By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Ask those who spontaneously hailed Jerry Rawlings when he shot his way into the limelight only to turn against him, and they will give you reasons that you won’t believe. Some even worked with him only to turn round to denounce him. Ask ex-President Kufuor and he should leave you slack-jawed. There are many others who will quickly point gossipping fingers at him and leave themselves out of whatever inadequacies might have characterized the Rawlings’ movement.
Can we say that the other leaders were lonely in office or thereafter? May be; may be not, depending on how one conceives “loneliness”.
General J.A. Ankrah enjoyed his status as Chairman of the NLC, even if he had been disparaged by Nkrumah (in his Dark Days in Ghana as not a soldier to be proud of because the only action he ever saw as a soldier was during the Congo Crisis; and as Nkrumah put it, he saw that action as a quarter-master. If you know who a quarter-master in the military establishment is, you should laugh your heart out at this characterization of Ankrah).
I hear that when Lieutenants Arthur, Yeboah, and Osei Poku initiated their abortive coup of 17th April 1967, Gen. Ankrah dived into the Atlantic Ocean behind the seat of government (the Osu Castle) and swam to safety. In that bid, he was alone, probably lonely!! But he returned to sit on the throne when calm was restored. It didn’t last, though, because Nzeribe was waiting to cause havoc.
Afrifa accused him of taking bribe from Nzeribe and dislodged him. If he knew that his action was a death-trap, he would have thought twice. That death-trap snapped in June 1979 to send him into the life beyond when he least expected it. Of course, he had warned Acheampong in a letter to deal ruthlessly with Rawlings; otherwise, he would one day line all of them up and shoot to death. What a prophecy fulfilled!!
Let me reiterate the point. Afrifa had shot into the limelight as Ankrah’s replacement and masterminded the destruction of everything Nkrumah to put Busia and the Progress Party in power. Was Afrifa lonely all that while? Only he could tell; but where is he? Gone away with the bullet that snuffed his life out when Rawlings and his AFRC went the “Ethiopian Way” with the initiation of the June 4 Uprising.
Bring in Dr. Hilla Limann. Was he lonely? Probably, at the death of his mentor (Imoro Egala), which might explain why the in-fighting in his government paved the way for his being undermined and power taken away from him by Rawlings. Left to himself at his Teshie-Nungua residence, only his family could be his solace. Not even his being the chief of Gwolu could make any difference until he died virtually unsung. That might be one lonely President of sorts!
Don’t even talk about the others in the shadow—the Vice Presidents or the only titular President (Edward Akufo-Addo). They were “nobodies” in the workings of Ghanaian politics and died unsung. Kow Nkensen Arkaah even had the unpleasant experience of being pummelled by Rawlings on December 28, 1995, for politically double-crossing and was even nearly incapacitated in a motor accident when he left office. He died in Virginia, the United States, and was cremated there. Nothing to do with Ghana anymore. Could that be the height of loneliness?
The late President Mills wasn’t lonely as a public figure outside government circles. The vibrant university environment provided all he needed to function as a lecturer in law (taxation). Well, when he rose to become the Vice President, he cut his steps cautiously, always haunted by the circumstances under which he shot to that prominence (via the “Swedru Declaration” by Rawlings that virtually tore the NDC apart).
When fate put him in office as the President of Ghana, he became the bull’s eye for all the political archers under the command of his former benefactor, Jerry John Rawlings. Maligned, calumniated, disparaged, and virtually torn into ribbons of sorrow, he needed extreme measures to live his life.
Indeed, there is no gainsaying the fact that if any Ghanaian leader could ever be said to feel lonely, none other qualifies than Atta Mills. He was at the receiving end from his own government, political party, and political opponents. Only the hand of Providence could “redeem” him—and he left this mundane life in inexplicable circumstances to shame his detractors.
Forget about the show of sympathy for him after the fact. He trusted no one but his God and that God took him away even before more damage could be done to him by the human being as Election 2012 approached. Yes, talking about loneliness, one can say that Atta Mills was lonely even in the midst of people with whom he worked. Atta Mills was loneliness personified in Ghanaian politics.
Could he be the architect of his own doom, though, by going against the grain? Apparently, he set himself apart from his predecessors and those self-acquisitive elements in his own circles, denying himself what they had hugged and wallowed in with impunity. Thus, he became the object of their scorn. No more for him to suffer from. May he rest in perfect peace.
I shall return… • E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • Join me on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/mjkbokor to continue the conversation.