It has been dead for a long time. Sadly, it was killed, for the most part, by its creators and adherents.
Do not get me wrong. I am not one of those celebrating the death of June 4th. This is just to acknowledge the reality of June 4ths demise. I think June 4TH had many positive aspects that could have made Ghana a better countrybut it did not. This is not to deny that it had excesses. It had many, unfortunately.
That rainy day in Accra thirty-two years ago followed years of corruption, arrogance on the part of leaders and a general disregard for the rights of ordinary people. It was argued then, and it is argued now, that June 4th was unnecessary because civilians had already through positive action, compelled the powers that be to agree to a transfer of power following an election that was already scheduled.
But on the streets, it was popular. It filled the air with violence, blood, hope and symbolism.
It is useful here to assert that while June 4th lasted only three months, its spirit and ethos, by and large, for practical purposes, inspired and informed 31st December. To separate the two is the equivalent of a Christian trying to separate the father and the sonwhich is impractical and maybe, impossible.
It symbolized the dawn of a new era of accountability for the powerful.
Big Generals were dragged before panels and courts, tried and then jailed or in some cases killedjust like that. At other levels, respected figures were summoned before committees, inquisitions were held and properties were confiscated, followed by flogging and sometimes, imprisonment. The atmosphere was so intoxicating that even as the shots rang out, some, particularly amongst the students, urged the soldiers to let the blood flow.
It symbolized a new era of empowerment for the down-trodden. All of a sudden, ordinary people could ask big men questionswise and stupid questions. It was the era of we-no-go-sit-down. Under the guise of this empowerment, the old order changed and while things did not improve, the order of things was perhaps, never restored. This was the roots of the lawlessness that still afflicts our society todaymanifested on our roads and as disrespect for our elders and authority in general.
It symbolized a new era of patriotism.
Those were the days when a man could report his wife for selling things above the controlled price.
While, as I have indicated, some of these sentiments went too far, they portended something good for the country.
It aspired to the creation of a Ghana where all citizens, regardless of their station in life, would be accountablea nation where the least amongst us could question the mightiest amongst us and be taken seriouslya nation of boundless patriotisma nation in which each of us would be, in effect our brothers and sisters keeper.
Thirty years later, that has not happened.
And here is the evidence that June 4th is dead.
First, three decades after June 4th, accountability and the powerful are as far apart as they ever were.
If June 4th had lived and thrived, our 1992 constitution would not have TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS to protect the very originator of June 4th and his henchmenthe spirit of accountability that was central to June 4th would never countenance that. Furthermore, corruption, which had fuelled most of the anger behind June 4th, is now so much a part of our system that we still hear talk, day-in, day-out of corruption in the Judiciary while in the NDC, the party founded by J.J. Rawlings, the man who inspired June 4th, party functionaries can easily trade accusations about the shady award of contracts, just like the greedy bastards June 4th was supposed to have exterminated, without any serious consequences.
Second, the token empowerment that briefly flourished under June 4th has disappeared. All that remains is the empowerment that allows foot-soldiers to attack whoever is temporarily out of favour with the powerful. We die peacefully in our understaffed and under-equipped hospital without a whimper. Our children fail wholesale in public schools run by our government without protest. We die in record numbers on our roads without any protestbecause empowerment, together with June 4th died long ago.
Third, the transparency that was briefly inspired by June 4th is gone. Charge after charge have been made by the leaders of June 4th, accompanied by promises of tapes and other evidence and they have not been producedfrom the deaths of the women to the murder of the Ya-Na, no evidence has been produced. Invoking Antoa and other deities can never be substitutes for evidence and due process.
Fourth, contrary to their own constitution, members of the NDC government, whose party was inspired by the ideals of June 4thhave been finding it harder and harder to show up during June 4th celebrations. On Saturday, led by the President, as many of them as possible will look for as many excuses as possible to be as far away from the celebration in Kumasi as possible. In short, they will avoid the celebrations like the plague.
On that day, the man who inspired June 4th, former President Rawlings, will valiantly try and fail, to prove to us that June 4th liveth.
Whether we call it a revolution or a rebellion it is dead. It will only live in our history books. All the evils it sought to cure are here, together with the culture of lawlessness that it inspired.
It is dead and nobody has worked harder to kill it than those who inspired it.
To those who dispute this assertion, let them point out one ENDURING BENEFIT THAT JUNE 4TH BROUGHT TO GHANA!!
Let them point out one leader of June 4th who would escape a flogging, imprisonment or God forbid, a firing squad if, GOD FORBID, that revolution or rebellion were to be repeated tomorrow.
They will waffle around these issues for days and not be able to point out anything.
So this week-end and next week, as the airways reverberate with echoes of June 4th, take it easy. The market women were right after all that EHURU A, EBEDWO.
Even as we condemn the excesses, let us acknowledge that there is still a need for accountability, empowerment and patriotism. Let us salute the selflessness and the patriotism that inspired June 4th and then askif the intentions were so noble, why did they fail so miserably?
It is not as if they did not have time. They had timeplenty of time. The PNDC and NDC combined were in power for nearly two decades. That was longer than Nkrumah had, with less power. Even with less power though, Nkrumah achieved morefar more. Why?
In the end, in my judgment, they failed because they were all so human. They wanted to live like the very people they had come to punish. They desired accountability for others but not for themselves. They wanted empowerment, for themselves but not for others.
They were all, in the end, more selfish than selfless.
Even assuming that they meant well, they could not execute their intentions. As French philosopher Monet once put it Nothing can be initiated without people but nothing is lasting without institutions.
In the end, June 4th is dead because it did not create vibrant, eternal institutions that would propagate its ideals and embed them in our consciousness. In the end, it all came down to a few big menfallible men, subject to all out human temptations and they let the moment pass.
That is why June 4TH is dead.
As we move forward, let us resolve that in future, we will pursue the accountability, the empowerment and the patriotism that June 4th sought but tragically failed to achieve, with passion, with love, within the law and through institutions.
If we do so, together, some day, long after we have forgotten about June 4th, we shall truly celebrate a nation with genuine probity, accountability, empowerment and patriotism.
Let us move forward together.
Source: Arthur Kobina Kennedy
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