Rod Matthews  


This report is for those who feel they have it rough .... In the West African state of Ghana 88 members and one minister are currently experiencing the danger and tension of internal strife in their country.

Ghana has been under a military government since 1972. This government has been marked by corruption and the military has been thoroughly discredited. The latest coup was by a group of junior officers and NCO's pledged to cleaning up the corruption, and determined to succeed no matter how many stand in their way.

Our minister, Melvin Rhodes, who resides in Accra, the capital, wrote recently to the English Office which services that area. Here are the excerpts from his letter:

We are not worried about the situation here, but I think I should advise you of what is happening just in case the situation deteriorates. As the U.S. Embassy advised us this morning, "This is how Ethiopia and Iran started." They (and the British High Commission) have established a phone system to evacuate nationals should it become necessary. Not being on the phone, we have been advised to listen regularly to the BBC and VOA (Voice of America, radio).

The main problem is that the soldiers are not disciplined. They are constantly drunk and then start beating up and shooting Lebanese (and Ghanaians). The shootings are usually accompanied by looting, especially in the Airport residential area and around Teshie (we are in the middle, tho' on the other side of the road. We've had no trouble in this suburb yet.) Teshie is right next to the road that takes you to Kumasi (large town north of Accra). Last Sunday, while we were in Kumasi, there was a great deal of shooting in both areas. At least six Britons were shot — allegedly mistaken for Lebanese. None of the Britons died, fortunately. But it's put the wind up a lot of people. At this time of year most whites go home on leave anyway, and most say that they are simply bringing forward their leave. But many men are sending out their wives and children. I've been asked a number of times (by whites) if we are leaving, or if I'm sending Diane and the children out. Oh, I forgot to mention that two of those shot on Sunday were children.

Estimates of the number of dead range from 300 upwards to about 700. I know that people can easily exaggerate, but there is no way of either confirming or disproving these figures. But the atmosphere is very unpleasant. Shops are being forced to sell everything at the official price. This morning I was asked to show the baby's weigh-in card to obtain baby food. I didn't have it, but got some when I produced Kurt. Soldiers just march into stores and force their way through to the back, bringing out "hoarded" goods, and then sell them at controlled prices. A site has been readied for a firing squad to shoot anyone for hoarding or selling above the official price; or for corruption. I don't think it's been used yet, but the mere sight of it in the newspapers was enough for me.

But our major fear regards the car. Going to Kumasi a soldier demanded a lift. Not uncommon, but I thought he was going to commandeer it. Those who had their vehicles commandeered during the coup received some hopes of getting them back yesterday. The radio announced that commandeered vehicles should be returned to the Air Force base (not returned, I suppose, but at least taken there). Then the owners can go and collect them, a process which may take weeks.

On the way back from Kumasi, we had to open our boot (trunk) twice. Difficult since a minor accident. The difficulty makes them more suspicious, as if we are purposely delaying.)

Anyway, as I say, we are not unduly worried and are staying at home as much as possible, which isn't really much. I've cancelled my intended trip to Togo next week, as the Border Guards are causing people problems. I would feel safer if we had access to money enabling us to leave in an emergency. But I suppose we'll just have to wait for an RAF airlift! No, I don't think it will come to that. But the next few months are Going to be difficult. The election is scheduled for next Monday. But the new government plans on cleaning up for some months.

(Forgot to mention, yesterday I got held up by a demonstration. I couldn't read all the placards but they were directed against foreigners, whether just Lebanese or not I don't know.)

Meanwhile, I'm applying for another two-month visitor's visa.

P.S. The expressed fear at the U.S. Embassy was that if someone in the British or American governments condemned Ghana's "revolutionary tribunals" (as per Iran), there would be reprisals against British and U.S. nationals.


Mr. Bob Morton, Regional Director for New Zealand and the Pacific, recently visited the island nation of Fiji. To this date we have not had a congregation there although we have 22 members. As well as baptizing 5 new members? Mr. Morton ordained our first elder there, Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, and a deacon to serve the growing congregation.

Forty-eight attended the first service, now to be held on a weekly basis. Over 2600 Plain Truths are mailed to Fiji from New Zealand each month; year-to-date indigenous income there is showing a +80% increase over 1978. While there Mr. Morton held a small ministerial conference which also included Mr. T. Ha'angana who flew from Tonga for the occasion.

Compiled by Rod Matthews, International Office

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Pastor General's ReportJuly 02, 1979Vol 3 No. 25