The causes of Rawlings’ problems are obvious. He is a bundle of contradictions who is suffering as a consequence of his own inability to come to terms with the reality of the human condition: he is indeed not what he professes to be—which is gradually leading to his unmasking himself through this spate of constant whining and fault-finding. All the goodwill that has clothed him all these years has virtually been eroded by his own miscalculation, leaving him thinly veiled. Very soon, that veil will fall for all to know the real stuff of which he is made.
Looking closely at how he has lost all the seasoned political allies and good-intentioned public figures who gave him wise counsel and how he is now surrounded by loose-talking inexperienced self-seekers and politically immature characters like Kofi Adams and Herbert Mensah, I have no speck of doubt in my mind that Rawlings is tottering toward a sad end in his all-too fiery political career.
Truth be told, Rawlings seems to be coming face-to-face with his avatar and must be scared stiff by what he sees. All the noise he continues to make against the Mills-led government is undergirded by only one objective: to be given the chance to call the shots. He is denied that quest and is up in arms. Having hit the brick-wall, he has spun himself out of control and is all over the place, making wild allegations and creating the impression that Ghana under President Mills is doomed.
Now, realizing that his anti-Mills politicking isn’t registering the desired results, he has moved into a different mode, using his so-called spokesmen to stoke the fire.
He shot his way into political office on the wings of his indignation for self-acquisition and used his Chairmanship of the AFRC to prove to Ghanaians the extent to which his revulsion for wealth-making could go. In a bizarre twist of events, he superintended over the physical torture, humiliation, incarceration, and murder of those who did not pass his test of “probity and accountability” under the so-called house-cleaning exercise.
As he reiterated the other day at the forum at the University of Ghana, Legon, Rawlings still doesn’t regret for the excesses of those days that have reaped for him a harvest of hate among those targeted for attempting to rise by their own bootstraps (including the Makola market women whose property were destroyed).
The official shooting to death of three former Heads of State and senior military officers for their part in what Rawlings’ AFRC upheld as corruption cannot be easily written off as a mere excess of the June 4 Uprising. Other Ghanaians in gainful self-employment faced so-called “unprecedented revolutionary action,” losing their businesses, running away into exile for their dear lives’ sake, or facing the wrath of the George Agyekum Public Tribunal to be slapped with hefty fines and long prison terms.
This wave of war against wealth characterized the PNDC era and left behind ugly landmarks. In all these circumstances, Rawlings had carved an indelible impression for himself as someone who hated wealth and the comfort it provides. His penchant for lambasting the rich and the confiscation of numerous private businesses by the various governments that he led are difficult to gloss over.
But as human nature will have it, Rawlings’ own tastes are quick to betray him. Evidence concerning his lifestyle proves that while condemning the rich in the open, he greedily savours the perks of office under the cover of darkness. Those who know what he does and where he does those things know that Rawlings has an avid taste for the comfort that wealth provides.
His holiday resort at Vume alone provides an ample opportunity for us to take a sneak peek into his lifestyle. We can tell from other instances that he doesn’t really shun wealth and the comfort that it provides. Thus, when he mounts rooftops to condemn the rich and portray himself as a man of self-denial, he casts himself in a pitiable light.
I am not even talking about the lifestyle that his wife (Nana Konadu) and children have. We all know how Nana Konadu relishes the good things of life and how she gets her bread buttered for that purpose. We know and condemn the dubious circumstances under which she used her 31st December Women’s Movement to acquire the Nsawam Cannery as a means to provide the wherewithal to sustain the high lifestyle of her household.
Using frontmen to advance their self-acquisitive ventures won’t help them. If we consider the circumstances under which they had their children educated in expensive universities overseas and the fleet of cutting edge vehicles that Rawlings acquired when the Kufuor government deprived him of all courtesies, we can tell that the Rawlingses are comfortably placed in life but turn round to portray themselves as living modest lives.
They think they are deceiving Ghanaians but can’t deceive their own hearts. That’s why their conscience isn’t free. And that is why they are always out, blaming everybody for their woes of restlessness and making public pronouncements to draw needless attention to themselves. Their plight is self-inflicted.
Their problem is that having portrayed themselves as holier-than-thou, which has turned out to be an albatross around their necks, they have not left themselves any elbow room in which to wriggle out of the self-inflicted torture. As Shakespeare has it, nothing is ever more wretched than a guilty conscience. They are suffering because while their flesh is willing to enjoy the sweetness of wealth, their recalcitrant anti-rich spirit feels otherwise. Probably, they are ill-at-ease because of being haunted by their past.
For as long as they split their own personalities, they will continue to be on edge for nothing. And they should ready themselves to pay the price that their actions dictate. What manner of people are they that they can’t live and let live?
By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor