அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


The other day I met a friend of mine, who, because he has no time to stop and think, continues to be a Congressman still - and he was extra enthusiastic that day. And I understood as soon as I saw his gait, that the Congress was in the 'head-lines' - for my friend will saunter in a peculiar gait, whenever there was any news of importance about the Congress. Having scented, I wanted to be a bit peevish, just for the sake of tickling him and so I began speaking about subjects like butter and butterflies, rain and rainbow; naturally my friend was about to get wild. He was about to burst forth. When I, assuming an air of innocence, said, "But I have been talking about small problems, before a big man. Well, let me hear the big news from you." My friend coughed once or twice - sure signs of impending tempest. I knew that now none can stop him from talking and he did talk.

I should cut off that portion of the speech, wherein he scolded me in rather scathing terms, how I was after all a jack of all trades, a mere novice in the art of evaluation, a sort of frog in a well, so on and so forth. After having exhausted his vituperation my friend came to facts and the very first fact that he presented before me was this. As usual he presented that fact in the form of an interrogation. "Haven't you seen the news, Dr.Nkrumah has come over here - to look and learn, to talk and plan, to meet and formulate?"

I know the trick; the more intense my friend's feeling is, the easier it is to tickle him. He poured forth his intensity of feeling through his interrogation; hence I just tickled him with an exclamation, "Oh! Is that the news? Dr.Nkrumah has come. Who will not? There is the Taj and Red Fort, Rajghat and Bakhra, Moghul gardens and Muslims, besides the Planning Board. Lot of things to see in this land of yore. Dr.Nkrumah, a man with laurels, should surely see all these sights",

My friend burst forth. "You have the checks to say, that Dr.Nkrumah, is to be taken as one amongst the throng of tourists, who go over here?"

"Cheeks, my dear friend, are for registering blushes and occasional kisses, it is not the talking apparatus" I said.

"Thank you, thanks ever so much for your very kind lesson in human physiology - though I need hardly seek a master for that", said my friend. He was attempting a satire!

"Dr.Nkrumah is the head of Ghana, a new found Republic, in the Dark Continent. He is not only the virtual ruler of that virile country, he is the Morning Star shedding lustre over the Dark continent. He happens to be not only the Liberator of Ghana, but a Crusader for the emancipation of the entire African Nation from bondage, serfdom, colonialism and poverty. He has come over here, my friend, not to have a look at the Taj in Moonlight, nor to shed a tear or two over Rajghat, but for conferring with the greatest of crusaders, Pandit Nehru, on the most vital issue of the day, 'Discovery of the African personality'. And you place Dr.Nkrumah alongside tourists and globe-trotters. I am sorry for you, my friend, you have a thick fog on your mind."

"Well, well, my friend get not irritated" I remarked. "I am not as keen on these matters as you are, you know. And most of the people have lost their interest in such affairs, for these 'visits' have now become so frequent, almost continuous, that the importance usually attached to such 'topicals' has been minimised. Every second day we are getting a 'World figure' a 'Liberator', a 'Crusader'. We had the Premier of Canada, and the Prime Minister of Norway, and before the festivities were over, came Dr.Nkrumah. When leaders of eminence come in such quick succession, we are apt to forget their mission, aren't we?" I asked.

My friend took strong objection to the word 'We'.

"Men like you" said my friend, "men like you are apt to forget the mission! not all, not those who are astute, not me! My friend, leaders do come in quick succession. But, why?" he asked.

Not a hard nut to crack. Yet my friend was almost smiling after placing that question. I wanted to bye-pass.

"What a query! Leaders have to come you know! What else they do? And for what else are they leaders of liberated lands?" I said.
"You are silly, my friend, silly, that is what you are. And that silliness is stupendous. I am asking you to have a probe into the problem, to analyse the affair, to look into the matter. But you blabber some humour" - my friend's irritation was visibile.

"Dr.Nkrumah has come with definite message, African Personality. The Prime Minister of Canada came with another message, the Lessons of partnership in the great Commonwealth. The Prime Minister of Norway had still another message to impart, the Role of Small Nations in World affairs. No leader comes here without a particular message" My friend became professorial. But I refused to be content with the role of a pupil. Hence I began a new line altogether.

"Well, I accept your analysis. Each leader has a message to offer. But, of what use are these message for us, for solving the intricate problems we face, for the puzzles we are confronted with? The discovery of the African personality, by itself is a good thing - a tremendous problem in fact. But how is that going to help us, in bridging this gap in foreign exchange, this fall in our production, especially the agricultural? how are we going to be benefited? And each new message envisages a new camp! And each new camp implies new tangle. How are we going to adjust and readjust!".

My friend did not expect this line of argument; hence he had to fret and foam. I marched on.

"Dr.Nkrumah, you say, is a Liberator. We are all glad he is so. We take pleasure in hailing him as the Deliverer. But do you know, that in his own Ghana, all is not quiet. Dr.Nkrumah has shown to the world that he is a Liberator, a champion of freedom and liberty for his country, but he has yet to prove that he is a good and successful Democrat. He has to set his house in order - work out plans, and take all shades of opinion into consideration. To play the autocrat at home and the Democrat on the World Stage is not only awkward but dangerous. My friend, I have my own respects for Dr. Nkrumah. An energetic, enlighteed leader like Dr.Nkrumah deserves all the praise and approbation. But to forget, because of the dazzle, the entire truth, is not right. Dr.Nkrumah should be judged not by his utterances alone, but by the achievements."

