December 8, 2000
The Dilemma of Rawlings Revolution
There are all types of leaders, but the leader that faces the greatest dilemma is one that has a conscience. When a leader seizes power and he has to fight corruption in his society it might afflict his own friends, friends who have helped him when he was in need, friends, who have loaned him money, when he borrowed from them, and who fed him when he was hungry. Indeed, when he revolts he might have to attack all these friends in the name of the revolution. Was he fair to the friends who had helped him in the past or was he merely acting meaningfully in the name of the revolution? Was he justified to attack every person who had committed any social injustice whether friend or foe? Should everyone have to be treated and seen as an enemy of the revolution? If a revolution is " a sudden political overthrow brought about within a given system, especially a forcibly substitution of ruling clichés or seizure of state power by the militant vanguard of a subject class or nation," (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, New College Edition) then Rawlings had no alternative to act differently from the way he did during the revolution.
The place is Accra, Ghana and the date June 4, 1979.
Ghana lies on the West Coast of the Gulf of Guinea with an area size of 238,538 sq. miles (about the size of Illinois and Indiana combined), and a population of about 19,533,560 people. Ghana is a former British colony surrounded by francophone countries. Ivory Coast to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. Ghana has a tropical climate with a combination of hot, humid, warm and dry weather. The country has about nine ethnic tribes and a minimum of fifteen dialects.
On May 28, 1979, J.J. Rawlings was arrested for an abortive coup detat. He was charged with treason and mutiny in the Army. The leaders of military regime thought to teach this young man a lesson by arraigning him before a public tribunal.
Little did they know that the people themselves were repelled by their ruling and high level of corruption in the country. No one publicly expressed their concern or resentments in any form of action or words, for fear of being put into detention. Those that came to this public tribunal, which was to be a showpiece for anyone who attempted a coup detat, came to catch a glimpse of this courageous and bold Rawlings. Secretly they admired him. The die was cast. The tribunal started; J.J. would accept all responsibility for the coup, and betray no one else directly involved in the coup. The junior rank officers that aided him he said did so because they were taking orders from a senior officer.
The people were overwhelmed; the crowd secretly admired this man who dared to risk such an attempt, knowing that when caught death would be the only punishment by a dictatorial military regime. Then the frenzy broke out. They outrageously and fiercely demanded his release. This reaction from the crowd was unexpected and with a twist of fate, J.J. was not executed by a firing squad. The case was adjourned for another hearing: no date was announced. No one knew when. He was sent back to his prison. While in prison he was tortured. His ten fingernails were uprooted. He was electrocuted several times. In prison, he was not permitted to take a bath. He was denied food for about three days before a meal was given to him. He had only his cell to eat, sleep, urinate, and excrete. He was allowed no visitors.
On the dawn of June 4, a group of young military officers would break into his cell, free him and make him the leader of a successful coup. They had recognized his popularity with the people. Ironically, during the moment of seizure of freedom, he thought he was to be killed clandestinely so he fought and resisted his rescuers and would not budge from the cell. They assured him they were there to set him free.
When the whole nation heard his voice on the air of the National Broadcasting Station, there was uncertainty. Was it true or not true? It was true J.J. was in power.
Nobody organized the people but they took to the streets with placards hailing him, "J.J. Junior Jesus" and "J.J. our Moses"
Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings as we all know him was born Jeremiah Rawlings John on Saturday, June 22 1947 in Accra, Ghana. His father Rawlings John was a Scottish expatriate pharmacist who was married in Scotland at the time and his mother Victoria Agbotsui was a Ghanaian trader from the Dzelokpe in the Volta Region.
His father returned to Scotland and J.J. never saw or heard from his father.
Jerry attended St Joseph Catholic School in Adabraka, Accra. He enrolled into Achimota Secondary; a prestigious school found by the British Governor, X and in 1966, he achieved his Ordinary Level certificate. (The Prince of Wales of England, Prince Charles, also attended the school for a few months. He would later join J.J for the centenary celebration of the School.).
In 1967, he enlisted as a Flight Cadet in the Ghana Air Force; he was accepted as an Officer Cadet in the Military Training Academy at Teshie, Accra. During his flight training, he would capsize his jet in the air while onlookers held their breath, fearing that he would crash at any time. In 1969, he achieved the premium prize, was awarded "Speed Bird Trophy" as the best Cadet in flying and airmanship, and was commissioned Pilot Officer. In April 1969, he was promoted the rank of a Flight Lieutenant.
