My good friend Ekow Nelson just sent this on to Okyeame
Nyame nshira Kwame Nkrumah
We were told he was the most corrupt leader ever; an imposter who did not earn a PhD but was flashing his honorary Doctorate around; a showboy who built useless white elephants the country neither needed nor could afford; an economic illiterate who drove Ghana’s economy to the ground. And oh he detained those who wanted to kill him without trial. Sasaabonsam we were told he was.
Then we had Ankrah who was ousted for taking bribes within minutes
Afrifa allegedly took the CIA’s shilling and handed the reins to Busia who sacked public servants because they might be opposed to him and told us no court in the land could tell him what to do. Meanwhile there were rumours about Harlley and diamonds that were never found.
Anyway after the much vaunted economic wizards decided to devalue the cedi Acheampong seized his chance and jumped in with his 1st Brigrade command. He gave us kalabule, Golf cars for booties, and long queues for ‘essential commodities’. When that got too much for his colleagues Gen Akuffo talked about the whole governmental activity having become a one man show
But before he could sit a young disillusioned upstart called Jerry Rawlings made his own pitch in his inimitable style. Undertook his own house cleaning, with his young followers harrassing anyone who had achieved anything in life and called for blood to flow. And flow it did
Eight former leaders were shot dead by firing squad in open view much like SS officers did in the War against anyone they saw as an enemy of the Fuhrer
Our young Fuhrer was persuaded to stand aside after shedding much blood and burning down a market for the hapless Hilla Limann who led a party he had never been a member of or believed in.
Soon he too would be outsted by the young pretender who came back to finish off the unfinished business of ‘national cleansing’. But first he cleansed the young idealists who gave him support and Intellectual cover for a plain old opportunistic coup detat they pretentiously called a revolution. But this was no Trotsky or Lenin vs Kerensky. There was no storming of the Winter Palace; no firing from the battleship Aurora. This was picking up old men from their beds, most of them hungover from their New Year’s soiree, and packing them off to Nsawam, overcoming a tiny force at Broadcasting House and proclaiming a revolution.
Then followed 11 years of torment with everything from torture and rape to abductions and murders while many of his erstwhile revolutionary supporters languished in jail or fled into exile and sought to preach the evils of the regime to those who had opposed it all along
With growing civil disobedience and protests by a broad coalition of civilians and goading from the international community our enfant terrible decided to give up his military fatigues and handover to himself. Remember: he and his minions always asked “handover to whom?”. In 1992 we got the answer: “to me your Fuhrer, you idiots”, it turned out . And thus began 8 years of civilian rule of economic pillage, ruinous corruption and self enrichment. But with the prospect of change in 2000 the people held on in hope.
To ensure there was no return to the ancien regime all opposition parties lined up behind JA Kufour who took over the reins. He sought debt forgiveness in return for HIPC but soon decided to help himself to someone else’s property on the spurious grounds of national security and put himself and his people in charge anything that made money. He hollowed our and sold Telecom for tuppence, ignoring the recommendations of the investment bankers paid loads of dosh to advice on the sale. Did he get cut his cut? Who knows ? Ghana@50 was endowed with USD50m petty cash for the boys and by the end of his 8 years debt levels were back where they were when he started.
Then we had Professor Mills who had been knocking on the door of the presidency for years. He chose to forgive instead of holding the violators of our naive nation to account. He preached the Christian faith of forgiveness to a country that wears its Christianity on its sleeve but is most unchristian in how it conducts its affairs. He forgot this was the country whose folkloric hero is the perennial trickster and dishonest, Kweku Ananse, Not Christ!
Soon he passed because of a mysterious illness and power passed on to Mahama, son of a Minister on the first republic. A good communicator with no ideological bone in his body. He learned lessons from Kufour and his government too helped themselves and their cronies with just as much impunity.
The pendulum has swung back to the Kufour lot under President Akufo-Addo and from electricity privatisation, galamsey and vanishing excavators we are now back where we started
Nkrumah where art thou?