Wednesday, 22 September 2021

INT’L DIALOGUE: ECOWAS vs. Doumbouya. A case of ‘witches’ exorcising witchcraft?


Col. Mamady Doumbouya

While Ghana’s first President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah waited anxiously in Beijing, China, to make it home to Accra after the February 24, 1966 coup, he received many messages of political solidarity from heads of state across the globe.

African leaders were not left out of this well-wishing gesture. From Mali, President Modibo Keita sent in a note to Nkrumah. Albert Margai, then Prime Minister of Sierra Leone, also had his message received by Kwame Nkrumah.

“Please accept, my dear Brother, the assurance of my highest consideration, esteem and prayers for your personal well-being and safety,” parts of Margai’s message read. Nkrumah quotes this in his 1968 book, Dark Days In Ghana.

Political solidarity in such situations in international politics is a normal phenomenon. It, therefore, came as no surprise the apparent acrobatics of love and compassion the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) showed their colleague -- deposed President Alpha Conde.

On Sunday, September 5, 2021, Col. Mamady Doumbouya and his men toppled Mr. Conde who had been in power in Guinea since 2010. Mr. Doumbouya, a former French legionnaire was until his dramatic coup Alpha Conde’s darling-boy. As a matter of fact, as it is typical of most African heads of state, the deposed Guinean president ensured he had a tight grip on security around him so to help him cling on to power the way bees glue themselves to nectars.

Mr. Conde hatched a plan. He would fall on Mamady Doumbouya who had been trained in France and also said to have had several trainings in a couple of countries including being taught as an “operational protection specialist” at Israel’s International Security Academy. Aside Doumbouya’s enviable military credentials, his physique which makes him stand tall and robust like the baobab tree certainly might have been a contributory factor Mr. Conde considered him the best man to ward off “enemies” of the state.

This, in 2018, Mamady’s one-time boss -- Alpha Conde -- called him from France to Guinea to lead and man affairs of the then newly formed Special Forces Group (GFS). The former French legionnaire obliged, came down and headed the GFS. He did his master’s bidding and is said to have committed human right abuses in Guinea which made the European Union threaten sanctioning him together with some other 24 persons of the West African state.

In all this, the people of Guinea grew weary of Alpha Conde and what broke the camel’s back was when the now deposed president changed the country’s constitution last year. The change in constitution allowed Conde to stand for a third term in office which he won the elections amidst controversies. 

“When a handshake goes beyond the elbow,” our elders say, “it ceases to be a friendly gesture.” Doumbouya grew weary of Conde’s cling to power and would topple him on that Sunday. He had had enough of Alpha Conde’s ‘handshake’ that went beyond the elbows of Guineans.

The boy who arguably has been a faraway student of Ghana’s late President Jerry John Rawlings in his speech, after the coup, said: “If the people are crushed by their own elites, it is up to the army to give the people their freedom.” A quote he attributes to his mentor Rawlings.

It must be made clear that we condemn coup d’états with all the seriousness it deserves. That is one of the backward games drawing Africa’s progress behind. For this, we unreservedly condemn Mamady Doumbouya’s coup.

Nonetheless, one finds it difficult sympathizing with Alpha Conde considering the fact that he knowingly committed the first coup in his country. A democratic coup d’état for that matter. On October 14, 2019, Aljazeera reported in a news article -- dubbed “Several killed in Guinea protests against constitution change” -- the atrocities Conde’s stay in power was causing.

If we are to apportion blames then we cannot turn a blind eye on Conde’s first coup -- the constitutional change. Among the frivolous reasons that supporters of Alpha Conde gave for the change in the country’s constitution was that the president needed more time to finish his projects. One wonder’s the sort of progressive and productive projects (most) African leaders implement let alone to warrant them stay in office after their mandated terms have elapsed.

In Ivory Coast, President Alassane Ouattara also changed his country’s constitution to enable him stand for a third term in office. In March 2020, in the capital Yamassoukro, Mr. Ouattara tricked the world declaring he was poised not to go for a third term.  

