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Feature Article of Saturday, 29 September 2012

Columnist: Adjei-Kyeremeh, Nathanae

Reflections: Where Democracy is Beautiful!

Growing up as an enthusiastic boy eager to see change overnight, I thought Africans do not need democracy. My thinking was that, culturally we had survived under Kings and traditional rulers so we could do with dictatorship and to a large extent military dictatorship. This was by no means to say our rulers were dictators but was to draw parallels with their mode of selection into leadership. I was also of the school of thought that an infant does not know right or wrong therefore should be guided, and Africa is such a child that should be thought what to do, what to say, and what to hear.

I grew up in a military barracks and was socialized the military way, of discipline and service to motherland. I saw the times of military rule where people did things out of fear, and matured in the times of democracy where the fear factor had been eliminated. And through the changing scenes of our national lives, I’ve observed with much admiration the evolving phase of political discourse, from trivialities to issues albeit been slow. For example, we can now here political commentators on their take on key issues including education and health. Instead of who is palm wine tapper and who cannot wear suits? At this point I’ve come to a different understanding that we can work with democracy and develop it. Many of my friends shun talking politics because in their opinion the Ghanaian politics is dirty; someone described it as “insultcracy”. Such friends prefer us to debate on Obama and Mitt Romney, Israel and Iran, Asaad and his Syrian rebels and how Oil politics play out in the UN/NATO led military interventions.

They simply prefer to talk about Ghana only when our politics become beautiful and rather focus on where politics is beautiful. Sometimes I think we judge ourselves harshly, and use such yardstick to stay away from the Ghanaian politics. But the fact is We cannot expect that dramatic change in our political discourse when over 33% of our populace cannot read or write, and when below 50% pass their Basic Education Certicate Examination, and when every year 150,000 young ones fall out of the system and are not able to progress to Senior High School. Our politics is the way it is because our civil society sees itself so clean to engage in political discourse and religious bodies are repelled by the repugnant nature of the politics. And what the politician has succeeded in doing is to make every issue political such that the “Lambs remain silent”. The recent altercation between the ruling party and the Presby Church gives strong ammunition to those who think our politics is dirty and one must stay clear of it, lest you get disgraced.

But this must change; we need a critical mass that will serve as the catalyst to change the system and the way it does its politics. We need a people that will hold the politician to task. A people made up of civil society, Think thanks, religious bodies, etc that will set the standard and that will whip the Politicians in line, we need that mass that the politician will take seriously, we need an educated populace. In essence we need the Politician to fear the people and not vice versa.

The past month has seen America displaying to the world what makes them America, the Land of the free and the home of the brave. They had their fair share of trivialities though, for example, after Condolezza Rice’s beautiful speech, the focus was shifted to the make-up she wore. Her actual message was almost covered.

I watched with awe the young Paul Ryan speaking on the economy, and same with John Kerry attacking the Romney Ryan ticket on foreign policy issues with passion and pride: how first ladies paid glowing tributes to their husbands, the oratory dexterity of Clinton and like many observers concluded this is beautiful! But “downtown” Ghana, I had earlier listened to the academically engaging lectures on the economy by Dr. Bawumiah and the good performance at vetting by HE Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur, both showed that they understood the economy and can do well on the job.

I know it won’t be long for us to get there and to borrow the words of Nana Addo, “I am an incurable optimist”. The President HE John Mahama in his recent policy statement eloquently pointed out that, “Ghana, our motherland, is getting more united, stronger, and we have come too far to turn back now”. Ghana has made significant strides, for example we never had problems with women franchise even at the beginning of our democracy. We gave one man one vote regardless of social status etc. We have a beautiful democracy, let us embrace it and make it better.

God bless us all! Nathanael Adjei-Kyeremeh.

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