The 1995 ‘Kume Preko’ protest by Akuffo Addo
The largest protest to ever take place in Ghana happened about 27 years ago, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Dr. Charles Wreko Brobbey, Kwasi Pratt Jr., Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe, Abdul Malik Kwaku Baako, Akoto Ampaw, Victor Newman, Kwaku Opoku, and Napoleon Abdulai were among the leaders of this demonstration, which also included some 100,000 other individuals.
The rally against the then-Rawlings administration was said to have been fueled by the high cost of living and, in particular, the implementation of Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods.
It was a time when able-bodied and hard-working folks reportedly struggled to pay for one decent meal per day for a family.
Additionally, it was reported that the drop-out rate in educational institutions was increasing at an extremely alarming rate.
However, when some unknown assailants started firing on the protesters, what had initially been a peaceful demonstration became bloody.
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The attacks left many people with serious injuries and some of them dead.
An article in The Stateman on “Kume Preko” and its effects
Kume Preko, a protest against Ghana’s high cost of living, in particular the application of Value Added Tax (VAT) to goods, has passed. However, the consequences of the violent altercation between the protesters and the ACDRs are still being felt today.
For some families, the pain has just started. For those who lost husbands, the pain is even more as the burden of caring for the family will now fall on fewer shoulders.
Naturally, reports of the horrors committed during the match keep filtering in. Ghana Review presents the story below which is culled from the Ghanaian Chronicle.
Tales of horror – Kume Preko victims recount their ordeal by Olivia Nyarko
After the dust slowly settled on the “Kume Preko” march, tales of untold horror and homicide have started filtering in.
CHRONICLE interviewed some of the relatives of those who were on admission at Korle-Bu for injuries sustained during the demonstration.
Kwabena Gyan, the brother of Yaw Atta who was shot in the chest and scrotum recounted what could well have happened in the back streets of war tone Liberia.
The 26-year old secondhand shirts dealer said on that fateful Thursday, most of the sells around the Accra Central Railway station went to the station with the intent of watching the march just as they had done on other occasions when there were demonstrations.
Kwabena Gyan said the savage scene of a beggar who was shot in cold blood by the ACDRs sent all the boys running towards the Central Police Station for refuges, but the ACDRs would not let them go unscathed.
During this chase the brothers were separated. Each fled in the opposite direction. Narrating their ordeal, the wounded Yaw Atta said while standing at the Police station, he saw that his brother, who was at the Cocoa House, which is opposite the Police Station, was stranded on the almost empty street.
“Out of panic I tried the last resort of calling and signalling to him to come over to my “safe haven”. Before I was through, blood was dripping from my jeans. I fell backwards, but hemmed in by the ACDR men who were shooting indiscriminately at this time, my brother could not cross over to pick me up”, he recounted.
Moved by his brother’s attempt to save his life, Kwabena Gyan said he braved it out on the street to his injured brother’s side. “I lifted him from the pool of blood and by a hair’s breadth another bullet missed us from the same auv who shot my brother.
After the firing died down, some sympathizers helped them to take him to the Accra Central District Police Headquarters, were he was sent first to the Police Hospital and then later to the Korle-Bu Emergency Ward”, he intimated.
With their double encounter with the ACDR man, Kwabena Gyan swore that he can easily identify him wherever and whenever he meets him.
Abdulai Rahman Omanu, a cargo truck driver with registration number GM 5756 was also shot in the head at the Rawlings Park on the same Thursday.
Osmanu, who was on admission at Korle-Bu could not talk for three days. Finally when he could talk, he gave a tearful account of what happened to him.
He said, that morning, he had just arrived from Kumasi at the CMB station but had no idea of the “Kume Preko” march, so he told his mate to look after the foodstuffs while he went to deliver an important message to a relative.
However, Osmanu never got to his destination. He said: “At the Rawlings Park I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my head. Then I fell on my face. Afterwards, I woke up in hospital”.
Meanwhile, a sympathiser, Mr Kwadjo Kusi, who had come to visit a friend at the Emergency ward is taking care of him and making efforts to contact Osmanu’s wife and two children in Kumasi.
According to another eyewitness who wanted to remain anonymous, a young boy was selling yoghurt was confronted by ACDRs around UTC.
He said they seized his yoghurt, consumed some and threw the rest into a nearby gutter. Then one of them hit the boy’s head with an akpeteshie bottle.
Fearing for his life, the boy attempted to run, but about four of the ACDRS grabbed him from behind, while another shaved his hair clean with the broken bottle.
Then they started a deadly game of piercing his clean-shaven head with pieces of the broken bottle. The more blood spattered out, the more the boy cried in agony, and the more thugs continued with their new found game, until he dropped unconscious in his own blood.
On that same street, about 25 men in ACDR T shirts rushed on and beat workers at the Republic House mercilessly.
A worker of the Ghana Supply Commission (GSC) gave CHRONICLE an eye witness account. He said some of the workers were standing on the frontier of the Commercial Bank as they normally do, when a group of ACDR men attacked them. Mr Amoah, a worker at GSC sustained injuries on his shoulder. “We later sent him to the State Insurance Clinic, where he was treated.”
The source also revealed that the thugs hit Mr Dramanu, a Commercial Bank Official on the mouth with he leg of a broken chair. He said what infuriated him most was when a man who was standing by to pick a taxi was beaten until he was forced to obey nature’s call on the street.
“Even when the man was trying to pick his file and mobitel which had been scattered on the floor, these ACDRs wouldn’t allow him. They rather ordered him to run towards the Bank for Housing and Construction”, the source said.