COUPS AND COUPMAKERS
Yesterday, 24th February, marked the 56th anniversary of the overthrow of President Nkrumah of blessed memory.
I write in honour of President Nkrumah and all that he did for Ghana, Africa and the world. Indeed, I write as a proud African and an objective Nkrumahist. Nkrumah, in death, has turned on its head the saying that ” the evil that men do, lives after them but the good is oft interred with their bones”. For him, the evil has been interred with his bones and the good lives on.
Let us leave the great man whose address, delivered to the inaugural meeting of the O.A.U. on 24th May, 1963 in Addis Ababa is considered by many to be the greatest speech ever delivered by an African and imagine the future.
It is a decade from now and we are alive. The President of Ghana has the power to make proclamations that have the force of law. And he can sack any member of the superior court at any time for reasons that appear to him sufficient! And by the way, a constitutional amendment that passed with 98% support has turned Ghana into a one-party state! And most of those who speak up– both from the opposition and his own party are in Preventive Detention. All these would be against the 1992 constitution but they were in the 1960 constitution, as amended in 1964 when Osagyefo left for Hanoi, never to return!
If this happened at this future date, what would you do as a soldier? What would be your duty as a citizen? To acquiesce or to resist?
About a year ago, we buried President Rawlings with full honours. He deposed a government that had evinced no desire to prevent constitutional change and imposed pain and suffering on many Ghanaians. Was Rawlings, who could have joined the political space but destroyed it and imposed so much suffering on Ghanaians more of a patriot that Afrifa and Kotoka?
If yes, why?
If no, why not?
Was Ghana’s tragedy what Nkrumah became by 1966 or his overthrow? How did the man who did so much for us become the man who left for Hanoi?
I have heard the arguments about all those who were trying to kill him and how he had to deal with them. America has had many Presidential assassinations and never been a one-party state. Why couldn’t we preserve a constitution based on the rule of law and Nkrumah’s life?
While moving the “Motion of Destiny”, Nkrumah said, “Mr. Speaker, that self-government is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end– to the end of building the good life to the benefit of all, regardless of tribe, creed , colour or station in life.” He failed– we failed. He should have walked out of power in broad daylight, surrounded by the adulation of a grateful people.
I fear that we celebrate the wrong heroes and learn the wrong lessons from our history. Let us by careful study and discernment know whom to celebrate for our celebrations are prayers. We will get more of the heroes we celebrate.
May God bless all the heroes of 24 February, including Afrifa, Ankrah, Bawah, Kotoka and Zanerugu.
Long live Nkrumah.
May God strengthen our democracy and may we grow from strength to strength guided by the spirit of “Yen ara yen asase ni”.
Arthur Kobina Kennedy (25th February, 2022)