Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


View from the Castle, Osu

I read Mrs Valerie Sackey's letter to you from the Castle, Osu, in your magazine of 28th November, 1983 and I would like to make a few comments.

First, Mrs Sackey contends that she and Mrs Ababio are "harmless middle aged ladies..." simply working to the best of their ability to redeem Ghana (impliedly). Mrs Sackey and Mrs Ababio may throw dust into the eyes of people who do not know them, but to some of us, the contents of that letter were full of feigned emotion and hollow rhetoric very characteristic of their lot.

The fact is that Mrs Sackey and Ababio now find themselves in the Castle with their friends, as a result of being rewarded by their masters for the part they played in the overthrow of the last democratically elected government.

Perhaps, they are convinced they are all "honest people" working in the Castle for the survival of Ghana but some people know that all of them are now enjoying (undoubtedly) certain privileges denied the entire population of Ghana.

Secondly, Mrs Sackey contends in her letter that they are as ordinary as other suffering Ghanaians! And that Mrs Ababio keeps a large family with the help of a backyard garden which she keeps! In effect, she is contending that the entire Ghanaian populace is starving because they are not as wise as Mrs Ababio to keep backyard gardens! Obviously in her view Ghanaians are just as simple as amoeba! No wonder they in the Castle believe so much in rhetoric.

She talks of her salary just sufficing for her cigarettes. How good it is for her! She even finds cigarettes in the shops to buy. Some of us, in addition to continued borrowed monies added to our salaries are still unable to provide, in fact, just buy food for ourselves and families, let alone buy cigarettes.

If she would like to know, I was at the Kotoka Airport a few months ago to see a friend off to Libya, and there I saw a big consignment of large cardboard parcels, all addressed to one Mrs Ababio, Office of the PNDC secretariat. It would not have meant anything to me as I initially held the view that the parcels contained material for official use, but for the grumbling of the officials.

Among other things, the officials said that the goods were for personal use, and they had come by Ghana Airways free of charge. Not only the circumstances surrounding the goods were suspicious, but also that whenever such goods arrived, they were not subject to customs inspection let alone payment of duty! And they even wondered how she gets the foreign exchange to be buying or ordering goods from abroad so often. They questioned why these goods did not attract the same treatment as the goods of other Ghanaians - how naive of them? - they ought to know that Mrs Ababio's address was the office of the PNDC secretariat.

This and many other matters reveal the hypocrisy and double standards being exhibited by all of you now masquerading under the banner of revolutionaries.

Mrs Sackey, it would be in your interest to learn this simple truth. That you and your friends are different from the rest of us Ghanaians. Just look at yourselves, your secretaries, families and try hard to see that you lot are very different from the rest of us ordinary Ghanaians. For while you people look very 'posh' and healthy, the rest of us are now very lean, sick and gloomy.

We are a million times worse off now than under any government you have replaced. Though life was not very easy under the civilian regime we ate, laughed and complained freely about wrong doings of people in high places. I do not need to remind you of the situation now.

There is nothing more dangerous than pretending to be what you are not. That explains why we have reached such hitherto unimagined low standards in the history of our country. How ironic that in his maiden speech, Rawlings accused the government he has just overthrown that it was the most disgraceful in the history of Ghana!

You see, it does not matter how many people you kill in Kumasi, Accra or elsewhere; it does not matter the number of people you drive out of this country into exile; no matter how many you brutalize in the name of any. 'revolution', no matter how much you sell this country to the IMF and allied bodies, we will never get anywhere, because you lot are worse than the ousted politicians.

As for your poor attempts to have a go at Ms Elizabeth Ohene's integrity as a journalist, I wish you would just SHUT UP. It is too early for anybody in Ghana to forget Elizabeth Ohene, or think of her as one of less integrity.

Mrs Sackey is said to be British born, she should have known better. Do British journalists of integrity contribute to their nation's welfare by operating from No. 10 Downing Street?

Robert Mawuena, Accra

Mrs Ababio also writes from the Castle, Accra

Dear Elizabeth,

It was very nice to hear from you, even if rather indirectly.

I am glad that you have apparently credited Mrs Valerie Sackey and myself with good faith, and consider that as members of staff of the PNDC we should try to play a role in decision making.

Having made these assumptions, you should realise that:

a) if we believe that protests should be made, and made them, these would be inside the context of the appointments we have accepted, and not counterproductive mudslinging in public and,

b) if we have not made any protests, it may be that we do not consider the issue as "simply disagreeing".

It is tempting to write a long letter commenting in more detail on much of your magazine - but really there is a lot to be done inside Ghana, and that is where I have stayed. Perhaps all I can say at the moment is that in many cases you might be nearer to the truth if you gave the benefit of the doubt with respect to human concern to the people you ask to "remember" and "reflect".

With all best wishes, but please don't rely on information from people whose past integrity is suspect and to whom lies and calumny are weapons. I think you would be much happier with us. Shirley Ababio, The Castle, Accra

Views on George Orwell

PLEASE ALLOW me to ask Flt-Lt Rawlings some questions.

One of the reasons for overthrowing President Limann, according to his statements on Ghana radio, was that it was improper that houses in Accra's Airport, Tesano and Cantoments residential areas had three toilets in them while those in Nima did not have any.

Since he became Ghana's Head of State, he has moved to live in the Osu Castle: has he opened the Osu Castle toilets to the residents at Osu and Nima or has he built water closet toilets for them?

