First rename Legon after Danquah, then UDS after Rawlings

Thu, 25 Feb 2016 Source: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

The quickness with which the operatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would have all the significant institutions and landmarks in the country named after their icons and political patrons and benefactors is incredible. And so I was not the least bit surprised when Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minister of Labor and Employment, recently suggested that the University of Development Studies (UDS) be named after the NDC’s founding patriarch, Chairman Jerry John Rawlings (See “Name UDS After Rawlings – Haruna Iddrisu” Graphic.com.gh / Ghanaweb.com 2/23/16).

The Tamale-Central Member of Parliament’s argument is that former President Rawlings demonstrated “vision and selflessness” when he donated some $50,000 awarded him by the directors of the U.S.-based World Hunger Project for the establishment of the northern Ghana-located University of Development Studies.

I have absolutely no qualms with Mr. Iddrisu’s “fearless” proposition, as the Minister himself recently put it before a packed auditorium of students of the Kufuor-created Wa, Upper-West, campus of UDS, except for the glaring fact that Mr. Iddrisu strangely failed to issue the same call for the even more imperative need for the country’s flagship academy, the University of Ghana, to be renamed after the intellectual, cultural and political giant who singularly championed its seminal establishment in 1948.

We must also quickly observe that Danquah did all this without having had the privilege and opportunity to assume the reins of national governance. The putative Doyen of Gold Coast and Modern Ghanaian Politics would also, through tireless and brilliant research, cause the erstwhile Gold Coast Colony to be renamed Ghana in March 1957.

Indeed, if the Labor and Employment Minister had any respect for Ghana’s history and the protagonists thereof, Mr. Iddrisu would have progressively added his voice to that of the thunderous chorus of voices that first advocated for the University of Ghana to be renamed after the man who made it possible for Legon to be established at least a decade before it would have been established, in the authoritative words of Rev.-Prof. Robert Addo-Fening.

That Mr. Iddrisu is himself a bona fide product or graduate of the University of Ghana, and not the University of Development Studies, makes his rather brazen proposition all the more grotesque. You see, the original title of this column was “How Many Institutions Did Rawlings Name after Acheampong?” In other words, it goes without saying that the most progressive postcolonial military ruler that Ghana ever had was Gen. Ignatius Kutu Acheampong, and not Flt.-Lt. Jerry John Rawlings. And so it is not clear precisely why Mr. Iddrisu chose to so flagrantly insult the intelligence of Ghanaians, as well as rudely play fast and loose with the truth of the reality of postcolonial Ghanaian history.

If Mr. Iddrisu thinks that the mere fact of him being a Ghanaian of northern descent authorizes him to make such a scandalous proposition, then he is in for a rude awakening. Suffice it to say, at least in passing, that Chairman Rawlings has done more harm to the interests of our country than just about any postcolonial Ghanaian leader. Rawlings has uniquely contributed to the gross retardation of the country’s intellectual and cultural development clock; and that, of course, includes the development of Ghana’s higher educational system.

That Chairman Rawlings would callously and unconscionably shut down all the major public universities in the country, while he smugly shipped all his four known children abroad for schooling, at some of the most expensive academies in Europe and the United States, ought to inform Mr. Iddrisu that his political icon is anything but “selfless and visionary.”

We must also quickly note, for the benefit of those who may not already be in the know, that the very conception of a university of development, and not just development studies, in the northern-half of the country, far predates Chairman Rawlings on the national political scene and was, in fact, in the works when the Limann-led democratically elected People’s National Party (PNP) was overthrown by the very same Chairman Rawlings that Mr. Iddrisu would now have honored with the renaming of the UDS.

We shall make time to further discuss this sticky subject of the imperative need to honoring and venerating our leaders and heroes in the offing. For now, suffice it to observe that respect and veneration are multi-pronged and cross-partisan, and not the expedient fruits of impudent political opportunists.

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Columnist: Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.