Wednesday, January 23, 2013

True Democracy: Ghana’s Example

The stage was set. The world was expecting. And the rest of the continent was hoping, with baited breaths, that one of the few genuine emblems of true democracy would pass yet another test and bring the continent to sigh with relief.

Ghana was going to the polls.

It is depressing, truly, that the onset of elections anywhere on the continent always brings to the surface fears that perhaps a country in Africa going to the polls will descend into chaos immediately afterwards. Fears, admittedly, that are not unfounded. Elections, in true democracy or its guise, has been the undoing of many a nation state on the continent.

True democracy and its essence has not been fully assimilated by large portions of the continent. The will of people is hardly understood by the continent’s leaders, and the desire to hold on to power at all cost still manifests daily.

So when Ghana ceded to democracy in 1992, held subsequent elections that, at the beginning, were deemed relatively free and fair, and through years of practice was upheld as a beacon of democracy for the continent- one sitting government lost power and peacefully handed over to opposition; and then another, and another- the world gasped. Wasn’t this the exhibition of the kind of democracy that the people of the continent had been hankering after?

It was. And it amazed the world and gave hope to other African countries to follow suit.

But then we had Cote D’Ivoire, a country previously praised for its stability, descend into bloody chaos after a sitting president loses power and refuses to accept. The world sighed with resignation. A leopard cannot hide its spots, they whispered. The meaning of freedom doesn’t sit with these people. In the end, it took the French to force Gbagbo out. A humiliating end to an otherwise respected professor of History.

So one could see where there was a bit of an apprehension when Ghana, with its twenty years of acclaimed democracy, a country that had remarkably upheld the constitution when it bucked the trend of the stereotypical African country by within a couple of hours swearing in the vice president after the untimely death of its sitting president, went to the polls on the 7th of December 2012.

Wasn’t Ghana right on the doorstep of Cote D’Ivoire? And wasn’t Ghana, after all, an African country?

And the tensions were all the more heightened by the fact that the previous election four years earlier had been so close, and the margin of victory so marginal, that the outcome of the impending election was anybody’s guess. The opposition had as much chance of victory as the incumbent, and both were aware of the fact.

And so the rhetoric poured forth, politicians politicized, the media sensationalized, and the public scrutinized. The elections were held, the incumbent won, and like the previous election, the margin of victory was marginal.

The opposition cried foul and refused to accept the results, a handful of the supporters held mostly peaceful protests. What little skirmish there was, was quickly snuffed out by a single canister of tear gas.

Here, the international media sniffs blood. The BBC in particular.

The failure of the opposition to accept defeat is reported as though disputing election results in itself is a sign of impending trouble. They forget the American elections at the turn of the millennium, which took the intervention of their supreme court to resolve.

The world waits for the action of the opposition, and the reaction of the government. In the end, as the law provides, they decide to go court, which was the only action they were really ever likely to take.

Fortunately for us Ghanaians our leaders seem to see the bigger picture, they’re not so far gone yet to drag this beautiful and prosperous country to ruin. Fortunately for us, when our opposition finds fault in an election in which they’ve lost, they go to court, not to an arms dealer.

That is the mark of true democracy. And Ghanaians acknowledge and find pride in this.

And we thank God for it too.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Youth Degradation: A Crime on the Conscience of Politicians

When the facade of altruism takes the front seat in the bandwagon of party politics, revs its engines and sets in motion in the direction of our towns and communities come the beginning of Ghana’s 2012 electioneering campaigns, it is most likely to be met with the same ambiguous pomp and pageantry that has become the burgeoning undercurrent of political rallies and its accompanying rhetoric. It also is, as much desired by politicians, the quintessential setting for gathering young men and women in the hope of sapping their effervescent energies for purposes that are more than less aimed towards the personal betterment of the politician, than the social and economic well-being of the young people whose energies are sacrificed. This, or worse the perfect setting for the appraisal by political masterminds of youthful wisdom, or the lack of it, seeing as this is the only opinion that can be surmised of politicians and their intentions for young people.

It is not with an intrinsic seed of cynicism that I look upon politicians and their super-sweet promises in the year of election, but rather a frustrated and angry countenance fed by years and years of disappointment, when the situation of young people is looked at.

I feel to them young people are but a means to an end, a personally gratifying end shaped by the lucrative opportunities afforded by political office. We are but an energy source, a superficial bunch of malleable individuals designed to be used by the politically astute. When the heat of electioneering dies down, and the beneficiaries of their outcome ascends office, I can plainly see them erasing all memories of the promises that brought them there, I can plainly see them feeling in their pockets, and guessing how deep they can get.

And yet, one is tempted to find fault in ones own disappointment in politicians, when politicians themselves have so very well written their history into the annals of the perpetual disappointers, as to look with disdain upon any who fails to be taught by them. However, with the kind of economic crisis and social despondency travailing the halls of young people today, even the most cynical of cynics would have hoped for that spot of humanity that often breaks through many a hardened heart in the times when it is needed the most. But apparently not with politicians.

