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New Left Review I/140, July-August 1983


Victoria Brittain

Ghana’s Precarious Revolution

When Flight Lieutenant Rawlings seized power for the second time in Ghana on 31 December 1981 it was, like similar coups in Liberia and Ethiopia, under the pressure of intolerable economic crisis which had brought in its wake social and political crises of equally daunting proportions. Rawlings’s first seizure of power for four months in 1979 had had the same roots in despair and had been intended as a moral purge. This time Rawlings was more ambitious. He promised a national democratic revolution which would wrest control of the Ghanaian economy from imperialism and end the corruption and privilege which had ruled the country’s political life for so long. ‘This is not a coup. I ask for nothing less than a revolution, something that will transform the social and economic order of this country. . .we are asking for nothing more than proper democracy. . .to organize this country in such a way that nothing will be done from the Castle without the consent and the authority of the people—the farmers, the police, the soldiers, the workers—you are the guardians. . .’ said Rawlings in his first broadcast to the nation after 31 December.

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