigns of government to a legitimately elected Civilian administration. And thereafter, entrenching himself in power for 19 solid years.
Perhaps, the biggest contraction about Rawlings is in his 360 degrees turn around on Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s role in Ghana’s political life. He described Nkrumah to have achieved nothing but a “Flag and National Anthem” for Ghana and also described the 1979 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana as “a mere paper guarantee of abstract liberties”.
In the end, when it suited his political machinations, he embraced Nkrumah and formed a political party whose ideology is in lockstep with those of Nkrumah to the point where Nkrumah’s own party has been crowded into extinction (the CPP has only one Member of Parliament, and guess who: Samia Yaba Nkrumah, Kwame Nkrumah’s daughter). The only constitution that is not a “mere paper guarantee of abstract liberties” is the one that carries the signature of Mr. Rawlings plus a generous dose of indemnity clauses to protect him and his bootlicking cronies.
From his choice of words, pitch of voice and strength of emotion on Monday, it was clear that the Mr. Pratt was really rubbed on the wrong side by Mr. Rawlings’ vituperations in Kumasi over the weekend. To that I say: “dear Mr. Pratt, the chickens are arriving home to roost. And roost they must”.
We all lived in this country when Mr. Rawlings called President Kufuor, (as he then was); a “thief”, “Ataa Aryee” and the rest of it. People like Mr. Pratt and other apologists of Rawlings thought it was fun. They did not consider the implications on our democracy for one man to have the power to climb a public platform, and call a sitting president of our Republic an accomplished criminal, without any shred of proof, even if the person is a former president or an accident of colonial history.
The issue about Rawlings insulting Mr. Kufuor recently in Germany at a meeting of ex-African heads of state only got comment from Mr. Pratt, when it was convenient for him to give himself a measure of fairness in his attack on Rawlings on Monday, in defence of Prof. Mills. In fact, that was the first time I was hearing about the issue in the media.
There are many good people who abhorred what Mr. Rawlings was doing to former President Kufuor, but who were simply not man enough to comment. To be fair, there were those who condemned it publicly, including Mr. Kwaku Baako Jr. and Mr. Kenneth Adjei Kuranchie, to name a few. There were thousands who wished they did, but did not have the opportunity of a microphone to their mouths or the spotlight of a television camera on them.
Apparently, over the weekend Mr. Pratt reached his elastic limit with Mr. Rawlings. Well, he is lucky. We have tolerated him for God knows how long. The chimpanzee whose ailing teeth he helped to nurture to strength, visited his backyard maize garden, and Mr. Pratt would have none of it. The Akans have a fantastic expression for it “atua wo yonko whoan, atua duamu” (pardon my lousy twi); to wit, what concerns your neighbour does really bother you.
If I were Mr. Pratt, here is what I would do: Wake up one early morning with a stone in one hand and pile of Kweku Baako Jnr’s statements about Rawlings in the other; show up in front of Mr. Baako’s door and say to him; “hey old paddy, wo buor nie”. To wit, here is your stone - In recognition of his (Mr. Baako’s) long held belief about Rawlings as a greedy, selfish ingrate, who thinks that the only good people are those who wake up every morning and say: “Yes, Sir” to him.
As long as you are not prepared to do that, you are not a “man of integrity”.
This is only the beginning. As Mr. Rawlings himself has hinted, he does not think he can tolerate it for much longer. Our only luck is; there are not a lot of options available to him in this day and age.
We can only pray that his minders will keep him on the leash, at least, most of the time. As it is turning out, it would be in their best interest to do. For the “lab rat” they helped to create has grown into an out-of-control monster in search of its next victim. “Incompetent Ministers”, you are warned!
Mr. Pratt, welcome back from Mars.
Akosua Abronoma Boateng A concerned Ghanaian
Source: Akosua Abronoma Boateng
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