He was ridiculed in school as "the rusty white man," referred to as a "nigger" by the elite of the Ghanaian society who he attacked and viciously belittled. He was referred to by the Reagan administration the "bete noire" of Africa. Would these abuses reflect on how he would treat the elite society of Ghana and the worlds super power (U.S)? He defied and treated the U.S with disdain.
When the U.S cut off its diplomatic relationship from Libya, Rawlings did the opposite; He visited Libya and formed a liaison with Muhammad Ghaddafi, president of Libya. Ghaddafi was held responsible for the terrorist attack on Panama flight 183, at Lockerbe in Scotland. Rawlings also traveled to Cuba to seek help from the outcast president Fidel Castro to learn his communist strategies. What did he want to prove to the west?
What made Rawlings lash out at the west? Is it the hypocrisy of his father, for keeping his birth a secret from his friends and family? Alternatively, is it because he wanted to prove that democracy was hypocrisy in disguise? That all democracy stood for is economic advantage over the less unfortunate. This would explain his overt association with the countries blacklisted as enemies of the U.S. He considered them as his friends. His father made a mistake by keeping him a secret and he would not repeat that mistake. He would befriend any nation openly and take his stand regardless of the consequences. He would not be told who or which country to associate with and which country not to. If democracy meant "the principle of equality of rights, opportunity, etc., or the practice of this principle" (Webster NewWorld Dictionary Second Concise Edition by David Guralik.)
A trait about J.J was his stubborn attitude towards decisions that affected the people of Ghana. When his mind was made up, he would listen to the technocrat, allow them to argue and present their opinions. Eventually he would command them to do what he thought was okay. Did the absence of a caring father in his life reflect on his attitude that he is always right and makes the right decision for the people?"
The Free Press, a local newspaper, which Rawlings later forced to close down because it degraded him, wrote this about him:
"In the first place the half Ghanaian blood said to run be running in Rawlings veins hardly shows him out as a Ghanaian. Rawlings is not a Ghanaian in terms of culture, physical outlook, as regards language, skin color, hair and character it would be disgraceful for Ghanaians to elect him as their president."
Is it Rawlings who does not project the culture of the Ghanaian people or the Ghanaian critics and opponents who are overtly racist?
Rawlings became a mentor to Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso in West Africa. Sankara a military man overthrew the government in his country. He admired Rawlings so much that he had very little to do with France, his colonial master. He should have paid his homage to France the moment he came to power. Instead, he was very frequently in Ghana and openly seen taking advice and counsel from Rawlings. This did not please the French government very much and neither did it please the American government. If this chain of event should continue, it could trigger other revolts from the other African countries and then the whole continent of Africa would be out of control of the western governments. The west has already enough problems with Muhammad Gadaffi of Libya. In the 21st century, the west cannot allow this to happen. If the west has the economic advantage and control in the global market then they need control over these African countries. They cannot tolerate total liberation of the individual countries let alone the entire African continent. Beautifully put by Elias Canetti, Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Crowds and Power [ ] it is not for the European of the 20th Century to regard himself above savagery. His despots may use more effective means, but their ends often differ in nothing from those of African Kings. (227)"
Thomas Sankara was assassinated by his own people. You would ask why the people of Burkina Faso admired Rawlings so much for his actions in Ghana, and when Sankara, one of their own, came to power with a resemblance of Rawlings in his actions, why they assassinated him after they accepted and hailed him. Are the rumors true that Thomas Sankara was killed with the aid of French mercenaries?
Rawlings too had several attempts on his life. He was very fortunate; he had staunch and faithful followers who helped to arrest people who tried to foil his government. All these people when interrogated pointed to covert American operations in neighboring countries that gave them money to do what they did. Why would the American government be so interested, in the Rawlings government? Why would they secretly put a transmitter in an area in Ghana? Was it to monitor the progress of what was going on in the country? The transmitter was discovered by the errand boys of Rawlings and brought down. Thus, they found out America was responsible for the weekly attacks on Rawlings life in the initial stages.
Today another president of America, President Clinton, admires Rawlings so much he has helped him in many different ways to rebuild his country instead of scheming to destroy the country like President Ronald Reagan and his government.
The religion in the country is made up of 35% Christians, 27% Muslims, 31% Indigenous belief worshipers and 7% other. At the initial stages of his revolution, J.J. attacked the religious bodies. He passed a law that all the religious bodies should register. This was an attempt to monitor the activities of all the religious bodies. The rapid mushroom churches that had their headquarters in America influenced the people and felt they were a threat to national security. The demeanors of these churches sought to undermine the Ghanaian culture and were disrespectful towards political authority.
