On Ghana’s 2012 Elections—Let’s Keep it Cool and Levelheaded Part 2
On Ghana’s 2012 Elections: Let Peace WinIn my previous article entitled “On Ghana’s 2012 Elections—Let’s Keep it Cool and Levelheaded” I pleaded with the good people of Ghana, of the political parties, and of civil society that if we play it cool and levelheaded, Ghana will win and we all will win. I have no doubt that Ghanaians will prove equal to the task. They have done it before and they will do it again and again.As the parties and candidates begin to wrap up their intense campaigns by presenting their closing arguments, let me urge our compatriots, who want to offer themselves for public service for our dear country, that it will be to their credit and honor to think first and foremost the gigantic task and responsibilities awaiting those the people will choose. A thinking of this nature would send some cold waves into the spirit of any conscientious believer in trustworthy liberating politics. If that is a case, a sense of humility will mark the words of every candidate’s closing argument. Candidates in both the presidential and parliamentary elections as well as officials of the electoral process hold it as their sacred duty to make the electoral process something to be envied by our neighbors; something that will be worth talking about proudly in other parts of the world.
Though you, an honorable candidate for election, are not God, nevertheless, the hope and aspirations of the overwhelming majority of the people depend on you. Could you endeavor to bring a new meaning of “politics” and “politician” into today’s body politic? We believe that your intention is clear—service to our dear nation to help lift up the broken, confused, downtrodden, and the left behind, and nothing else. Consider a few of the following tasks awaiting you and your colleagues who will honorably be chosen: environmental concern as a result of indiscriminate and (in some cases) poorly negotiated surface mining, national health insurance system that is collapsing, pitiable highways that need to be turned around to connect key cities for reasons of economic health and human life, rising population and our food and nutritional situation, quack drug peddlers’ medicinal abuse, resources for purposeful education, having research universities, ports control and integrity, indiscipline at workplace and in the street, lawlessness (everyone is a law to oneself), inadequate living wages, the ever widening and deepening gap between the extremely rich and the awfully deprived.
As we make our final decision as to whom we are going to entrust our political destiny into their hands (no matter how transient it is), as we prepare to go and cast our sacred vote, let us think about this one thing: character. Character is not only about our own attitude toward the electoral process to make it wholesome, but more importantly, the nature of the candidates. By character of the candidate, I mean the reputation, integrity, honor, rectitude, strength, or moral fiber of the candidate; someone you can trust; someone who is what he or she says he or she is. Remember, what we vote for is what we get other things being equal. We need to conduct ourselves in such a way that the electoral process will be a true reflection of our own character, that is; it will replicate us.
The quality of the presidency” that our two compatriots and their running mates are vying for lies not in the privileges it carries, but in rendering sacrificial, humble service to the nation, the people, and especially standing up for the least of these in a world that gloats over power, money, and big names. So, if this election is about the people, then there is no way we will allow extreme partisan politics any place in the political process let alone cause it to develop into hate, destruction, and death. We all know this saying of Jesus Christ: “The Devil comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.” Let me ask all our contestants and ardent supporters this question, “who among them wants to be the embodiment of the devil and to carry out its mission—to steal, kill, and destroy?” Partisan politics has come to stay with us as a democratic country and so we all need to grow a very big and complex heart that can deal with principles of moderation, forbearance, and reasoning in modern democracy; a thinking infused with “sympathetic imagination” by which we can understand sympathetically the reasoning and feelings of our fellow citizens and be able to synthesize certain contradictions that politics entail.
Why does anybody want to shed blood or assault a fellow citizen just because we want to elect someone among us to serve as president or a parliamentarian? Every party or person has the right to pursue its agenda to win the election with any kind of intense campaigning and passion. Oh, yes, and if they are not passionate about their agenda they don’t deserve to be voted for. Yet, this quest shouldn’t be attained at the expense of any drop of blood of any fellow citizen. We are not confronting totalitarian regime that calls for such a sacrifice. No! We are only going to affirm an existing mandate or change the workers at our highest offices. This calls for a sort of intense competition between the candidates applying for these jobs. Competition entertains opposing views and action. If there is no opposition or an opponent the idea of “winning” or “victory” becomes meaningless. So, partisan politics needs the presence of the opponent in order to know and appreciate the meaning of “victory” or “winner” and, remember, the ultimate goal of winning is not to humiliate the opponent but as an opportunity to work hard to meet the needs and fulfill the dreams of all the people (the national agenda).
As we approach the Election Day we read from the news incidents of political violence and hear rumors of war and impending doom. No, Ghana has come such a long way that she cannot give up her credibility among the civilized world. No, Ghanaians are quite classy and are maturing in the political process that they will not go down that path. Tell me, do you think that President Mahama would want Presidential Candidate Nana Akuffo Addo dead? And tell me, do you think Nana Akuffo Addo would want President Mahama evaporate because of this election? I know your answer will be a resounding no. So, why you and I, we the ordinary folks, whose agenda we want to send one of these men to go and do will be at each other’s throat? What for? I wish after the election, we can exert the same passion we demonstrate during election time on those we vote into power for the work we send them to do. Let us look around us. Don’t we see many issues, problems, and challenges that should become our punching bags which need the attention of our officials to be elected? Why don’t we, ordinary folks, in these last days to the elections make these our focus demanding appropriate responses from those begging for our votes? We should let them ask or even beg for our votes rather than giving our votes for nothing. Why are we, ordinary folks, endear ourselves so much with being cheerers instead of seeing ourselves as the employers of these honorable candidates? And doesn’t the “old woman” teach that those who have the authority to employ the honorable are themselves nobles? Remember, “adehyeman ba biara yɛ ɔdhyeɛ, na adehyeɛ nso ɛmmɔ wɔn ho ntoa enni wɔn ho dɛm. So, let us think big, have a big heart, and a big stomach not to swallow each other but to swallow the words and actions we are not comfortable with. Let’s march forward to win peace, yes, to win another electoral success for Ghana.
