Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
May 8, 2010
By their continued determination to sustain this bad-blood relationship, both Rawlings and Kufuor are fast losing respect and widening the political and ethnic gulf at many levels.
Their personal animosity is dangerous for many reasons. First, it is festering into a nasty relationship that ramifies at the broader political and ethnic levels. Kufuor represents the NPP and Rawlings, the NDC. Followers of either have already pitted camps and entrenched their positions of enmity, which is waiting to explode during the electioneering campaign period.
Second, Kufuor is an Asante who pulls Asante sympathizers and their sentiments toward him while Rawlings does same from his Ewe elements. Forget about the Scottish aspect of Rawlings because it is nonexistent and not likely to emerge in this conflict. His mother is an Ewe and that’s what those Ewes on his side feel and defend. The problem is not limited to this binary ethnic angle alone. It cuts across all the other ethnic groups where both Rawlings and Kufuor have their followers and doesn’t bode well for any peaceful co-existence.
This animosity is intriguing at another level. Both Rawlings and Kufuor claim to be Catholics but can’t persuade me that they are living as Catholicism demands. On the contrary, they are pontificating on the principles of righteousness, justice, morality, unity, and other virtues as if Christianity is professed by word of mouth and not lived. By their public posture and utterances, I daresay that all they portray is an unhealthy motivation to be more Catholic than the Pope.
The problem cannot be solved because those who have created it are not ready to help solve it. Furthermore, the forces that are expected to spearhead the reconciliation are unable to do so. If Both Rawlings and Kufuor are Catholics, what prevents the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ghana to take the bold step to bring them together? They haven’t been able to do so because they lack credibility.
Apparently, the Catholic Church is divided along partisan political lines to the extent that its leaders cannot attempt solving this problem without seeing things through their terministic politico-religious lenses. Rawlings may be blamed for creating room for this condition. He has strained the relationship between him and some powerful leaders within the Catholic Church. For instance, his mockery of the retired Bishop Akwasi Sarpong as “the man in cassock, wearing a long chain” whom he had asked the people of Offinso (Sarpong’s home town) not to defer to is unbfortunate. Retired Bishop Akwasi Sarpong didn’t forgive Rawlings. On his part, he joined those opposed to Rawlings and didn’t hide his bitterness. He had once told a secret gathering of members of the Kumasi Youngsters Club at their Adum Clubhouse in 1992 a lot of nasty things about Rawlings, which got to his ears and reinforced the bad-blood relationship between them.
Bishop Palmer-Buckle, who served on the National Reconciliation Commission, has over the period also attracted Rawlings’ verbal venom. Such a well-placed Catholic functionary cannot be part of a team to dispassionately solve the Rawlings-Kufuor problem. So, the Catholic Church is hamstrung.
Efforts by some religious leaders (including Cardinal Appiah Turkson and the National Chief Imam) have broken down for three years now and nobody seems to be working to revive the reconciliatory moves. Apparently, the conditions that Rawlings gave the Peace Council might not have been fulfilled.
Then comes in the Council of State, which I have already described as a waste-pipe that must not continue to exist, anyway. In the heat of this animosity, one would expect that Council to make efforts to calm nerves but it hasn’t. There have been various Councils of State since the emergence of the 4th Republic, which should have made moves to tackle this animosity between Rawlings and Kufuor as a national crisis but couldn’t do so. None has done anything. The current one is the most dormant of all and doesn’t even have anything productive to offer in this bid. The underlying problem is that most members of this Council of State are known for their partisan political persuasions. They have taken entrenched positions and cannot do anything to solve the problem without injecting their political venom into it. They have been disarmed by their own parochial political interests. Such waste-pipes have no justification to exist in Ghana.
Then, the journalists have also worsened the situation by picking on issues and reporting them in the form of sensationalized gibberish or through jaundiced political lenses. Many of the journalists are responsible for the worsening of the situation because of their prejudices and morbid desire to sell their newspapers by making mountains out of molehills. Some intentionally skew news reports to attract unsuspecting patrons or simply indulge in plain mischief as part of their efforts to serve the grand political agenda of their handlers. All-in-all, the Asantehene has played his part so far in bringing together these two “bad boys of Ghana politics,” even if one may want to see things differently. At least, by getting them to share the same space, whether at the celebration of important Asante festivals at Manhyia, dinner parties, funerals, or church services to celebrate his 60th birthday, the Asantehene has been able to prove a point.
He has indicated that nothing should prevent reconciliation of Kufuor and Rawlings even if both don’t see things the way he does. No one knows what is going on behind-the-scene; but from the brazen manner in which Rawlings has spoken about the problem, I am tempted to guess that nothing productive has been achieved so far.
I don’t think that if anything worthwhile was forthcoming, he would come out to say what he said (as published yesterday by JoyFm Online). It is disappointing for this petty feud to persist. Whose interest does Rawlings think he will be serving if he insists on “justice being served”? What does he consider to be “justice,” anyway? Does “justice” mean one thing to him and another to Kufuor? A vain battle of semantics!
Does Rawlings not know that there are many Ghanaians who are also asking for “justice” in the context of what happened during his 19 years in charge of affairs in Ghana? Or does his conception or perception of “justice” restrict him to events that happened in Ghana only under the watch of Kufuor’s administration?
At the end of the day, however, this carrying on will come to naught. It is only the reputation of the wordy warfarers themselves that has been bruised so far. Do Kufuor and Rawlings want to tell us that they can help—or will be trusted to help—solve serious national crisis if they can’t resolve the petty personal animosity between them? They are refusing to see the beam in their own eyes while trying to remove the mote in others’ eyes! Hypocrites and dangerous elements! Rather intriguingly, both Kufuor and Rawlings have been on international assignments with the intent to bring about peace among warring factions in other countries. Take, for instance, Rawlings’ role as a representative of the United Nations or as part of the group of eminent former Presidents of Africa whose views are being tapped to provide a blueprint for good governance. Then, consider Kufuor’s mission to Kenya to broker peace after the March 2008 post-election violence or his recent election-monitoring role in Zambia and the Sudan. Having failed to make peace at home, what good do these people think they can bring to others elsewhere?
Ghana doesn’t need such troublemakers. It is imperative for these so-called former Presidents and First Ladies (their children and relatives as well as political and tribal sympathizers in all guises) to wake up to the reality that Ghanaians have more pressing problems to solve and shouldn’t be bothered by their constant childishness in old age!