Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Let them wave flags

I have read the article with the title above written by Elizabeth Ohene and published in the September 24 issue of this magazine and as much as I generally agree with the sentiments she expressed on the whole approach of General Buhari's current War Against Indiscipline campaign, I resent the derision with which she generously punctuated the article.

That there is indiscipline in our society is a fact that cannot be denied; that it requires more than platitudes and flags to drive the point home needs not be over-emphasised. But I fail to understand the reason why she thinks just because it is difficult to achieve these laudable objectives overnight, the attempt must not be made at all.

The point is made quite clear when she wrote: "It is embarrassingly naive for Gen. Buhari and his colleagues to imagine that things like love of one's nation and patriotism are things that can be decreed, let alone taught with horse whip". She concluded: "It is equally a sign of the misplaced sense of military superiority that leads them to think that the military method of demonstrating respect and nationalism is the better one".

I would like to remind her that in the United States of America where the FBI is locked in a combat underground to eliminate the Mafia which is believed to be in control of vital sectors of the economy and even the government, the visible demonstration of nationalism and patriotism have been consciously inculcated into her nationals. The flag is saluted, the national anthem and pledge are sung and recited every morning by school children across the country.

Admittedly, crime has not disappeared but pride of belonging and working to better the status quo exist. What Nigeria needs in the next stage, therefore, is a clear demonstration on the government level that examples are always better than precepts. Meanwhile, forward with WAI!

Gabriel Osobu, Hackney

Marriage of inconvenience

Your short editorial (Talking Drums comment of September 24, 1984) entitled 'Marriage of Inconvenience' posed a question which I would attempt to answer.

You concluded by saying that "Ghana is definitely not in the best of economic health, but some of the countries to which Ghanaians have been fleeing to are much poorer. There surely must be something more than poverty that is making Ghanaians run".

That something, I am afraid, is simply a combination of deteriorating political and socio-economic factors which is making normally law-abiding Ghanaians break all the rules wherever they go.

I have been living in this country for over fifteen years during which time I have been to Ghana three times. The appalling situation over there anytime I visited the country made me wonder whether it was worth living there knowing that with the way the politicians and military were in rapid succes- sion, ruining everything they laid hands on, better times would be a long time coming.

The ordinary citizens who see no way of improving their life situations rightly or wrongly think they can make it overseas.

Of course, the current political atmosphere has also not helped much and since residence permits in the UK are not easily granted these days desperate Ghanaians are finding devious ways to obtain them.

The only solution, as far as I can see, is for the Western industrialised countries to look critically at what is going on in Ghana and other developing countries and help ameliorate the situation.

J. Owusu-Sarpong, Barking

Re: The day after: the military in government

Please allow me to make a brief comment on Abdulai Alhassan's two-part article, the final part of which was published in the October 1 issue of Talking Drums. It is a very confused piece of sweeping anti-military propaganda devoid of anything new.

The writer states: "Whatever one may say, all military governments are apolitical". Considering the fact that politics is the science and art of govern- ment, it is very difficult to conceive an apolitical government. An apolitical body implies one without political power and yet the same writer asserts, "our military governments abhor situations which weaken their political and economic powers".

After making several simplistic observations about the military, he exposes his ignorance of the subject he was grappling with by stating "if we are prepared to accept these costs of military rule, then the soldiers should be invited to assume power or whenever they feel like doing so".

The military does not need to be invited, as many West African countries' histories show, except that many a time the existing state of affairs are so bad (irrespective of the type of government) that the citizens look, forward to change and, for that matter any type of change. The historical role of the military as the coercive arm of the state places it in a particularly advantageous position for such change whether for better or worse. Whether the military use their advantageous position to overthrow the government or not is subject to a lot of local variables which the writer seems to be oblivious of. May I however point out that the foregoing is not meant to be a defence of military rule, but to point out the weaknesses in the premises put forward by the writer.

Chris Nsiah, Ilford, Essex

Question of policy

Please allow me to react to an important issue raised in a publication of Talking Drums on August 20.

I would like to point out to Dan Dzide of Limbe, Cameroon that if this magazine were really simply anti- Rawlings as he wrote in his letter to the editor, his own letter would not have seen daylight.

I believe that this magazine is at variance with the Rawlings regime over matters of policy and political direction. A magazine cannot stop publication simply on the basis of disagreement. Talking Drums also publishes articles and news items about the efforts being made by the Rawlings regime to repair the economy which offers some sort of balance. I am sure that if any PNDC supporter writes a researched article on the regime it would be published, as has been done on a number of occasions.

On Dan's Bible quotation of Gal 5:26, I don't know why he could not complete it in his letter. The quotation reads "we must not be proud to irritate one another or be jealous of one another", I think it tells the full story.

Abubakar Akumfi-Ameyaw, Dusseldorf

talking drums 1984-10-08 Behind Rawlings' latest executions - Ojukwu released - PNDC drug charges