Sacking of Benin City: 124th Anniversary

By Dan Hicks 18th February was the 124-year anniversary of the sacking of Benin City by a British naval force.Walk into any European museum today and you will see the curated spoils of Empire.They sit behind plate glass: dignified, tastefully lit. Accompanying pieces of card offer a name, date and place of origin.They do not mention that the objects are all stolen.Few artefacts embody this history of rapacious and extractive colonialism better than the Benin Bronzes – a collection of thousands of brass plaques and carved ivory tusks depicting the history of the Royal Court of the Obas of Benin City, Nigeria.Pillaged during a British naval attack in 1897, the loot was passed on to Queen Victoria, the British Museum and countless private collections.The story of the Benin Bronzes sits at the heart of a heated debate about cultural restitution, repatriation and the decolonisation of museums.In The Brutish Museums, Dan Hicks makes a powerful case for the urgent return of such objects, as part of a wider project of addressing the outstanding debt of colonialism.

The Spy who “Loved” Nigeria

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Sir Hanns Vischer

As they say; “An Englishman’s home is his castle.” Sir Hanns Vischer, was an agent of His Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service in Nigeria. He was referred to as “Dan Hausa” due to his mastery of the Hausa language which he helped in standardizing. He was also prolific in Arabic, Fulfulde and Kanuri in addition to Greek, French and German. Based in Kano from 1907 to 1919, his cover was head of the Education Department.

Gidan Dan Hausa, now a national monument was his official residence. The building had being in existence for about a hundred years before Kano was conquered by the British in 1903. It had previously served as the base of the overseer of the royal farming plantation outside the ancient city walls known as Rumada. Vischer rebuilt it from scratch making improvements in 1907.

The spymaster first came to Nigeria in 1901 and was based in Lokoja before he was reassigned to Maiduguri in 1903. By 1906, he crossed the Sahara Desert. He recounted his journey in a 1911 book entitled; “Across the Sahara from Tripoli to Borno” Another book he wrote is; “Rules for Hausa Spelling” printed in 1912.
Kano was crucial to the British in two aspects. First, in creating an elite that would oppose national independence. Second, it was a crucial cross roads in monitoring Francophone territories and the German colony of Kamerun.

According the historian, Dr. Yusuf Bala Usman;
“The Hausa-speaking people, not only do they have dialects, which were barely mutually intelligible, but they have no tradition of a common origin.” Hausa as spoken and written today was therefore a British project. Vischer was one of the arrow heads.

Vischer’s residence also served as a school for sons of emirs from all over the North. With his wife who joined him in 1912, the couple moulded the young aristocrats teaching them how to read and write in English and Ajami (Arabic in Roman script) The school started with 30 pupils in 1909. Their hostel was within the Nasarawa palace of Kano emirate nearby.

Enrollment increased to over 200 princes by 1913 from the 11 provinces of the Northern Protectorate. It produced the first Western educated elites in the North that eventually became the first members of the House of Chiefs and Assembly both in Kaduna. Vischer’s school relocated becoming Katsina College in 1921, which is now Barewa College in Zaria.

The Vischers had two children at Gidan Dan Hausa. Their photographs including that of their house maid still adorn the main living room of the historic house to date.

The British did not come to the colonial contours of what became Nigeria for sightseeing – they came to plunder.
To pull that off they needed to apply “divide et impera” – divide and rule. They ensured no level of national consciousness could develop eventually preparing us for national independence without economic freedom.

The likes of Sir Vischer were instrumental to Pax Britannica. Such people are described as “capax imperii” – capable of ruling an empire by understanding and study of languages;
“One had only to watch him in his daily avocations in those early days to realize how completely at home he was with every class of society—whether he was engaged in grave deliberations with emirs, viziers and other high personages of the ruling hierarchy, or whether he was chaffing the hucksters at the market stalls as he rode through Kano city. No less revealing was it to see him in his own home pick up a native drum and, squatting on the floor, croon local Hausa songs to his own accompaniment. So inimitably did he do it that, if he had been hidden behind a screen, one would have said that an African musician had been engaged to entertain his guests”

At Gidan Dan Hausa, Vischer reorganized traditional Hausa building materials of “Tubali” and “Azara” by creatively using “Chafe” for plaster and “Makuba” for relieve motifs retaining “Zankwaye” (the horns at the top) and “Dakali” (the horizontal platform at the base)
Vischer used local labor sourced within the ancient city of Kano from “Unguwan Gini”

The original inhabitants of Kano are the “Abagawa” of the Nok Civilization. The “Wangara” from present-day Mali conquered and incorporated Kano into the Songhai Empire. Eventually the Habe held sway before the Hausanization process that followed the formation of the Sokoto Caliphate.

