Dear Chairman Rawlings, inarguably the most influential former president Ghana has had till date; you continue to challenge, mentor and inspire millions of people especially the youth, both in Ghana and abroad.
Your charisma, affability, and frankness are unparalleled and that probably is the reason you still look strong and healthy despite clocking a whopping 71 years. When the political bourgeois took over this country not long after independence and decided to gamble with the lives of the ordinary people, who formed the masses, you arose as a young, spirited hero to the defence of the people, without recourse to the damning negative consequences that could have had for you, in the event that things did not go well as planned.
Such admirable courage! At the young age of 31 or so back in the year 1979 you identified with the ordinary people of Ghana, felt their pain and decided to come to their rescue through the uprising, not because you wanted to be a martyr or a hero, but because you understood that governments should exist in the supreme interests of the people, rather than to impoverish the very people in whose interest it is set up.
What a man of the people you are! A true leader whose name is forever embedded in the annals of history, as the diamond that Ghana found in the clumsy dust of the corrupt military governments which took turns between 1966 and 1978 to drain the life out of this beautiful country that we have today. Indeed, who says you are no longer relevant in the Ghanaian socio-political circles?
Who said that you are not the best President Ghana has had under the fourth republic? In fact, the worst and the most ridiculous of all your naysayers are the ones who mistaken your firmness, which actually is or at least, should be an essential quality of a good leader, for dictatorship. People seem to have forgotten that it was under the PNDC that the ordinary Ghanaian got a chance for the first time, to enjoy real democracy by participating directly in policy making in this country, through referenda and other communal initiatives that were rolled out during your presidency.
Who even said that you have an unquenchable thirst for power, when are the one who peacefully handed over political power to your political opponents after they won the elections in the year 2000, at a time when most of your compatriots, together with whom you ascended to power at the same time had clung on and refused to step down even till date.
In fact, most modern day politicians are rather the enemies of democracy that they try so hard to paint you to be. Of what use is democracy if the common citizens cannot demand probity, accountability and transparency from the very people they put in charge of the country through the power of their thumb? I ask again, of what use is democracy when the gap between the rich and poor continues to swell and those at the helm of affairs see nothing wrong with it? If democracy cannot benefit the very people for whom it exists, then why practise it at all? Evidently, true democracy goes beyond conducting peaceful elections and having often biased and self-seeking foreign agencies congratulate us in their own parochial interests.
Democracy as believed by you and which is correct anyway, must make or at least seek to make leaders accountable to those who put them there, while they come to a point where they understand that they are in various offices in the interests of the masses and not to enrich themselves through dubious means. This occasion of your birthday is an opportunity to revisit once again, the principles of the June 4 uprising, which in spite of its excesses brought massive sanity and financial and social liberation to the ordinary people of Ghana.
You have distinguished yourself as an asset to this great nation and a lot of young people take so much inspiration from your life and philosophy. You are one of very few people who today, who can rise up to the occasion and speak the truth without recourse to being politically correct or fear of being vilified. On this day of your 7s1st birthday, I wish you long life, wisdom and good health so that you can give us some more booms in the years to come. Happy Birthday, J.J. Ghana is proud of you and most of us young people, look up to you.
By: Nat Tetteh