Amidst cheers and applause, Alassane Ouattara said: “I have decided not to be candidate in the Oct. 31 presidential election and to transfer power to a new generation.” The Reuters reported. But that promise was short lived. When Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly -- who was the candidate for Ouattarra’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace -- died in July 2020, Mr. Ouattara went back to swallow his own ‘vomit’.

Again, one of the frivolous reasons given as in the case of Conde’s was that the supporters of the Rally of the Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace need Alassane Ouattara to stay and go for a third term. Well, that was not supposed to be surprising anyway. The Ivorian President himself had earlier said that if his opponents including former President Henri Konan Bedie stood for the elections then he will equally contest again.

Ivory Coast's President Alassane Ouattara at the ECOWAS Summit

Ouattara’s March 2020 announcement and his subsequent moonwalk moves tell how cunning the African politician could be. Today, this is a man ECOWAS deemed fit to accompany its Chair, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to Guinea to pressure Mamady Doumbouya to step down and return the country to a civilian rule! Ouattara? The man who equally staged a coup by illegally changing his country’s constitution? It is nauseating when the pot gathers courage to tell the kettle it is black.

On July 24, 1993, when the heads of state and government of ECOWAS met in Cotonou in Benin to revise its treaty that aimed at seeing among other things the realization of good governance and promotion of democracy in the sub-region, Alassane Ouattara was present. Yes! He was by then Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister under President Félix Houphouët-Boigny’s regime. Mr. Ouattara appended his signature to the ECOWAS treaty and today he has flatly flouted what he stood for.

Still questioning ECOWAS’ moral right to advice Mr. Doumbouya, why was Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe present at both the first hastily conducted emergency virtual summit and that of the September 15, 2021 held in Accra-Ghana? The crimes Alpha Conde committed that saw him toppled have been committed too in Togo and ECOWAS is silent on it.

Togo's President Faure Gnassingbe at the ECOWAS Summit

Was it not Faure Gnassingbe who equally changed his country’s constitution in 2019?  “The amendment means that Faure Gnassingbe is very much eligible to stand for reelection in the country’s polls slated for February 22, 2020. But, wait! That’s not all. Faure Gnassingbe could as well stand for the 2025 elections and rule till 2030 when he wins the people’s mandate,” we wrote in a February 12, 2020 article titled Faure Gnassingbe, a president for life?

If we are to mention names of ECOWAS’ heads of state and government one after the other -- or even that of Africa at large, the probability of each one of them being guilty as the Pharisees in John 8:7 will be high. “When they kept on questioning him [Jesus], he straightened up and said to them [Pharisees], ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’”

When Jesus said this to the Pharisees, they shamefully left one after the other. But Africans leaders, most of them if not all, are without shame. So, ECOWAS leaders are still busily pressuring Doumbouya over his coup. Can we ask the ECOWAS Chair why he attended Alpha Conde’s inaugural ceremony when he knew that the man had illegally changed his country’s constitution?

“On Tuesday, 15th December 2020, I was in Conakry, capital of the Republic of Guinea, to attend the swearing-in ceremony of His Excellency Alpha Condé,” wrote H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on his Facebook wall. It must be stated that the ECOWAS Chair also attended Alassane Ouattara’s inauguration in same month even before he left for Guinea.   

Is it not the case that attending such third term inaugural ceremonies one directly or indirectly approves the illegality these power-drunk presidents commit?

Taking a cursory look at ECOWAS’ coercive diplomacy employed against Doumbouya, one is tempted to ask if it is not the case of ‘witches’ busily praying to exorcise witchcraft?

What we must take into account is that whereas then Guinea’s President Sékou Touré wholeheartedly welcomed Kwame Nkrumah, made him a co-president of the French speaking country as Guineans cheered him (Nkrumah) up in Conakry, in the same city in 2021, Guineans hooted at their own deposed President Alpha Conde. Two deposed presidents, two different narratives.

The people cheered on Mamady Doumbouya and his men for what appeared to them -- the masses -- a messianic saving mission from Conde’s brutal play with power.

