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to car r ying around K a l a s h n i k ov s a n d q u o t i n g Fa n o n o n ‘revolutionary violence’. Portly political barons and captains of industry took flight. Unnerved by the leftwards tilt of the new order, US and European governments were eager to see its downfall, egging on would-be usurpers. A succession of failed putsches added to the ferment of the time. They were fended off by Ghana’s ruthless and highly effective security organization, one of whose high points was turning a CIA operative in Accra who helpfully supplied the names of many Ghanaians collaborating with US intelligence. For unknown reasons, this script was never made into the Hollywood blockbuster it would have been. But many in the once comfortable middle classes were torn between ridiculing what they saw as the jejune politics of the new revolutionary times and lambasting the fellow travelers of the new order who were driving their beloved Ghana into the welcoming arms of Moscow and Beijing. Welcoming or not, neither Moscow nor Beijing in 1983 had the financial wherewithal nor inclination to bail out Ghana, brought low by a decade of corrupt and spendthrift military regimes. Consolidating power as a military leader, Rawlings then presided over the imposition of a structural adjustment program, negotiated with the IMF at its neo-liberal zenith. The significance of that Faustian pact – the IMF gives Ghana an

international financial imprimatur, reschedules the debt and reopens the credit lines in return for the surrender of economic sovereignty – appears even greater in retrospect than it did at the time. ‘Rawlings’ political acrobatics’ In the early 1980s it was Rawlings’ political acrobatics that took one’s breath away. He was the radical leader whose ministers had convinced a skeptical p o p u l a t i o n t h a t a hundredfold devaluation of the national currency, the sacking of half the civil servants, and the sale of most state-owned enterprises to foreigners was an act of sacrifice and patriotism. Without question, it was an act of political daring. From a pro-Havana approach, Accra was now a lode-star for capitalist d e v e l o p m e n t . I t s economic reforms were held up as positive proof that the Washington consensus policies of the Fund and the Bank delivered high growth and foreign investment. Social well-being and jobs proved more elusive. But daily reality tells a different tale. Re c a l c i t r a n t B a n k officials concede they misjudged their policies: the tens of thousands of highly qualified civil servants made redundant would not find jobs in Ghana’s narrow and under-capitalized private sector. Instead, they migrated to Europe and North America where many took senior posts in government and business. Those local companies trying to diversify and source locally were s u b m e r g e d b y t h e Bretton Woods’ wave of trade liberalization. Local economists say that more of Ghana’s economy fell into foreign hands than

under Britain’s colonial rule. And then in came the political tide in the wake of the crashing down of the Berlin Wall when Rawlings and his allies succumbed to local and international pressure to open the system to multiparty politics. Adieu, noparty politics. ‘ R a w l i n g s , t h e deliverer of marketeconomics’ Given to stopping his convoy to join with work gangs unblocking drains or repairing broken water pipes, Rawlings’ populism made him an instinctive election campaigner. By then, western powers such as the US and Britain and erstwhile of the People’s republic h a d s w u n g b e h i n d Rawlings the deliverer of market-economics and an ostensibly pluralistic politics. He had launched the National Democratic Congress in 1991 to the delight of his base which was now stronger in the rural hinterland. Some of his party allies were less surefooted. So the NDC didn’t take any chances and blatantly rigged the 1992 elections, and less blatantly, the 1996 election. Such manoeuvres occasioned only the mildest rebukes from ove r s e a s . B y t h e n , wester n powers had swung fully behind Rawlings the deliverer of market-economics and ostensibly pluralistic politics. US President Bill Clinton’s and his wife Hillary’s state visit to Ghana in 1998 hosted by Rawlings and his wife Nana Konadu, was expertly choreographed for their mutual political advantage. In 2000 Rawlings quit with better grace than many had confidently predicted. His anointed dauphin, academic and tax

expert John Atta Mills lost the elections, leaving Rawlings to hand over to an Ashanti aristocrat John Agyekum Kufuor at the helm of a centerright New Patriotic Party government. One of Ghana’s more curious political liaisons in recent years has been

the close relationship between Rawlings, his wife Nana Konadu and President Nana Addo Akufo Addo, who took the NPP back to national power in 2016. This closeness was clear last week when President Akufo Addo announced a suspension of election

campaigning for a week and the organization of a state funeral for Rawlings, in close cooperation with the family. Legacy left behind T h o s e o b s e q u i e s will be held against the backdrop of a closely


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