Opinions Tue, 5 Jun 2012
....extinguish June 4 tooBy Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Monday, June 4, 2012
Gradually but steadily, the virus biting former President Rawlings has succeeded in inflicting irreparable damage on his political career.
It is amazing (or confounding?) how fast he is dimming his own light and refusing all sound counsel to stay afloat. By persistently destroying the foundation of his own political edifice, he shouldn’t hope to avoid going under when the building eventually collapses. Rawlings is doing overtime, burning himself out, and will sooner than later become a good riddance.
As we see him and his wife destroy themselves, we recognize their acts of commission or omission as history-in-the-making and have it as our bounden duty to record proceedings for the benefit of posterity. If we fail to do so, we will not serve their best interests; hence, our continued interest in anything involving the Rawlingses. Please, bear with us.
The news report (Myjoyonline, June 4, 2012) says it all: “But for the intervention of close confidantes, former President Jerry John Rawlings would have taken yet another unprecedented step by breaking a ritual he has performed for decades.”
What was it?
“An unsurprisingly emotional Rawlings clutching a stick of flame at the Revolution Square in Accra Monday, in readiness to light the perpetual flame to mark the 33rd Anniversary of the June 4 Uprising, dramatically pointed the flames to the skies, as if to invite the heavens to descend to Ghana, turned and handed the flame to an aide and ordered that the fire be extinguished.” Why would he do so? And how did it all pan out?
“But upon counsel and appeals, the former president reluctantly rescinded his decision not to light to flame but even then he did not complete the process the way he has been known to do it—dip his hands in the flame.” His reason?
“Mr. Rawlings said he had lost the zest and moral turpitude to light the flame as the aloofness of government to the plight of the ordinary Ghanaian had made it a travesty to continue to light the flame.”
Very insightful reasons, right? But wait a second for their implications, which point to something seriously wrong with Rawlings at this stage that we must probe further. He is defying the laws of Nature and will pay dearly for it. It is a simple matter that shouldn’t be difficult to understand: Even though the sun is more powerful than the moon, it doesn’t stay in the sky for 24 hours every day to display that power. After 12 hours, it recedes to the background to give the moon its chance to display its power too. “Sun in the day, moon at night” is the simple law of Nature. As natural beings, we need to know such laws and obey them. We disobey them to our own peril. But not for Rawlings. We already know how he has acted, especially after leaving the citadel of power. We recognize his abrasive politics over the years but will use today’s event as the reference point to explain matters.
The veneration of June 4 and its most propagated principles of “probity and accountability” was at the behest of Rawlings. The annual celebration of June 4 was institutionalized by Rawlings himself and doggedly observed in all the almost 20 years that he stamped his authority on the country as its “strongman” ruler. Even out of office, he won’t let go. So fixated was he on this celebration that he stoutly flouted the court’s banning of it as a national event, especially under the Kufuor government.
We all saw how Rawlings pushed the button and mobilized support for the event. Defying all the odds stacked up against him and the June 4 event, he virtually sent himself to the NPP’s slaughter house as he led the annual celebration, especially by personally lighting the perpetual flame at the Revolution Square whether there was enough personal security for him or not. It was a terrible risk he took and came away unscathed. You can see June 4 anthropomorphized as J.J. Rawlings—to the chagrin of Boakye Gyan and co.!
The Revolution Square is its sacred ground. That spot for the solemnities was even reconstructed and christened with Rawlings’ blessing to serve as the cenotaph for remembering all those who fell in the June 4 Uprising—a commemoration of their sacrifices in defence of the cause provoked by Rawlings. This venue has ever since remained a sacred ground for adherents of the June 4 Uprising and the occasion itself regarded as sacrosanct and included in the national calendar of memorable events.
Some of us who physically participated in the annual celebrations under the Rawlings regime still recall the soul-gripping proceedings. We won’t so soon forget those gripping moments.
So, 33 years after institutionalizing the event and superintending over its annual celebration, if Rawlings has now reached a cul-de-sac just because of what he considers a betrayal of the June 4 ideals by the government that he helped install in office, he raises very serious issues that we can understand only from what he himself has adduced as the reason for what he did today. Here is what the news report says to that effect:
“He told hordes of NDC cadres at the ceremony that the lighting of the perpetual flame had become a meaningless exercise, enunciating his long-held mantra that the government formed by the party he founded—National Democratic Congress—had deviated markedly from the principles, values and ideals of the June 4 Uprising which served as a lynchpin for the formation of the NDC.”
Very depressing and ironical, indeed!
Very depressing because of the tragic element in it that Rawlings misses. There is nothing happening in this second NDC government that didn’t happen under the first one headed by Rawlings. Probably, the only major difference is that President Mills isn’t browbeating anybody, contrary to what Rawlings did, and that his appointees might be abusing that hands-off governance style to create the impression for which Rawlings would bad-mouth them as “Greedy Bastards.” Most of President Mills’ appointees either worked directly with Rawlings or were underlings groomed to do what they are doing today. President Mills himself was Rawlings’ Vice, someone he unilaterally handpicked to succeed him. What qualities did he see in the Mills on the occasion of the “Swedru Declaration” that he doesn’t any more appreciate in the Mills now the President of Ghana as he (Rawlings) had wished and worked to actualize?
Regardless of any peculiarity characterizing the NDC administration under Rawlings and the current one under Mills, there is much to conclude that the Mills government is in many ways functioning just like the Rawlings one did—both driven by the development project agenda and many other policies and programmes that reflect the character of the NDC. What is the cause for any enmity, then? And why will this approach to governance rile Rawlings so much as to make him lose his equilibrium?
Very ironical for all that it reflects. Having built his entire political career around this “spirit” of June 4, what could so traumatize Rawlings as to make him denigrate that very “venerable” aspect of his existence? Take away June 4 from Rawlings’ life and you will reduce him to a nonentity.
So, should he deflate himself just because he is aggrieved that those now in power under the aegis of the NDC have discarded the ideals of June 4? Throwing away the bathwater with the baby?
We must come to a firm conclusion, then. Nobody forced Rawlings to institutionalize June 4 as an annual national event to be celebrated. He did so, spurred on by his commitment to the ideals of that event and whipping up sentiments to sustain it. And if he turns out to be the very person to denigrate the event and extinguish its perpetual fire, so be it.
By “killing” the NDC and extinguishing the fire of June 4, Rawlings will be left with nothing but a mirage to chase. And, probably, a past to haunt him. In the end, Don Quixote will be better off than him in comparison. Putting all together, then, he will definitely go down in history and be remembered as the author and finisher of his own cause. How pathetic!!
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Columnist: Bokor, Michael J. K.