Less than a paucity of independent African countries is yet to be sixty. An altogether stock-taking shows that none can be stoutly be reckoned exemplarily successful, Rwanda currently hailed, is not a total exemption in depths of political domestic-security terms for both real and perceived opponents.
This unspeakable is a constant pull-back throughout the continent post-independence. It is as if a sworn-to-death ‘show where power lies’. The hold of unrelenting retaliation reigns correspondingly as the seasonal ballots interchange colorations or ideologies of in-comers pursuant—excuse me relating it in pigeon language and sacrilegiously ‘’if you do me and I do you, God no de vex’’.
Closer home, former President J.E. Evans Atta-Mills gave a curt response to being urged to fire members of the then opposition in high state positions as he ambled into office. He questioned: ’how the families of those persons’ going to live on’, traceable to the CPP sowing that virus and during the truncated era of the Second Republic, the governing party, the PP led by Prime Minister Prof K.A,Busia shocked country and the world by dismissing in one fell swoop, 568 public service personnel he ‘’could not trust’’ and ‘’No Court’’ could impose, solidifying the CPP foundation which has run through. The norm rather is every fresh regime gets in with just a coterie. It is important to emphasise a distinct addition was carrying ruling party card. The moss the decried system has gathered are ‘’connections’’ and pre-appointment approval interview by a CABAL, reportedly. We would certainly have to recognise the harm as contribution, assessing the retrogression of development ‘’stop-go’’. We have driven away the best and the brightest for long. And the same lessens patriotism.
Our country [‘’dear and beloved’’] celebrated 66 years last Monday 6 Mar.2023. It was against a background of nerve-wracking economy and humming of electoral Primaries -campaigning among the two major political parties, the ruling NPP and opposition NDC from the ‘Tickets’ for leaders to the parliamentary representations. It is rudimentarily indiscretion to even remotely allude to conclusions—not simply biased but embarrassingly unethical and indeed, it could be both hazardous and careless; kind of wish all the best with tongue-in-cheek caution to tamper the promises and pledges. The reason is that the country has heard them all repeatedly down the years like old wine in new skin, unfulfilled generally as Issa Abongo, the wittiest of GBC’s radio-comedians since, would state: ‘before-before’ late 50s-60s.
In the preceding column here last week, I quoted Governor Sir Charles Arden-Clarke’s defence up to British governmental thought on the right to ask to be free. Ghana’s colonial era spanned March 6, 1844-6 March 1957. But from June 12, 1949 to 1957, Nkrumah left the UGCC into disarray and founded the CPP and after the 1951 the start of electoral triumph through to 1956 and successfully until the 1966 military-police ditching, the Opposition stood its grounds that the country was not prepared or ripe for independence.
Profuse letters to British Establishment newspapers [London Times, Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail and delegations like pilgrimages to 10 Downing Street (the seat of government) and parliament across; and despite, post-independence to the US [led by Republican Senator Dodd and the GOP-controlled Senate to pressure president John F. Kennedy’s to deny US-support-assistance for the construction of the Volta Hydro project are historically not fiction but indelible testimonies of local endeavours to borrow the CPP’s lead-verbal fingerprint to [i] ‘’sabotage’’ , actually delay the granting of independence to the Gold Coast on that basic phrase ‘’not ready;’’ and [ii] latterly, the Dam was frivolous –only a piece of wastefulness and show-buzz.
Incidentally, it was simultaneously open that the Soviets were pressing then Prime Minister Dr Kwame Nkrumah to let them. The Soviets had constructed the Aswan Dam in Egypt. Nkrumah resisted and Kennedy put ‘’A Few Chips on A Dark Horse’’ as wrote J.P. Mahoney Jr in ‘’My African Ordeal’’ (Ch.15). Now, the hindsight arguments in lights of British mind [expressed by Arden-Clarke] against the performances up to date. I should add in passing Britain’s Lord Macaulay’s in parliament exposition in the British parliament almost a century earlier pre-independence fervour which the Gold Coast lit and struck great hopes thereafter throughout the world. I suppose Lord Macaulay’s translated to neo-colonialism, keeping down Africa as we have heard spoken and shown lucidly from Covid practically recently and our own tendency to seemingly disable to control a penchant to both mortgage, sell, neglect our heritage through the natural endowments, stunted development capped under now-become culture of non-existing maintenance from apparently couldn’t-care and allegedly greed, corruption and leadership varying short falls.
