THE VISITOR WHO CAME IN FROM THE OVAL OFFICE (3)
By: Kwame Gyasi
“Nobody with a vigilant conscience can be satisfied with the current situation”
_Akbar Hashenmi Rafsanjani, former President of Iran
“It is indeed a magnificent country – a land flowing with milk and honey. But the people living there are powerful and their cities are fortified and very large.
The land is full of warriors, the people are powerfully built. We felt like grasshoppers before them; they were so tall”.
_The Living Bible (The book of Numbers)
A Lot has been said as to why Ghana was chosen as the first destination in Africa to be visited by President Barrack Obama. President Barrack Obama, the first African – American president, visited Ghana on his first trip to sub- Sahara Africa as US leader.
Mr. Obama selected Ghana for his first visit to Africa south of the Sahara because to borrow the words of his spokesperson: “Ghana is truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger, a thriving democracy”.
As an agendum, this statement was added: “An extraordinary close election, decided ultimately by about 40,000 votes, the country remained peaceful, power was transferred peacefully, and they continued to pursue a development agenda and bolster the rule of law.” Ghana was thus chosen for the first visit presumably because of her democratic track record.
I chuckled to myself when I read the reason President Obama gave and the world proposed for selecting Ghana as his first and only port of call to Africa. My mind went back immediately to the two statements quoted on top of this article. President Obama, his advisers and the world out – side were comparing Ghana to other African countries in deciding that “Ghana is a truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger, a thriving democracy”.
For far too long we in this country have fooled ourselves into stupor in believing that our democracy is on course. The reason given is very simple. A sitting government could lose election by mere 40,000 votes and gracefully hand over to the opposition. It bends the reason why we have changed governments twice during the “fourth Republic”. It was a famous Nigeria musician, Bongus Ikwe, who sung the tune: “show me the in maternity hospital”.
The book of Numbers quoted above could be making a comparison of the African Continent with the rest of the advance world where President Obama came from. Compared to Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea (note we are not in the advanced western or Obama county yet), countries Ghana started life with, the book of Numbers was saying the Africans and for that matter, Ghana, were the grasshoppers while Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea represent the people with fortified cities. You cannot compare Bom Dwen Hotel at Agona Swedru with Golden Tulip in Accra. It will not make sense to President Obama and his advisers. So he must find a rational way of coming up with a hotel in some outlandish village some where which can be compared with the Agona Swedru Hotel.
Compared to Singapore, Malaysia or Korea, President Obama will never find any country in Africa to visit. But the astute politician that he is, President Obama does not want appear like the husband who has nothing for the in-laws but also commits the unthinkable crime of stealing from them.
He must find a place on the African soil to speak to those morons pestering as leaders and behaving just like the proverbial vulture who only remembers to build a house when it starts to rain. Ghana, despite her imperfection was a paradise in the burning African forest and therefore provided a launching pad for President Obama’s crusade.
The irony and the futility of Obama’s crusade was that while the crusade was in full swing in the Ghanaian Parliament another buffoon calling himself president of the impoverished African Saharan country was pulling all the plugs to legalized his stay in office as a life president. It makes me remember a scene reported in the Nigerian press.
It happened in llorin the Kwara State capital of Nigeria. While armed robbers were been openly executed publicly, pick pockets were also having a field day among the spectators who had gathered to witness the public execution.
In Ghana our only living two past presidents cannot sit down together even in hell to share ice water. In Ghana people who have served four years as parliamentarians are allowed to cart away 28 months of their undisclosed monthly salaries as gratuity and yet of these “honorable” persons were reported never reported never to have contributed a single sentence in a single parliamentary debate.
What is the use of a parliamentarian who only prides himself or herself of being a bench warmer on some parliamentarian committee while not contributing to debates on the floor of parliament?
In Ghana, former Speaker of Parliament, and a seasoned, accomplished and a well resourced lawyer at that can allow himself to be misled on matters of the interpretation of law by an entity who under normal circumstances may not even be fit to polish his shoes to remove everything from his official residence. And yet “Ghana is a truly admirable example of a place where governance is getting stronger, a thriving democracy”. Indeed, “a fool has said it in his heart that there is no God,” and we felt like grasshoppers before them. The eternal question full of wisdom is: why compare yourself to a poor person when there is a rich man across the street?
