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Opinions of Monday, 14 August 2006

Columnist: Akaba, Senyo

Sons Or Daughters?

Events that have characterized the lives of public office holders and their sons in the years past created many opportunities for debates that might change the African’s perception about the sex of his offspring. Before the dawn of the twenty first century, Joseph Kabila, son of the virulent critic of the late General Mobutu Sese Seko: Laurent Kabila, became president of what has become known as D.R. Congo in a move that most political analysts couldn’t fully comprehend. His father, Laurent, was shot and killed under very bizarre circumstances. Moments later, Joseph stepped into his fathers shoes valiantly. Many wondered why the young and courageous lad decided to venture into a ‘game’ that had orphaned him everlastingly instead of concentrating on mourning his father. Was it the case of letting the dead bury their dead? Now, he’s supervising what has been termed in media circles as the first free election in several years. If he succeeds in restoring multi-party democracy in D.R. Congo he’ll forever remain an icon in that county’s history. Many will be tempted beyond measure to forgive or even forget his modus operandi in coming to power. For some people in Congo, the age-old Machiavellian mantra: “The end justifies the means” will become the order of the day.

The longest serving African head of state whose wrestling proficiency was unequalled by many of his tribesmen lost the battle against death in February of 2005. General Gnassingbe Eyadema’s UK and US schooled son, Faure Eyadema, was swiftly sworn in by the army as the new chief executive of Togo moments after the death of his father was announced. The EU, ECOWAS and the AU condemned the move, and described it as a coup. Later, elections of some sort were held. The son of the longest serving African head of state won. Did the General arrange for this during his lifetime? Will he turn in his grave on hearing the news of his son’s succession to the throne? Is this the beginning of an establishment of a Gnassingbe monarchy of a sort?

Enough of Congo and Togo my brothers and sisters! The bible even cautions against looking at the speck in other people’s eyes and paying no attention to the logs in our own eyes. “I’m back home…afterall, home sweet home, isn’t it? Mr. Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations and a citizen of Ghana came under serious criticism when his son, Kojo Annan, was implicated for his role in the Switzerland based Cotecna in Iraq’s oil for food program. The senior Mr. Annan had to be investigated for allegations of conflict of interest in awarding the contract to Cotecna. Many called on senior Mr. Annan to resign as secretary general of the UN. Findings however proved the innocence of the Secretary General. Months later, the same young man is mentioned in connection with tax evasion moves in his homeland, Ghana. Ghana’s premier university, University of Ghana, was in the news a couple of years ago for widespread examination leakage and oh dear! The son of the number one personage on campus was cited as the one behind the leakage. The vice chancellor, Asenso Okyere has since then been at the receiving end of criticisms for the action of his son. Investigations, barring margins of error however have exonerated the senior Asenso-Okyere from any wrongdoing. He is back in office. Good evening sir! Welcome back to campus. Like every other news in Ghana, this too shall pass.

Who is yet to hear about the unconfirmed 114-room hotel at the junction that has become popularly known in Ghana as the HIPC junction? Circumstances surrounding the purchase of this hotel, which has been nicknamed, “Hotel Kufour” was the focus of media attention in the years past. Believed to have been purchased by the eldest son of the president of Ghana, ‘Chief’ John Kufour, a 41-year-old accountant, the hotel attracted lots of public outcry. The ruling government came out to say that the purchase of the $ 3.5 million dollar edifice saw no presidential influence whatsoever. The opposition on the other hand raised several questions about the extent to which state resources might have been committed to the deal. Mr. Alban Bagbin, the minority leader in parliament called for an independent commission of enquiry into the deal. Many wonder why the giant but calm first gentleman should be ‘attacked’ for Junior Mr. Kufour’s private business deals. Anna Bossman did her best to clarify issues.

With all these events having hanged heavily around the necks of high profile Africans, one is tempted to imagine what the prayers of these men and those leaders yet to come are. Are they still grateful for having given forth to the traditionally most welcome sex in the African environment? Do they in the bottom of their hearts wish for daughters now instead of sons? A school of thought urges potential public office holders to defy ‘custom’ and pray for daughters instead of sons. With elections 2008 around, sections of the Ghanaian electorate are now contemplating adding a quirky criterion to those considered in choosing public office holders: “Has he got a son?” The concept of empowering the girl child, a move initiated by Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and currently spearheaded by Hajia Alima Mahama, will surely get a major boost with the new prayer for daughters.

Maybe the time has come for girls to take their position in society. African women should identify this opportune time and make good use of it. They however must be cautious in order not to ‘blow’ this chance like the men have done. It’s time to move a step ahead and get things done instead of organizing workshops that only call for gender equality. A man I spoke to recently said, “Women are not ambitious enough; whilst men seek to be like God, women desire to only be like me.” So you see, all things being equal, if everybody’s wish is granted, men will always be ahead. Women should fight to be greater women instead of being equal to men. Very well, so in the meantime, let’s give the XX chromosomes a chance, shouldn’t we?



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