In his book A Promise Land, Barack Obama in 2002 in responding to the then impending U.S. invasion of Iraq said at a rally that: “I don’t oppose all wars. What I oppose to is a dumb war.” Indeed, wars like coup d’états are atrociously bad but there comes a time when one finds sense in these and, going forward, ECOWAS leaders and heads of state in Africa at large must advise themselves accordingly. They must desist from thinking they owe the country which they govern and respect their citizens.

Failure to comply with this humble advice, their citizens will one day jubilate as Guineans are today and they will boldly proclaim and cheer on their respective soldiers in telling the world that they do not oppose all coups. That, what they oppose to is a dumb coup.

The writers are Ghanaian journalists who have interest in the world’s politics with an unflinching eye mainly on what pertains in Africa. Views expressed here are solely theirs and do not, in anyway, reflect the editorial policy of this media organisation.


Twitter: @abisolo7 & @aniwaba



Wednesday, 8 September 2021

What to expect from ECOWAS’ Guinea emergency summit

 By Solomon Mensah

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to virtually hold an emergency summit at 2pm (1400GMT) today to be directed by the bloc’s Chair, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The emergency summit follows Sunday’s coup that toppled President Alpha Conde who had previously pushed for constitutional change that saw him go for a third term in office.

Coup leader Mamady Doumbouya addressing Guineans on state television, on September 5, said that: “We will no longer entrust politics to one man, we will entrust it to the people.”

But ECOWAS in a statement condemned the coup, saying it does not condone unconstitutional political change.

Wednesday’s summit is expected to among other things reiterate the condemnation of the coup, impose sanctions on Guinea and possibly suspend the country from the regional bloc till governance is handed over to a civilian government.

Meanwhile, the soldiers have announced army officers as governors to man affairs of Guinea’s eight regions.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

TALKING DRUM: What Rawlings said in 1986!

On Sunday, January 17, 2021, I set off to meet two friends at the Shiashie bus stop in Accra. Jones Ronny Dedjo and Benjamin Tenkorang – professional photojournalists – were my classmates at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) and are now helping roll the cameras for my talkshow ‘Talk To Solomon’ on the YouTube channel Aniwaba. 

We were to go to Abokobi to interview veteran journalist Teye Kitcher, who worked with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC). Mr. Kitcher was the presidential correspondent to the Castle in the era the late Jerry John Rawlings was the head of state. Coming from different directions with a common destination of Abokobi, we agreed meeting at Shiashi. 

So, we moved together to Teye Kitcher’s house. I got to the Shiashie bus stop, longed to sit on a chair but there was none. What I saw could replace a seat was a metallic bar. I sat on it but that did not make me as uncomfortable as the pile of refuse at the bus stop that stared at me and other commuters. The very spot the refuse occupied should have had a dustbin placed there. The absence of a dustbin had commuters dumping their waste on the bare ground. I could not really fault those who dumped their waste there as I blamed persons mandated to ensure there was a dustbin in place. 

Benjamin came a few minutes after I had arrived and then Jones followed. While we sat in our vehicle and headed for Abokobi, I brought up the issue of the filth at the bus stop. Scenes of filth like the one seen at Shiashie have become so normal here in Accra and in almost all the other cities in the country. At Kaneshie – also in Accra – where the Accra Metropolitan Assembly has its waste management office, the place appears to be the Mecca of filth in Ghana. 

Well, at a point, we chipped in a different conversation and sped off to meet our interviewee. Today’s interview with Teye Kitcher will be the second after I first interviewed him three days after Rawlings passed away. In our first interview, he had mentioned that he still had in his archives some of the speeches Rawlings delivered as far back as the 1980s. 

To my surprise, the man who will turn 62-years soon (but looking evergreen) had placed a brown leather bag on one of the chairs in his living room. “Solo,” he said when he ushered us into the living room, “this is the bag. It contains some speeches of Rawlings and other stuff during my days at the Castle as a presidential correspondent.” We started the interview proper and asked him how he would feel seeing the remains of J.J Rawlings– the former president– laid in state on January 27, 2021. I knew what he was likely to say. 