Obviously, because of the deplorable level of African democracy, other Africans who are not Ghanaians have also caught the bug thrown into the open space by the western press eulogizing Ghanaian democracy. In line with a series of viewpoints from African journalists commissioned by the BBC, Elizabeth Ohene a former government minister in Ghana and former BBC journalist, contributed a piece looking forward to US President Obama’s visit to Ghana as a follow up to Ms Ohene’s article the BBC called for listeners’ views on her article. Readers should find the views expressed by listeners to Ms Ohene’s article very interesting. Here is a sample:
“Bravo Ghana if all Africans can do like Ghana then there will be no problems like Nigeria, Kenya and others I wish am in Ghana to welcome my humble African bro. African leaders should try to emulate if there is good governance so that the continent can enjoy its wonderful resources”. Halima Jatta, Banjul the Gambia.
“Ghana was an obvious choice for President Obama. Numerous countries have had elections where the opposition won outright but never got seated. Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe to name a few. Ghana is one bright exception. Thank you Mr. President for sending a strong message to African despots “–Tariku I, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“To be sincere, I admired the true democracy in the Republic of Ghana. I live in Ghana for four years consecutive and not a day was I humiliated by any law implementers. Even though some of our Liberian friends once complained of human rights abuse but I believe that once Ghana being a law abided state, you are only trouble if you trouble the law and that’s what makes the nation what she is. Ghana you deserve all world class leaders visit always” –Tama Kpakima, Monrovia, Liberia.
“I am proud to be associated with Ghanaians or living in the country call Ghana, I have been in Ghana since 1996 and I think that Ghana is one of the best country on the continent and they really deserve a great president visit, life is not all about wealth but peace, love respect for your fellow man and that is why I have decided to stay in Ghana, I stay in Lagos for just six months, I have decide never to go back, I might likely experience Obama’s convoy passing in front of me going to Cape Coast, what a moment that I will never forget, if he don’t go by chapel, Ghanaians deserve this moment of my favorite leader in the world, Great Obama”- Prince Fallah, Liberian refugee in Ghana.
“Ghana is a leader in Africa whether people likes it or not. Ghana was the first sub – Sahara country to gain independence. Ghana has been holding credible elections. Corruption not rampant. No xenophobia attacks on fellow Africans. Ghana is indeed a BLACK Star. There could be no better country for Obama and family to visit than Ghana. Make us (Africans) proud our dear brothers and sisters in Ghana. If for any reason you won’t host him (Obama), could you recommend MALAWI – The Warm Heart of Africa as an alternative destination? Viva Ghana, Viva Africa”. – Sam Gonthako Nganjo, Blantyre, Malawi.
“I am a Zimbabwean and boy I am so jealous of Ghana right now. Imagine Obama visiting us. Wow lucky them. But I guess we asked for that didn’t we us Zimbabweans “- Michelle, Harare.
“My Ghanaian friend, I am a Nigerian and don’t envy Ghana even if President Obama and his disciples visit your country everyday. President Obama is just another American president looking after America interests. In this case, it is your newly acquired oil shores. Your comments justify my view about Ghanaians. Let me add that Ghana is the same size as Lagos Nigeria if not smaller. Good luck with your thriving democracy and good governance. I am happy that you are basking on something that is already in Africa”- Simms, Umuahia, Nigeria.
“My dear writer, we should concentrate more on what unites us than wasting time and energy on trying to whip up sentiments. What does it matter if Obama visits Ghana or Nigeria, better still Togo? We are supposed to be united rather than making claims or utterances that will not engender oneness. A black man is a black man; that should be our ethos. No place in the whole wide world that do not have its problem; we can not deny the problems of democracy and corruption in Nigeria but all these are surmountable. Our prayers should be how both Ghana and Nigeria or any African country should develop together. When Ghana had its problems in the late 70’s they ran to Nigeria. It will be easier and feasible for Ghana to help Nigeria or Nigeria help Ghana, for a non- African country to help. I don’t care if USA, UK or what have you; they are all after their interests. Please wake up” - Moses Akinmuyiwa, Birmingham, UK.
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The Spectator - page: 6 SATURDAY, August 15, 2009