Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Challenging the military

I could not agree more with Alhaji Isiyaku Ibrahim on the sentiments he expressed on the issue of the wanted notice on him by the new Military government in Nigeria in the January 30th, issue of Talking Drums.

Many a businessman in his position would have kept a low profile in Europe and wait for the storm to blow over so that he could secretly make peace with the government and be back in business.

His bold confrontation with the government challenging them to name his crimes and the open declaration of his faith in the constitutional rule and eventual restoration of democracy in Nigeria should give encouragement to others to stand up to the usurpers who have made frequent incursions into the politics of the Third World countries.

It is time Africans began to learn the basic facts of our political lives - that Nigeria, Ghana and other countries with the military in power are different from other countries only in the sense that our people appear to think that they cannot resist the soldiers who, on assuming power behave as if they are foreigners occupying an alien land.

Democracy can only be achieved with blood, sweat and tears of those who want to see it work. Corruption, the big issue which appears to the underlying reason for most coups can be eradicated not with guns but with proper checks and balances in the system and more importantly when everybody in the system is prepared to make it work.

Chris Okoli, Balham.

Learning the ropes

Reading the eloquent effusions of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) Secretary of Finance and Economic at the Donors countries meeting in Paris last year which were published in February in this magazine, I was struck speechless by the calculated lies that he fed to his 'captive audience.'

Answering a question on the general political climate in Ghana, he managed to put across that "many of these professionals fled the country really because of laws to disgorge monies which they have accumulated".

Conveniently, he side-stepped the real issue behind the exodus - the clear violations of human rights involving arrested people some of whom are still languishing in jails, the killing of innocent Ghanaians all over the country by trigger-happy soldiers and harassment by the so-called vanguards of the revolution - PDCS and WDCs. It appears as if Kwesi Botchway is fast learning during his short period in office the art of wrapping lies in a fine apparel to resemble the truth. Well, he did not fool all of us. Some people may have returned home on safe conduct but until all those in political prisons are released we are bound to take the government's words with a pinch of salt.

Ibrahim Sunday, London.

Military rule - not the cause or cure

The advertised article by the Ghana Democratic Movement published in this magazine on 30th January 1984, made interesting reading. While I cannot dispute the facts in the piece, the writer's resort to usages such as 'Rawlings and his gang, bunch or armed terrorists, Rawlings government so blatantly tribalistic, murderous terrorists' etc blunted the effect of his hard hitting article.

I agree that military governments by their basic constitution cannot solve our problems in Ghana. But these were created by our previous civilian administrations. If they had not filled their cabinets and ministerial positions with people of questionable character and downright crooks the military would not have been politicised to the extent where they would seize power.

The Nkrumah, Busia and Limann governments created a class of illiter- ate, wealthy and corrupt hierarchy whose plunder of our resources and economy is legendary. Let us not fool 1984. ourselves but call a spade a spade. Hard work was no longer respected, valued or rewarded but 'connections,' 'whom-you-know' etc dominated the struggle of day to day living.

Disillusioned students like me could only welcome change even if it was by the military. Since we could not live in the system having only our skills to sell, we had to naturally find countries and companies that appreciate our abilities enough to pay us satisfactorily.

I know that there are hundreds of thousands of intensely patriotic Ghanaians who would wish to return and work for Ghana but could they Cuba. earn a living wage?

mathematics. I ran extra laboratory sessions afternoons, gave extra tuition on weekends and readily welcomed and solved problems any time of day during national service. I was usually dog-tired at the end of each day but I did it happily.

However I absolutely now refuse to do all this if I am unable to afford a decent meal at the end of the day not to talk about purchasing a pair of pants at the end of the month, while Deputy Ministers collected close to C4,000 and all sorts of perks. If a deputy minister can come on a tour of our school with two Range Rover Cars and a couple of other vehicles and tell us that our school of 600 plus students could not have even a small vehicle to convey them to hospital in emergencies, then he deserves to be overthrown.

My contention is simple. Let the soldiers stay until we civilians learn to govern ourselves honestly and without favour. Singapore is an excellent example; it can be done.

As long as we let 'circumstances beyond our control' prevent us from achieving simple goals economic and moral, as long as our leaders are excused for moral lapses with such utterances as 'they are also human', as long as we elect a man like Limann who can declare to the nation "if those people had stayed in Ghana, they wouldn't have been killed" (ref. to death of Ghanaians in Ivory Coast) we shall continue to be ruled by the military. Rule by the military is the effect of our gross lapses and certainly not the cause nor the cure. We have deserved it.

Kafui King, Brunei via Singapore

Cuba's experience

I would like to comment on the news item entitled 'Cuba's Experience' in Talking Drums of February 20th, 1984

Sometimes one is compelled by empty utterances of many of the so called African revolutionaries to ask whether such utterances spring out of real concern for the welfare of the people they claim they have rescued from the politicians.

Why on earth must the special advisor to PNDC, Captain Kojo Tsikata (rtd) try to throw dust in the eyes of Ghanaians by saying: "Ghanaians have a lot to learn from the Cuban experience."

We don't need to expatiate here on the differences in the historical experiences and developments of Ghana and Cuba.

Why can't the chief adviser of I taught two sixth form classes and PNDC advise the revolutionary fifth form class physics and government to send their revolutionary financial secretary to Cuba for the financial and material aid they need for the implementation and success of the revolutionary programmes they have in store for Ghana and stop running on their knees after financial assistance from non-revolutionary western countries?

It is high time people in high positions in developing countries put a stop to such hypocritical utterances and take a clear look at things before they leap. One has to be realistic and fair to his own conscience. Many such statements from the same person at the early stage of the "revolution" have already done the nation, Ghana, more harm than good.

After all, what has Cuba (or Libya) herself got to offer the people of Ghana, apart from weapons to suppress millions of Ghanaians?

Everybody knows very well that the "history, achievements and level of development in Cuba's revolution" that he dreams of is a great unbearable burden on the shoulders of the Soviet Union.

For the sake of 14 million Ghanaians who now cannot afford even a single normal meal per day - not mentioning thousands of them dying in Ghana's "grave yard" hospitals every day - I implore the chief adviser and his men to save Ghana from such ideological suicide before it's too late.

Kofi Ababio
Bielefeld, West Germany

talking drums 1984-02-20 Facing up to the military - Rawlings exports revolution to Upper Volta