He froze the activities of the Jehovah Witness and Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). He accused the Jehovah's Witnesses of teaching their members not to salute the national flag or sing the national anthem. The Mormons he accused of teaching black inferiority.
The religious body reacted and in a letter, they wrote to challenge his law:
"In its preset form the PNDC Law 221 (Religious Body Registration Law) constitutes an infringements on the fundamental human rights of the freedom of worship. For this reason, we are of the view that our churches would be surrendering both our present membership and for future generations, a fundamental and alienable right, if we registered in accordance with law we cannot in our conscience register under the PNDC Law 221 as it states now."
Did Rawlings have an evil intent to control the religious body or was it his power of manipulation? Why did Rawlings back away from the religious body? Is it because he is arch manipulator and knows the appropriate time to pursue matters? Did he do this to serve his own purpose, to win the trust of the religious body?
J.J. embodied all three religions in his regime. During a state function, he would ask the fetish priest of the land to pour libation, as was the custom before British colonization. Then catholic priest or an orthodox priest would follow with prayers from the bible and finally the Muslim Imam would follow with recital from the Koran. Most importantly, these prayers were not said in English. A local dialect is used to the understanding of everyone.
All these religious factions now revere him because he does not show partiality in just choosing one religion. This enhances his charisma with the people and they love him more. The more the people show their love for J.J, the more erratic he becomes in his ways. At any point in time, nobody can predict his next move.
Ghana has an illiteracy rate of 64.7%. Compulsory education is only required for the first nine years. The country has natural resources of gold, timber, diamonds, bauxite, manganese, fish and hydropower. It has the largest man-made lake in the world - the Volta Lake. The country exports cocoa, aluminum, gold, timber, diamonds and manganese. Foreign exchange is earned from the manufacturing companies: that is fishing, tourism and light manufacturing. Ghana imports industrial raw materials, food, petroleum, machinery and equipment.
There was mismanagement of the economy and this had triggered a record in inflation greater than 100%, and corruption among the political officials and their business counterparts. This led to disgruntle and dissatisfaction of the people.
When J.J. came to power, he arrested all government officials, businesspersons, priests, chiefs, workers, traders etc. Those who could not account for how they acquired their assets had their properties liquidated and confiscated to the state. Some were also subjected to molestation. Others were detained and later freed because no concrete evidence was found against them.
The elite society of Ghana viewed Rawlings and his ministers as self interested and ruthless usurpers. He executed six key figureheads by firing squad. Of these, two were former heads of state. The people cheered, "Let the blood flow." The people supported his action. Why would the people show their support to him and yet later, about ten years blame him for this ruthlessness? Is it because they have forgotten how corrupted the ministers were? Is it the resurface of corruption that called for their disappointment in Rawlings? Where was the former enthusiasm the people showed towards him?
Kwame Nkrumah the first president of Ghana borrowed money from the World Bank to build the Akosombo dam to provide hydropower for the country. The elite society at the time thought Nkrumah was frivolous. They did not vision the long-term benefits of the hydropower project. They criticized him for the countrys huge debt at the World Bank. Today the hydropower is one of the foreign income earners. It supplies electricity to all the neighboring African countries.
Is Rawlings facing the same problem in his time? Is he making radical changes because of practical necessities or is he doing so to make his name go down in history? When Rawlings loaned money from the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank to process the Economic Recovery Program the opponents attacked him for integrating external agencies that had no interest in the welfare of the country. The people were not enthusiastic with the outside interference that would dictate how money borrowed should be used.
"A result of these IMF and world bank conditions, the working people of Ghana now face unbearable conditions of life, expressed in poor nutrition, high prices of good and services, inadequate housing, continuing detoriation of social services and growing unemployment we caution government that the above conditions pose serious implications for the sharpening of these class conflict."
In the beginning, the inflation in the country was very high. Everything, from food to housing was expensive, when the infrastructure begun to take shape there were changes in the Ghanaian communities. Everybody applauded Rawlings for his efforts in making the best out of a very worst situation.
He rehabilitated most of the industries with loans. After a few years when he did not see tangible production in the industries with their latest equipment and machinery and a change in attitude of the Ghanaian towards work he privatized those companies he black listed. He also constructed modern roads and all his opponents did was complain.
Another area J.J. touched that made his opponents react to him like a cobra spitting out venom on its attacker is when he dared to propose changes to the colonial education system. In the past compulsory education in Ghana was for nine years, starting from age six.
He argued that since we are in a developing country and do not have the resources for education that can be comparable to the developed countries, there should be a form of basic education whereby at the end of that Junior High, the student comes out with a skill that is universal, skills such as carpentry, tailoring, sewing, cooking, masonry, electrical technician, etc. To Rawlings skilled labor is much more important in the 21st Century than general certificates or diplomas. In this venture, J.J. gave the educational experts less than sixteen months to weigh the pros and cons of the new system. When they advised him it was not vialable, he decided to pursue his intentions.
He turned all prestigious schools attended by the elite class into public schools. He encouraged people of the state to go to school in their own region instead of traveling to other state to attend school. However, he did not forbid going to school in another region. The reason is that in Ghana majority of the High Schools are boarding schools, and the student population in the boarding school did not comprise of the people of the region.
On December 6, 1986 at the 150th anniversary of Wesley Girls High School, one of the prestigious schools in Ghana in Cape Coast, Rawlings said to justify his educational changes: "If we are to achieve the total transformation of our society on the basis of opportunity which this revolution stands for, then we have to make a clean break with the colonial educational concept."
Although Rawlings has so many enemies and they challenged his endeavors, there is however one legacy of J.J. that has not been challenged by the elite class. He passed a family inheritance law whereby if a man has a child outside his registered marriage, and the man dies unexpectedly without leaving behind a will, the state has a right to intervene and divide whatever property the man has among his children including the legal wife.
On the other hand, if the man left behind a will that did not include the child born outside of the marriage the state would still intervene to share the properties if that child is known to the mans family.
The elite society would challenge J.J. on such legal issues but they did not and this surprised me. I could understand J.J. and why he would make such a law because he has been a victim of such situation. He knew what it felt like to have a father who had the means to take care of you but did not for fear of how society might react towards him (father).
What about the elite class, why did they not take any legal action against Rawlings? Rawlings again is proving that he has the wisdom to solve the problems for the people of Ghana, after all that is what he is being accused of. Is it because they themselves are responsible for some clandestine affairs involving children because Rawlings has passed a law that benefited them for the first time; and protect what they can not publicly acknowledge out of marriage children.
So many women supported this family law and the emergence of family courts. Men who failed to remit and support their children were dragged into these courts. These courts never existed in the society. Most importantly, these courts were not conducted in English and it made women feel much more comfortable because they could express their feelings very directly to the family judge.
Mr. Mante (I have to conceal his real identity) was a Principal Secretary at the Government Ministries in Accra, when Rawlings came to power. He was among the people Rawlings arrested and tried for corruption and sent to prison. While in prison he was asked to declare all his assets. He owned two beautiful houses, three luxurious cars, and numerous girlfriends. Mr. Mante maintained foreign bank accounts in Switzerland, Germany and England. To some oil sheik, perhaps these are necessities in life, but for the average Ghanaian who earns thirty dollars a month this is more than luxury.
Mr. Mantes children went to luxurious private schools that were designed mainly for American and other foreign expatriates. The methodology of the school was American. He paid his childrens school fees in foreign currency. He took vacation with his family once a year, traveled with foreign airlines, and flew first class. However, Mr. Mante does not earn foreign currency. Where or what does Mr. Mante do to acquire the foreign money to pay his childrens school fees and to live his life of excessive luxury?
He was arraigned before a military tribunal and asked to account for the accumulation of his wealth. It was patent Mr. Mante had embezzled government funds. Everything he owned was confiscated by the state. He was degraded and humiliated, his hair was shaved and forced to walk bare foot while in prison. He was ridiculed as they asked him to perform tasks by the prison warders? If Mr. Mante had remained honest when he was in his governmental position, he would not have suffered this ridicule and degradation. Definitely not, because among the people Rawlings arrested there were very few people who were honest. They were able to account for what they had acquired and it was obvious that they had lived within their means and not embezzled any government funds.
Although Mr. Mante had to report to the nearest police station every twenty-four hours he was able to flee the country He came to the U.S. to seek political asylum under the pretext that his life was in danger as long as Rawlings government was in power He did not tell the U.S. Immigration office his life was in danger because he had embezzled government funds and that, that was the reason why he fled the country. He was granted asylum. Mr. Mante is among many others who lied and tarnished Rawlings image to gain political asylum not only in the U.S but other European countries as well.
