Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


Martyrdom for Afrifa, Acheampong, Akuffo?

The planned service of remembrance and purification in memory of Generals Afrifa, Acheampong and Akuffo, members of past governments, etc, shows the political insensitivity, naivety and muddled thinking of the leadership of the Ghana Democratic Movement.

Tragic though their death, the timing, place and worse still, the list of the would be 'martyrs' is totally inappropriate. A National Day of Remembrance, originally, should take place in Ghana and outside simultaneously ONLY when the tyranny of the Rawlings' corrupt, incompetent and sadistic regime is overthrown and ALL Ghanaians demonstrate by deeds, politicians in particular, never to permit such tragic military interventions to happen in our society.

All coup makers, without exception, are enemies of democracy. Be they Kotoka, Afrifa, Acheampong or Rawlings, they resort to arms to remove democratically elected governments.

So, why beatify Afrifa, Acheampong and Akuffo who were enemies of the system we are fighting to restore? Was it the circumstances of their death, who they were, where they came from or what? Why does the GDM not honour, for example, Maj-Gen. Bawah who died defending democracy in the 1966 coup?

By beatifying the late military Heads of State, is the GDM not endorsing the legitimacy of military intervention in politics? Are they not sanctifying soldiers whose regimes were equally if not more corrupt, inefficient and riddled with nepotism and factionalism than the elected governments they overthrew? Or do the maligned politicians feel the soldiers were better than them?

Which army officer (now the property owning class) could have passed the test had the politicians had the nerve, as in Argentina, to probe them, using the yardstick used to probe the politicians since 1966? We don't need to make 'saints' out of sinners. Neither do we celebrate before victory.

Yes, there will be a Day of Remembrance for ALL who died in coups and attempted coups before 1966, including innocent children, men, women, members of past civilian governments and especially, the judges and ordinary soldiers who risked their lives to try to remove the top brass who seized power, and perished in their own game. But clearly, there should be no tears for the three military Heads of State and accomplices at the top.

Ko' Oppong, London

We fight for principles not personalities

I can understand the indignation of your correspondents and many others at the idea that the GDM should remember Generals Acheampong and Akuffo among others at the proposed funeral on 3 August. I certainly did not agree with their coup against the government of which I was a member, or admire their government which kept me in prison for four and a half years.

The issue is quite different. As advocates of democratic principles we have to insist that politics is conducted with words and the ballot box. Rawlings and Tsikata prefer the politics of bloodshed. Ghana is polluted with the blood of hundreds. We must pray that the blood is washed away and peace and reconciliation returns to our country.

Everybody, whatever the offence they are charged with, deserves a fair and open trial. I myself was released by an Appeal Court from Acheampong's jail. It is only under Rawlings that people have been condemned to lose their very lives, without anything like a trial, or even just abducted by official agents and shot.

These are the issues that we want to remind all Ghanaians about. Mr. Asante and everybody else who accepts these principles is invited to join us to fight for them and to forget personalities.

J.H. Mensah, London

More questions than answers

On the Soussoudis/Scranage spying and counter spying episode, under normal circumstances, a government of Ghana beating the Central Intelligence Agency at its own spying game would be a big scoop.

However, considering the attitude of the PNDC, the whole thing calls for critical examination. What are the names of those Ghanaians said to be in the spying network of the CIA? When did the PNDC get such a list? Why were those involved not immediately arrested and put before law courts?

How many Ghanaians who are in the employment of the Ghana Government have been involved with the CIA spying network? Who are those government officials that have left their posts since the discovery and subsequent arrests of Soussoudis and Scranage? How did a service commander leave his post in connection with this spying issue?

Who are the service commanders in the Ghana Armed Forces? Which tribe or region do they hail from? Who are their second-in-command and which part of Ghana do they come from?

All these questions are to ensure that accused people are not hastily executed like the judges' case and many other soldiers and civilians in the past three years.

The most interesting point in this is the government of the PNDC calling on the United States Government and courts to accord those arrested the due process of law "bearing in mind that the means exist for subverting justice by fabricating evidence."

