At a lecture commemorating the fourth anniversary of the passing of President John Evans Atta-Mills, the former President of Malawi, Mrs. Joyce Banda, was reported to have erroneously credited the first Ghanaian leader to die in office with having created a liberal media environment in the country that had become the envy of the rest of the African continent (See “Mills Made Ghana’s Media Very Free – Joyce Banda” Starrfmonline.com/Ghanaweb.com 7/25/16).
The lecture, which was held on the campus of Cape Coast University, was very likely sponsored by diehard aficionados of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC), and therefore it would be a great surprise if any member among her captive audience had been honest and courageous enough to have stopped Mrs. Banda in her tracks, as it were, from fabricating and spewing such abjectly apocryphal version of Fourth Republican Ghanaian media history.
It is also quite obvious that the former Malawian premier had not been studiously following political events in Ghana, short of her reported meeting with her late Ghanaian counterpart at Prophet T. B. Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria. We shall have a bit more to say about this quirky “religious” aspect of the character of the late Ghanaian leader in due course. For now, however, suffice it to observe that the sort of proactive and morally and politically instructive media milieu that Mrs. Banda erroneously credited to President Mills was the respectively unique and bona fide brainwork of former President John Agyekum-Kufuor and his first Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Indeed, it was the latter, who is also the three-time Presidential Candidate of Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), who crafted the landmark Repeal of the Criminal Libel Law Bill, which definitively abrogated the extortionate British-inherited Criminal Libel Law which had effectively stifled media freedom in Ghana, as well as former British colonies like Malawi, the erstwhile British Central African Republic of Nyasaland.
Needlessly to say, as both Vice-President to Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and substantive President of Ghana, Prof. Mills did a diddly little to healthily advance the cause of media freedom in Ghana. To be certain, throughout his four-year tenure as Vice-President, the former University of Ghana’s tax-law professor sat deathly silent while Chairman Rawlings and his Imperial First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, tortured and brutalized tens of hundreds of Ghanaians via what became widely known as the “Identification Haircuts,” in which shards of beer bottles were savagely used to rake hair off the scalps of Ghanaian citizens deemed to be either virulently hostile to the benighted policies of the governments of the Provisional/National Democratic Congress (P/NDC), or had been accused of having wronged any members of the Rawlings Clan and close friends and associates of the latter.
It therefore comes as unpardonably offensive for Mrs. Banda to so cavalierly presume to conveniently and smugly revise any aspect of the postcolonial history of Ghana with, of course, the criminal complicity of the key operatives of the ruling National Democratic Congress. Indeed, even as I write, the Mahama-led government of the National Democratic Congress has been inexorably and virulently maneuvering to return Ghanaians to the neocolonial pre-Kufuor era of Ghanaian democracy.
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