FLASHBACK ON DR ARTHUR KOBINA KENNEDY’S CAMPAIGN MESSAGE
The Samaritan Research Group
Geneticists have long promised that their science will bring a revolution to medicine, yet like all revolutions, this one too, nearly had its victims or might have been built on the…corpses of legions of bacteria that have perished in the course of decades of research. This might indeed sound odd to patients who think that the purpose of medicine is to kill yes, bacteria but not to breed them? True, worries about antibiotic battle looms large.
Throughout human history, people and nations in distress of all races and beliefs cry for leadership. There could be both remote and immediate causes for this. Ancient Israel, for example, requested for a king because of Philistine’s aggression, together with monopoly over the secrets of iron smelting and ineffective system of “ad hoc” government under the judges. Therefore, why must Israelis agitation for a king to rule them like their fearsome neighbouring countries such as the Ammonites, the Edomites, Moabites Midianites and Syrians, who have all given nation Israel a good run for their ammunitions and anxious moments be construed as a risky venture? Thus was this wailing for a centralised institution of monarchy truly mixed-blessings?
Well, the Holy Bible teaches us that the immediate reason for that move was the well-known weaknesses that existed under the rule of the consecrated judges. Conservative Samuel, had held the holy castle confidently for decades; and now he is ageing. So he chose his own sons, Joel and Abijah as judges in his own stead just as Eli had done before him. But like his predecessor’s sons who disobeyed Yahweh and teeter in their own righteousness, the High Priest’s two sons too, were preoccupied with material gain and took bribes and perverted justice. So why could we not interpret Israelis burning struggles to change the garrison posts while the old man was still alive to be consistent with the prevailing political climate at the time- unfastened system of governance that hardly defeat Israel’s foes and hence installation of Saul as first king?
Yes, it has often been asked whether Saul was really a successful king. Some say he was because he had some initial successes. Like what appears to be leadership style of US President George Walker Bush, all his period of reign were climaxed with wars against Israel’s enemies which came about as the result of his ability to erect a united standing army. Saul triumphed over the Philistines and took control over the iron smelting which later smoothed the way for later economic development of David and Solomon? Admittedly, King Saul was said to be hasty by nature. His temperament led to his early problems with conformist Samuel when his troops ate meat with blood after the great extinction of the Philistines between Michmas and Aijalon where the king sacrificed on the alter he built, although he was not a priest? (I Sam 14: 31 – 35).
It is incontestable fact that in the early days of his rule, the people’s Saul banished all forms of witchcraft, sorcery and magic from the territory of Israel. But just before he bowed out of office that was his trump card at Endor- he named his sons after Baal (Ishbal or Ishbosheth). Indeed impulsive Saul dissolved the marriage of his daughter, Michal to David and slaughtered the priests of Nob for showing kindness to the unknown leader(s) in the waiting? Nevertheless, would it not be a slip to assume that Saul achieved virtually zero for the Israelites? Honestly that could be unfair, one may disagree. But is this not one of our problems? More often than not, do we not hype the real capabilities of emerging leadership at the expense of the unknown one who bows with honour? It is becoming worrying to witness President Kufuor, not escaping this?
Dr Nkrumah was no longer media darling when he died political death on 24 February 1966. Instead, he was seen as communist apologist of an era that had become perhaps, obsolete and embarrassing even before tanks had rolled over Kremlin and has ceased to be the ideological power-house of the Soviet Union? The only reason the Osagyefo hits the headlines again is perhaps, Ghana is still searching for its socio-economic and political destiny of which responsible leadership and development are crucial issues.
True, Franklin Foer, Associate Editor at The New Republic and author of Soccer and Politics, is right in writing that people have attachment to their populist leaders and politicians, not just because of their cult of personality and their ability to deliver goods. [We] like them because our populists paint themselves as defenders of the community against the relentless onslaught of outsiders? But could this not be dangerous to our nation building? Probably yes. Patrick McGowan, a political scientist at Arizona State University, tracks African military coups- successful and aborted- in a study published in the quarterly Journal of Modern African Studies (Vol. 41, No. 3, September 2003, Cambridge), and the results are really heart-breaking.
From 1956 to 2001, only three nations (Botswana, Cape Verde, and Mauritius) did not experience any coups or coup attempts. Overall, 30 African nations experienced 80 successful coups in that period; all of these states, according to the findings, except for the Seychelles, also faced failed coups and plots. Yet coup, as Paul Collier, professor of economics and director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University says in his article, Africa’s Revolutionary Routine [US Foreign Policy Magazine, May/June 2004, p 82], usually settled nothing. Rather, as in our case since 1966, they encouraged other military factions to try their luck. It is revealed that 89% of their targets are military regimes that had themselves staged successful coups earlier? Maybe, we may not feel bashful in adding our power-hungry civilians.
