In the last 25 years that I have lived in Europe after being forced to leave my country of birth Uganda, I have witnessed five US presidents take office in the names of Ronald Reagan (1981-1989), George HW Bush (1989-1993), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), George W Bush (2001-2009 and, Barack Obama (2009 -). In France, four presidents have changed hands in the names of Francois Mitterrand (1981-1995), Jacques Chirac (1995-2007), Nicolas Sarkozy (2007-2012) and Francois Hollande (2012 – ). In the last 25 years here in Britain, power has changed hands five times from Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990); John Major (1990-1997); Tony Blair (1997-2007); Gordon Brown (2007-2010) and; David Cameron (2010 – ).
All these 14 great leaders of the Western World, from Ronald Reagan to Francois Hollande, have shaken and held talks with just one Ugandan leader, Yoweri Museveni.; they have shaken hands with only two Kenyan leaders, Daniel arap Moi and Mwai Kibaki and have dared not shake hands with Zimbabwe’s only leader since 1980, Dr Robert Mugabe.
While the United States, France and Britain have prospered during the period above, no one can say the same about the three African countries of Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. All three have seen the spilling of blood during general elections and have seen their leaders desperately try to hold on to office at whatever cost, mostly human life.
Ghana has had a chequered history since the overthrow of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah who had started well by organising the youth in Ghana that led him to power. After his overthrow in 1966, the same year that Milton Obote, one of his great admirers, banned kingdoms in Uganda and led the country to the rule of the gun that still exists to this day. Ghana experienced several military coups, especially that of Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings who twice stage a military coupe and along the line executed by firing squad military rulers.
Ghana has matured to world class democratic rule mainly through action taken by Rawlings when he ordered the execution of a former military dictator Ignatius Kutu Acheamphong. Five other generals, Joy Amedume, Yaw Boakye, Roger Felli, Kotei, and Utuka were also put to death. With one rather bizarre action, Rawlings got rid of once and hopefully for all those officials he believed were cementing the deterioration of the country’s democratic institutions. While the action was harsh, one could easily argue that the peaceful way in which the new Ghanaian president John Mahama was sworn in, could be traced back to the resolve and determination that Rawlings exhibited during his two terms of office as Ghanaian president.