After over fifteen years, Mr. Mante returned to Ghana, now a country with a democratic government but the same revolutionaries in power who he alleged wanted to kill him. Mr. Mante was a very bitter and angry man. He hated Rawlings so much that he was blind to some of his achievements.
He could not bring himself to accept the success of the Rawlings government. He is contemplating going back to settle in Ghana. Why would a man return to his country with the same government if once his life were in danger with that government in power? What has happened to Mr. Mante? Has he subtly accepted that he and others have also contributed to the predicament of his country and was in violation before? Would he like to go back to amend his wrong or seek to find new ways to cheat again? A political refugee never returns to his home country unless he has been cleared of his guilt and exonerated. Why would Mr. Mante consider going back with Rawlings still in power?
I spoke to Mr. Mante his main gripe is his harassment for "accountability and probity." He also points to some corrupted officials in the Rawlings government. Mr. Mante reluctantly admitted that when he visited Ghana in October 2000 he was surprised at the physical changes in the country from urban areas to rural areas and the quality of life. Although, he said, it was expensive.
Men like Mr. Mante have contributed to stagnant growth of Ghanas economy before Rawlings came to power. They diverted money from government coffers meant for projects to improve the social conditions of the country to their private bank accounts. For instance, grants meant for road constructions, hospital equipments, and education were embezzled and in the end, very little money was available. This resulted in shoddy work in road construction and other projects.
Rawlings arrested many people, and only a handful was exonerated. Therefore, Rawlings is not so inhuman and ruthless, as his opponents make him out to be. On the contrary, they are the ones who were ruthless because while in their tenure of office they did not have the slightest compunction to embezzle money for social programs meant for the people they served. They focused on their personal gains.
Rawlings at the beginning of the revolution was a very bitter and angry man who had observed corruption in high places with no liability. Rawlings is not a dictator although his demeanor in handling the elite classes was not that great in the past, today he might handle the same situation differently. In life, maturity matters a lot on our actions. Rawlings is an example as he has had setbacks in his government because of his irrational behavior at that time. His irrationality of the past overshadows his good work and this is regrettable.
When I spoke to Mr. Addo, a Ghanaian businessperson, he was furious with some of the radical changes of Rawlings. He said he had never witnessed in the history of Ghana any government that would borrow money, rehabilitate industries and turn around to privatize them to foreign countries and companies. He argued that if it was Rawlings intention was to privatize the companies, why did he not do so in their dilapidated state. I am surprised that an executive businessperson would think this way. He was very angry at the privatization of Ashanti gold field, the biggest gold mines that produces gold for foreign earnings. Mr. Addo refuses to see the long-term benefit.
M. Addo thinks Rawlings is the greatest megalomaniac of all time in the Ghana. Mr. Addo also hates Rawlings with a passion. He was a very successful entrepreneur. When Rawlings came to power and regulated everything even to the extent of imposing on importers what prices to sell their goods, Mr. Addos business began to plunge.
I interviewed four different African men from Togo, Guinea, Cote dIvoire and Nigeria. They all wished that their respective country would have a leader as strong as Rawlings. They wished their countries could achieve what Ghana has: its infrastructure, its recognition in the world markets and the respect it has earned in the 21st century.
Whether Rawlings motivations are self-centered, manipulative, and are rooted in the love for power, or it was a genuine revolution for meaningful and sincere changes is yet to be determined. Is Rawlings a tyrant or a benefactor to his people? I do not know.
J.J. is a man who has the desire and ambition to use ruthlessness to succeed in leading the country. He has taken drastic measures that can be justified. He has killed corrupted Heads of State and held them responsible for the countrys foreign debt? Does the countrys economic debt justify the death of these men? Could he have handled this matter differently? Yes. As a result of his actions, the recognition of his successful leadership remains questionable. While some think he is the greatest leader of the country since independence, others think he is the worst leader the country has ever had.
He has made history because many African leaders refer him as the "Rising Sun" of the 21st Century in Africa. I believe Rawlings has accomplished much more than he is credited for. In our personal lives we are unable to achieve all our goals, Ghanaians should reflect to the days before Rawlings came to power and asses their conditions then and applaud him for his contribution to Ghanas social and economic recovery. I find that people who oppose him do so because he axed them down so viciously that they can no longer indulge in their corrupted ways, neither can they find its roots to sprout. However, they are angry because another class or people are enjoying and making money through their hard efforts and in their era these "nouveau riche did not deserve such merits as to be rich.