Have we all not in certain measure contributed in the anticlockwise synchronization of our development efforts? The consequence, according to McGowan is that our armies, often populated by soldiers who failed to make it into the civil service- the usual destination of our best and brightest people during the postcolonial era, breed what we may perhaps disagree to what he terms as military dictators who maintain control and frequently undermine civil service by promoting corrupt sycophants? For they know that once [our] civil service is rotten at the top, reform becomes almost impossible? But be gland and rejoice. Our new hope, according to McGowan, is that their success rate of 74% between 1966 and 1970 fell to 38% in 1996-2001.
As to the question of Africa’s [and for that matter Ghana’s] enduring vulnerability to coups and political unrests, according to Professor Collier, is clearly linked to governments failure to gain popular legitimacy and acceptance, because they really fail their citizens? And what about this blame-syndrome that we hardly put behind us?
In his most recent postings, Campaign ’08: A Message to Ghanaians Everywhere, based probably on lifetime experience, Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy presents his insights and views on accountable leadership and governance in the 21st century Ghanaian politics. The subject unfolds in various directions, although topical issues such as those resulting from the June 4 1979 and the 31st December 1981 “revolutions” are taken as the core point for his reappraisal of our contemporary history, with regard to the question of leadership and development of which he describes the two decades of the P(NDC)/NDC rule as lost decades. There are several indications that an era of reconciliation is indeed not over? (Ghanaweb, 21 Dec 2005).
Like most presidential aspirants, Kobina’s bid is flanked by collections of most newsworthy issues confronting most ordinary people like us. In these, he sets forth his research, findings and also recommendations on individual historical and socio-economic topics and the processes and developments of our modern Ghana. Of course, it is difficult for Ghanaians of any age to sound nostalgic about our country’s dubious past. So we could candidly concede that Ebo’s rescue package is just on spot.
Revamping our Healthcare System through preventive measures, here, the crucial return of health inspectors (“tankase’), provision of affordable clean water and sewerage to us all. Not forgetting an improved housing, public libraries recreational centres as well as total manpower development and deployment which appear to be failing, are links of Kobina’s vision. He dreams of making government work for us -by combating lawlessness and crime which no doubt, an introduction of a long-overdue national ID system through empowered decentralized supervision is critical.
Yet in a world where China, Russia and the US are increasingly becoming identical and Western Europe expanding eastwards, Ebo Kobina would have left many with single heart if the message were no longer feeling affinity for the conflicting cultures of either of Dr J. B. Dankwa or Dr Kwame Nkrumah as far as our socio-economic and developments are concerned? Of course, we must not be quick in throwing our crutches at Dr Arthur Kennedy’s ‘New Ghana’ message. This is because in and out of Legon campus, tireless leader Kennedy was still high-ranking capo. So, why today too, there is the need to slaughter fowls, sheep or cows to confirm Kobina’s reply that whenever a bacterium detects a dangerous chemical, it mounts a host of responses?
But why Kobina- an NPP politician, had all these days sat on the sidelines? As a scientist well versed in health matters and history, would he not have played a major role in investigating and critically assessing politicians’ life in Ghana? In this way, would he not have become a significant intellectual authority on the repeatedly asked questions whether our national health system was stable enough or was in danger of failing? “We should spend part of our intellect, time and treasure in the struggle to build a better Ghana. As history demonstrates clearly, citizenship is not a spectator sport. It requires the active involvement of each and every one of us,” he says.
Ebo Kobina calls this “new ideas, new ethics, new attitudes and a new set of skills.” We are yet to have full insight of his campaign message launched somewhere in August 2005, in Ghana. But with this marvellous free-standing declaration on focus, our emerging learned leader certainly appears to see himself as a political educator constantly aiming to find out what can be learned from a given historical process? This century has provided us with one nation, one people and with a common destiny but not with the most dreadful experience of politics, ideologies and their armaments?
Over the decades, all serious daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and of course, electronic prints connected with Ghana keep their readers informed about the debate among political elites, international experts and ordinary folks like ourselves. Readers are informed about the very different and convincing arguments for and against good leadership in the context of our past and present socio-economic development. As Dr Arthur Kobina Kennedy rightly points out, “…the central role of corruption and bad leadership in our underdevelopment…is the most important obstacle to our socio-economic development. That is why I urged the President (Kufuor) to do more towards the fulfilment of his “zero-tolerance” pledge…” (Ibid). What is left undone?
Poverty is the greatest polluter, said Indira Gandhi. And is this not common in our society? As long as people are poor, the immediate issue is survival. Caring for the future is a luxury, says Gro Harlem Brundtland, former prime minister of Norway.
