Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Healthy arguments

Please allow me a space to comment on retired Ghana Army Captain Baah Achamfuor's article (Talking Drums, 25 June, 1984) and the remarks it has drawn in the past few weeks.

The article reveals that Cap. Baah Achamfuor is extremely intolerant of views opposed to his own, and goes further to show the role he played in the AFRC murders and tortures in 1979.

The violent attacks on Col. Annor Odjijah were uncalled for, because the former AFRC member could have exposed Col. Odjijah and then enlighten us on what role he felt the Ghana Armed Forces should play in the development of Ghana, without so offensively insulting him (Col. Odjijah).

The pity is that Capt. Baah Achamfuor has still not learnt that since the intolerance of the AFRC - the brutal murders and sadistic tortures, the unnecessary violence against unarmed and innocent Ghanaians, the very sad destruction of public and private property, etc. did not achieve any good for Ghana, the only way to help our country, leave it a bit better than we found it, and give our souls some satisfaction for contributing to its progress is to be patient and calm, and discuss and resolve national issues in an atmosphere of peace and concord.

Regrettably, supporting Capt. Baah Achamfuor's views, Mr Ko 'Oppong in a letter (Talking Drums, August 6, 1984), takes Mr Emmanuel Dapaah to task for "using democracy in Britain as a yardstick", and argues, rather weakly, that Kings and Leaders have been beheaded in Britain, and Parliaments etc. sacked... before arriving at its present level of "perfection". One is not sure if Mr Ko 'Oppong suggests that Ghana should go through a similar painful process to achieve a similar level of "perfection".

Throughout his letter, Mr Ko 'Oppong appears to be a Jerry Rawlings double who thinks that everybody in Ghana is corrupt, a smuggler, a black-marketeer, etc. except himself. Mr Ko 'Oppong suggests that soldiers and policemen "Ankrah, Afrifa, Acheampong and Akuffo down" exploited the insensitivity, remoteness, intolerance and "inability of politicians,' and seized power, without being articulate enough to give the exact historical events leading to this exploitation.

In Mr Ko 'Oppong's view, the "unpopular Acheampong coup of 1972" for instance was the result of Dr Busia's intolerance and subversion of the "same democratic institutions" he professed to uphold, and he cites the late Prime Minister's attitude towards the judiciary, as a case in point.

Mr Ko 'Oppong's indictment against Dr Limann's government is that there was political infighting within the PNP, and that the President himself was weak. In his opinion these led to Rawling's coup of 31 December, 1981. I feel sorry for Mr Ko 'Opong's inability to understand political issues and recognise the evil forces operating against Ghana.

A lot of people may disagree with me but I dare point out that the coup which overthrew Dr Nkrumah's government was, unlike all the others that have taken place in Ghana, justified. I make this point for the basic reason that if all avenues to change are blocked in a political system - and here the term political system is used advisedly other means must be found to effect a change that is good for the country. In fact, some members and supporters of the CPP government who have their conscience still with them do admit that they were wrong and that they were responsible for the violent change of government in 1966. Whether Ankrah, Afrifa, Deku and Harley enriched themselves is another matter. But it is not insignificant to note that of these four gentlemen, it is only Afrifa who was executed by Rawlings' AFRC in 1979.

It is flippant for Mr Ko 'Oppong to suggest that Dr Busia was intolerant and also did subvert the democratic arrangements. Dr Busia's position in the Sallah case, which people who are either hard at understanding or simply fear the truth often cite, is straightforward that NO COURT CAN COMPEL AN EMPLOYER TO ENGAGE OR KEEP AN EMPLOYEE... Courts may rule that a particular dismissal is unlawful. But that is about it. What follows is compensation for this wrongful dismissal or unlawful act.

Certainly, no employer can be forced by any court to keep an undesirable employee. I think it is a bit dishonest to quote the usual phrase "NO COURT" and stop there. Dr Busia did not have a conflict with the judiciary, neither did he subvert the constitution. The late Col. Acheampong, decided on a coup six months after Busia's government was elected, according to the Colonel himself.

Perhaps Flt-Lt. Rawlings exploited the weakness of Dr Limann, but I do not think that the people of Ghana found anything wrong with the political in-fighting and conflict within the PNP. No one drew a gun on another, and the party was, at a point in time, prepared to go to court where superior argument would triumph. In my most humble opinion, the type of conflict we witnessed within the PNP was most healthy and desirable. Flt-Lt. Rawlings decided to overthrow Dr Limann's government even before Dr Limann was sworn in as president - but like Mr Ko 'Oppong, Dr Limann was unable to understand the intricacies of Ghanaian politics.

Thomas Broni
Ex-Member of Parliament of the Third Republic.

Obeng to change citizenship?

I sympathise very much with Ernest Obeng for his decision to change citizenship due to his treatment by Ghanaian officials. (Talking Drums, 13 August). It reminds me of an incident at the Ghanaian Embassy in Paris in December 1980.

I needed to endorse my passport so as to change my occupation to 'Engineer' from student. My company, which employs over 80 nationalities, sent a secretary to effect this with all my particulars. He returned with nothing accomplished but looking very disturbed. He asked me feelingly why are people at your embassy so rude? I tried to soothe him with excuses which sounded almost lame to myself. He then jokingly said: why don't you change your nationality?

At the embassy, I asked what services or assistance I could expect if I registered as my passport suggests. I was told I could not endorse my passport in Paris so I had to go to London to effect any changes at all. Just then, a Ghanaian who claimed to be a boxer sought refuge at the embassy. The poor man was clad in very light clothes and was shivering from the cold. He was virtually driven out of the embassy. I was shocked. Being one of those Ghanaians who believed that an embassy was a place I would be welcomed and all necessary assistance given me, I lost my illusions completely. I had to go to London to effect this endorsement which took 15 minutes.

My passport has the legend that it is a valuable document.

If our own Ghanaian authorities at home and abroad handle citizens so shabbily, how can one be proud of being Ghanaian?

Kafui King, Brunei, Via Singapore.

talking drums 1984-09-03 arrests and tension in Liberia - WAEC's leakage problems