Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine


The task before the commonwealth meeting

All eyes are locked on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference in Nassau, Bahamas where an appreciable number of motley leaders, supposedly with a common tie with the United Kingdom will meet to discuss issues affecting them and the world in general.

Already a member whose government is currently under attack for international drug trafficking is faced with the task of convincing his colleagues of his genuine claim to leadership. But when the leaders sit around the table, one of the main topics on the agenda will, without doubt, be how to get Mrs Thatcher to agree to economic sanctions against South Africa in an effort to bring Botha and his hardline apartheid government to their senses.

All pre-conference analyses clearly point to the fact that "The Iron Lady" will not be for turning and therefore Britain will continue to support the evil regime for economic reasons.

The irony of the whole business will perhaps not be lost on others. Among the current heads of governments or their representatives at the meeting are men who vociferously condemn Apartheid (which for all intents and purposes is evil) but preside over kangaroo courts, political murders and suppression of rights of the people they rule.

Such atrocities would escape criticism because they will be regarded as internal matters which are outside the perimeters of the conference for, as long as such deceptions continue, the lives of thousands of citizens of the Common- wealth whose welfare should be paramount in the deliberations, will remain in serious jeopardy.

Tom Effiong, Glasgow.

Everybody wants to go home

The world is currently witnessing a development in which deposed African Military rulers are seeking permission from their military colleagues in power to return home.

Field Marshal Idi Amin, the former tyrant of Uganda, said on BBC Radio on October 4, 1985 that he would like to return home, "because everybody in this world wants to go home". The ex-Vice President, General Idiagbon in the ousted Buhari military regime, in Nigeria has already sought permission and gone home.

The real intention of a former African military ruler returning home to his colleagues from whom he is estranged politically is not yet clear. The political scientists point out that there are as many as 23 axioms including lying in manipulatory politics, but only a few are effective in their application.

The return of a deposed African military general from exile to his estrang- ed colleagues appears to be a new phenomenon in military regimes in Africa. It may, therefore, take some time for the political theorists to assess the value and effects of this experiment, in particular as to whether there is any ele- ment of manipulative motive in the scheme. At present no-one knows what is going on inside a tortoise.

As a layman, I would say that, since an ousted military ruler does not have military credentials in a foreign country, he should find it difficult to adjust himself to civilian codes of conduct in his country of exile. Especially, the existence of a democratic system of government in his host country will prick his conscience and make him feel guilty and uncomfortable for the ruthless and barbaric regime he imposed on his country.

Just imagine, if the former military ruler happens to be in exile in a foreign country at a time when that country is making preparations for a general election to change its government peacefully without gun fire. The mental agony of the former military ruler in such a situation can be stupendous.

I pray that these African generals, when they go back home, should recount their experiences during their brief exile to their military friends and prevail upon them to desist henceforth from irrational and senseless political actions that tend to drive their fellow countrymen into exile, a situation in which even strong generals are unable to endure.

To my mind, the generals' temporary exile is a warning for a proper political behaviour, and unless steps are taken by the military men to uphold the principle of constitutional rule in their countries, they will, surely, go into permanent exile next time.

Festus Adigun Oxford, England

Devaluation...not again!

I do not know how you see it all, but I found the announcement last week that Ghana has devalued the cedi, once again very disturbing. They choose to refer to it as currency adjustment but a country where euphemism and rhetoric have been elevated to a high art form, nobody should be deceived by the effects of relentless battering of the currency will have on the economy.

In recent times the news coming out of Ghana is that the economy has improved tremendously against the background of the desolate situation which prevailed after the December 31, 1981 coup. Imported consumer goods are reported to be selling on the pavements and the shelves in the Department Store are back to the days we all used to know.

Nobody in his right senses would begrudge the people of Ghana the satisfaction from the seemingly improved economic situation. However, if it is understood that most of the goods on the market today are sent in by private businessmen and women who make their own foreign currency arrangement (i.e. black market exchange rate) one then appreciates the reason why the prices of those goods are so astronomically high.

The so-called economic improvement, to my mind, is nothing more than a wicked ploy to punish Ghanaians, particularly those on the lower scales of the economic ladder. As I see it the recent cedi-dollar adjustment will, as sure as the sun rises and sets, increase the black market rate of the cedi and consequently affect the already unattainable prices of goods.

I have heard it said in some knowledgeable quarters that the final IMF/World Bank target for Ghana's devaluation of the cedi should be reached by December and therefore we should expect some more adjustments to come.

Of course, the Secretary for Economic Affairs, Dr Kwesi Botchwey did not leave any doubts in the minds of Ghanaians where his harsh remedial economic dosage will leave them when he launched his much discussed plans.

However, as every doctor will tell you, a very sick man's intake of medicine which could cure him, must be given slowly and according to the prescription. Anything short of that may kill him. Perhaps that may be the real motive, after all. Nigeria could learn a few lessons from Ghana's experience.

David Morah, Swindon.

talking drums 1985-10-21 Azumah The two minute wonder