Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


A nightmare of frustration

It was an unfortunate coincidence that at the same time the American Televisions were airing the Democratic Party's Primary debates with civility the familiar jeremiad of political execution as a justifiable response to silence an overthrow attempt of Ghana's military administration blurred at the intermission.

On one hand the three candidates addressed their opposing views, smiled, joked, shook hands and embraced one another at the end of the debate.

On the other side of the bridge guns and violent scenario dominated and virtually settled issues with Flt. Lt. Rawlings emerging as a proud victor of the horrific scenario. What an ignominy!

A survey shows that the pride Ghanaians attached to citizenry has considerably ebbed into despondency. The most ignominious act second only to submission to death is the surrender of a motherland out of despondency.

The substance of African politics is a compound of fear, threat, submission and death. It is more based upon the philosophy of self-protectionism than ardent display of nationalism. Such cause has incessantly generated unfavourable governmental changes at such an alarming rate that it has eroded the public's interest to participate in decision-making. For example, whereas in other parts of the world ballots are cast to determine changes, in black-controlled Africa guns determine changes.

A society that fails to think together cannot function in harmony. Mutuality of understanding based upon representative thinking is an essential philo-political element, the lack of which produces instability and chaos. Rawling's recent appeal for support of his revolutionary ideas, therefore, is an empty drumbeat aimed at frustrated ears and would therefore yield no useful results.

Tommy De Lawrence, Los Angeles.

Points to ponder

As a Nigerian who has experienced life both under the Obasanjo military regime and the subsequent civilian government, I have progressively felt my sense of elation at the return of democracy turn to deep dismay, when I saw the politicians resume the old practices which caused the downfall of the first republic.

The oil glut may have contributed greatly to the present economic chaos, but there were plenty of warning signals, even before the transfer of power to the civilian government. Unfortunately, instead of addressing the problems facing the nation, the politicians proceeded with voting themselves huge salaries and allowances, and expensive overseas trips with their families, and as the economy deteriorated, they started asking for more and more sacrifices from the common people, while accumulating more personal wealth at government expense.

Obviously, the previous military government was not perfect, and indeed General Obasanjo's government must share in the blame for the failure of the second republic, for allowing only the old parties of the first republic to resurface under different names, while barring the way for new parties which might have instilled a different attitude towards politics in the country.

But, at least, under the previous military regime, development was evi- dent throughout the country, and corruption was more subdued. Furthermore, the military interfered very little in the everyday life of the people, and were certainly no more oppressive than many of the so-called one-party democracies in Africa. The press was as free under the Obasanjo government, as under the Shagari government; that is to say that papers have always been free to point out social wrongs, to a certain extent, but editors have been persecuted by both regimes when they hit too hard. By African standards, Nigeria still has enjoyed a very free press, and probably will continue to do so in the present regime. All things considered therefore, and given the obvious failure of the second republic which had aroused so much hope but had brought the country on the verge of bankruptcy, I was rather relieved when I heard of the coup, which I felt might give a new sense of direction to the country.

One of the first priorities of the new government should be in the area of food production throughout Nigeria. It is not enough to give subsidies to the farmers (half of which will go into the pockets of civil servants anyway); this is a project in which the whole Nigerian population should be involved. Right now the government is supporting a very expensive programme of free education at all levels.

This is a well-intentioned programme, but one which the country can ill afford. Moreover, it contributes greatly to the exodus of the young population from the farms, because of the well-entrenched preconceived idea that only illiterates can be farmers.

I would therefore suggest that students of all levels be made aware of the stupidity of this notion as well as of their responsibility to the society which is financing their education by being required to work in a farm or community project as part of their curriculum, and under the supervision of their teachers, professors, and school administrators, who should demonstrate the importance of this programme through their personal example.

Prince Ade O. Demehin, Minneapolis, U.S.A.

Akwaaba PNDC dropouts

Thanks to Kwesi Adu for replying to a letter entitled "PNDC must account for Monies", which appeared in March 26th, 1984 issue of your magazine; for it has timely relieved me and perhaps many Ghanaians from our "worries" about the wherabouts of the "Dropouts" of the so-called socialist revolution in Ghana.