Mr. Teye and Rawlings had become so close that the former could bare it all to the latter issues that worried him. The retired journalist once told me he even shared family matters with the former head of state. When your close friend is laid in state, that could physically and emotionally drain you and that was how difficult Teye Kitcher had presumed it will be for him. 

In the course of the interview, I asked him to get us some of the documents from his well-kept bag of archives. He stood up, brought a bundle of papers and started searching through them one after the other. “Address by the Chairman of the PNDC Flt. Lt. J.J. Rawlings,” read Mr. Kitcher after he pulled out one brownish-white paper, “at the occasion of the commissioning of the Accra City Waste Management Project at Kaneshie on Friday, 18th July 1986.” That was the heading of Rawlings’ speech. 

When Teye Kitcher read that, I told him I was interested in that particular paper and that he should read excerpts of it. “Madam Chairperson, PNDC Secretaries and Under Secretaries, Your Excellency, Nimei, Naamei, Distinguished Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen,” started Rawlings. 

Listening to Mr. Kitcher read this to me, I could imagine the sort of seriousness with which Rawlings read this himself. “[…] It is indeed true to say that this function provides yet another practical demonstration of the government’s commitment to strengthen the hands of Local Authorities with the ultimate aim of injecting maximum efficiency into the performance of their important function of providing essential services to the people.” Choosing Kaneshie to commission this project, I think, was strategic. 

As I mentioned earlier, Kaneshie today appears to be the citadel of Ghana’s filth and I presume it was as filthy in the 1980s as it is now. But, Rawlings’ drive to get Accra clean did not yield long-term results. In 2021, we are worse off than the late president imagined. Papa Jay, as many called him, knew the essence of best sanitation practices, hence, the coming into being of the Accra City Waste Management Project. Mr. Rawlings’ speech continued: “Madam Chairperson, the fact cannot be gainsaid that our major problem with the urban environment clearly lies in the area of sanitation. It is common knowledge that where healthy sanitation practices exist, the air we breathe and the water we drink and utilise for numerous domestic and commercial purposes will be free from pollution.” 

Why do we as a people perfectly know the results of best sanitation practices, yet we blatantly disregard such and live our lives as people who are lost on their bearings? At Kaneshie, Lapaz, Madina and all the suburbs of Accra, filth has engulfed us. Sadly, market women sell right at the spots where refuse are dumped while buyers and consumers busily buy consumables there. 

Are we normal? Why is it that for solid 35 years, we are still talking about unsanitary conditions in Accra and Ghana at large? If you happen to be a social science student or asked to describe Ghana, please don’t wrack your brain that much. In simple terms, Ghana is either a state without citizens or citizens without a state, arguably, the only country in the world where common sense appears so expensive a commodity. The John Dramani administration attempted to fix our mess but what they proposed as solution to the problem was actually a problem to the solution. 

They introduced the National Sanitation Day, which indirectly told citizens to fill their gutters with all their trash so they go back to clean it the first Saturday of every month. Is something not wrong with us? Then came the promise Messiah and his government. Then candidate Akufo-Addo promised Ghanaians Accra will be the cleanest city in Africa by the end of his first term. This task, to President Akufo Addo and his government, was so difficult and complex than the Russians manufacturing their S-300. 

So, they told Ghanaians the clean city promise will be delivered in their second term. A country of jokers? Not long ago, I had a chat with Bruno Sorrentino (a veteran journalist) who spent 20 years documenting the life of a girl. I told him how much I was impressed with his exemplary journalism of riveting storytelling. 

The documentary by Mr. Sorrentino that I watched on Aljazeera titled ‘Kay Kay: The Girl from Guangzhou’, had the journalist filming the little girl (named Kay Kay) every two years, starting from when she was two years. The purpose of the filming was to assess how Guangzhou and China would be like – in terms of economic growth – when Kay Kay had turned 20. “We can put up with all this dust and pollution if in the end it means business,” Kay Kay’s mother said in the film. 

