Friday, March 9, 2007 at 11:52 AM
Nevertheless, Ghana’s growing pains have been considerable. And most notable in this respect is the fact that – after cajoling the parliament to rubber stamp legislation to confer dictatorial powers and make him president for life – Kwame Nkruma, the socialist father of the nation, was ousted in a military coup in 1966. Although, given the way his name and likeness (as in the bronze statue pictured left) are revered in Ghana today, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone there who thinks his ouster was justified.
Don’t ask me what my ideology or economic programme is…I don’t know any law and I don’t understand economics, but I know when my stomach is empty. [Jerry John Rawlings]
But I have no compunction about admitting that the African leader I admire most – after Nelson Mandela – is Jerry John Rawlings, the Flight Lieutenant who seized power in Ghana in a coup of his own in 1979.
Because unlike Africa’s other strong men, Rawlings kept his promise to impose law and order, and shocked westerners by steering the country on the path towards democracy and sustainable development. In fact he sealed his democratic bona fides by subjecting himself to multi-party elections in 1992 (something Nkrumah never even countenanced), and then retiring with dignity and honor in 2000 after winning two terms in office.
Alas, almost from the moment his successor, John Kufor, was inaugurated, reports about government incompetence and corruption dimmed the lustre of Ghana’s relatively sterling reputation. Indeed, it is a profound indictment of Kufor’s leadership that Rawlings has announced that he’s boycotting all independence celebrations because Kufor and his government “have taken every opportunity to denigrate us”.
Clearly Rawlings remains a very proud and principled Ghanaian. Therefore, I would not be surprised at all to see him oust Kufor; not in a coup this time, but at the ballot box in national elections next year….
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY GHANA!
Ghana country profile