Rawlings and Kufuor hate each other’s guts. That’s a fact. Rawlings acknowledges it and even though he says he “cannot tolerate” his successor, he insists that he is “working on that”. Whatever that means. Kufuor, on the other hand, appears to be in denial. He says there is no bad blood between him and Rawlings. But every Ghanaian knows that two men dislike each other.
Rawlings thinks Kufuor is a “thief” and Kufuor believes strongly that Rawlings is the “devil” (“sasabonsam”). Their mutual hatred has often been played out in such a public manner that it is hard to believe that these are supposed to be our most respected elder statesmen.
Last week, a few hours before they were due to have breakfast with Barack Obama, Rawlings was on TV tearing into Kufuor and saying that he was only going to attend for the sake of the people of Ghana. And though Kufuor will very rarely speak like Rawlings did about him, there is no denying the fact that the feeling is mutual. The fact is Kufuor will not call Rawlings over to his (son’s) hotel for a cup of cappuccino or some caviar. The enmity between them is palpable.
Yet, when Obama came they put on a good show for him. They were so convivial with each other that Obama might have been fooled into thinking that they were the best of friends. But we know they are not. And very few of us – only those with hope of Obamaic proportions – expect them to be friends before either kicks the bucket.
Sometime last year the Asantehene, Otumfuor Osei-Tutu, offered to initiate some sort of mediation to get Rawlings and Kufuor to start treating each other like the elder statesmen they are supposed to be. But he wanted to wait for Kufuor to leave office first.
It’s been more than six months since Kufuor’s two-term tenure ended and the Otumfuor is yet to start his mediation efforts. I think the Ashanti chief should not bother because neither Rawlings nor Kufuor seem prepared to listen to him. And who amongst us will go out dancing with joy if Kufuor and Rawlings decide to stop treating each like hot-headed, infantile bigots? Reconciling them will not reverse the ever-shrinking size of our balls of ‘kenkey’, will it?
I don’t think so.
But for those of you who think – for whatever reason – that Rawlings and Kufuor need to be reconciled, here is a thought.
I think the two of them behave remarkably well towards each other in the presence of an American president. When George Bush came around last year, they were hugging and smiling with each other. I am sure that if George Bush had asked them to lock their tongues in a kiss, they wouldn’t have hesitated.
Last week, in the presence of Barack Obama they were so friendly with each other that you would have been forgiven for thinking that Kufuor was the one who sprung Rawlings out of jail on June 4. According to Kufuor, they even shared a few jokes when Obama asked them to take a picture together.
It is quite clear to me that the two of them like to put on a show for American presidents by masquerading as good pals. So, I think, the best way to help them treat each other like elder statesmen should is to get them in the presence of an American president as often as possible. Obama has come and gone and only God knows when he’d pass by again. So why not ship Kufuor and Rawling off to America?
They can both be Obama’s “special assistants”: Kufuor will be responsible for cleaning the underside of Obama’s shoes and Rawlings’ sole duty will be to ensure that the bum of Obama’s dog is tidy at all times. These job specifications might be a little beneath our former presidents but if they help to make them treat each other with civility and respect – by placing them constantly in the presence of an American president – we should encourage them to start writing their application letters.