The year was 1992 (when Bruno first filmed) and Guangzhou was sprouting like mushrooms. Twenty years came so quickly, Kay Kay had completed university looking for job and China had moved miles away from its gloomy past. When I had the chat with Bruno Sorrentino on January 10, 2021, it was my third time watching his documentary. 

If Bruno had come to Ghana to film a little girl or boy in Accra and witnessed the commissioning of the Accra City Waste Management Project, he would have wasted his time and resources on us. Ghana, a country so much blessed yet so poor in all aspects of its endeavour, is gracefully a disgrace state sitting on the surface of the earth. 

I am sorry to inform you that that Accra City Waste Management Project was even funded by the “Federal Republic of Germany and some friendly organisations of that country,” yet, we failed them! It is Sunday, January 24, 2021, and the time is 2:44am and I am here in my ghetto writing you this piece. I need to catch some sleep. But as I go to bed, if I tell you I have hope in Ghana I will be lying. 

My hope in Ghana is gone with the wind and it will only be resuscitated if only we are able to put our minds on “factory reset,” discard our backward behaviour and live as civilised people. 

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General. Views expressed here solely remain his and not that of his organization. Email: Twitter: @Aniwaba Youtube: Aniwaba

Friday, 4 December 2020

TALKING DRUM: Hello Nana Addo, should I vote for you?


President Akufo Addo. Photo: Culled from the Internet

Last week at Bubuashie in Accra, a lady and young man quickly walked past my bus (trotro) which moved slowly— dodging potholes. Draped on the right shoulder of the lady was a megaphone. 

"He is number one on the ballot paper," she said. She was not an evangelist winning souls for Christ. Here was a lady campaigning for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the upcoming December 7 polls. She was on a mission to win votes for NPP’s presidential candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

The Bubuashie megaphone campaigners announced that residents could dispose their refuse for free. They had brought a ‘borla’ taxi to collect all the residents’ rubbish.

If you are a Ghanaian or African reading this, I will not be surprised to hear you say you are equally not surprised of this sort of campaign towards an election on the continent. This is Ghana and that is how my people canvass for votes. When they win, you will only see them in the next four (4) years!

Sitting in that rickety bus, I felt justified for being critically harsh on politicians in my writings. The sad truth is that they know exactly how to turn around the fortunes of this country called Ghana but deliberately derelict their duties and responsibilities. They capitalize on the ignorance and timidity of the masses to rape them.

For instance, when the Nana Akufo Addo-led government assumed office, one of its policies, aside fighting corruption, was to get Accra become the cleanest city in Africa. Ghanaians were so hopeful that, at last, we had found a leader to rid Accra of its dirt.

I had no qualms about the President achieving this feat. In 1986, France and England conceived an idea to create a route that will connect the two countries. After deliberations, they settled on building a railway.

What became known as the Eurotunnel or the Channel Tunnel was not an ordinary railway line. The 31 mile (50 km) long Eurotunnel was built undersea. Yes! When it was officially opened in 1994, the world once again realized that the human brain is the most powerful thing on earth. A railway constructed undersea? Hmmm!

So, as mentioned above, when my president made endless promises to, among other things, get Accra to become Africa’s cleanest city, I never had doubts. Human beings elsewhere had been able to build railway under the waters. After all, how tedious is it to sweep rubbish and get citizens not to litter indiscriminately?

Then, few months into the NPP government administration, they boldly and proudly told Ghanaians they cannot fulfill the ‘clean city’ promise. Annoyingly, the President and his ministers kept telling Ghanaians that goal would be achieved in their second term in government. Really? A country of jokers!

As elections fast approach, the NPP and its supporters and foot soldiers have seen the need to hit the grounds to aggressively campaign as I saw at Bubuashie and we see in every corner in the country. Why was the government unable to employ these on-the-ground campaign strategies for the sanitation campaign among others the president promised? Why is the NPP able to assemble beautiful ladies, station them on our streets and hand them placards bearing the party’s so-called achievements yet unable to get them to hold placards telling Ghanaians not to litter?

This, I must say, the National Democratic Congress is equally guilty of. The Ghanaian politician thinks every Ghanaian is a fool. So, they pretend to be working right from the day they are sworn into office. When they realize elections are drawing closer, they come promising us even the more.