So, by using the word ‘urge” did Kobina not pick up on ‘speculation’ that his NPP, intimidated by bribery and corruption ought to have a different type of leadership style which may have contributed to his burning desire to wrestle power from equally good and ideologically on-ground potential candidates? Or he was perhaps, just being subservient ideologically? “We must clean up our political parties because corrupt parties cannot lead to or be supportive of honest governments. Also, corrupt people cannot lead honest governments, ” he reasons. It sounds convincing, however, can we ask Kennedy from his message the role and content of ancient mystery cults, without undergoing all that they involve: fasting, sacrifices, purification and excitements?
For example, Kenney said: “While in Ghana, I delivered three speeches, had numerous radio and TV interviews and had extensive conversations with a cross-section of Ghanaians, both within and outside my party- the NPP. The ideas that I put fourth are firmly grounded in the history of our nation and my life experiences. At the core of all these democratic ideas is my view that governments must deliver tangible progress in the lives of ordinary people.” This is true but with some reservations.
If Kobina is well understood, then his union government, with leadership which in his own words, is interested in public purposes rather than private greed shall have “ a President who embodies the New Ghana where new wine is not filled in an old bottle? Thus shall there be peoples Regime where perhaps, ‘we are the best’ buried forever?
Unfortunately closer inspections lead us to the same road to our Kukurantumi. He describes the two decades of P(NDC)/NDC era as lost decades. Why Kobina use ‘lost’ where the basic measure for any country to secure Heavily Indebted Poor Country grant is to have been baptized with IMF and World Bank rituals- the Structural Adjustment Programmes? Ebo is aware that failures of these economic prescriptions prompted HIPC initiative and its so called sustainable development tag that mandates the plunging of our natural resources to service our huge indebtedness?
It is here that Dr Kennedy appears to be on wrong footing by drumming that: “I reviewed the state of our nation. In my view, The Rawlings administrations set this nation back in many areas. There were significant human rights abuses, corruption and economic stagnation amongst other things. On the other hand, despite some achievements, the NPP government has not fully lived up to expectations.” Is brother Kobina not mixing up words over the New Ghana that he is promising, come 2008? True, for the sake of Arthur’s pledge- an all-inclusive future regime, he would have avoided this song- Saul killed thousands but David did annihilate tens of thousands.
Admittedly, David ascended to the throne at the bidding of Yahweh and his reign is described as the golden age of Hebrew monarchy. He had hammered a deadly blow to Goliath- the Philistine giant. The death of Samuel and Saul ushered in the transformation of tribal union into a miniature empire- a replica of the surrounding regimes. Until he became leader of the United Kingdom of Judah and Israel, Philistines never took him seriously, because they measured him as their vassal until he knocked them out once and for all (II Sam. 5: 17 -25). The death of Abner, the strongman in the north and the assassination of Ishbosheth, his stooge, and the transfer of the North’s allegiance all contributed to the success story of Israel today?
Yet, King David also had his problems. His lust for Bathsheba and the treacherous killing of Uriah is often a cited case. His unity drive was also not well received and so there were reported sectional unresolved grievances. The granting of amnesty to the followers of his rebellious son Absolom, attracted media attention (II Sam 19: 11-30). Of course, as our favourite writer brother John Loglo simplifies it, David greatness has been sung, just as traditions and governments in Africa and elsewhere have come to idealize such figures as Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Patrice Lumumba and others (Loglo, J., 1985, p.35-36). Did David truly bequeath a large heterogeneous tribal confederacy with one political identity and diverse religious backgrounds to Solomon whose administrative failures consequently disintegrated it?
Of course, the essential to recall every past instant at any time perhaps suppress anthropological instinct, which is a key constituent of our experience of time as we search for an enduring leadership. But is it not becoming increasing apparent that journalists and writers no longer dare face their audience or readers with juicy scoop? The family tree of Israel is of Jacob; Leah, favoured wife Rachael and also handmaids: Bil-hah and Zilpah who mothered Dan; Naphtali, Gad and Asher respectively? (Gen 29: 16-35; 30: 1-43) Touch one, and you conflict the nation and the world. The motivation is, does “serfdom”, really matter in leadership bid in Israel?
We are couched that until we ascend to the pinnacle of our professional career, our duty is to inform with fairness so that perhaps, readers can form an opinion of their own. How difficult it is for some of us. So, permit us to suggest a New Ghana after Kufuor where the golden rule of governing people is to separate the behaviour from the person. True, the past must not be forgotten but much of it retards progress. Future brings hope. Yes, it is said that if there is any prudence in data collection, then he who owns the past positively really also owns the future? If this is so, then should the New Ghana after JAK, not be where personal grieves are not muzzled with national issues?
First Published At Ghanaweb on 2 February 2006