Capt (Rtd) Boakye Djan, spokesperson for erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), remarks that “Ghana’s political party democracy is irrational and needs a revolution of ideas to address the potential for instability that it could create for the country.”
Boakye Djan has been part of the most violent era of Ghana’s history. In 1979 (June to September) junior officers, including Boakye Djan staged an “uprising” and later “military housecleaning” that saw the consequent executions of former military junta Heads of State - Gen. Akwasi Afrifa of the National Liberation Council; Gen. Kutu Acheampong and some of his associates of the National Redemption Council; Gen. F. W. Akuffo and other leading members of the Supreme Military Council.
The apparent misunderstanding and rot of Ghana wasn’t only among the civilian population but also the armed forces. In fact, the first target of the Boakye Djan and associates’ military intervention was to “clean” the rotten values in the military which were a reflection of the rot in the larger civil society.
Unknown to Boakye Djan and his associates, their attempts to clean the rotten developmental values was in line with traditional Ghanaian ideals, where, as Maxwell Owusu, of the University of Michigan, explains in Rebellion, Revolution, and Tradition: Reinterpreting Coups in Ghana, traditional institutions such as the militant Asafo organizations overthrow rulers who have violated traditional governance norms and values such as “not being accountable to the people.”
It is from such background that Boakye Djan’s observes that “Ghana’s political party democracy is irrational and needs a revolution of ideas to address the potential for instability that it could create for the country.” Boakye Djan's examination of the potential instabilities emanating from Ghana’s budding democracy is short of the fact that democracies the world over evolve differently, at different paces, and have different colour and substance informed by the history and traditional values. This makes democracies in India, USA, Britain or Japan slightly different from Ghana’s. It also makes excessive drawing of parallel between Ghana and United Kingdom, as Boakye Djan broadly did (ghanaweb.com/Daily Graphic, 31 December 2007), not only morally weak and unintelligible but also misunderstanding of the traditional values and norms influencing Ghana’s promising democracy.
If the analytical viewpoints of Ghana’s democracy are also seen from “traditional beliefs and practices, indigenous political ideology, attitudes and outlooks,” and not solely from Western historical experiences, it may not be “irrational,” as Boakye Djan thinks. In this regard, despite Boakye Djan’s suggestions that Ghana’s democracy “needs a revolution of ideas to address the potential for instability that it could create for the country,” he hasn’t done so for the past 16 years when formal multiparty democracy was initiated in Ghana.
Part of the revolution of ideas may come from drenching Ghana’s democracy in its “traditional beliefs and practices, indigenous political ideology, attitudes and outlooks.” It is from here that Ghana’s democracy could be interpreted from its traditions and norms, as the British, the Americans or the Japanese have done, in relation to the global democratic ideals.