If you have keenly followed the Australian Ambassador to Ghana, His Excellency Gregory Andrews, as I have, you would realize that right from the very day he got into Ghana, he started working. He had no time to waste.

When you read comments on the Australian Embassy Facebook page, most Ghanaians who comment on his posts bitterly lament over not seeing this spirit of a sense of urgency and selfless dedication to humanity in their own politicians. President Nana Addo, after he touted his government to be one in a hurry quickly implemented the Free SHS policy and went to sleep. His government is a tale of failed promises.

Our politicians are so wicked that after they come together to loot and, at times, pamper foreigners — as we saw in the cases of Aisha Huang and Helena Huang — to rape the country of its resources, they are even unable to provide basic amenities to citizens to calm down their tempers.

Last year, I went to Tamale on three separate round trips by air from Accra. Throughout my life, so far, my being aboard an airplane has seen me do Accra-Tamale and Tamale-Accra. I have not stepped a foot outside Ghana. Nonetheless, I spend time on the internet and so I know almost every country so well and I think Ghana is perhaps the only country where common sense is so hard to find. Yes! Politically, we do not have sensible leaders.

If we had politically sensible leaders, would we have seen almost all our streets turn pitch-black at night while Ghanaians pay for streetlight services? If we had leaders who think, would we have seen them get their supporters climb these same white elephant streetlight poles to hoist their campaign flags?

In front of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, on the Awoshie-Pokuase Highway and University of Ghana (Legon-Accra) among others (all in Accra), one sees impenetrable darkness at night but party flags of both NPP and NDC adorn these streetlight poles. I am sure this situation reflects nationwide, too. Please, the question is, are we normal?

Few months ago, it took residents at Magoase near Awoshie to protest before traffic light was fixed for them on a point on the Awoshie-Pokuase Highway. When the ‘wise men’, however, fixed the traffic light at Magoase, they forgot to fix the streetlights on this same road. Are we not stupid!?


                                       Some pedestrians crossing the Aoshie-Pokuase Highway

In August 2020, I used the Techiman-Sawla stretch. The potholes on this road speak volumes of our negligence. We do not value human lives so nothing tells us to fix, at least, our major roads. We are only interested in counting the number of deaths on these roads.

On January 26, 2020, I wrote an article dubbed “What next after counting the dead?” and in that piece, I told you that: “In 2019 only, Ghana as a country lost 2,284 persons to road crashes. 2018 was nothing different. We counted 2,020 deaths of humans on our roads.”

Actually, statistics from 1991 to 2018 indicates that 46,284 people lost their lives to road crashes. if we were to fill the Accra Sports Stadium — which has a 40, 000 seating capacity — with these dead bodies, as many have put this in perspective, we would have the venue overflowing with a surplus of 6000 bodies.”

That is how alarming the situation is. However, what concrete measures have our leaders put in place to curb road crashes? None! (See the aforementioned article and read measures I suggested be taken to curb the crashes.) Nothing pushes us to be concerned about our predicaments as we made the world believe we could manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. President, should I vote for you? Honestly, I do not see any sense of patriotism and nationalism in the two main contenders in the December 7 polls. The NPP and NDC are only bent on amassing wealth for themselves. They instigate their die-hard supporters to commit all sorts of atrocities including what we saw in Banda in the Bono Region where a young man named Silas Wulochamey met his untimely death in the hands of NPP-NDC thugs. In Kasoa too, we have not forgotten the horror ‘movie’ Member of Parliament for Awutu Senya East Constituency Hawa Koomson shot.

If these people claim they want to serve Ghanaians, why do they kill and maim the same Ghanaians they want to serve? Why do they blatantly engage in corruption and rake in all the cash into their coffers while the masses suffer?

It is only an unfortunate reality that, come December 7, victory will either go to the NPP or NDC. For some of us, however, we see it as an exercise and endorsement of mediocrity if we walk from our homes and go to the polling centers to vote for any of the two leading political parties.

