Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Limann's Book Launched

Democracy and Ghana Speeches of Dr Hilla Limann, Ex President of Ghana from 24th September 1979 to 31st December 1981. With foreword by Kenneth Mackenzie, former editor of West Africa. Published by Rex Collins (London).

A book called 'Democracy and Ghana' -select speeches of President Hilla Limann was launched at the Africa Centre, Convent Garden, London on Monday December 19th, 1983 by the former Ghana High Commissioner in London Mr Francis Badjie. Under the auspices of a group that called itself Friends of Dr Hilla Limann, the 268 page book is being offered as evidence that contrary to popular belief, Dr Limann was indeed acutely aware of where he was leading Ghana to and had infact initiated measures that would effectively solve the problems of Ghana.

The selection of speeches was to have been called 'Ghana Rebuilds' and was intended to celebrate the first two years of civilian rule after Flt-Lt Rawlings had handed back power to an elected government on 24th September 1979. While the book was with the printer, Flt-Lt. Rawlings overthrew Dr Limann on 31st December 1981 and what was planned to have been a celebration has turned out as an apologia and defence for Dr Limann.

Kenneth Mackenzie the former editor of West Africa magazine has an introduction to the speeches written after the overthrow of Dr Limann in which he offers that "the book will stand as a part answer of the allegations now being made against the Limann government and as an indictment of the military for their unconstitutional and morally unjustified act in taking power from the elected representatives of the Ghanaian people".

There is an admirable selling of Dr Limann the man in a much more persuasive way than was ever done during his time in office "He is thus a learned man, as at home in French as he is in English. In these speeches he has quotations from Coleridge, Alexander Pope, John Stuart Mill and Mathew Arnold, phrases of Latin as well as French. During an official visit to Britain in May 1981, he surprised his hosts with his detailed knowledge of British constitutional history. There are few rulers in the world with a comparable theoretical grounding in Economics . . . What he had to say was often witty, original and wise, but he usually read his speeches in a rather dull voice…”

Anybody who ever heard Dr Limann give a speech would hardly be expected to rush for a copy of a book of his speeches, so unmitigatingly boring were the deliveries that it comes as something of a surprise that the speeches are quite interesting.

There is no doubt however that one line or one letter from post - 31st December 1981 - Dr Limann would have attracted more interest or at least curiosity from the public than the entire collection of speeches he made while in power.

Published by Rex Collins of London in hardaback and at £18 a copy, the chances are that the book is likely to prove only as a "source for historians investigating why Ghana's third attempt at democracy foundered."

hilla limann

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