Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

A Chronicler's Diary

March-April Notebook

Ghana has passed her twenty eighth milestone. The expectation of the people with regard to a future political direction or programme has become stalled although vague hints of a new political order which will "involve the people in the decision-making process" have been given here and there by government officials.

The Independence anniversary of 6th March was marked, as in previous years with parades and official exhortations that sought to assert that the revolution was sailing smoothly, the economy was picking up and all Ghanaians should get committed to the total defence of the revolution.

To commemorate the occasion, and as a sign of goodwill(?), nearly 200 prisoners, some of whom have been incarcerated for many months for breaking curfew laws, were released. Two Ministers in the previous PNP government were also released on bail.

The National Secretariat of the Committee for the Defence of the Revolution was opened at the Parliament House in Accra to coincide with the publication of "Guidelines" for the CDR's. At this opening ceremony, the Secretary of Finance and Economic planning, Dr Kwesi Botchwey threw a gauntlet down to his critics and called on all opponents of his economic strategy to suggest a viable workable alternative programme or else they should shut their mouths and throw away their pens. He emphasised that the PNDC economic plan was based on facts existing in the country being a clear testimony of the government's commitment to launch the economy of the country on an even keel.

The CDR's have been hailed as the new bedrock of the tottering edifice and its head, Lt-Col Assasie who, in the words of the indefatigable Valerie Sackey of Castle Information Desk, "is an able political counsellor who is putting the CDR's onto a more practical working basis". The CDR emblem has been unveiled comprising an Eagle (militancy, to attack and defend), a reef-knot (togetherness), a wheel (mobility, continuity and progress) and a torch (the ultimate light and consciousness). All these are desperate efforts to mould the CDR a kind of basis for a political movement, but like the PDC/WDC's before it, the impact on this concept is very minimal.

The PNDC member, Mr Justice D F Annan has as usual dropped hints about a future democratic system.

In an interview with the Nigerian Concord, he was reported to have said "Ghana's future democratic system will be a representative one, a populist one, not a military one". Like, the late I. K. Acheampong incarnated, he added "There's a lot of feeling now parties because they are associated with a high level of violence, were the preserve of the rich in society, and altogether obstructive of objective policies. We need to get away from all that", he concluded.

Sometimes I find it pitiful to believe that in Ghana, the will to even respond to official pronouncements such as these has been killed and criticism are not forthcoming. That of course creates the impression that the nation may have found peace at last. Well if that peace is interpreted to mean apathy and quiet resignation and acquiescence, then God bless us all..

Death of course is a human inevitability that throws its wings into the muddle of our political confusion, Death of course, can be made dignified and detested, or can be used as a deterrent for the betterment of society. Graveyards however have no distinctive criterion to decide who comes to her and by what method. Call it death by design or death by fate!

The last days of March was funereal to put it mildly. Three robbers were executed at dawn, to free society from their filth. Alleged coup makers pronounced guilty behind closed doors with no one to speak in their defence are awaiting to be shot to death. For all I can ascertain, they may have been dead already. On March 30, fourteen primary school pupils fell into a disused well that has lain right in the middle of their school compound even before they were born. They all drowned, throwing the whole nation into a tragic hysteria. Officialdom made no secret of their grief and sympathies.

While the Acera City Council was frantic to procure expensive and "befitting" coffins, it came to public attention that the Akoto Lante Primary school was actually housed in an 18th century dilapidated dwelling precinct in the poorer suburb of the capital city. Meanwhile promises of donation, messages of bereavement were flowing across the airwaves. Special football matches were hastily arranged to raise funds to support chairman Rawlings intimation that a playground be constructed in memory of the 'Akoto Lante 14"

"Playground, is that it? queried a journalist friend of mine. "Why, a new school block complete with furniture and a library is what the nation can bestow as a fitting memorial. Good sentiments, of course, but once Jerry Rawlings has mooted an idea of a memorial playground, who are you, a mere journalist to dare suggest an alternative? The 14 pupils are buried, the grief is being subsided with the passage of time, the parents are licking their wounds and as usual "putting with them in the hands of the Lord who knows best…” From me and my editors our condolences, nevertheless

Two weeks after Easter, the tension between revolutionary movements, the government and the Catholic Church grew over the sacking of two Dutch missionaries from the Kumasi diocese of the church. The PNDC issued a statement distancing itself from the expulsion order for Reverend Fathers I. Valentine and John Crawford. A few days later, the New Democratic Movement issued a statement condemning the Bishop of Kumasi for the "arbitrary dismissal" of the missionaries and calling, with an ultimatum, for their reinstatement immediately The expected counterblast from the National Catholic Secretariat is yet to come and interested observers are watching the scenario. We have not forgotten abo that the dismissed missionaries are part of a section of left wing grouping who recently issued statement criticising some aspects of the PNDC economic recovery programme.

I am sure the 1985 Budget and what it spelt out for the country is well known by now and I am not one for duplicating such audacious public properties except to crown the diary of the past two months with secretary Kwesi Botchwey's 1985 budget preamble: "We have no intention to perpetuate dependency on foreign loans and assistance since such dependence will be at variance with our sovereign national interest. Our nation is in dire need of a general mobilisation of the people for increased productivity, the intensification of political consciousness of workers and an improvement in our organisational ability for the success of our recovery programmes"

Thus the two months have rolled away and while we wait, as I always say … May Day and aliens pouring in from Nigeria will fill the pages

talking drums 1985-06-03 new spate of executions in Ghana - how west african are we west africans