It may take us years for Ghana and Africa to have refined politicians with conscience leading us both in government and opposition who will place the interest of the masses before their selfish gains. The time to force these politicians to think is now.

If I had my way, I will elect Akua Donkor as Ghana’s next president so — officially — the world knows we are into comedy in our politics. Until we wake up and challenge our ‘educated illiterates’ in politics who are bent on bettering themselves, their family and friends, we will continue to ask God why we find ourselves in Africa!

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General. Views expressed here solely remain his and not that of his organization.


Twitter: @Aniwaba

Youtube: Aniwaba

Friday, 24 July 2020

TALKING DRUM: Kasoa-Banda gunshots, how they kill for votes!

Member of Parliament, Hawa Koomson
When my brother told me that he had received his voting cards (referred to in Ghana as ballot papers), I expressed shock. “They sent you the cards? Really?” I enquired, just for emphasis sake.

He took pictures of the voting cards– three in all– and sent to me via WhatsApp. “This is Sweden. Here, there is law and order and the systems work,” he said.

I had told him how surprised I was hearing that ballot papers were sent to them to be kept in their rooms for days before the very day of the elections. In his case, he kept them in his room for two solid weeks.

“Massa, I swear that if we do this in Ghana there will be no human being living in the country the day after citizens received these papers. The NDC and NPP will map their opponents’ zones and burn them to ashes at dawn,” I said rather sadly.

We all laughed it off. But that is the stark reality in our country Ghana. 

Reading more on the Swedish electoral process, I chanced on an article on dubbed, “How to vote in the 2018 Swedish election”. Portions of the article confirmed what I was told of the ballot papers. That, “In the weeks leading up to the election, voting cards are sent out to all eligible voters from the Election Authority, also known as Valmyndigheten. These are sent to the address you registered with Skatteverket (tax agency). 

A Swede walks to vote.
 “This letter [containing the cards] will also include information about the location and opening time of your nearest polling station on election day. These are municipal buildings, usually schools or libraries. In some locations, it's possible to cast your vote in advance, starting 18 days before the day of the election; if you do this, you can use any advance polling station, but if you vote on the day, you must go to your designated location.”

Swedes cast their votes. Photo: ScanPix
When I posted about this on my Facebook wall, I had friends living in other civilized countries sharing the same account on their respective elections. It dawned on me that Ghana and her counterparts in Africa are – arguably– the ones still glued to their backward approach to development. 

Sad enough, it appears we are unfazed as a country as politicians and their supporters continue to make elections on the continent a bitter pill forced down the throats of citizens. Last week, news was rife when a 28-year old man got killed at Banda Ahenkro in the Bono Region. He was not an armed robber neither was he caught on top of someone’s wife.

Silas Wulochamey suffered his gruesome death allegedly in the hands of the supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP). Media reports suggested that supporters of the NPP and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) engaged in a brawl over the eligibility of Mr. Wulochamey to register at Banda Ahenkro for the ongoing voter card registration exercise.

The altercation led to the stabbing of the young man whom we are told hailed from Banda Ahenkro. Even if he had no family ties in Banda Ahenkro or whatsoever, was it not totally senseless to kill him in his attempt to register there? Here was a graduate from the Akim Oda Teacher Training College killed in cold blood. Yes! Someone’s son who could have supported his family and friends to better their lives if he were given the chance to live and practice as a trained teacher. 

It is worthy to note that in an interview on Onua FM’s midday news, after the incident, the Bono Regional Public Relations Officer of the Ghana Police Service, Augustine Kingsley Oppong said that about three of his officers who went to ensure law and order prevailed in the Banda incident also sustained gunshot wounds. That was how grim the situation was!

Just as we could let the dust settle on Silas Wulochamey’s death, Ghanaians and the rest of the world further had to battle another infamous incident. This time, the violent act of indiscriminately firing gunshots into the air was led by the Member of Parliament of the Awutu Senya East of the Central Region, Hawa Koomson. The MP also doubles as the Minister of Special Development Initiatives. 