Dr. Robert Y. Owusu
President of Ghanaian Ministers Association of Georgia
December 3, 2012
It is almost a little over 5 years ago that Ghana celebrated her Golden Jubilee (50th year) as an independent, self-governing, self-determined, sovereign country. We all look forward to the Diamond Celebration (75th Anniversary) and then the Centennial. The second half of our journey toward the centennial mark had just begun. Think about that for the younger generation behind us. We would like to ask ourselves “what will Ghana and Africa look like in forty-five years from now?” The answer rests in how we understand ourselves today and what we are doing right in fulfilling our dream of a free and just Ghana and Africa. What Ghana stands for is made explicit in our national motto: Freedom and Justice. This is how our beloved Ghana wants to be defined and seeks to live by. As conscientious clergy, we of the Ghanaian Ministers Association of Georgia (GMAG) would like to call all Ghanaians to renew their commitment to this ideal and vision. If we do, we can confidently predict what Ghana will be like in 2057 and beyond.
With such high hope of building something better for tomorrow we are obliged to think seriously of what we do today in our political pursuit. It is in this regard that the GMAG would like to call upon our Ghanaian political leaders, political parties, the media (with all its types), our Kings, Queens and Chiefs, and all civil society to observe decorum, show spirit of peace and a sense of national oneness in the November 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. This is not and it shouldn’t be a break or make kind of elections. It should be seen as a normal process of affirming, changing or moving forward to our aspired future. If we remember that Ghana is not for any one person or for any one political party, that no one party has all the answers to our problems, and that in the one Ghana we all, of diverse inclinations, have our national identity and belonging, then it will be easier to eschew political bigotry, acts of destruction and dehumanization in the political process. In place of that will be a collective call for a free and fair electoral process that respects “the other.” Truly, there is no one among the parties and among their followers who is “the other.” We are a people that God has intentionally weaved together to the extent that when Ghanaians outside of Ghana meet, honestly, we all look alike, speak alike, think alike, share the same spontaneous smile, cry alike, complain alike, and have likeminded disposition toward Ghana’s health. Wow, what a remarkable people. This offers inspiration for an integrated society where we can have different opinions about our way toward our one destiny but would refuse to castigate the person who shares a different opinion as an enemy or unpatriotic. Let us hold on to the following tenets or principles (form a Christian perspective) as we approach the elections:
I. Let us endeavor to hold on to our Freedom
Freedom is God’s gift to every individual, people group, community, society or nation. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” In other words, Christ has set us free for the purpose of making us free—for freedom sake—and to extend this freedom to others—we are to be ambassadors of freedom in Ghana, Africa and beyond. Freedom is having the free will to determine one’s own destiny, to chart a particular course, to be able to choose as one desires, and to vote according to one’s conscience.
II. Let us work hard to expand freedom but not strive to suppress freedom
Freedom is inclusive; guided by our avowed Christian and cultural virtues, we need to expand it to include the neighbor who may happen to belong to the other party or ethnic group. Let us strive toward fairness. Fairness or justice embodies compassion, love, fellow-feeling, righting the wrong, and maintaining an attitude of integrity. Fairness affirms the Golden Rule: Don’t do onto others or say about others what you don’t want to be done to you or said about you.
III. Let us avoid the politics of recrimination
Let us not go down on the self-degrading way of politics of recrimination. That in the end will put us in an entrenched neocolonial servitude. Remember, there is no serenity or dignity in servitude: Dr. Nkrumah said “We prefer freedom with danger to servitude in tranquility;” Let none of us desire the yoke of bigotry, civil unrest, or servitude. Let no one, for the sake of the stomach, clothing, and shelter, or a little money, sell one’s birthright. We may want to reclaim it later but it may be too late. A little desire of the bait will soon take our freedom and our God given rights away from us and we will cry bitterly. Remember Esau. And finally,
IV. Let us love to serve and serve in love
Let us not be biting one another. Fuming dangerous threats and inventing unfounded accusations tend to aggravate bad situations creating unwarranted strife and distrust making it tougher to serve the nation in love. Justice is a function of love (compassion); that freedom should not be pawned for selfishness, greed, individualism, arrogance, self-gratification, and eventually self-destruction. Love ensures freedom; love also limits freedom. It is said that “one’s unrestrained freedom ends where the other person’s nose begins.” Nation building demands such consensus which takes into account the godly balance between love that frees and love that limits.
Let us love to serve and serve one another and our nation in love. We are too fragmented. We need to come together as a people to promote the good course of one another. So let us begin (and for those that had been doing to continue) to speak well of one another. We believe we have divine obligation to come together as a people—unity lies strength, wisdom, and wealth. Let us not be too partisan and over sentimental in the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections for all these are transient. And let our love for Ghana transcend our parochial and selfish interests. If we do, God will bless Ghana and Ghana will win and when Ghana wins you, I and they, yes all of us, win and we will be proud of our ancestral home. Oman no bεyε yie a egyina mene wo so. Ghana must move forward.
Dr. Robert Y. Owusu
GMAG President (on behalf of GMAG)