It has been the southern entrepôt of the Trans Saharan trade for millennia. Arabs and Tuaregs have been part of Kano’s mosaic for centuries.

It provided the perfect cover for Sir Hanns Vischer, a spymaster par excellence according to Nigel West in; Historical Dictionary of World War I Intelligence (2014)

Amina Allgrownupandborin Mohammed

https://yasniger.com/2015/01/22/amina-allgrownupandborin-mohammed/

Six years on & the hurt still feels fresh…. Rest in peace my dearest friend.


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Dear Almighty God,
Take into your most gracious embrace my dear friend and sister. Keep her in your divine presence and rest her gentle soul in your most perfect peace, for all eternity.

I miss her already, beyond words. My tears have dried out, my throat is raw.

The rest of my world will not be the same again without our years long endless chats. Sitting across from each other we talked and argued, debated and planned. Hundreds of miles apart, you were ever helpful and ever there to lend a hand, give some advice and edit. Just as we still talked on, mindless of the incredible phone billings, be assured that we talk on still. In my thoughts and in my mind, we talk on.

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This act of cruelty is meaningless, beyond comprehension and reasoning.
Who will want to spoil such beauty and decency, or remove from amongst us?
WHO and WHY?!
Righteous God in our comforter.

Who will understand my peculiarities like she did? Who will be my unconditional friend like she was? A part of me died with you, Ameena.

You were my most special friend, you always brought the best out of me.
I became a better person by just being your friend, a privilege you allowed me.

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Ameena, you died terribly, yet you live on beautifully in our thoughts.

REST IN PIECE

https://www.facebook.com/amina.a.mohammed.7?fref=ts

Stages of Death

“Their trip back progressed quietly mostly and was rather quite uneventful until they came upon the scene of an accident that blocked the entire road, so they had to stop.

“Kengua had strolled over to the crash spot to have a closer look. He wished he hadn’t. There was a victim lying on the unpaved roadside being attended to by a number of over-enthusiastic people. These untrained first responders just kept fumbling with the man as he laid flat on his back on the dusty ground, face up and breathing unevenly heavy.

“He was foaming profusely in the mouth, with the dark part of his eyes sneaking upwards, into his upper eyelids, as if he was trying to see something overhead without trying to arc his neck backwards to look up.

“Soon his hands left his sides and started lifting upwards slightly, then falling back into place swiftly, with only his elbows bending at each time. Within the second minute, the victims legs joined in, his shoeless bare feet stabbed away from his body in a continuous stretching motion.

“Kengua was transfixed, too scared to keep looking but yet he kept his eyes on the obviously dying man, as if watching the poor chap death was an act of charity.

“Later on Kengua remembered thinking that maybe if the mans legs had found something vertically stationary to rest on, the agonized departing spirit of the dying man just might not leave when it did. Maybe it is because he didn’t strike at anything with his leg activity that his departure from the realm of the living was completed. Maybe people wouldnt die at such moments if they stood up defiantly.

“Though Kengua wasn’t alone there, he sort of felt he was the only spectator who could actually claim to have seen the man die, but he doubts if he really did see him die. He only saw a pained man briefly struggling to live on endlessly and then the same man, against all his desire to live on, became quite still and motionless. He didn’t see life leave the man. If that was ever humanly possible, the privilege wasn’t granted him that warm humid afternoon.

“So Kengua strangely romanticized that gross occurrence by curtly summarizing that the brevity of death is like an orgasm. That is if what he saw is indeed the moment of dying, which is arguably death.