Our celebration demonstrably needed to be low-keyed because the else is clear extravaganza, ill-advised and fake bluster which is honest acknowledgement of our economy on twisted crutches, irrespective of fades the jollity. But we can live on the nostalgia which makes most appropriate, reacting to whether celebrating independence is relevant. It is. We engage to salute the past, pick-up what went wrong or may have and posthumously determine to avoid, as much as possibly can, those errors of judgments and actions to facilitate doing better like the old lyrics in the national anthem enjoins ‘’lift up the flag of Ghana’’ drawing inspiration. The validity also derives from culture celebrating cradle to grave anniversaries— probably more compulsorily, ‘have’ or ‘have-not’.
These feed symbolising that the lustre in absentia in our used-to-be beaucoup de Joyeux that [i] we are unhappy and [ii] there is no unity, accepting that there is a contrast comparably total conviviality and impeccable country anywhere, globally. Confessedly, I am a one-eight to one-quarter Ga who would in as in corresponding native parlance confronting similar crunch-time, exclaim ‘’heko ejoko’’. It is a humour but seriously meant to defuse the seriousness of harshness. However, as much as we can agree and disagree, our extraordinary predicament has an underlying concurrence between the pros and cons that we did not turn up like English football league’s Manchester United last Sunday conceding seven goals to Liverpool.
I shall return to few paragraphs in my introductory statements here above with no aim to emulate that great but short-lived Magazine, ‘’The Legon Observer’’. Perhaps I should explain my advocacy to leave them alone because the learned pieces and sheer depth of research in them are school text books— economics and politics; and superb source of reference for all that had not worked because of wrong-headed hotch-potch ideological influences on policy craftsmanship and or execution, like what occurred in Finance Minister Prof. George Benneh’s budget’s temporary heart-seizure but unlike Ken Ofori Atta’s before the recent, more aggravating than his prior package, IMF’s imprimatur reportedly.
The succeeding NLC after our ‘’Putsch-One’’, witch-hunted and widened the political enmity in politics of the Right and Left. Acheampong’s faltered in apparently reversing the PP’s socio-academic. Dr Limann’s [Third Republic] was forced into confrontationist with plausible bits of academic naivete like Busia’s and Rawling’s moved from high-handedness controversial ‘’Boom’’ into crafted democratic sobriety which hardened la resistance, anyway. Prof Atta-Mills pro-pacifism, Kufuor’s ‘let’s swim together’. Throughout those separate periods political hatred in our politics developed abuse and indiscipline which affected governance in subtle and crude ways than seen and from one to another, authority was losing power subtly. An embroidery for all the little ups and big slumps lingering on, is the instant angry reactions to dissent or beg-to-differ and might as had led persons locked up.
As I was getting to the end of this script today, a click and buzz notified a fresh video on my hand-set telephone in the Whats up. I found a brother college-mate was sharing a video and this the delivery at relationship conference about his encounter with a young girl visitor. The dialogue revolved his age, how, who and time he had been held in detention. The last question was how long he had been in jail. He replied he didn’t quite remember. The girl retorted ‘’you are a stupid old man.’’ But Nelson Mandela appealed that if his experience as relayed had any lesson, he recommended good dosages of diplomacy to treat his remarks—quite a ponderous stuff.
My sense is our country is four years from the ‘three score years and ten’ to lose memory of independence-day and our failures to make the dreams come alive. It is not impossible, if we all can let go. The first step is to eschew retaliation politics which has led nowhere. But the final argument is whether we were ready for independence. Back in 1985, Pa Willie having identified the nation’s crises, said the ultimate expectation for the struggle for independence as UGCC presumably saw it, as one whose citizens can, with hand on chest, say ‘’I am a proud Ghanaian;’’ but it sounds dejected forlorn today.
It remains safe to ask ‘’66 years of what?’’. The answer depends on which corner puts the question. Some have had it so good. Others have never had it so good. Still, we cherish our freedom. And top up with ‘’never mind the brokerages’’, recalling growing up in typical Cape Coast attitudinal stress-throw-off. Biggest truth, hurting and or hardest said, is we are all involved. Can we change? Celebration is renewal.
By Prof. Nana Esselfie-Conduah