Laying wreaths opposite Jubilee House? (2)
Then out of the blue, on May 15, 1979, Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings led a failed mutiny at Ghana Armed Forces Headquarters, Burma Camp, Accra. Rawlings was arrested and thrown into guard room, while a trial, armed-forces-style, or court martial of him was going. Then out of the blue again, Captain Boakye Gyan led soldiers to overthrow SMC II, bring Rawlings out of guard room to become leader of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), with himself (Gyan) as the spokesman of the junta.
The AFRC stayed in office for just about three months, for they organised the elections Gen. Akuffo’s SMC II had set in motion and Limann was elected President. And Ti-Kelenkelen has heard political analysts ask why the June 4, 1979 coup d’état if they were going to let the election processes run their full course anyway. The shocking point is that so much harrowing crimes were committed by the AFRC and their hirelings, underlings and hangers-on. The AFRC lined up and shot the army generals and rear admiral and air vice marshal of the SMC II; probably because they blamed them (the latter) for the rank corruption of the time, kalabule. Kotoka’s pal, Afrifa, who had also been instrumental in the fight against UNIGOV, was killed alongside the SMC II leaders; the AFRC never explained why.
The AFRC accused market women of being the creators and perpetrators of kalabule (or generally economic crimes or corruption). Soldiers armed to the teeth and wielding AK47 rifles and pump action guns each stuck with long strips of bullets ordered market women to, serbe, strip naked, serbe taflatse, lie on their backs, and serbe, serbe mpre’aduasa, lift up their legs and then open and close their legs while a hilarious mob chanted “Eye kanea; eye hann” – It is light; it is bright. That was when Ghana hit the abyss of immorality and social injustice.
Then one day Ghanaians woke up to the shocking news that the entirety of Makola No. 1 (a market of so many storey-building stores and the size of about ten football fields) had been razed to the ground.
Shockingly, they [the AFRC] reasoned to Ghanaians that the goal was to kill kalabule, because Makola No. 1 is its place of birth. But as then journalist, Joss Aryee, a GNA correspondent attached to the office of the AFRC, Gondar Barracks, Burma Camp, later told the National Reconciliation Commission (constituted by President J.A. Kufuor in 2003-4), the soldiers, armed to the teeth as always, and working throughout the night, broke into every single store (upstairs and downstairs), broke into safes and stole everything from each building before collapsing the concrete onto itself. Those who claim they came to kill kalabule (the AFRC) were, per Joss Aryee’s report, actually a band of armed robbers actually out for their selfish interests.
In the morning, some shop owners who saw or heard what had happened had heart attack and died. Those who survived the heart attacks were left with heart diseases. The fore-going are but the tip of the iceberg of the horrors of coups Ghanaians saw in 1979. And generally it is why most an adult will scream NNOOOO! If younger people looked at the problems of Ghana today, particularly, the indiscipline, and say the military are the best to run this country.
The AFRC ended their regime on September 24, 1979. It is conventional to say Rawlings handed over to Dr. Hilla Limann, but that is false. And we need to correct that thinking as part of our collective effort to strengthening constitutional democracy. (Ti-Kelenkelen, much younger then, watched on television Rawlings’ exit and Dr. Limann’s taking office as President. It happened at the Old Parliament House, Central Business District, Accra). In fact, in his last speech delivered before Dr. Limann was sworn in as
President, Rawlings said he is giving it (control of the state) to Limann and if they (Limann and his team) do not handle it well, he will come and take it back. In the euphoria of the times, many young people, in the throes of youthful exuberance, applauded that statement, but it was, indeed, open declaration of treason against (yes, a future, but) an impending constitutional democracy; it was treason.
To call the creature of what happened that day by name, Rawlings ended his de facto military term. And then the people of Ghana, acting through the constitution asked the Chief Justice to swear in the president and Parliament we the people of the Republic of Ghana had employed through voting. For every constitutional democracy, it is the people who hand the reins of power to a president and a Parliament; no one else.
Dr. Limann was President for only 24 months. Rawlings overthrew the constitution, the president and Parliament on December 31, 1981 and set up the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC). And Ti-Kelenkelen has ever heard Kweku Baako question how something that was supposed to be provisional could last eleven years. Had it not been for external and internal pressure for Ghana to go for constitutional democracy, it would have lasted longer. And the horrors of atrocities committed under thus junta dwarfs those of the AFRC. This PNDC made it one of its goals to destroy every rich person in Ghana, whether indigenous Ghanaian (e.g., Siaw’s Tata Brewery, then, according to reports, the second largest of its kind in Africa) or Lebanese business people. Some of the truth of the sheer thievery and armed robbery conducted by and under the PNDC came out before the National Reconciliation Commission.
Equally harrowing, was the abduction and killing of three judges and an army officer early during the PNDC era. The judges are Justices Kwadwo Agyei Agyapong, Cecelia Koranteng-Addow and Fred Poku Sarkodie. And the army officer is Major Sam Acquah. They were taken to a military Training Camp, Bundase, killed and set ablaze. Luckily for Ghana, rain doused the fire so it was later easy to recognise the four. The three judges are the ones whose busts grace the front of the Supreme Court Building, Central Business District, Accra.
On January 7, 1993, Rawlings left office as a military leader, and then Ghanaians acting through the constitution made him President in a constitutional democracy, this Fourth Republic.
And that brings us full circle back to the issue on the table now. The issue is about Rawlings building that small square opposite Jubilee House vis-à-vis the kind of political system we have currently chosen for ourselves, and the position here is that it represents a contradiction for anyone who clearly understands that relationship. The contradiction lies in the fact that he built that square to celebrate a coup d’état that overthrew the kind of political system we now run.
(See also yirenkyilamptey.wordpress.com)
“The AFRC lined up and shot the army generals and rear admiral and air vice marshal of the SMC II; probably because they blamed them (the latter) for the rank corruption of the time, kalabule.”
“Shockingly, they (the AFRC) reasoned to Ghanaians that the goal was to kill kalabule, because Makola No. 1 is its place of birth. But… [t]hose who claim they came to kill kalabule (the AFRC) were, per Joss Aryee’s report, actually a band of armed robbers actually out for their selfish interests.”
“This PNDC made it one of its goals to destroy every rich person in Ghana, whether indigenous Ghanaian (e.g., Siaw’s Tata Brewery, then, according to reports, the second largest of its kind in Africa) or Lebanese business people.”
Ti-Kelenkelen by: Yirenkyi Lamptey