His "progressive" Secretary for Finance, Dr Botchwey, has also gone to live in the posh and comfortable East Cantonments mansion seized from "capitalist" Mr Owusu of Kowus Motors. Has the Flt-Lt not realised that the main motivating factor for his action on 31st December, 1981 has been completely negated?

Finally, what does the Flt-Lt think of George Orwell?

Joyce Abban,
Brondesbury Avenue, London

Return to civilian rule

MY RECENT trip to Accra in August has left me with only one conclusion - we must RETURN TO CIVILIAN RULE. The question now is how soon? I would personally prefer within two years from now because a further delay will increase a sense of hopelessness in many Ghanaians and a massive increase in security cost not forgetting the headache that goes with it. It beats my so-called Westernized way of thinking that constructive criticism is always frowned upon in most developing countries, Ghana, not being an exception.

History proves that a military government either entrenches itself and becomes unpopular or leads to further series of violent overthrows as the only effective alternative to elections. It is self-evident that with all good intentions a government always faces very delicate and complicated matters of state which cannot be fully understood from outside government and without the experience and goodwill of the people being governed (who's wishes are paramount) no progress can be made. Whatever mistakes that the Limann or Rawlings government have made should be seen as a lesson to all Ghanaians.

I now pray and call upon the Chairman and members of the PNDC to start talking about a possible date of return to civilian rule which I sincerely hope will be welcomed by Ghanaians everywhere.

Vincent Adika, Bedfordshire

PNDC won't give in to looters

I AM WRITING to condemn the article 'The Threat Of Redundancies' by your special correspondent, published in the Talking Drums of 12th December, 1983. Let me quote the portion which I find very unacceptable, even senseless: "Although I am a Ghanaian I would strongly urge those 15 traditional donors (including the United States of America) and external financial establishments..." who would have met in Paris on 24th November, 1983 "to discuss how best to help Ghana financially, or even give food aid, to refrain from doing so".

Also his conclusion: "What all Ghanaians, both at home and abroad, are crying and praying for, at this point of time, is rather a Grenada type of operation for their rescue and liberation".

The writer is a disillusioned person who must have contributed to the economic disorder prevailing in Ghana now which started after the right-wing coup of February 1966.

In the 15 years until the advent of the PNDC the common man did not matter. In those years, the bosses thought it was their right to consume the good things of this life exclusively, to loot the state coffers for themselves, their families, and mistresses.

The worker and the farmer were thought to be unintelligent then, and incapable of anything. The Cocoa Marketing Board bosses and their friends threw lavish parties, consumed millions of cedis worth of drinks, spent all the revenue from cocoa and the poor farmer was given useless promissory chits and left to suffer.

All through those years, the workers looked on helplessly while their very livelihood was being dismantled by people who thought they knew every- thing and had the natural right to occupy the positions which enabled them to loot state coffers. With the advent of Flt-Lt Rawlings things have radically changed for those whose labour creates the wealth of the nation. But who enjoy almost nothing of its benefits. Things are not going to be the same again, never.

The writer must be informed, if he does not know, that in the capitalist countries, the welfare of the worker is the paramount thing. That workers take part in decision-making through industrial councils composed of workers representatives and manage- ment. Management does not merely look down upon workers, considering them to be an unintelligent lot, as the bosses in Ghana did before the PNDC took the reins of power. In the capitalist countries where workers participation in decision-making is very advanced, productivity is high and economic crises are easily surmounted. This is the case in West Germany.

Negligence and mismanagement through corruption, carried out by so- called capitalist-orientated big men, short-sighted, with no imagination, lead to the destruction of society. The cumulative effect of their activities is the great decay prevailing in the Ghanaian society now. The PNDC did not create the situation. The PNDC is rather making dedicated efforts to solve the economic disorder in a period of world economic crisis.

The measures taken will bring pressure to bear on Ghanaians in an already hopeless situation. In the long run, however, those measures will certainly bring salvation to Ghanaians. These efforts by a patriotic government, however severe their immediate effect are, must be supported whole heartedly by all patriotic Ghanaians.

To invite the outside world to refrain from sending food aid to Ghana is not only inhuman, but the height of folly. The PNDC has already achieved much: the cocoa cheques have relieved the poor farmers of the fraudulent yoke of the CMB. There is control and sense of direction without which no economy can thrive. The unanimous agreement by the donor countries to support the recovery programme of the PNDC is a great sign of confidence in the future of the Ghanaian economy.

The writer's invitation to America to carry out a Grenada-type of invasion, purported sweepingly to be the wish of all Ghanaians, both at home and abroad, is a senseless wish. I am a Ghanaian and I do not count myself as one of those who wish for the reinstatement of the looting elites, who think they are capitalists. And not knowing that they are empty barrels, with no proven mettle to efficiently invest and manage profitably, as proven capitalist would do. Patriotic Ghanaians must hoot at so unpatriotic a Ghanaian.

The writer complains about workers take-over of factories leading to their destruction. I invite him to take a glance at the article entitled 'Under new management' in the 12th December issue of West Africa. There, the special correspondent will find how efficiently the "unintelligent" workers have managed the Ghana Textile Printing Co. since its takeover by them.

Let me quote a small portion here to emphasise the change of direction in management in Ghana: "The chairman of the GTP interim management committee, the body that has run the factory since the removal of UAC control, announced at the rally that using only 10 percent of installed plant capacity, the company had made C6m profit over the past year compared to a loss of C10m in 1981-82 under UAC management. The company has also made C15m contribution to state revenue in the same period".

Frank Kwaw Codjoe, Hamburg, Germany

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