Kume Preko was the name given to an anti-government demonstration that occurred in Ghana in 1995, led by Charles Wereko Brobbey. The protest took place in opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) initiative which was introduced under the Jerry John Rawlings administration.
It is said to have been one of the biggest protests ever organised in the country, with an estimated 100,000 people participating.
The demonstration was initially billed as a peaceful protest but quickly became violent when unidentified assailants shot live bullets into the crowd, resulting in a few protesters’ deaths.
“Kume Preko” means “You may as well kill me” in the Akan language spoken by the majority of Akan people in Ghana
In the aftermath of the demonstration, some of the leading protestors – Nana Akufo-Addo, Charles Wereko-Brobby, Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Akoto Ampaw and Napoleon Abdulai wrote a book “Ghana: The Kume Preko demonstrations: Poverty, Corruption and the Rawlings Dictatorship”.
Most youngsters were not born when Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, together with some outspoken politicians and journalists, led over 100,000 Ghanaians to embark on perhaps, the greatest revolution in the annals of the country’s political history.
That was a rare protest against the Jerry John Rawlings administration in the city of Accra on May 11, 1995, as hundreds of young and old people, responding to calls for demonstrations in opposition to the Value Added Tax (VAT) initiative which was introduced under the Jerry John Rawlings administration, government corruption and hardship, chanted war songs amid “Kume Preko”.
The demonstration was initially billed as a peaceful protest but quickly became violent when unidentified assailants shot live bullets into the crowd resulting in the deaths of some of the protestors.
Those at the forefront of this protest were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (Now the President of Ghana), Dr Charles Wreko Brobbey (Politician), Kwasi Pratt Jnr (Journalist), Dr Nyaho Tamakloe (Politician), Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako (Journalist), Akoto Ampaw (Lawyer), Victor Newman (Politician), Kwaku Opoku (Politician), Napoleon Abdulai (Politician) and Agyiri Blankson (Politician).
Jerry John Rawlings who came to power in a 1992 military takeover, had cemented his hold through harsh repression that has silenced critics, curtailed free speech, and ended any semblance of democratic politics. Even the mildest dissent has been met with harsh punishments and long prison sentences.
Also, the high cost of living and the imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on items by Mr Rawlings fueled the demonstration against the administration.
Major news outlets then reported that it was a period in which able-bodied and hardworking citizens could not afford one decent meal a day for a family.
Also, the drop-out rate in educational institutions was said to be rising at a very alarming rate.
However, what Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and his team fought in 1995 seems to occur in his tenure of office. High cost of living, increase in taxes, corruption, illegal mining, silenced critics, curtailed free speech and ended any semblance of democratic politics.
It’s very worrisome to see those we trusted and followed to bring change in 1995 are repeating the exact things we fought together against.
This has brought about the #FixTheCountry hashtag.
FixTheCountry demo is feared to be the next June preku demo. As the angry youth of Ghana are aggressive to do anything that will bring about change. Amidst the strong security presence at the start point of the demo.