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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Healing Ghana's past
The new government of Ghana is far advanced in its moves to set up a South Africa-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Justice Minister Nana Akufo-Addo says its purpose is "to deal with problems from the past that continue to dog the political life of Ghana, especially during the last 20 years".

The South African TRC was set up after apartheid officially ended to deal with gross human rights violations.

But it also opened many sores and left many black people feeling that the perpetrators of injustice had been let off lightly.

Do the failings of the Rawlings regime compare in any way with the atrocities committed in countries like South Africa, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone? Can Ghana's TRC really bring true reconciliation? Or will it just open old wounds?

This debate is now closed. Read you comments below.

Ghanaians would do themselves more good were they to move forward rather than waste precious time on the past.
Isaac Warner, Canada

The TRC could as well go ahead. Maybe it will accomplish something-bring to book those who once thought that nothing and no one will dare them. I only wonder whether the TRC will act independently and bring forth real justice.
Lilian Kimeto, Kenya

I feel that the establishment of the TRC is a step in the right direction

Stanley Coffie, United Kingdom
I feel that the establishment of the TRC is a step in the right direction. It is the nature of humans to find ways of dealing with pain and anguish. There can be no doubt that the last 20 years saw some of the most brutal acts against some people in Ghana in the name of 'revolution'. Against this background, the TRC is an imperative proposition, and it is hoped that it will help heal the wounds of the affected, and also provide important lessons for the future of Ghana.
Stanley Coffie, United Kingdom

It is too saddening to hear people speak as if all are holy. How many great leaders are without fault worst than that of the formal president, H.E. Mr. Rawlings? I am not a Rawlings sycophant but I believe he's a good man for the many things he has done for the nation. It may be acknowledged that Ghana was in a bad state in both economy and infrastructure. The intervention of Rawlings has helped to put a lot of things right. As the saying goes, "No one is Perfect"
G.B, Tanzania

This is the country of Kwame Nkrumah, the father of African nationalism. The people of Ghana are known for their independence struggle and the recent change of leadership and the past leadership atrocity should not and will not hinder the patriotic citizen of this country

The wish for the Ghanaian government to have a reconciliation commission is a commendable one

Handa Siangonya, USA
The wish for the Ghanaian government to have a reconciliation commission is a commendable one. Will it really bring out the truth that we are looking for? I doubt it.
The best for Ghana is to use the limited public resources to address the more pressing social issues like health, education, unemployment, and a more democratic and accountable political system.
Handa Siangonya, USA

The mystery of a successful reconciliation is the ability and willingness of the participants to back off from spite. The fear of what will befall them and their families is one of the reasons why even though an African president knows his days are numbered prefers bullets into his head than leave through the back door. Ghana's could be successful if they assure Rawlings and the others that they will be saved after the witch-hunt in the name of reconciliation.
Hamilton Arrey, Cameroon

The TRC is vital for Ghana if the country wishes to move forward. By hiding the truths of the past, the present and future will have the same bloody stench. Leaders of the likes of Rawlings feel that they are above the law and this perception filters down to corrupt the whole society. The unsavoury African leaders of today, mirror the tribal leaders who sold people into slavery and then blamed the Europeans. Africans must take responsibility for their lives and not let the tyranny of the few erode their chances of a better life.
Plato Demetrious, England

Let's only hope that the resources to be invested in this exercise will not deprive the ordinary people of Ghana a better life

Luther Martin, England
Some of us were critical of the Rawlings years in Ghana. Too many killings and this is still very bitter in the mouths of affected Ghanaians. So much as it will be good to know the truth and possibly seek reconciliation, I don't totally see it the same. This could turn into a witch-hunt because there is no point hiding the fact that many of the leading figures of the present government suffered badly under the Rawlings regime. No one can stop it if the government wants to go ahead. But let's only hope that the resources to be invested in this exercise will not deprive the ordinary people of Ghana a better life.

After all the people needed change in voting for the new administration and hopefully they will not spend most of their tenure in office on a witch hunting mission. Hope not for it will be a big disappointment for the many million Ghanaians who voted them into power. Ghana is a peaceful country and rightful so has been the bright spot for African dignity and hopefully this will not be compromised. Rawlings though, will look back today and hope that he had done some things differently.
Luther Martin, England

Any one who hold public office should be ready to give full account when called upon. Some African leaders in the past behaved as if there was no tomorrow so those leaders should answer for their misdeed.
Ray Isah Ogie-momoh, Japan

The only way Ghana can change fore the better is when the hearts and minds of the people involved change. No commission can change it for them.
Daniel Rego, USA

The setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation's Commission in Ghana by the Kufuor government represents a futile attempt to paint the wall to hide the cracks. This commission is a political camouflage, a means of diverting public attention from the malfunctions of the inept, inefficient and incompetent Kufuor administration. Rawlings may have had his faults but certainly one cannot compare his so-called excesses with the atrocities committed by the likes of, for instance, Foday Sankoh and Charles Taylor, for which the setting up of a commission would have been justifiable. What Ghana needs at this crucial point in its history is someone with foresight, dedication, drive and initiative to take her into the realm of socio-political and economic advancement. This commission has ably demonstrated the fact that though Kufuor has placed his hands on the plough, yet he is looking backwards.
Ernest Cole, The Gambia/Sierra Leone

Once the truth is known and apologies are made, people would be ready to move on with their lives

Jacob Sax Conteh, US
In an age when human rights issues are taking a front seat, setting up a TRC in Ghana is necessary to set the country towards peace and progress. While the west embraced Mr. Rawlings for his reforms, they ignored his gross violation of human rights by getting rid of his opponents. Ghanaians have to know the truth behind the killing of people like General Afrifa who had left government and was leading a civilian life when he was killed. Once the truth is known and apologies are made, people would be ready to move on with their lives.
Jacob Sax Conteh, Virginia, US

Trust our leaders - the South Africans have offered them yet another fad - a truth and reconciliation commission. Ghanaians do not have to look very far; in neighbouring Nigeria, it is either treated with utter contempt by the main rights abusers, or serves as an escape route from justice.
UE, UK/Nigeria

Ghanaians are more than capable of putting the last twenty years in their proper context

Val Mmor, US
Opportunity for soul cleansing in Ghana and many other countries like it in Africa should be welcomed and encouraged. It is only those that have something to conceal that should be worried. Mr Rawlings is not God. His actions including success and failures should be examined for what they truly are. Ghanaians are more than capable of putting the last twenty years in their proper context. This tribunal should move forward.
Val Mmor, US

See also:

03 Aug 01 | Africa
Africa Media Watch
30 Oct 98 | Truth and Reconciliation
Mandela addresses truth report ceremony
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