Former President Jerry John Rawlings has commended Kojo Yankah, author of the book, The Trial of J.J. Rawlings, for the role he has played to help pin down some very basic facts about events that led to the May 15 and June 4, 1979 uprisings.
He said Yankah’s book had helped to confront the negative effects the efforts of some governments, institutions and personalities had made to degrade and misrepresent a very important part of Ghana’s history, “to the point of even sneaking some of the misinformation into school textbooks”.
Responding to an invitation by the leadership of the National Theatre to the launch of the second edition of the book and a theatre production on December 31, 2018, the former President and architect of the May 15 and June 4 landmark events, bemoaned the ease with which many could be so deceived by falsehoods and misrepresentations.
The former President added that the atmosphere on May 15, 1979 was so volatile he had to create an abortive situation, because had the move succeeded that day, the country would have exploded.
Giving a synopsis of the play, Mr Yankah, who was part of the delegation that called on Flt Lt Rawlings last week Tuesday, said the uprising of May 15 and June 4 was not just about junior officers of the Armed Forces, but also symbolised the mood of ordinary people who were in Ghana at that time.
Yankah, a former Editor of the then ‘People’s’ Daily Graphic, and later Minister of State, said sometimes a lot of issues were taken for granted and most people did not know what the situation in Ghana was in 1979 when “we were preparing for elections and it appeared elections were going to solve all our problems, with the same kind of canker that we had been upholding all those years.
Expression of the people
“So, the expression of the people on the ground is taken up by the junior officers to say no!”
Yankah added, the play also highlights what happened after Flt Lt Rawlings was arrested on May 15, as well as what transpired at the trial.
He recalls the arrested Flight Lieutenant having a handwritten scroll and how attempts were made to find lawyers to defend him and six other military men before the eventual jail break that erupted into the June 4 uprising.
Earlier, the leader of the National Theatre delegation, Board Chairman, Nana Fredua Agyeman Ofori-Atta, said the production of the play, The Trial of J.J. Rawlings had come at a significant period in the history of the National Theatre as it was celebrating the 25th year since it was established under the presidency of Flt Lt Rawlings.
Nana Ofori-Atta, who was accompanied by Madam Emy Frimpong, the Executive Director of the Theatre, said the theatre was striving to restore its role of telling the history of Ghana.
The Board chairman was hopeful that the former President would grace the occasion and added his voice to the quest to accurately tell the story of Ghana.
He informed the meeting that after the production at the National Theatre on December 31 and subsequently January 3-5, 2019, the production would move nationwide to cover all the universities.