“They recommenced their rudely paused journey an hour later. Kengua made a comparative analysis in his mind on what he had just witnessed and what he read some living sage wrote to win the world over into believing and accepting his listed five stages of death. Kengua was now certain that the writer has not seen these stages exhibited.

“The five stages were made easy to remember by sequencing them to DEATH as an acronym, as;

Denial, Enraged, Appropriating, Tension and Healing.

Or more aptly:

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.

Kengua saw none of those that afternoon as he watched the man kick the air to his death. The least of all to be exhibited is Acceptance.

“Death simply damned the mans Desires, nullified his Energy, shrugged off his Activity, Terminated his life and Held him eternally Hostage. Kengua concluded that for want of a more suitable break down of the DEATH acronym;

Desired Energized Activity Terminated and Held Hostage

….would be a whole lot more befitting.”

Who Moved My Cheese? – A Review

By Dr Spencer Johnson

This a review of “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Dr Spencer Johnson

The forewords by Dr Kenneth Blanchard reads:

It’s…An AMazing Way To Deal With Change In Your Work And In Your Life Who Moved My Cheese? is a simple parable that reveals profound truths about
change. It is an amusing and enlightening story of four characters who live in a ‘Maze’ and look for ‘Cheese’ to nourish them and make them happy.
Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry. And two are little people’ – beings the size of mice who look and act a lot like people. Their names are Hem and Haw.

‘Cheese’ is a metaphor for what you want to have in life – whether it’s a good job, a loving relationship, money, a possession, good health, or spiritual peace of mind. And ‘The Maze’ is where you look for what you want – the organization
you work in, or the family or community you live in.

In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change. Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully, and writes what he has learned from his
experience on the maze walls.
When you come to see ‘The Handwriting on the Wal ‘, you can discover for yourself how to deal with change, so that you can enjoy less stress and more
success (however you define it) in your work and in your life.

Written for all ages, this story takes less than an hour to read, but its unique insights can last for a lifetime.

The four imaginary characters
depicted in this story

– The mice: “Sniff” & “Scurry;’

– Little people: “Hem” & “Haw”

It is a simple yet, complex book.

It is an exposé on all of us & indeed, “Parts of All of Us!” –
The Simple and The Complex

They’re intended to represent the simple and the complex parts of ourselves, regardless of our age, gender, race or nationality.

Sometimes we may act like

SNIFF out change early

or

SCURRY into action

or

HEM ourselves in, deny & resist change as we fears it will lead to something worse

or

HAW in paused hesitation to study, learn to adapt in time when we see changing can lead to something better!

Whatever parts of us we choose to use, we all share something in common: a need to find our way in the Maze and succeed in changing times.

In the Gathering, old school classmates eating together after a reunion all realized that although they had gone off in different directions—from working at home to managing companies they were
experiencing the similar thing. Everyone was trying to cope with the unexpected changes that were happening to them in recent years. And most admitted that they did not know a good way to handle them.

Micheal, One of the gathering then told them how he learned to cope, with lessons from this story.

I must say here:

THIS A STORY BEST READ IN FULL. IT IS QUITE SHORT & TAKES LESS THAN AN HOUR TO READ!

Sniff & Scurry; the mice, run around in a labyrinth of maze chasing for cheese to eat daily.

Hem & Haw; the little people, did the same daily.

Both pairs put on their running shoes & do the same thing everyday.

They return daily with helpings of cheese for the day’s meal.

Then they hit Cheese Station C. It had large storage of cheese.

Hem & Haw moved their home closer to Station C & decorated their cozy home’s walls to enjoy a simple life of plenty.

Sniff & Scurry however didn’t change much. They hung their running shoes around their necks & simply came from further off like before to enjoy the moment while it lasted.

Then the cheese finished suddenly one day.

White Hem & Haw in their arrogance, which they had developed, blamed the system for the abruptness of the loss of their cheese paradise, Sniff & Scurry on the other hand simply took it in their strides, put on their running shoes once more & hit the road, running through the nooks of the maze in search for more cheese.

Hem & Haw kept returning daily to their now empty paradise, in the hope for a miracle but it remained empty of cheese & they were the worse off for it.

