Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ghanaian President and First Lady Given Honorary Doctorates at Lincoln University

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Ghanaian President and First Lady Given Honorary Doctorates at Lincoln University

Article excerpt

Ghanaian President and First Lady Given Honorary Doctorates at Lincoln. University: Controversial Leader Speaks of `Shared Roots'

Ghanaian President Jerry John Rawlings and the country's First Lady, Nana Kunadu Agyeman Rawlings, were recently awarded honorary doctorates at a ceremony held at Pennsylvania's Lincoln University.

The university's tie to Ghana is more than symbolic because the West African country's first president, Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah, was a Lincoln graduate.

During the ceremony, Lincoln's president, Dr. Niara Sudarkasa, said Nkrumah always said his political and social awareness was honed in America and that his dream of an independent Ghana and a united Africa came to him while attending Lincoln University. It was Nkrumah who was responsible for Ghana becoming the first country in Africa to gain independence in 1957. He was overthrown by a military coup in 1966.

Rawlings first came to power in 1979, and again in 1981, following two military takeovers. He became president in 1993 as a result of an election that gave him over 58 percent of the vote in a five-way race.

One of the most active women on the African continent, Mrs. Rawlings is the president of the 31st December Women's Movement, the foremost non-governmental organization working on behalf of women and development in Ghana. Her organization has 10 regional offices and 100 district offices throughout the country, providing services to women in health, voting rights, access to education, employment, business development and new technologies. The organization has also helped to establish 870 day care centers and more than 240 family-planning education programs throughout Ghana.

Same Roots

"We share the same roots, don't we?" said Rawlings during his address to the mostly African-American audience. "We have brought our people closer to the decision-making process, firm in the conviction that freedom and democracy includes participation, and therefore responsibility, from each and everyone."

A statement issued by the Carter Center, named for former President Jimmy Carter and one of the Ghana election observer groups, said at the time: "Our team, including 18 international observers and at least 250 Ghanaian observers, observed the election proceedings in every region of the country. We were impressed, in most cases, by the smoothness of the organization and implementation of the election procedures. Despite the occurrence of serious irregularities in the election process, what we have observed does not lead us to question the validity of the results."

Critics and Supporters

The November 1992 general election was not without controversy. …

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