Has the PNDC not set up "Kangaroo" courts? Have the verdicts not been dictated from the Castle? The PNDC now expects fair play for their spying agent in the United States of America. This shows how Rawlings and his acolytes exhibit double standards.

In this era of espionage, the existence of a PNDC spying network must not be discounted. The concern here is about the spies, masqueraders, pretenders, miscreants well versed in sharp practices, some of these even style themselves as anti-PNDC elements and have found favour in the lobby of anti-PNDC groups, some of these villains, out of sheer spite, brand innocent citizens as spies.

Those narrow-minded many are indulging in calumnies at the time such unpatriotic values are being used by the PNDC to send people to their premature graves.

Neither the PNDC nor any other confused Ghanaian should have the temerity to brand innocent Ghanaians as spies just in pursuance of a personal vendetta. Ntim Gyakari, London

New ECOWAS chairman

The head of the Nigerian military regime, Major-General Mohammadu Buhari, is now the new chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) (Talking Drums of July 15, 1985).

Last year, when General Buhari turned down the offer to be the chairman of ECOWAS, he explained that he was saddled with a number of pressing social and economic problems at home (Talking Drums of December 10, 1984).

Now that General Buhari has become the chairman, is it to be taken that he has finished solving his social and economic problems at home and has ample time to discharge his duties as chairman of the sub-regional organisation effectively?

General Buhari conceived the idea of the mass deportation of illegal immigrants in Nigeria and gave birth to this inhuman act on May 10, 1985.

If he had accepted the ECOWAS chairmanship he would probably not have deported so many nationals mostly from the ECOWAS countries. And even if he had done it he should have been a bit human in handling the whole exercise which has tarnished the image of his country at home and abroad.

General Buhari should take all the necessary steps to repair the damage done to the people affected by the quit order. Anything short of that will not win him the support and the needed co-operation from the member states to enable him to discharge his duties as chairman effectively.

K.S. Owusu-Appiah, West Germany

Nigeria and confederation

I do not agree with many of the opinions expressed in Talking Drums, but I must confess that I have admired the clarity of vision you display. You seem to have identified military intervention in the political process in West Africa as the source of the problem in the sub-region and have taken a definite posture against it. Some of us think you are not properly equipped for your war (how do you fight guns with words thousands of miles away?) but still we admire your courage.

However, I must express my extreme disappointment with the article Nigeria and the call for confederation' which I have just finished reading (Talking Drums July 29, 1985). Why should you descend to the level of fanning tribal sentiments in Nigeria? What does it matter if Chief Bisi Onabanjo was NOT the first person to call for confederation? It is the idea of confederation that should be discussed, whether it is good or bad for Nigeria. As far as I know, there are no prizes being given for the originator of the idea and whether it came from the North, East, West or indeed from the sea, is quite irrelevant to the appropriateness or otherwise to Nigeria of confederation.

As far as I can tell, there is no law that debars people from a particular part of Nigeria from establishing newspapers.

Everybody has his own priorities. Some people use their money to buy houses, or planes or jewellery or give to women or put in Swiss banks; some people establish newspapers with their money and unless the writer of the article, Ahmadu Baba, is suggesting that non-Yorubas in Nigeria have been PREVENTED from establishing newspapers in the country, then I fail to understand what his gripe is. They can also start newspapers to break the Yoruba stranglehold (if indeed it exists) . I must confess that I find such tribalism not only primitive and embarrassing, I am surprised the Talking Drums should encourage it , And, anyway, are you not losing sight of your main fight? Or are you suggesting that scoring tribal points is more important than the restoration of democracy in Nigeria?

I admit that there are, unfortunately, tribal problems in Nigeria and mutual distrust after 25 years of independence. It does not become Talking Drums to fan such base instincts. You were gradually wooing some of us to join your war with the military, please don't get side-gracked from the main issue.

T.S. Enam (a Nigerian) Brixton, U.K.

talking drums 1985-08-05 Liberia Doe shedding military image