Sniff & Scurry hit the jackpot soon enough with their discovery of Station N, which has the largest storage of cheese they have ever seen.

Hem kept asking the air “WHO MOVED MY CHEESE?” as Haw started having doubts if their complex approach of rationalizing & analysing will pay any dividend for they remained hungry still.

Soon enough, Haw got tired of trying to persuade Hem to leave Station C & come away in search of food rather than sit around complaining.

Haw left some inspirational quotes on the wall & left Hem to his misery too.

Haw finds tiny bits of a new type of cheese in the maze, which he brings back to Hem, but Hem refuses to eat it because he only wants the old type of cheese. He has grown accustomed to what he’s used to.

Haw keeps exploring since these tiny bits aren’t enough to sustain him. As he journeys to new areas of the maze, he pushes past his fears and learns many life lessons.

He writes a few lessons on the wall from time to time to encourage himself to move forward and for Hem if he ever decides to follow him.

Haw finally finds a new place deep in the maze that has a ton of cheese, including all sorts of new types.

Haw meets Sniff and Scurry again, who arrived here long before he did.

Haw writes all the lessons he wrote earlier on a big wall, the lessons are:

1. Change Happens. They Keep Moving The Cheese.

2. Anticipate Change Get Ready For The Cheese To Move

3. Monitor Change Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old

4. Adapt To Change Quickly The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese

5. Change Move With The Cheese

6. Enjoy Change! Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!

7. Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again.

They Keep Moving The Cheese.

Haw now regularly explores new parts of the maze and monitors the cheese supply so the same thing doesn’t happen again.

He decides it’s best to let Hem find his own way to him; he realizes Hem has to change on his own.

ONCE UPON A TIME WHEN BAIL WAS FREE

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Nigeria’s collective national security and military establishment started in 1863. It was well financed by the Royal Niger Company. The gradual separation came with the Niger River Constabulary in 1888 at Lokoja. Then came the Niger Coast Constabulary in 1894 at Calabar and eventually the Lagos Police in 1896.

Sir John Hawley Glover was an officer under the command of Dr. William Balfour Baikie both of the Royal Navy. Glover was the Lagos governor from 1863 to 1874 and Baikie the British consul of what became the colonial contours of what eventually became Nigeria under Lord Lugard from 1857 to 1859;
“Glover formed the nucleus of present-day Nigerian Army and Police with 10 Hausa runaway slaves on 1 June 1863. The group was known as Glover’s Hausas or ‘Glover’s Forty Thieves’. Glover went to great lengths to develop bonds of personal loyalty with the Armed Hausas. He personally trained, commanded, and chose his successors, ensuring their loyalty. In return for their loyalty, Glover rewarded his troops with land and dwellings. He raised their pay and provided them with smart uniforms that broadcast their status of free men and agents of the British colonial government.”

Dr. Baikie introduced the use of Quinine for the treatment of Malaria in our clime, authored; Observations on the Hausa and Fuifuide Languages printed in 1861 and previously in 1856; Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up the Rivers Kwora and Binue. He collected vocabularies of nearly fifty languages, and translated portions of the Holy Bible and prayer-book into Hausa and Arabic. His translation of the Psalms into Hausa was published by the Bible Society in 1881. More importantly he established Lokoja;
“After purchasing the site, and concluding a treaty with the Fula emir of Nupe, he proceeded to clear the ground, build houses, form enclosures and pave the way for a future city. In less than five years he had opened up the navigation of the Niger, made roads, and established a market to which the native produce was brought for sale and barter. His settlement grew to include representatives of almost all the tribes of West-Central Africa, and more than 2,000 traders visited the town in its first three years.”

Lest we forget as Ghanaian authorities harass and intimidate Nigerian traders;
“Glover was employed to repel incursions of the Ashantis. When the Third Anglo-Ashanti War broke out in September 1873 he landed at Cape Coast, and, after forming a small trustworthy force of Hausa, marched to Accra. His influence sufficed to gather a numerous native force.
In January 1874 Captain Glover was able to render some assistance in the taking of Kumasi, but it was at the head of a Hausa force.”

