Lessons from the event - 45 years ago
Voice from Afar by K.B. Asante
Most Ghanaians were not born when Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown. And many of them were too young to fathom the event and understand what followed. It is therefore natural for many to ask of my reaction when the coup occurred and to no assess events since then.
It is difficult to put the traumatic events of 1966 into their proper perspective without a survey of the entire political, economic and security situation at the time. And for a better appreciation, one has to look at happenings since the coup. My friends of the media often want snappy sentences which would catch the eye. But we need in-depth analysis and considerations to really understand what happened and learn from the past.
But do we normally learn from the past? Do we learn from history? It is not only in this country that we repeat the follies of the past. People elsewhere seldom learn from history. But we do not make such progress if we recall the past simply as a catalogue of events and use these happenings to confirm our strong feelings and prejudices.
Thus the name Kwame Nkrumah evicts strong revulsion from many Ghanaians, especially those whose parents and friends suffered from the excesses or even the lawful practices of the regime. The name Kwame Nkrumah however, excites euphoria in many Ghanaians who were not born when the coup occurred. The number of those who would have his economic policies today increases by day.
But if we are to learn and benefit from the past, we must know why and how injustices occurred under Nkrumah. We should also know his achievements and also the objectives behind his economic and social policies and the reasoning behind his plans and strategies. Blind revulsion and uninformed euphoria do not help useful understanding.
It is painful but even those who suffered under Nkrumah must agree that lawlessness and indiscipline undermine progress. We should be doing much better now if the law is rigorously applied in this democratic era. Kwame Nkrumah would not allow illegal structures to impede the construction of highways such as the Mallam road, especially after compensation had been paid for buildings and structures to be removed.
Vehicles of any axle weight would not be allowed in to destroy our roads and bridges including the vital Akosombo one. Powerful personalities would not be tolerated in their bid to make money at public expense by bringing in vehicles too heavy for our roads and bridges and to import any amount of chicken and rice to impede local production.
Such measures which promote economic and social well being, sometimes require ruthless but lawful measures. The past should tell us that sometimes we need such firm measures and enforcement of rules and law.
When it comes to positive measures, we have for 45 years tried to develop the country with modest results. We have used vague ideas and have endeavored to make public and private enterprise work together in the national interest. We sometimes forget that the aim of the private enterprise is to make money for the share holders. We ignore measures employed by Nkrumah and developing countries which have forged ahead today.
We are rightly trying to establish projects including transport facilities to develop the country. But there appears to be no over-all plan as Nkrumah tried to do and as Malaysia has done successfully. We seem to be taking money or investment from wherever or whom we can get it under conditions largely suggested by the investor or donor. Our aim appears to be that of becoming a middle income country, whatever that means. We seem to have departed from the aim of 45 years ago- establish schools to cater for a growing population which would thrive under industries and services in their abode housed and served by judicious network of roads and other means of transport.
Of course our governments, past and present, have these aims but not in a co-ordinate manner. Meanwhile we are incurring debts which the young of today have to pay directly or indirectly. The youth of all parties should ask therefore to know our debt profile and how existing projects would help to pay for them.
We should learn from the past, especially from events of 45 years ago. We should ask the right questions. As some thinkers would suggest, if we define the questions clearly, the answers will suggest themselves.
Daily Graphic Page: 7 Monday, February 28, 2011