Miss Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), I presume?
August 22, 2009
I am inclined to think that Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee does
not understand the meaning of democracy. Either that or
her claim of Jerry John Rawlings as the father of
Ghana’s democracy is a delusional statement.
Surprisingly, Ms. Lee does not remember (her own)
President Obama’s statement, made on his last visit to
Ghana, that history would not remember coup makers – a
declaration many thought had Rawlings as the usual
So here was Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of the US
Congress, who along with others, came to Ghana for a
visit. And what did she have to say about our democracy?
It was bequeathed to us by Rawlings!
The thought of Rawlings as the father of democracy was a
curious one. Why would Ms. Jackson Lee, a member of the
U. S House Judiciary Committee, promote a coup maker as
the father of democracy?
Perhaps, the excuse may be that she wasn’t in Ghana
during the 80s when women were stripped naked in the
street and whipped; when judges were snatched from their
homes in the middle of the night only to be discovered
the next morning dead, with their bodies fatally
The above conditions, certainly, are not those that Ms.
Shirley Jackson Lee, an avowed civil, women, and human
rights advocate, should associate with the workings of
democracy, or should she?
If the answer to the question is in the affirmative,
then Sheila Jackson Lee must harbor some secret
resentment, some subliminal hatred, for Ghanaians; which
also could be that she has no good will for our
republic; unless she was delusional at the time of her
This is Ghana, once called the Gold Coast, also part of
the region formerly known as the
Slave Coast. We do
understand why a minority of African Americans do cringe
at the thought of having originated from this region.
and why this group has a better appreciation for South Africa.
But note, for all the inhuman crimes that were committed
against blacks in South Africa by the apartheid regime
(far worse than any committed by a civilian regime in
Ghana), President Mandela had no resentment or grudge
against whites when he assumed the presidency in 1994.
Rather, he proposed and implemented reconciliation
principles for rule in South Africa.
In Ghana, vengeance and bloodletting became the order of
the day after each coup; and a reminder of what we did
to ourselves during the slave trade. This disregard for
human life must not be the emblem of our democracy.
And, as much as that part of our history must be
seriously regretted, it also has to be remembered that
it cannot be that just because somebody held a gun to our heads, or held
us in chains, or applied -
a brutal force
to our lives as black people, he has
by that reason created a sufficient
foundation for democracy for us; on
both sides of the Atlantic, I
As a proud representative of the U.S. Congress, Yale
educated, and a lawyer, Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee should
have known better, unless she harbors a subliminal
resentment for the people of Ghana.
In Ghana as well as the rest of Africa, the use of
reason (not brutal force) among rational men and women, by which process
consensus is arrived at for good governance, is what
must be applauded.
Ms Jackson Lee knows that “coups” have never formed part
of governance in her United States of America, the “land
of the free and the home of the brave.”
Assuming we should cite Rawlings “stellar” work as an
example for the rest of Africa, then what to do with
Charles Taylor. Why is he in prison?
Or what do we tell a young Ghanaian army officer who
wants to follow the Rawlings example of 1981 today; must
he go to Ms. Jackson Lee for direction?
Our hope is that better judgment will prevail on this
occasion: That Ms. Sheila Jackson Lee will not support a
coup attempt by this young officer because not only does
it demean our struggles, but it also diminishes what
little essence there is of democracy in Ghana today.
Rawlings can be anything Ms. Jackson Lee wants him to
be. She may call him handsome, brave, a giant killer,
and the only man with balls in Ghana, but she should not
refer to him as the father of our democracy.
Knowing that the presidency of the United States of
America has never been usurped by a coup maker, because
it is protected by strong institutions of government -
the people, Congress, and the Armed Forces - it sounded
rather condescending to hear her wish the contrary
In Ghana, there were several usurpers who had used force
to become presidents of the Republic, thereby damning
the constitution and other institutions in their quests
for power. Ms Jackson must learn this fact as the reason
for the retardation in the growth of our democracy.
Frank Tekpenor, USA