The indifferent faces of students leaving the university, the throng of young people in the compounds of Western embassies seeking migration to a hope of a better life, the explosive outbursts of youthful anger in the streets and their readiness to defy authority all attest to the growing discontent with politics, party politics especially, and the governments that arise from them, among the age group whose shoulders would have hoped to carry on the responsibilities of a nation.

But alas, the greater proportion of young people from what is evidenced to me, are becoming ever indifferent to politics, and to a lesser degree governments. So the brute attributes of excessive corruption within government, and the hopelessness of it all, the rapidly decaying and ineffective education system (the subject of another blog) begin to manifest itself in a generation of cynics and detached young men and women who look upon politics and politicians as the personification of evil, an uncaring and divisive set of self-serving individuals. Might be a harsh thing to group all politicians in this bracket, seeing as there are, if only a few, genuinely concerned men and women with the care of their country at heart who happen to carry the tag of “politician”; but so consistent and overpowering are their failings that their few good are often overlooked.

When, then, the times comes when they visit our towns and communities seeking for our mandate for political office, it would be expedient on their part to see what sort of young hands greet them, and how cold or warm those hands feel.              

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Glad To Be Back

Much needed strength returns after a little spell out with sickness. Glad to be back. Lots of interesting discussions going on that needs to be blogged about. Not least of which is the violence taking place in the Egyptian capital, where nine months after the overthrow of Mubarak things are not turning out as the protesters thought they would. I think they're looking at Libya and thinking it is much more of a revolution than the one that saw the ousting of Mubarak. In my own backyard here in Ghana the youth in Andani are asking for answers to the questions that were begged by the NDC's propagandists approach to the issue of the murder of the king of Dagbon.
Lots to talk about. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Small-minded Politicians

It’s the biggest news this week. The Wikileaks report on Ghana. Apparently what some bored US diplomat has to say about us in a cable, is much more important to some of our politicians than what we say about ourselves. This is a seriously peeved and frustrated writer here, believe me. Not only for the fact that we repeatedly determine to make fools of ourselves in the eyes of the West, especially, but some of our politicians and so called social commentators are so small-minded and so superficial (seriously restraining my use of language here), that they fail to see the consequences of some of they’re actions and how utterly stupid it all is. How ridiculous!

What am I on about? This Wikileaks reports going around, which, on a personal level I find silly and rather childish, seeing as if we knew what we all said about each other in secret, the world would be a totally cynical place if it already isn’t, is staring much hostility and considerable funfair among our politicians, especially between the ruling government and the main opposition, with each trying to score nonexistent political point off the other by stretching these leaked cables to potentially dangerous and divisive levels. As if that is not bad enough, the potential for conflict resulting from an attempt to score political point with what an ex-president was supposed to have said about certain religious groups is completely lost on them.

This is nothing less than embarrassing. It’s easy enough to take that a US ambassador has certain opinions based on rumours about our so-called leaders, especially when such rumours are propagated by conniving, self-seeking traitors looking for approval; trust me, these diplomats have prejudiced opinions about us that they do well to hide behind smiles and gentility. These leaked cables had reports of the president having throat cancer from being addicted to alcohol and the opposition leader being a cocaine addict, among other things. What is it to a foreign diplomat if these are true or not? What is absolutely distasteful and utterly unacceptable is for our own politicians to jump on these rumours (because that’s what they are) in an attempt to smear each other for nothing more than political point.

It saddens my heart to say this but that’s the very reason we are where we are in the world. Our politicians. They’re too small upstairs. Some of them. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Man Utd 8-2 Arsenal: Two Kinds of Youth

Okay, not intending to rub it in or anything… well, maybe just a little, but I feel like branching off the beaten path and talk about something much less serious. Football. And not just any football but Manchester United’s very gratifying humbling of Arsenal on Sunday. Trust me, the continuous talk of it being a freak result due to Arsenal’s depleted line-up takes nothing away from the joy, especially when you think the majority of United’s starting eleven wouldn’t have been considered regular first-teamers at the start of the season. And yet here they were, with an average age younger than that of Arsenal, pounding turf and grabbing victory like seasoned pros.

There lies the plot of this blog. Suppose Ferdinand and Vidic and Fletcher and Carrick and Giggs etc., hadn’t started on Sunday, would United have had the replacement to step and deliver a job? I guess the answer is pretty clear. Because they didn’t start, and the 8-2 score line revealed there was more than enough in the United tank to step in and do a job. The likes of Welbeck and Cleverly and Jones and Smalling, young men as they are, but with the mentality of winners.

Much has been made of Arsenal’s young talent over the past couple of years, which is all well and good when you watch them play their brand of football. But I’ve never been a big fan of beauty without brain, or, on this occasion beauty without spunk. What Arsenal lack in a winning attitude, they make up for it with a lot of neat passes. Add to that a manager with a mind of his own, literally. A man who sees what every else can’t and is blind to all that is clearly visible.

But, hey, what do I know, right? Am a United fan. So what if Arsenal wallow in mediocrity, leaves us that much space to keep winning.

I say there’s two kinds of youth, the Manchester United kind of youth, and the Arsenal kind of youth. The ones who win, and the ones who keep thinking they will, someday.

I know which kind of youth I am.