Is it valuable to revisit the past’s brokenness? What and whom does it serve to attend to the violence within African political histories? A Dagaaba proverb cautions against dwelling in the past when the here and now sorely needs attention: “today does not allow yesterday to speak.” However, there is also the sankofa bird, the Akan wisdom symbol imperative to return and pick up that which has been forgotten. Truth Without Reconciliation sits in the balance between these two poles, navigating the risk and reward of historical justice by re-telling of the story of Ghana’s National Reconciliation Commission (NRC).
Inspired by the voices of the self-described victims in Ghanaian history, my book takes seriously the testimonies, petitions, and witness of the broad cross-section of Ghanaians who thrust their suffering into the public sphere as an act of desire and hope. The NRC produced neither truth nor reconciliation, but it did create an unprecedented public archive of Ghanaian political history. Expansive and challenging, the stories collected in this archive are both poison and medicine.