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Opinions of Saturday, 30 April 2011

Columnist: Tawiah-Benjamin, Kwesi

Nana Konadu: Travelling Hopefully or Hopefully Travelling

Former American First Lady Nancy Reagan is remembered for her strong teabags, just as she is adored for her superb job as the very better half of a good American president. Her thoughts on the relationship between women and teabags have over time been proven to be very apt and true: “A women is like a teabag, you cannot tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” When men pretend to be on top of their game, it is women who eventually tell the score. And part of this is that being a woman “consists principally in dealing with men”- Joseph Conrad. Men may take note of this and banter along.

Those who know Nana Konadu Rawlings well say you need not put her in hot water to know how strong she is. She has a good brain on her shoulders and may have schooled herself for twenty years in political management as a noticeable influence in the inner circles of power. Nobody can pretend they don’t know who she is. Nobody can pretend they have no idea what competencies she has as a person and as a politician. Nobody can take away her right to contribute to the politics of her country of birth in any capacity, including the presidency. That is a right all of us enjoy as political citizens.

Yet, toss the idea of a Konadu Rawlings presidency at any after dinner function, and the reaction is one of a daring but important audacious gamble, to an underbelly orchestra by familiar players who would rather rest their violins. Is she travelling hopefully-just going and never minding where she arrives, or she is hopefully travelling: she might not travel after all. But travel she would. The luggage for the journey has long been prepared. And if it matters to travel, then it matters to arrive: President Nana Konadu Rawlings is a possibility that may shock Ghanaians or shock no one because it didn’t happen.

If Nana Konadu is travelling hopefully, so is the NDC. And perhaps, that is what we should learn to appreciate: That a political organisation need not function as if it has arrived; it can keep on travelling, in hope, with all the schisms and rivalries that every competition inevitably produces. That is also the functional side of the Nana Konadu- Mills contest. Konadu should not be seen as the diabolus ex machina in the NDC (Devil in the machine- a Greek literary device introduced to complicate the plot of a story). The plot of the NDC story has always been a complicated one, tied to the apron strings of a prota-antagonist who would mull the climax and the anticlimax together as one, and choose to explain it away in a soliloquy. It has never been a Cinderella fairytale; it has progressed through military adventurism in the putrid 80’s to a democratic tradition.

In all this, Nana Konadu’s fingerprints are traceable everywhere. She is one of those who dirtied their hands for the cause of the party. As first lady for nearly two decades, she was not what a landscape is to a blind man’s eye; she is said to have defined an active role for herself, walking in the mind of her husband while economically empowering women across the country. That was first lady Konadu. Apart from these, and her own right as a politician, what does Nana Konadu Rawlings bring to the table as president? However the flagbearership race turns out, the NDC will live on and maybe retain power. The party may not grow in size and support because the Rawlings magic will dim in a Mills second term presidency, or his person will override everybody if Konadu wins.

Kwesi Tawiah-Benjamin, Ottawa, Canada,

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