Today In Fact, 4 June

A spectacular time to be alive. In the mid 1980’s I was working in a children’s home in Reading, England. I met Sala Marbel there and she had recently been recruited to work with us. It was so great to meet another African and we became firm friends adopted each other as family. Sala and her husband Vaat were from Ghana. Vaat had been the head of the Ghanaian secret service and Sala had run the national police training college. They left Ghana today in 1979 upon the coup led by flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings.

Sala and Vaat never returned to their home country and instead made a life in Reading, bringing up their two children as Brits, even though they were very much African in their thinking and lifestyle.

Today also marks that crazy moment in 1989 when Communist China almost became a democracy but failed the hurdle by killing thousands of citizen protesters in Tiananmen Square. I recall the young protester only known as “tank man” who stopped a line of tanks by putting his body in front of them. Whenever I meet a mainland Chinese official I always remind them of their shameful betrayal of their own people on this day in 1989.

Also on this day in 1989, Poland voted Solidarity into power, ushering in the collapse of the Warsaw Pact countries over the next six months. It was a spectacular time to be alive as we witnessed the surge of citizen action against repressive communist regimes across central and Eastern Europe.
So today I guess it is worth saying out loud and to whomever has ears to hear because it seem some people still don’t get it. Coups d’état, state repression and violence can never wholly kill the human spirit and the will of citizens to live freely.

Douglas Racionzer (see a full archive of Doug’s daily musings at