Having waited for this, my friend found a clue for a counter-attack, and he found the clue, in the word, achievement.

"You want me to tell you, Dr.Nkrumah's achievement? Do you? Well! His achievement is of tremendous importance; and it is a warning unto men of your way of thinking. You are crying hoarse about a Separate State. Don't you! You? man in the moon! Hear now, Dr.Nkrumah's message - told not in so many words, but by a simple stroke of statesmanship. His inimitable achievement! Ghana and Guinea are to be united! Do you hear that, my friend, two Sovereign States, are now to be united. United! You want to be Separated! And here comes Dr.Nkrumah after his historic conference at Accra to announce, his intention of liberating entire Africa. His message is of supreme importance to men like you, the Separatists. When for the common good, Ghana and Guinea are to be united, how dare you people, dabble in such dangerous talk, like getting a Separate State! I was anxious to stress that point alone, and you have yourself led me to that point. Thank you. Now what say you to this? These are the days of getting together, not of cutting asunder! Ghana and Guinea are to be united!"

My friend put on the victor's smile. He almost attempted to pat me on the back.

"My friend, this union of Ghana and Guinea, is a fact of importance, no doubt, but not the first of its kind. Some months ago, we found Nasser parading one such achievement, Egypt was untied with Syria and out of that wedlock was brought forth what has been babtised as United Arab Republic. But you forget, that they are combinations not cohesions. They form part of a game - the game of maintaining balance of power. They are not results of the people's desire or demand - at the best, they are the outcome of the manoeuvres of leaders.

"We were not told, about any urge on the part of Syrians for a merger with Egypt. The announcement came from the bank of the Nile, and Damascus; emitted an echo. Neither the Egyptians nor the Syrians, attempted any such 'union' before or even immediately after the coming to power of Nasser. Various forces are at work, in the Middle East and curious combinations arise. There is all around the smell of selfishness and power-mongering, and the people have no part or lot in those arrangements. So too, this union of Ghana with Guinea, arises from out of a conference chamber; it is not born from any desire on the part of the peoples of these countries. Nasser announces that he is determined to grow bigger than Egypt, and his hands embrace nearby Syria. Dr.Nkrumah thinks that Ghana is too small for him or for his experiment and Guinea comes in handy. Why these 'diplomatic combinations' should deter the demand for the right of Self-determination in other parts of the world is beyond my comprehension. My friend, may I ask you to tell me this; you are pointing out these unions with glee. What would your answer be, if I ask you, when such small countries like Ghana can be, and are free, independent States, why not Dravida Nad?

"Even after these 'Combinations', these units are not of massive size - not much bigger than the unit which we envisage. Why then, do you, drag in these instances, as so many arguments against the demand for self determination? They are all instances - fluid, full of puzzles and possibilities, and are not solid and permanent enough to attain the status of becoming arguments for or against any problem. They are the 'curios' in the Modern Museum of Politics - costly, and so not easily marketable. So, please rely more upon your own thought, even to decry our demand, and do not take a dip in the Nile, or a sip of Cocoa, just to deny the inherent right of an awakened people.

"And as for Nkrumah, may I again stress the point, he has to prove yet that he is a good democrat. I had an occasion to go through the debates in the National Assembly of Ghana, and I find these words spoken therein:

'The speech only pays lip service to human rights as evidenced by the government's record of intimidation and discrimination. On the attainment of independence Ghana's motto was freedom and justice, but the people had been subjected to a terrifying repression never before known in 200 years of imperialist rule. Men of the cleanest possible record had been deported, ...... At public expense the minister of the interior had been going round inspecting police stations and holding rallies, usually at election times, threatening people who would vote for the opposition....

'Local authority courts were packed with Members of the Gouvention People's Party only, and from his consituency, gamblers, ex-convicts, and people of doubtful antecedents had been picked to sit in courts to dispense justice. All this had created a state of fear, repression, and tension. ....

'Democracy is being prosituted by these men who have used every form of intimidation and discrimination against their political opponents while permanently paying lip service to democracy and human rights.....

'Farmers were suffering untold poverty. Prices were rising whilst wages were stagnant and the wokers of the country shouted freedom, like robots on empty stomachs. Thousands of boys who had left the middle schools were unemployed; trade was bad; street-begging was becoming a national discase, coming from the most unusual sources. .....

'What is the government's answer to this challenge of hardship and poverty?'

"These are the words of Mr.Owusu of the United Party. - and spoken on the floor of the National Assembly.

"The only answer that Dr.Nkrumah seems to have given so far, is the wholesale arrest of many, in the opposition camps. I am not concerned' my friend, with the Justice or otherwise behind such deeds. I simply point this out to prove, that all is not quiet on the Ghana front, and the immediate problem that the Doctor has to face is, how to run the democratic machinery.

"To my mind, it seems, my friend, that most of these foreign dignitaries, do undertake this global visits, just to pepper up politics at home. And there is a very long tradition behind this. Julius Caezar, it is said, used to go forth to distant lands, register military viotories, and return to Rome in laurels, whenever he found his stock a bit dwindling in the capitol".

My friend, had a mysterious head-ache, and we entered a cafe and the Radio announced there, that Marshall Tito's 'Galeb' is bound to arrive in Madras.

"Sweet!" exclaimed my friend.

"The news about Marshall Tito?" I enquired.
My friend replied, "Coffee!"

(Homeland - 04-01-1959)