Madam Koomson’s day of shame was on Monday, July 20, 2020, at the Step to Christ registration centre at Kasoa. If guns are easily pulled at a mere voters’ ID card registration centres by trigger-happy political lunatics and party supporters are, as well, so senseless to stab their fellow human to death, then what happens come December 7 when the country goes to the polls?

About seven (7) months ago, I asked a friend who had returned to Ghana from South Korea just one question when I bumped into him at church. 

“You have been to a developed country and now you are back here in Ghana. What do you think we must do to be called a developed country too?” I threw the question at him.

Stirring into my face for about 30 seconds, he heaved a sigh and said, “Unless we kill all these people (referring to Ghana’s adult population) with polluted minds and let the kids take over the country with a fresh mindset. Though I’m not saying that’s what Korea did.” 

Whereas my friend, to an extent, was right we could develop Ghana if we can eliminate the adult populace, I believe that rather we should just let those who call themselves the “educated” Ghanaians step aside from public leadership. They are the very people destroying the country. 

The truth is if the so-called illiterates in society perpetrate these atrocities seen in politics we could, in a worst case scenario, find a room in our hearts to pardon them. We will agree if they plead they were not exposed to best practices in politics elsewhere before their funfair of stupidity. But, when an MP who doubles as a minister and her folks who have travelled the world instigate their followers to commit heinous crimes because they want votes, there must be no mercy for them before the law. 

This, both the NPP and NDC are guilty. When in government and they commit these atrocities, they find a way to justify their actions and the opposition courts the public to mount pressure and the same situation continues when we change governments. 

If a country like Sweden occupied by humans as those in Ghana could hold super peaceful elections without most people of the world even realizing they held an election, why can’t we do same in Ghana? Why can’t we as a people allow our brains to function for just a second? Why do we sit down for a few foolish politicians take the country to ransom that human beings are killed with impunity just because they want to win an election? And, the most nauseating thing is that if, indeed, these politicians say they only want to serve their populace by soliciting for their votes then why kill and terrorize the very people they will serve?

I used to blame Michael Jackson for changing the colour of his skin. Then, I completed journalism school, started following Ghana and Africa's politics proper and realised that judgment must be left solely in the hands of God.

If you consider the constant showcasing of stupidity by some of our politicians, one tends to agree with scientists' classification of human beings as animals. The reality is that such animals abound in Ghana and if there were a wall built around our country, we could pass for the world's biggest zoo!

Though cases of violence recorded at the registration centres are isolated, honestly, I do not see the reason why I should go to a potential death zone of a voter ID card registration centre to register. After all, without any scientific data, I can boldly say that 90% of people who have registered to vote will do so either to maintain President Akufo Addo and his NPP or bring back into government John Dramani Mahama and his NDC. 

That is the sad truth and I am not willing to commit such a crime of electing any of these political chameleons who will promise to buy you a beautiful bowl only to return from the market with a chamber pot.

However, in case I change my mind and register for the voter’s card, I will gladly vote for Akua Donkor and her Ghana Freedom Party. A friend named Fatau Mohammed once gave me a reason why he will vote for Madam Donkor and I think he makes sense. He says, with Akua Donkor’s government there will be no disappointments but only surprises. 

In that, many believe her to be a political joker so if she wins power and underperforms you know you did not vote for her to positively change our narrative as a country. Nonetheless, if she pulls magic and transforms the country’s fortunes then you know she has surprised you big time.

If we, indeed, value Ghana and want the best for the country then we must all stop acting like jokers. The Ghanaian media must, as well, desist from trumpeting peace campaigns and musicians must do same by desisting from composing songs on such. If after 60 years of independence we have not realised the reason we exist as a people then we must equally grab a chilled bottle of Coke and popcorn and read Edward N. Luttwak’s paper ‘Give War a Chance.’

Countries who listened to Luttwak have learnt their lessons, the hard way, and today they are successfully progressing. Here, when we heed to Luttwak’s call, we will look on while the NDC and NPP fight till their energy drains.

The writer is a broadcast journalist with Media General [TV3/3FM]. Views expressed herein are solely his, and do not, in any way, reflect the editorial policy of his organisation whatsoever.
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