Rawling has been successful with his revolution not because of his social intelligence but because of the love and popularity of the people. While he came by the gun into power for the first time and then through the ballot box to become the president of the country, majority of the people think he is the only leader that has made significant contribution towards the countrys economy. The elite also argue that given the twenty years Rawlings has been in power, any president could have also achieved the same success given that length of time Rawlings has stayed power. Would they really have? They still see Rawlings as a man ruling by the gun but only disguised with democratic ruling.
Rawlings has alienated lots of people because of his harsh reaction toward Ghanaians. This have created a new circle of bitter and anger persons (people who lost assets, parents etc.) who would go to any length to discredit him for all the good things he has done. Rawlings had to reach the level of a megalomaniac to correct social injustices. There will always be the good things Rawlings as a megalomaniac achieved but because he exceeded his human rights limit and thought he was above the law, there will always be that critique of his good passion for a right cause. His "mellow madness " was all with a reasoning of correcting social injustices and he achieved. After all, even if everything he did was evil, there will always be one thing he did just right that will always make his name never to be forgotten: his eradication of corruption in the Ghanaian society, his family laws and the self-esteem he brought into the Ghanaian culture. If Rawlings had not been a megalomaniac, he could not have achieved his goals. If megalomania is a condition in which power dominates, then Rawlings used that phenomenon as a great tool and asset to control and redirect his country, which was beyond economic redemption and Rawlings was successful with this personality.
The Free Press
The Ghanaian Chronicles
The Ghanaian Daily News
The Ghanaian Times
Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power (The Noonday Press N.Y, 1984).
Emmanuel Hansen, Ghana Under Rawlings Early Year Malthouse Press Ltd., U.K., 1991 (60).
Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, Selected Speeches Volume 5 (Ministry of Information, Jan. 1 Dec. 31, 1986 (1).
Kwame A. Ninsin, Ghanas Political Transition (Freedom Publications, Accra 1996)
Milton Rokeach, Beliefs, Attitudes and Values, (Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, San Francisco 1969)
Paul Nugent, Big Men, Small Boys and Politics in Ghana (215 Park Avenue, N.Y 1995)
Peter Gay, Sigmund Freud, Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis translated and edited by James Strachey (W.W. Norton Company, New York. London 1977)
Richard Wright, Black Power (Harper & Brothers, N.Y, 1954).
Roger S. Gocking, Facing two ways, University Press of America, Maryland
Ghana: Roots of students protest, West Africa, 6 June 1983 (1343)
Kevin Shillington, Ghana and the Rawlings Factor London: Macmillan, 1992 (101-106)
Brown Marcus, CIA Fact book, Washington: GPO 1998 <http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/gh.html>
Interview with Mr. Mante, former Principal Secretary, Ministries Accra, September 2000.
Interview with Mr. Addo, Businessperson, October 2000
It was rumored that Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso was killed with the aid of French mercenaries
William Morris American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, New College Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company Boston (1969)
Monologue of Jerry John Railings
(President of the Republic of Ghana)
I hear the voices of the dead. I hear their laughter. Voices ringing with laughter vibrating through my ears. The voices are coming in my direction. All the voices are talking to me. Look! I see the General of the Armed Forces; the one-l crushed at the entrance of the National Broadcasting Corporations.
I could have spared his life. We could have negotiated. He acted like the elephant that has water in its trunk and is confident no one can stand in its way. He aimed and fired his gun at me.
I proved to him that although the elephant is strong, powerful and domineering in its own way, it is the insignificant and delicate insect that kills the elephant. This insect is a pest to everyone; this insect is either blown away or killed it instantly. No one spares the ant. I have become like the ant to the people. They will crush, stamp, slap, kick and shove me heartlessly.
I must run and hide under my bed there l can find my darkness.
Am I not the great Jerry who fears no evil? Am l not the one, whose commandments can never be disobeyed. I have lost control; my wife mocks me she says no one listens to my voice again.
Killing will not stop the injustice or the corruption. My hands are stained with the blood of some innocent men. I killed men because they saw corruption in high places and stayed aloof. They are the people who navigated this country to this corrupt level.
Oh, how can I recompense their families? I have denied some families of fathers and l cherish my relationship with my son.
Their sons hate me. They lurk in the darkness waiting for me to slip, and then they will pounce on me, devour me like a starved hyena, and leave my carcass to the rest of the animals. How sweet their revenge will be. These beasts will feast on my flesh because the usurper is no more.
No, l must rise early in the morning and burn their fields and houses; their homes and anything they possess that breath l must destroy before they destroy me.