The Nigerian Police Force has always been segmented along regional lines each headed by a Commissioner reporting to an Inspector-General in Lagos. Chief Louis Orok Edet (1914-1979) became the first Nigerian IGP between 1964 and 1966. Back then every Commissioner had a network of Native Authority Police formations. The Nigerian Immigration Service, Correctional Services, Federal Road Safety Corps and Civil Defense were all carved out of police duties.

By 1966, onwards the Police became more centralized at the federal level. Under IBB it became Nigerian Police when Force was removed. The reason was obvious. If IGP Sunday Adewusi had had his way under President Shehu Shagari the military coup of December 31, 1983 would not have taken place. The rest as they say is now history as the Nigeria Police became systematically underfunded. During the era of President Shagari the monthly pay of a Constable was increased to N400 and personnel strength reached 152, 000. Now it is 375,000 with a huge chunk outsourced to VIPs, financial institutions, government assets, private company premises, traditional rulers and even celebrities.

The Glover’s Hausas were at the vanguard of dismantling slavery and the notorious slave trade across Nigeria particularly in defeating the Sokoto caliphate. It consisted of martial oriented tribes from all nooks and crannies of what later became Nigeria including from parts of present day Niger, Tchad, Cameroon to as far as the Darfur region of Sudan. Hausa therefore in Glover’s context was not an ethnicity but a Lingua Franca that is why an Ibadan Signals officer like Raji Rasaki would more than a hundred years later with ease ask in Lagos; “Who build dis gada?”

For the Nigerian Police to become more effective it has to be more decentralized and modernized. With a population of over 200 million our police apparatus has to be increasingly technological based. Crime prevention and solving value added with forensic and IT capacities. Patrols have to include drones. Increased CCTV coverage is also imperative. All these are capital intensive. This means the cost of governance must drastically reduce in Nigeria. The Nigerian political class have become a major burden on the rest of the polity at expense of our collective security.

Warts and all, the police is your friend. If not call a thug when next you are in trouble! Every society gets the kind of police it deserves. If we want better policing we must better ourselves first!

General Gowon: Too Humbled to be Bundled

Does General Gowon look like somebody who moved to London with half of Nigeria’s Central Bank?

We, the undersigned call upon Hon. Member of Parliament representing Tonbridge and Malling of the United Kingdom, Ted Tugendhat to withdraw his recent statement at Westminster;

“Some people would remember when General Gowon left Nigeria with half of the central bank, or so it was said, and moved to London,”

Mr. Tugendhat, had spoken when E-petition 554150 was being considered at the British Parliament on Monday, November 23, 2020 over a petition seeking sanction against the Nigerian government for alleged human rights abuses during the #EndSARS protests.

We are not unmindful that the MP had added “so it was said” to his presumptuous claim. That notwithstanding, Mr. Tugendhat would have availed himself with some basic historical overview on the exact circumstances of how General Gowon ended up dining at the student cafeteria at Warwick University after his overthrow on July 29, 1975 while in Kampala attending a summit of the Organization of African Unity (OAU now African Union)
Even after 45 years, General Gowon’s statement thereafter remains instructive;

“From all indications a new government had been established in Nigeria. I wish to state that I, on my part, have also accepted the change and pledged my full loyalty to my nation, my country and the new government. Therefore, in the overall interest of the nation and our beloved country, I appeal to all concerned to cooperate fully with the new government and ensure the preservation of peace, unity and stability of our dear motherland.

As a Nigerian, I am prepared to serve my country in any capacity, which my country may consider appropriate. I am a professional soldier and I can do any duty that I am called upon to do.
May I take this opportunity to thank all the people of Nigeria and friends of Nigeria for the support and cooperation that you all gave me during my tenure of office and call upon all of you to give the new government of our nation the same support and cooperation in the interest of our beloved country.
Long live one united, happy and prosperous Nigeria. Long live the Organisation of African Unity.”

The attached images are of General Gowon after he had enrolled as a student at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom. Where eventually his Ph.D Thesis focused on The Economic Community of West African States: A study in Political and Economic integration.

