The grim and bloody past, actually bleak and bloody past, continues to haunt the globally infamous Chairman Jerry John Rawlings, the then-31-year-old Ghana Airforce’s Flight-Lieutenant and the newly elected or self-appointed capo of the soon-to-be-extortionate whirlwind junta of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC).
You see, Dear Reader, Mr. Rawlings has enjoyed the rare privilege of longevity and of being able to use the heavy influence of his post-governance existence in retirement to systematically intimidate his former “revolutionary” associates, both those who are still on the same page with him as well as those who have fallen out with the former butcher, into either total silence or extreme cautiousness, so as to enable the little-over 70-year-old former junta Chairman to stage manage how the sanguinary events of what erroneously came to be categorized as the June 4th Revolution get to be narrated by even some of the more credible key players of that infamous mutiny or junior-ranked officers’ uprising against the then senior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces and military rulers of the so-called Supreme Military Council (SMC-II), led by the shortly to be summarily executed Gen. FWK Akuffo.
Of course, the already palace-coup-ousted “Mr.” Ignatius Kwasi Kutu Acheampong, the title-stripped Chairman of the original Supreme Military Council (SMC-I), would be brought to the Teshie Military Range from house arrest to be summarily executed with his former associates and minions as well. That was how vindictive and implacably ruthless the Sogakope Mafia Capos and their foot-soldiers were. The key phrase of the foregoing observation is “stage manage.” You see, it has yet to occur to the half-Scottish and half-Ghanaian waif that there are as many “truths” and narratological realities to any epoch-making event, revolutionary or reactionary, as there are figures who may genuinely and legitimately claim to have been authors or coauthors of the same. And the case of the June 4th Mutiny and mutineers is absolutely no exception.
Yes, he was the official spearhead or champion of June 4th; but by absolutely no stretch of the imagination, even the flightiest imagination, could Chairman Rawlings be singularly and exclusively credited with either being the sole architect and/or planner or strategist and executor of unarguably the most morally depraved and civically benighted putsch in Ghana’s postcolonial history. You see, Dear Reader, the problem that Mr. Rawlings has in being able to authoritatively discredit the Major Rida Version of June 4th is the fact that the man who more than any major or key player benefited from the indisputable fame and fortune precipitated by this catastrophic event has been too eager to either apotheosize himself or encourage his own egocentric and megalomaniacal apotheosis by virtue of him having been named leader of this at once most horrific and emotionally and psychologically traumatizing event to have occurred in postcolonial Ghana over the past 40 years.
Now, I have neither seen nor watched the “slimy Joy-TV documentary” that Chairman Rawlings was talking about just the other day, so I cannot vouch for the question of whether, indeed, the documentary featuring Major Rida, whom Chairman Rawlings claims to be the relative of the slain Gen. Akuffo, has critical or evaluative validity or not. Such assessment on my part, of course, could be considerably complicated by the fact of this author’s having lived here in the United States and outside of Ghana for nearly 35 years now. Which is primarily why I never heard the name of Major Rida, although I have read quite extensively up on the various competing narratives vis-à-vis the reality and truth of what transpired in the leadup to, in the heat of and in the “inglorious” and “shameful” aftermath of the June 4th Mutiny, depending on either the standpoint or the sociopolitical distance of the critic or any particular critic to that inescapably apocalyptic landmark event.
It also goes without saying that June 4 is clearly more about who deserves to be recognized or perceived as the most patriotic Ghanaian, for having actively participated in the same, rather than the plain or mere fact of whether, indeed, the event itself contributed any significantly towards the development of the country. You see, every generation has to define itself by some sort of memorable political event, and in the case of the Baby-Boomer or post-World War II-born generation, this has tended to be envisaged through the prism of the Rawlings-Tsikata Diarchy that lasted for approximately 20 years. I, of course, belong to this generation in discussion, but I definitely do not subscribe to the so-called righteous tenets of the same. On the latter count, of course, I am referring to the self-righteously dogmatic but scarcely practiced mantra of “probity, transparency, accountability and justice.”
It can hardly be gainsaid that 40 years on, the vintage products of June 4th are also, without absolutely any doubt, the most corrupt political elements of Ghanaian society, routinely engaged in such patently criminal activities as the private appropriation or, properly speaking, misappropriation of publicly- and state-owned landed and real-estate properties, as well as the illegal drawing of double salaries by cabinet and executive appointees, composed largely of the key operatives of the presently main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), the immediate and direct institutional progeny of the erstwhile Rawlings-led junta of the so-called Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). We shall, of course, make more time to speak to the issue of whether, indeed, the so-called Rawlings Question has any significantly contributed to the socioeconomic and political development of Ghana or the remarkable and major regression of the same in due course.
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By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD
English Department, SUNY-Nassau
Garden City, New York