By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Folks, history has a way of repeating itself when it so chooses, not when forced to do so by mortal human beings. And by so doing, history teaches lessons that it expects mortal human beings to learn, but which they don’t and end up running around in circles, repeating the very acts that feed the annals of history.
For us in Ghana, particularly, there is a lot that history teaches us but which we refuse to learn. Regrettably, we can only conclude that it is a Ghanaian thing; the Ghanaian way of striving to bend history to do the impossible, including settling scores with Nature—and doing so wrongly too.
Is it strange, then, that while Ghanaians are complaining of the harsh conditions of existence in the country and doing all they can to leave for other countries, they fail to realize that other foreign nationals are more than eager to relocate in Ghana by fair or foul means? While they consider life in Ghana as difficult to live, foreign nationals think otherwise and act decisively.
The glaring truth is that the influx of the Chinese, Nigerians, and Liberians (among others) into Ghana is not just accidental or inadventitious. It is a calculated, natural pull of gravity to where there is substance to hang on to. Unfortunately, Ghanaians themselves are so hollow upstairs as not to know that they have a huge oasis within reach but are thirsty for being shortsighted and foolish. (Don’t ask Bob Marley to explain to you his philosophical wisecrack that in the abundance of water, the fool is thirsty). By the time we realize it, we will become foreigners in our own land!!
There is too much of the negative politics infecting our lives; it is detrimental to our fate today and that of posterity. The seeds of this high-level despondency and self-destructive miscalculation were sown long ago and have now blossomed to unnerve us into blaming everybody but ourselves for our sorry state.
A quick trip down the memory lane should help us know the cause of our woes. That is why when I hear that certain past 4events are being revisited and highlighted today for political expediency, I cringe. The news reports have it that “A solemn memorial service was held at the Christ the King Church in Accra yesterday in remembrance of eight senior military officers who were executed in the heat of the 1979 Uprising. There were no tears at the service, which was anchored on the theme ‘Love, Forgiveness and Thanksgiving’”. (See http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID
This is the first time that such a commemorative service has been organized. Why this time, one may ask? I thought that the Kufuor government did all it could to end it all: exhumation and reburial of the remains in “dignity” in their hometowns and the need for “forgiveness and forgetfulness”, apparently facilitated by the work of the Truth and National Reconciliation Commission? Why re-open dead wounds at this time? Of course, it’s human lives at stake, but I can read a deeper meaning into the day’s event to conclude that some faceless politicians are manipulating some people for political advantage. That’s where the issue irritates me.
The lives and works of these ex-military officers were not all rosy; neither can we say that their participation in the governance of this country was without any blemish. Or that it didn’t harm interests. While remembering these senior ex-military officers on the basis of their sad fate, have these children and family members paused to consider the victims of their atrocities? The politicians callously manipulating them won’t do so because their conscience is seared with hot, branding iron, supported by selective amnesia. I don’t intend to rub any salt into their wounds at this point; but I want to bring it home to them that the rise to prominence of those former military rulers didn’t happen without negative repercussions for those on whose shoulders they would rise to prominence.
Mention these ex-military officers and I will tell you how their desire to achieve fame caused much anguish to innocent people who might not even have been standing in their way. Is it Okatakyie Akwasi Amankwaah Afrifa who strategized with Emmanuel Kwasi Kotoka and others to overthrow the Great Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah at the behest of their CIA manipulators? Or who else? Bring it on!
Of all, I.K. Acheampong comes across as a victim of circumstances whose rise to power was not paved by a single gunshot to wound anybody. He did so because he was put in charge of the military detachment at the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation by the Busia administration that believed too much in the rumours of military coup against it. A paranoid government hamstrung by shortsightedness. You know what?
Acheampong was a frolicker, a celebrated connoisseur of good women, wine, and anything convivial. But he was also trusted by Busia as a “fellow Akan” who won’t orchestrate a coup d’état against an Akan government. So, placing him at the GBC was a strategic move to prevent any coup making from reaching the airwaves to cause any mess. A grand miscalculation!!
As the situation turned out to be, Acheampong (a product of the Kwame Nkrumah ideological Institute at Winneba), knew how to turn the situation to personal advantage. And he did so. But he couldn’t have succeeded had the Busia administration put its own house in order.
Legend has it that on the night of Wednesday, January 12, 1972, Acheampong had visited a part of Nima to indulge in the “sweetness of the bottle” and the “deed of darkness” with one of his numerous girlfriends. It was revealed that at one point, his girlfriend pressed him for money, which he did n’t have to give her. His response? “Don’t worry. When I become Head of State tomorrow, all your financial problems will be solved!”
As is said in Ghana, even walls have ears. And so, Acheampong’s utterances leaked to the “ears and eyes” of the Busia administration, headed by Professor Ofosu-Armah. Unfortunately, Ofosu-Armah couldn’t relay the sensitive message to the seat of government because he wasn’t sure of the initials of the Acheampong who was covered as making that utterance on becoming the Head of State. Ofosu-Armah wasn’t sure whether it was I. Acheampong or I.K. Acheampong; and the message delayed.
By the time that commonsense dawned, boooom!! In the early hours of Thursday, January 13, 1972, Acheampong was on air, dismissing the Busia administration from office only 27 months of its being inaugurated. Everything went overboard and the Second Republic was no more. No single gunshot fired, which makes me wonder whether the 1966 coup d’état masterminded by Afrifa and Co. really deserves the name given it (“Operation Cold Chop”) because it couldn’t have succeeded without much blood-letting. Indeed, Nkrumah’s security was formidable and couldn’t have been overpowered easily. God bless Bawa and Co for sacrificing their lives in defence of good conscience and uprightness.
You see, friends, there is a lot to rely on as we interrogate the circumstances surrounding the celebration of the lives of the executed military officers just for political leverage by opponents of everything that Jerry John Rawlings stands for.
Those of us who were alive to happenings in Ghana in the era of these military officers won’t praise them for anything, especially after 1975 when the National Redemption Council metamorphosed into the Supreme Military Council (versions one and two) to superintend over the total destruction of the country at all fronts. The high degree of moral decadence and economic stagnation, not to mention the denigration of the national psyche, is enough to prove to me that those military officers positioned themselves as bull’s eyes to be so hit. Why bother about them anymore when they suffered the consequences of their own miscalculation and careless abandon in or out of office?
I shall return…
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