Until the publication of his letter we have been thinking that all the drop outs of the revolution have been dragged down to Siberia or Cuba for re-indoctrination in socialist revolutionary ideas. But to my utter most surprise, some of them are now living in Western Countries especially in Britain and enjoying freely the fruits of the very system - western democracy whose existence they contributed to destroy on 31st December 1981.

They should thank their lucky stars that Western Democracy did not slap them in the faces with their own weapons on arrival.

I would like to appeal to the PNDC dropouts that now they are enjoying freedom of speech, an offspring of Western Democracy, they should come out of their shells and boldly tell the world why they deserted the so-called socialist revolution camp and their own perception about the ongoing revolution and his leader. This may definitely serve as a guideline to the many truly patriotic and concerned Ghanaians who are determined to restore peace and order in Ghana.

Meanwhile I do not think it is too late to say to our dropouts: "AKWAABA, and long live Western Democracy".

Kofi Ababio Bielefeld, West Germany.

Together we can win

Since the so-called "second coming" of Rawlings, and the subsequent abuse of power, loss of democracy, with all kinds of indignities meted out Ghanaians who want to see the restoration of the rule of law and democratic principles in Ghana have found various means to express their outrage. Many groups have since sprung up in Ghana, United States of America, Europe and Canada to oppose and work for the removal of this dictatorship.

Again and again, the question of an alternative to Rawlings has dominated the attention of many of these groups. This issue has also been given considerable press coverage in many circles. While the need to discuss the alternative to Rawlings is both timely and important, I submit that a much more important and perhaps pressing question is whether or not Ghanaians are ready to make the necessary commitment and the sacrifices required to build a just society rooted in the rule of law and fundamental democratic principles.

We need ideals, principles and ideologies good enough to fight for. These ideals and principles need to be deeply ingrained in our cultural and historical heritage so that we will be willing to fight and die for their preservation. Even though "Freedom and Justice" is our national motto, we have not been able to understand, appreciate nor acknowledge these ideals and obviously defend them. I find it rather amusing but also distressing that Ghanaians who complain about social injustices and inequities seek to deprive others of the same rights when they seize power and impose themselves on Ghanaians.

However bad the past has been, and granted that we should never refuse to learn from the past, we must not dwell in the past. We need to dream new dreams and to rely on the values of the past to guide us into the future. When we were growing up, it used to be said. that a Ghanaian will choose death over disgrace. Ghanaians treasured their pride, respect and independence. When Dr. Nkrumah declared "We prefer self government with danger to servitude in tranquility" he said it in the true spirit of the Ghanaian basic character and belief. What happened to us?

This generation cannot fail to understand the consequences of irrational and radical political ideologies that seek to undermine the basic Ghanaian nature - the desire to be free in our own country, to be innovative and en- terprising and to be happy. These basic values should never be surrendered.

The cause to build a better society (different from the one perceived by promise. Rawlings and the PDC, WDCs, etc.) is the responsibility of this generation. This responsibility cannot be deferred to anyone else nor be delayed any longer. The experiences and the indignities of the last decade should strengthen our resolve and we must vow never again, in our history, to allow a few self-styled revolutionaries and military or any other type of dictatorship to take us for a ride on an ill-conceived ideological experimentation.

We can no longer pretend to want economic development, social justice, dignity, pride and prosperity and yet refuse to defend and protect the fundamental institutions that give reality to these ideals. We can no longer sit by while our culture and institutions are destroyed in the name of empty foreign ideologies and political experimentations.

It is generally claimed that Ghanaians are not fighters but quitters. I believe this is not true. What may be true, however, is that Ghanaians may not have known what they had to fight for in the recent past. Now, however, the choices are clear and unambiguous. We fight for human dignity and respectability, accountability of public officials, economic prosperity, equality and justice for all Ghanaians. We fight like all civilized people for the right to choose the form of government that governs us. We fight against hunger, for our national pride and for the preservation of our rich cultural and national heritage. These are noble causes for which we should not compromise.

It is true and good that today, there is clamour and a yearn for freedom in Ghana than ever before. This demand is urgent and must be heeded. People united for just and noble causes as these, simply do not fail! We can win and when we do, then it will not be 1957 but the 1980s that would have given Ghana its authentic birth of freedom. This cause is ours, and we cannot fail!

Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku


talking drums 1984-04-30 New Naira notes - Cardinal Gantin - the military problem