It would be recalled after his overthrow from government several investigations were made into corrupt enrichment. The General was neither found complicit nor indicted in any. More ever;

“Many offers of residence came to him in Kampala from various African countries. He notified the new regime in Lagos that he would leave Kampala for Lome in Togo. Since he was financially broke, teary-eyed members of the Nigerian delegation along with staffers at the Nigerian High Commission in Kampala donated 3000 pounds sterling to enable him begin a new life. He was flown to Lome – via Garoua in Cameroon – aboard President Idi Amin’s executive jet.

Part of the flight passed through Nigerian airspace and Gowon took the opportunity to transmit a radio message reaffirming loyalty to and support for Brigadier Muhammed’s new regime. Although offered permanent domicile in Togo he chose to join his family in the United Kingdom. He received an additional 10,000 pounds sterling donation from General Eyadema. Following a telephone call to Brigadier Muhammed, during which he made requests for elementary federal assistance, he left for London.”

Furthermore;
“When he got to London, he was offered official accommodation by the Nigerian government which he, however, turned down for a variety of reasons. After some weeks at the Portman Hotel, he moved into the house of an old friend – Mr. Emmanuel Otti – at 472 Finchley Road, London. The delay was to enable the house to be redecorated by Mr. and Mrs. Otti and Brigadier Sam Ogbemudia (who had been in the UK when the coup took place in Nigeria). Other friends came to the assistance of the family. It was not until September 1975 that he began to get his pension and gratuities as a retired Four-Star General. In the nine years he had been Nigeria’s ruler he had not built himself a single house, inside or outside the country, nor did he expropriate one kobo of government money.

Unlike some of those who served under him, his TOTAL savings throughout his service years as well as his years as Nigeria’s leader was N75,000 – all of which was inside Nigeria. In time to come this would stand in stark contrast to the conduct of and personal fortunes of most of those who conspired to remove him from office – or benefited from it.

Once settled in with his family, the General, who was offered several Masters Degree programs, signed up for undergraduate studies in Political Science at Warwick University. Newspapers in Nigeria later carried news items and photographs depicting the former Nigerian leader carrying trays in a student cafeteria in the UK.
The Muhammed regime was embarrassed and therefore dispatched Brigadier TY Danjuma (who, took Kano born Col. Wali along) to ask Gowon adopt a supposedly more dignified stance. Gowon rejected the overture and reassured his “embarrassed sympathizers” that he was comfortable with his situation. (Conceivably nothing could have been more embarrassing than to be overthrown while attending an OAU summit). He made friends among the Nigerian students at Warwick, including a family friend of mine, Desmond Guobadia, now a legal practitioner in Lagos. Meanwhile his spouse, the former First Lady, Mrs. Victoria Gowon (who was a nurse) registered as a catering student at a University College in London.”
See details in; Military Rebellion of July 29, 1975 – Epilogue: From Kampala to Lome to London and back to Nigeria by Nowa Omoigui

Therefore, we the undersigned call upon all Nigerians of goodwill and indeed the members of the international community at large to ignore the insinuations of Mr. Tugendhat. In turn, by this signed clarification we call upon the MP to be appropriately corrected and to do the needful by withdrawing his statement on General Gowon.

Signed;

Abdallah Baikie.

Ahmed Yahaya Joe.

Lived Once, Buried Twice

#Copied

After succumbing to a fever of some sort in 1705, Irish woman Margorie McCall was hastily buried to prevent the spread of whatever had done her in. Margorie was buried with a valuable ring, which her husband had been unable to remove due to swelling. This made her an even better target for body snatchers, who could cash in on both the corpse and the ring.

The evening after Margorie was buried, before the soil had even settled, the grave-robbers showed up and started digging. Unable to pry the ring off the finger, they decided to cut the finger off. As soon as blood was drawn, Margorie awoke from her coma, sat straight up and screamed.

The fate of the grave-robbers remains unknown. One story says the men dropped dead on the spot, while another claims they fled and never returned to their chosen profession.

Margorie climbed out of the hole and made her way back to her home.

Her husband John, a doctor, was at home with the children when he heard a knock at the door. He told the children, “If your mother were still alive, I’d swear that was her knock.”

