Pay back the colonial debt

Ghana’s leader Nana Akufo-Ad­do joined the annual UN jamboree of member-nations’ leaders addresses mid-last month. His themes are: appeal to Europe/ US for help to eject marauding terrorists in the Sahel, disputed a hitherto theory about coups and appeared to have predicated those on a stark reminder about Africans having stood with them to win their war—WWII 1945 against Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany. It requires analysis. For historically correct precision, the countries of Africa were towed into that somebody else’s war because they colonies obligatorily. Here, in the then Gold Coast, as school children, we daily cracked cups of palm kernels and provided sisal hemps, as our contribution to war effort. The complaints about pea­nuts benefits and a march to appeal for raises, led to Sgt Adjetey and two colleagues mowed down.

These aggravated a smouldering riots which coincided with ‘’Boy­cott’’ and workers strikes across the country. That overflowed into the nation’s overwhelming enthu­siasm and support for Paa Grant’s nascent UGCC’s bandwagon and six from its leading members [called ‘’Big Six’’] were detained. On release, Dr Kwame Nkrumah resigned and founded the CPP [12 June 1949] to lead to independence for the Gold Coast which became Ghana, named after the illustrious Ghana Empire.

President Akufo-Addo is very right to counter the notion that a coup would necessarily change things for the better, is false. All coup leaders promised a hope, not met at the least from the Ghanaian experience. It is not untruthful that each, as occurred had their domestic and prompting external hailers. The finite point is none did any better than the ousted regimes. Coups are misadventures in other words.

But the president did not address the causes, for example, a deteriorated economies, though he admitted the upsets and terrorism were sapping. I don’t think the president wanted to be the ‘misbe­haved dinner-guest’. However, he missed the opportunity to inform world powers to change their ways, responding to his appeal for help to banish. This is both directly and indirectly attitudes and conducts which undermined peacekeeping and contracts for infrastructures in host African countries.

I note that he delivered his address on the eve of the birth­day of his predecessor Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah. Nostalgi­cally, every enemy commentator would have felt the remiss. It is not comparative because Presi­dent Akufo-Addo is not Kwame as much as we each differ from another. The reference is simply to underscore the omission, proba­bly inadvertently. I should explain that I have repeatedly argued that president Akufo-Addo has two dictions—home, adroit and caustic repartees and international fora. He knocks it close to Kwame gen­erally. Of course Kwame shook the world from whichever. Nana tries on his own, despite all his faults including the alleged. Essen­tially though, excerpting the debt owed to Africa, using the WII as a tangent provokes criticisms. Not only Africans fought the war. The Asian colonies too. There were the Gurkha [Nepalese] Maoris [New Zealand], Aborinese [Australia] and hundreds from the Windies [Caribean].

Nkrumah’s idea for the THIRD WORLD BLOCK including the Non-Aligned at the UN which is now the Diaspora spelt among other pillars a unity to speak and demand what is legitimately due, historic and empirical. From that premise, whereas it is not wrong for paper-weight Ghana to go uni­lateral, on such over super heavy­weight, might seem not to be the best approach. Added, is that the AU has a significant Representa­tion at the UN to have co-ordinat­ed put forward the Titan-ballistic request. It is a serious multi-faced bomb and I shall defend it, not necessarily pro-patria; but that it was not stated to fly a kite to the gallery, especially where most Af­rican economies are in dire straits. A joint resolution would have been more remarkable, however.

But I see difficulties if ne­gotiations to determine compen­sations broadly to countries and specifically the criteria and how proportional to the many dead and misgivings about authorities in the recipient countries, bearing that it was not going to be largesse, but a right. That is colonial bills’back pay in essence. All of that would be resolved, if the Allies concurred. It did not happen in Yalta 1945 and thus appeasement. That suggests if there was a disputing, Africa shall be challenged for and about the quantum of the restitutions. Within sorting out, Africa may or could be found wanting at two junctions: the coterie of its own renowned African experts and negotiators. Look back at the Bakasi peninsula, the Morocco and the Sahara breakaway issue and our maritime boundaries with the Ivory Coast. Foreign brokers were hired.

Comparatively, consider also, how tough the resistance in Europe for the return of stolen artifices to individual states in Africa and else­where within the Commonwealth. A united front is the strongest proposition. That entre nous is scuttled by the problems encoun­tered on individual initiatives. The idea is fine except the difficulties, the collective being fragile, poor and harassed. That the African contribution to winning WWII is not doubted, the cry ‘to help us’ eliminate coups, has another unpalatable tasking interpretation. It is like asking the West to “help” us to undo what they once assisted us to do and he reminisced in that speech that no coup has had prof­it—‘bei dama’. There is an import­ant difference to draw au contraire, relative to the totality of meaning of “help” and “assist us” in terms of the “bei dama” It is true the putsches ditched the individual countries with hindsight; but some in all countries benefitted picking up high to highest state positions.

A dismissal of every theory gets a replaced. Before that, it is worth­while for the sake of a counter, which the role of the military has a highly sensitive unspoken. Com­monplace knowledge is that the military are nudged up to oust; and usually, the written and unwritten histories in the narratives point to the contemporary opposition collaborating with outsiders—for­eign power interests, it is said. I have not heard or read own-ups, except the CIA disclosures after the US statute of limitation had lapsed in the case of Ghana 1966; and a book by David Rooney: “Kwame Nkrumah: The Political Kingdom in the Third World.” In that book Rooney shows how the scenario leaves none other than the military as the last option to inter­vene. Governments would need the courage to voluntarily quit for failure. Our Chiefs take that kind of code of honour.

In light of the genesis of the apparently fixed notion ,as argued by president Akufo-Addo’s to dismantle the existing notion that it takes only a military strike to expect better governance, leads to benefit and Nkrumah’s “soldiers have no business in government”, semantically the same effectively. Yet, a credo-defence after over­throw is ‘we felt no alternative being citizens as well,’ delicate as preciously sensitive. It requires in-depth studies and discourses to succinct statute why the military is an institution apart, also clearing incipient discrimination, thinking in broad and narrow interpretations of democracy—“all are equal’’ and why we haven’t given thoughts on these. I suggest, acknowledging the existence of privileged excep­tions that that it might seem to be part of the public exaggerated reactions, or, indeed anger against soldiers when a couple of bad nuts misbehaved and in tandem a no­tion of fear of global governments of them, may lurk there.

We might find that some of these or all could be a solution to pre-empt for example, fire-brig­ading like ECOWAS’ talk tough and only to melt, less off than the English grand old noble Duke of York’s “He had ten thousand men” marched them up the hill and down again-futility does not break the Gordian knot which Africa confronts for everybody’s peace. Pursuant to that political leaderships’ “fear” in the annals of putsches all over, there are in­stances of error judgments relative to appointments to Commands; accused of hard at hearing advices gets in the processes taking tolls and latterly in the African expe­riences, political party-loyalties allegedly dominate, it is believed.

The leaders either run down the sizes of the military or form “Pres­idential Guards.” The consequenc­es, past and recent, would be su­perfluous to re-state. In one of my more than too many conversations [interviews] with Prime Minister Prof. K.A. Busia, the whispering thought for policy was to either abolish the army or minimise the numbers but turn the men women into multi-professionals in addi­tion to a force with acknowledged expertise proficiency in multi fields, having a potent force de frappe to deter and conquer, if needed. In the background, a limited run down was ongoing. I raised the question and Prof. Busia said: “but Nana, you can never tell who and intents of your predator.”

By Prof. Nana Esselfie-Conduah

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