J.J. Rawlings and his colleague soldiers at the trial
J.J. Rawlings and his colleague soldiers at the trial
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June 4 remembrance: Rawlings Foundation calls on Ghanaians to address difficulties together

The J.J. Rawlings Foundation has commemorated the 45th anniversary of the June 4, 1979 uprising with a call on Ghanaians to work together as a people to lift Ghana from its present difficulties.

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The Foundation in a statement marking this year's anniversary reminded Ghanaians to remember that a society requires discipline, dedication, commitment and a desire to eschew corrupt tendencies. 

It said the sacrifices many made on June 4, 1979 which eventually led to the birth of the Fourth Republic, should propel us to lift the country from the difficulties we find ourselves today, adding that "Probity, accountability and integrity should not be used in vain but practiced in all facets of our country’s progress."

Full Text from J.J. Rawlings Foundation 

45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE JUNE 4 1979 UPRISING

Introduction 

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the June 4 Uprising. As the J.J. Rawlings Foundation marks the day, we remember that the eruption of June 4 1979 was a culmination of more than a decade of socio-economic and political difficulties in our country.

Corrupt practices had overcome every aspect of Ghana’s society, which invariably crippled our economy to the point where Ghana had become a laughing stock among West African countries. The once Shining Black Star of Africa was reduced to her knees, where her citizens were experiencing a shortage of basic essential goods, and thus, would queue for hours for something as basic as a loaf of bread. Ghana’s moral fabric was not spared the degeneration, which was as a result of our socio-economic decay.
On the International scale, major global financial bodies such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund had written Ghana off as a failed state.

SHORTAGES AND HOARDING OF ESSENTIAL COMMODITIES

Amidst Ghana’s economic hardships of the 1970s came the supply of ‘Essential Commodities’, which were made available to cushion the economic struggles and shortages of goods that Ghanaians were experiencing. However, with a top-to-bottom culture of corruption so engrained in Ghanaian society at the time, a corrupt practice of exploitation and racketeering was devised in the distribution of essential commodities: this was the hoarding of these essential commodities by suppliers in the local business sector, with the deliberate intent of creating further shortages so as to escalate prices further.

The escalation of prices of these goods was orchestrated by the hoarders in order to rake off offensive profits at the expense of ordinary Ghanaians who were already suffering the effects of a poor economy.

As often repeated by the leader of the revolution, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, as an illustration of the poor social and economic conditions of Ghana that led to the May 15 1979 Mutiny, culminating in the eruption of June 4 1979, he would cite:

Paracetamol - a common painkiller - was wrapped in plastics and sold on tables under the scorching sun for people to purchase. The same happened to milk powder and other essential commodities. Hospitals did not have basic items such as bandages, or cotton wool, and one had to travel across the border to Togo to purchase basic medical items.

DRAIN OF GHANA’S SKILLED HUMAN CAPITAL

The dire economic circumstances of the period, with no hope in sight, led to thousands of Ghanaian professionals having no choice but to leave Ghana to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses, lecturers and experts in various fields had virtually left the country, making it impossible for the wheels of development to grind appropriately. This drain of skilled human capital further crippled our society.

MAY 15 1979 MUTINY AND THE BIRTH OF THE JUNE 4 UPRISING

The Barracks, just like civil society, faced their own air of political tension amidst socioeconomic difficulties. The dignity of the Ghanaian soldier was at its lowest, where market women – major players in the engine of Ghana’s black market known as ‘kalabule’ – openly castigated members of the ordinary rank who dared question their extortionist prices. The professional trust among and between officers, coupled with an honourable culture of meritocracy in the Ghana Armed Forces had gradually eroded, giving way to nepotism, corruption and favouritism.

And to those who could no longer sit and do nothing as Ghana slid further into socioeconomic and political upheaval, the morning of May 15 1979 became that chosen day when a mutiny of junior ranks, led by a young Ghana Air Force Officer took place with the sole aim of demanding a drastic change to what had become synonymous to Ghana – Corrupt and unaccountable governance; and complete disregard for the woes of the ordinary Ghanaian.

This mutiny failed, with Flt Lt JJ Rawlings and his compatriots arrested. However, a political miscalculation on the part of the erstwhile SMC II Government to hold a public military trial would have the opposite intended effect. The trial and proclamation by Jerry John Rawlings to ‘LEAVE MY MEN ALONE’ and sacrifice him instead were the words, amidst an already charged political atmosphere, that sparked the eruption of June 4, where a group of soldiers - in support of the mutiny - broke into a Government establishment – to free Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.
The eruption of June 4, 1979 was inspired by years of mass social and public discontent. The masses, the public and university students, were baying for drastic solutions to uproot the decades of corruption that had engulfed the country. They sought to see the country embrace a spirit of collective discipline that would place it back on the path of socio-economic development.

COMMEMORATION

As we commemorate today, may people of Ghana remember that a society requires discipline, dedication, commitment and a desire to eschew corrupt tendencies.

The sacrifices many made on June 4 1979 which eventually led to the birth of the Fourth Republic, should propel us to lift the country from the difficulties we find ourselves today.

Probity, accountability and integrity should not be used in vain but practiced in all facets of our country’s progress.

A special gratitude goes to all the living courageous men and women who had a part to play in the June 4 revolution.

May the soul of Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings and the souls of all the patriots who laid down their lives during those difficult times rest in eternal peace.

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