Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Yankees Don't Go Home!

Elizabeth Ohene

Suddenly, United States of America's commendation of Ghana's human rights activities is being hailed by the authorities. Genuine turn-around or a political gimmick?
Uncle Sam is fashionable in Ghana. Surprise! Back in early 1982 (how long ago it all seems now) when the Americans were under constant siege in Ghana, a very cynical old colleague remarked to me it was all the first stage of the PNDC becoming an American surrogate!

I was outraged of course, how dare anybody make such a scandalous accusation of a respectable revolutionary government. The newspapers were full of vitriolic attacks on the US, the TV screen showed the good citizens of Ghana a horrendous catalogue of American atrocities in Vietnam - just in case somebody had forgotten.

There were daily reports about American-inspired plots to overthrow the PNDC; American citizens were caught spying and kicked out of the country and the exploitative activities of Valco - the American-owned company operating in Ghana - were exposed for the public to see.

"Look at Sekou Toure today. His rhetoric used to be more shrill and more determined...." Well, it still took almost two decades for him to be converted from "socialist radicalism" to his current moderate and pro-American stance.. If that was the type of future being imagined for the PNDC, it was imaginable, knowing very well that such a scenario presupposes that the main characters of the drama would have changed by then. One need not get alarmed.

In that case, look at Master Sergeant Doe, did he not violently overthrow a very pro-American regime? Did he not organise and personally supervise the most gruesome public execution of political opponents ever? How many months after the execution of his deputy was he honoured guest at the White House? Do you care to recall the rhetoric and slogans of Liberia in 1980? Remember a gentleman called Bacchus Mathews? And you still think the PNDC is not on the way to becoming an American Satellite?"

Spare the rude words, I pleaded. You reckon without one very important factor, Col. Gaddafy of Libya is Flt-Lt-Rawlings best friend and mentor and the Flight Lieutenant has openly and repeatedly said that he regards Colonel Gaddafy's Libya as the one place on this earth where there is "true democracy" and that is what he is aiming at.

Flt-Lt. Rawlings has not bothered to deny that he was helped into power by Libya, and it was Gaddafy who came first to his aid, after the PNDC restored relations between the two countries. Food and drugs are routinely reported to have been flown in by Libya even if mischief makers assert that the "drugs" are more like "guns" and even a moron knows the implacable animosity between Libya and the United States, it must be obvious that no friend of Col. Gaddafy can ever be a friend of the Americans.

Is it possible that you have forgotten that the Libyans were equally visible in Liberia at the beginning of their 'revolution' and that the Liberian - Libyan Holdings started large-scale projects..." I might add to that "and today, Liberia has established diplomatic relations with Israel, the Zionist state which Col. Gaddafy has pledged to eradicate from the face of the earth...."

Never you mind, the Ghana revolution is quite different. What is more, the Flight-Lieutenant is a very different sort of customer from the Master-Sergeant. First of all he will stick to his Flight-Lieutenant rank even if he is the Chief of Defence Staff and he is not likely to be swayed by a new hairstyle or new pair of glasses and don't forget that the Flight-Lieutenant has read Frantz Fanon. His revolutionary credentials are quite sound; there is no danger that he will become an American puppet.

What is more, look at the number of US-inspired plots against the PNDC that have been discovered, how can any one expect the PNDC to become friendly with a country that is doing its best to subvert it?

Enter the big Ghana Security coup: the capture of American and West German Embassy papers which clearly showed that the US was subverting the PNDC. Shown to be a forgery? Well, not according to the London Guardian's Africa expert.

Then there was the intolerable way the US infiltrated the Special Investigation Board that investigated the murder of the judges, trying to smear the reputation and integrity of the Special Adviser to the PNDC. Nobody makes friends with somebody who wants to kill him

In the last coup attempt, don't forget that the arms came from the US Embassy and nobody will forget that a US Embassy Car was used to drive away a coup plotter when security forces closed on them.

The point on which the resolve of many progressive revolutionary governments had crumbled was when it came to money - empty stomachs don't make successful revolutions. There was no such danger with the PNDC with Libya on their side, the question simply does not arise.

Col Gaddafy has more Petro dollars than he knows what to do with. He will give us oil and he even offered a $30 million government-to-government interest free loan. What else can one ask for? Who needs the Americans?

But then gradually, ever so gradually the realisation began to sink in that Col. Gaddafy is very long on promises and rather short on delivery the oil has not been coming, the entire transportation system broke down, the food situation became intolerable and reached crisis proportions.

The promised loan did not materialise. One had to talk with the IMF after all and it does not take long to discover that it helps to have Uncle Sam ease your way.

A speech is suddenly necessary. It is all the fault of the sycophantic media, one doesn't know where they got the idea from the PNDC was anti-US or anti Western countries. It is the media that have been giving this misleading impression, far from being anti-US, we welcome any help they might give and we cherish the traditional good relations between the two countries.

Now it looks like peace has indeed broken out on a large scale in Ghana towards the US. Last week the PNDC issued a statement on a meeting between Flt-Lt. Rawlings and the US Ambassador during which the Ambassador presented a note from President Ronald Reagan sent in reply to an earlier one sent byFlt-Lt.Rawlings. The statement said that the US was impressed by the improvements in 'human rights' situation in the country, happy about the way prisoners are treated, is aware of food shortages and is willing to help with food aid

Without any prejudice to the worth of the assessment that there had been improvements in the human rights situation since when has the judgement of theUS mattered to the PNDC on such matters so much so that when the US gives the PNDC the Good Housekeeping Seal on human rights, it must be advertised around the world?

Remember how long/soon after the deputy Liberian Head of State was executed that Chairman "Moe" was being welcomed in the White House?

Since earlier US assessments of the Ghana situation have been said by the PNDC to be wrong, biased, deliberately twisted etc, how does one know that this current one is correct and not equally biased, twisted..? Have all the US attempts at subverting the PNDC been forgiven and has the US repented of its ways?

What has been the price of this 'seal of approval from President Reagan? The PNDC's revolutionary credentials have surely not been compromised in any way?

What is going to happen to the people being held in jail because they wrote articles that the PNDC should ask for food aid from the US? Has the US got any assessment of the way they are being treated and their continued detention without any charges?

Is Ghana still intending to turn the country into 'a true democracy Libya style, powered by American grain? This must all be an imperialist plot aimed at discrediting Ghana before her revolutionary colleagues. People are always twisting the meaning of straightforward things to discredit the PNDC.

This was just a routine statement. on the same day that the American Ambassador called on the leader of the Revolution, other Ambassadors also called on him, Ghana remains a member of the non-aligned group; the troop exchange programme between Ghana and Libya has not been scrapped, only postponed, our children will go to Cuba, on with the Peoples Revolution down with American domination! Satisfied? The Yanks are not in.

talking drums 1983-10-31 politics of border closures Togo blames Ghana