Local government expert, Professor Kwamena Ahwoi has written extensively about his working relationship with former President Jerry John Rawlings.
Born on October 13, 1951, at house number D 13, South Suntreso in Kumasi, Professor Ahwoi served as Minister of Local Government and Rural Development from 1990 to 2001 in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, during former President Jerry John Rawlings’ era.
He also briefly served as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1997 and was an acting minister in that department during much of the 1990s.
In 2005, he resigned as director of research for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) political party.
The yet to be launched book titled, “Working with Rawlings” according to Professor Ahwoi is not a book about Jerry John Rawlings neither is it about Kwamena Ahwoi or the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) which led Ghana’s governance from 1982 to January 6, 1993.
Rather, Professor Ahwoi talks extensively about his working relationship with Jerry John Rawlings, their ups and downs, and their joint commitment to building a “better Ghana”.
He explains in the book that somewhere along the line, they drifted apart and also talks about the political history of Ghana between 1979 to 2010.
He expressed the hope that Ghana’s leaders of today and in the future will learn some lessons from his account in the book, leaving out the negatives and accentuating the positives.
Up until this time, Dr Obed Asamoah’s book – The Political History of Ghana (1950-2013): The Experience of a Non-Conformist – had been the main reference point for that period.
Asked whether Professor Ahwoi saw it as an opportunity to filling some of the gaps in Dr Obed Asamoah’s book, he said “no, this is an independent work. Obed’s book you know, because of the length, and the period it covered from about 1951 to about 2010 or thereabout, it is very difficult for many people to read.”
“You really must be interested in reading before you are able to go through it, it is over 600 pages. This is the short, precise account of the Rawlings period between 1979, how I got involved and then the period where both of us exited government and the short period that we found ourselves in opposition, so it is a complementary story to Obed’s but it does not fill in any gaps, that Obed might have left behind,” Prof Ahwoi said in a radio interview on Accra based Citi FM, Monday morning, July 27, 2020 and monitored by Graphic Online.
Throwing light on the book in the radio interview with Citi FM Prof Ahwoi also spoke about how he became a broadcaster at some point and hosted a presidential debate in 1979 at the age of 28.
He explained that before becoming a broadcaster, in 1971, he was writing articles for publication in the Daily Graphic.
He said he was at the university at the time, and the Editor then used to send him themes for him to write editorials for the newspaper
“And so I worked with the likes of Elizabeth Ohene and Naana Daniels….my history with the media goes back a long way'” he said.
When President Rawlings was about ending his tenure in 1999, he nominated the late Professor J.E.A. Mills as his successor and so the NDC went ahead and declared him as its flagbearer in Swedru in what some party members opposed at the time.
Dr Obed Asamoah for instance, a leading member of the NDC then opposed that move and subsequently went ahead to write about it in his book and said the Ahwoi brothers for instance were happy about it.
Asked about whether he tried to offer a clarification in Dr Asamoah’s book where he stated that when the Swedru declaration was made, he saw the Ahwoi brothers and Totobi Kwakye essentially so excited, Prof Ahwoi said he took some time to clarify that “because it was untrue.”
“We were surprised by the declaration as he himself [Obed] might have been and he knew Rawlings as well as we did, so for him to think that Rawlings could not do something like that without our involvement, I find it very surprising. If he [Obed] was not involved how could we have been involved and the truth of the matter is that, we were not involved, we did not know and we were very surprised when the declaration was made,” he said.
Rawlings lobbying Ato Ahwoi to contest Mills
Professor Ahwoi also took the opportunity to confirm that former President Rawlings lobbied his senior brother, Ato Ahwoi to contest Professor Mills.
“It was rumoured within NDC circles but those of us who were directly involved, we never spoke about it but for me, as I have indicated in the book, it was one of the low points in the relationship between myself and President Rawlings because I didn’t expect him to do something like that, knowing the relationship that existed between ourselves [Ahwoi’s] and Professor Mills at the time. So if I was writing about working with Rawlings, it was an important part of the relationship that had to come out.”
How Rawlings will take the book
Responding to the issue of how Rawlings will take the book because the introductory parts were very flattering of him, very respectful of his work but getting to the end it talked about a deteriorated relationship in the sense of traitors and enemies, Professor Ahwoi said he doesn’t expect Rawlings to attend the launch.
“I don’t expect him to come for the launch, but I won’t be surprised if he does. I’m sending him a copy and I’m sending him an invitation card but knowing Rawlings, he might surprise everybody and put in an appearance. But the observation I made is quite clear.
Rawlings was a fantastic leader and there was a time that I would have died for him, up until we left office in 2001, the relationship between us was still fantastic but the relationship started deteriorating when we left office and especially when Mills became President.
If you read, I personally was his pixel for bringing Prof Mills into his government [Rawlings]. And therefore I felt a certain personal responsibility towards his success as President. But when President Rawlings started turning against him in the manner that he did, it really affected me and I think that is where the deterioration began.”
Book on Ahwoi brothers
Professor Ahwoi hinted that the Ahwoi siblings were collectively doing a book on themselves, “because there are actually three brothers and five sisters and the sisters I think are better than we [brothers] are.”
“But because they are married, their names are lost, and because they did not get into politics, people did not really know them. It is a book that we have titled, – The children of house number D 13, South Suntreso, Kumasi – because that is where we grew up with our mother who was a single mother, and it tells the trials and tribulations of what we went through, from where we started when our father died when I was seven years of age to today, when we have become household words in the politics of Ghana, so yes, we are doing a book on that,” he added.
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