Braimah Issaka, a former military driver of former President Jerry John Rawlings, has described spouse of the latter, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, as completely ‘inexistent’ as far as issues of power and influence during the revolutionary regime were concerned.Revelations he made during an interview with TV Host Kofi Adomah point to the fact that Mrs. Rawlings could barely lift a finger in any capacity to drive change though her husband was in charge of affairs.
While Rawlings was the most powerful figure during the revolution which he led in June 1979, Mr. Issaka argues that his wife was merely home, printing T-shirts which she distributed to some soldiers to sell for money to support her upkeep as well.
He revealed that Rawlings barely left the military zone at Burma Camp for home, and how that even in instances that he left, he shortly after returned to the barracks.
“She may be powerful, influential now, during the early days, we didn’t see that. Konadu used to print T-Shirts for us to sell at 37. What power did she have at the time? She only used to print T-shirts and it was from the same money she used to eat,” he said.
“She never had any power during the early days of the revolution. Rawlings could stay at Burma Camp for a week before returning home, then we the soldiers will drive him home. Konadu never came to PNDC headquarters during the early days”.
“She was totally powerless, she couldn’t order soldiers about, she couldn’t say go and do this operation for me, so she only probably had power over her husband. That one is between them but talking about power to change things or influence policies in Ghana at the time, it was never the case, he added.
In any case, Braimah Issaka believes, Konadu Rawlings only gained some level of influence after the creation of the 31st December Women’s Movement.
Power is authority, where you can decide. After 31st December, she probably became powerful but it was after we had gone into exile. I would, however, say that her power base is not one she can use to drive change, it is one that might have started from the 31st December Women’s Movement, if she has a say in that movement, it later became powerful but it was later.
The 31st December Women’s Movement is a development NGO which was founded with the main goal of mobilizing women, particularly the disadvantaged and vulnerable in both rural and urban areas. The movement wanted women to understand the governance of the country and wanted women to be part of the participatory democratic system that was evolving before them since 51% of Ghana’s population are women.
The movement supported and promoted activities at the grassroots level – activities that would empower women through education, management of their profits, capacity building, which enabled women to develop a new sense of culture and attitude to take charge of their lives and be part of governance from the village to the national level.
It also encouraged more women to contest for the positions of assemblywomen, members of parliament and some actually won their seats nationwide. Most of these women became DCE’s ministers of state etc. which vindicated the slogan of the 31st December Women’s Movement that the only place for the woman is not the kitchen.