When he opened the door to find his wife standing there, dressed in her burial clothes, blood dripping from her finger but very much alive, he dropped dead to the floor. He was buried in the plot Margorie had vacated.

Margorie went on to re-marry and have several children. When she did finally die, she was returned to Shankill Cemetery in Lurgan, Ireland, where her gravestone still stands. It bears the inscription “Lived Once, Buried Twice.”

#HistoryVille 😱😱😱

Adieu Patriot & Tyrant: Jerry Rawlings

By Ahmed Yahaya Joe

Adieu to a patriot and tyrant

Agreed Kwame Nkrumah was the father of modern Ghana. John Jerry Rawlings is however the facilitator of contemporary Ghana. I doubt if that country would have got to where it is today without the intervention of Rawlings. As they say; “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”

JJ was a consummate patriot and benevolent tyrant. As a military dictator and civilian president, Rawlings always stooped low for the underprivileged like in the attached throwback picture at an official engagement in the Upper-West Region on September 28, 1987 when he spotted whom he described as the “most important guest around” The Head of State stopped mid speech and walked down the dais. It was quintessential JJ for you!

Interestingly, the maverick pilot and Flight Lieutenant never promoted himself beyond his designated rank from 1981 to 1992 that he served as Commander in Chief. He might be accused of many things. Official corruption is not one of them. He was integrity personified. While he had a common touch with the masses of Ghana he was bloodily vindictive to his perceived enemies. He nevertheless had vision and was massively charismatic.

Straight as an arrow, he shunned luxury, conspicuous consumption and the primitive accumulation of wealth. He was not an openly religious man He believed; “The test of religious belief is not in pious platitudes and cautious charity, but in positive and creative action.” Thanks but no thanks to Rawlings, unlike Nigerians, Ghanaians don’t engage in any form of what can best be described as the “apropos of doubtful religiosity”

As soon as he seized power he lined up 3 previous Military Heads of State, Generals Akwasi Afrifa, Ignatius Acheampong, and Fred Akuffo executing them by firing squad. He did not spare anyone with unexplained income. In his own words he described his actions as; “a housecleaning exercise that seeks to purge the country of corrupt political and business leaders and recalibrate Ghana’s national moral compass.”
He purged the then political class in Ghana describing them as; “a pack of criminals who bled Ghana to the bone” JJ Rawlings vehemently vowed to “organize this country (Ghana) in such a way that nothing will be done, whether by God or the devil, without the consent and the authority of the people.”

Rawlings no doubt restored dignity to an impoverished Ghana. He was referred to as “Junior Jesus” by old timers and “Papa J” by the youth who were not even born when he was a military leader. How did he pull it off with neither oil wealth nor Chinese loans? He built an inclusive nation by personal example. Under him and beyond the citizens of that country are always Ghanaian first.

Last year or so, viral videos of him directing traffic in a gridlock surfaced. He looked awesome. Hate him or admire him he was one those personalities that can never be ignored. Was his tyrannical proclivity justified for the common good of Ghana? I think so because it laid the foundation of the relative peace and prosperity Ghana now enjoys compared to the insecurity wrecking Nigeria.

JJ Rawlings had an impeccable public service career. Bullets could not take him down – Coronavirus did, aged 73. He shall always be fondly remembered as the inspirational icon. He was truly a phenomenal leader. Bold, assertive, confident and bushwhacking. He never hid behind the façade of Media Aides. His razor sharp mind radiated in press interviews and impromptu engagements. He never left doubts about where he stood on any issue. Nigeria might be the giant of Africa but Rawlings has made Ghana the pride of Africa. His compatriots trusted and believed in him. He never disappointed them for the 21 years he was in power.

I have so many friends, too numerous to mention here from Ghana that we have over the decades enjoyed endless Kelewele, Red-red, Banku and Kenkey dishes together in various joints of Sabongari, Kano. Kindly accept my condolences on the recent demise of your beloved political hero.

Howaazat sir? As long as you fellow cricketers admit Nigerian Jollof is better and that you actually stole Waakye, Tuo Zaafi and Fufu from us. Nigeria-Ghana relations has always had its ups and downs but we shall be always be friends and neighbors. Akwaaba!
May JJ rest in peace!