Opinions Mon, 11 Mar 2013

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Ghana- Kenya Atta

By Kwaku Asimenu-Forson


Where I grew up, a twin is known as Atta. In many respects, Ghana and Kenya can be considered twins. From being multi-ethnic societies to being Africans and Anglophone and commonwealth members and…Ghana and Kenya can be taken for twins. As of today, the similarity of the issues surrounding the recently held general elections in both countries more than accentuate the claim of genotypic sameness of the two states.

The elderly generation (Akuffo-Addo and Raila Odinga) are declared losers and they in turn declare the elections as fraudulent. They refuse to accept the results and thankfully, choose the courts instead of the streets to air their grievances. Whether the determination of the courts will terminate the issues, we are yet to tell. But which African candidate is going to court next? Will the resort to the courts become the new political culture in African countries? Are the courts more trustworthy than the electoral commissions? With allegations of corruption including litigants pulling tethered goals with a fowl in the other armpit into judges bungalows before hearing dates, can the judiciary be the vanguards and guardian angels of our democracy?

It’s becoming clearer that the first past the post electioneering process is more of a recipe for chaos in Africa. It creates losers and winners, the later metamorphosing quickly post –election into saboteurs so they can have more than enough grounds for blame come the next cycle of the ballot-box. Who loses? Ordinary citizens. Are African democracies inuring to the development of the continent or they are just crazy demonstrations of meaningless universal adult suffrage? African national ballotings are often less than meaningful because of the backstage role given to policy in contrast to the captainship position granted to ethnic identities. No wonder , our elections have violence in-built. Moving forward , we must address the identity crisis in African states.

For instance, am I a Ghanaian or a Dagomba? Am I Ghanaian or Fante or Ewe or Asante or Akyem or… I mean which one first in terms of allegiance and loyalty? Should a Kenyan be more committed to the Kenyan state than his Kikuyu tribe? Is a Nigerian an Ibo or Biafran first before being a Naija man? On the evidence, we appear to revert to and prefer our pre-nationhood identities anytime its interests is not in tandem with our contemporary identities as citizens of the modern African state. Thus a great African like Dr Kwame Nkrumah whose contribution to the continent and the Race is peerless may be considered a failure by some Nzemas because he did not take advantage of the opportunity as president to give his tribes people preferential treatment over other polities in the state. When an African goes into politics, his immediate relations and community expect him to amass wealth quickly through foul means. Yes , crooked means. He is a buffoon if he fails to meet that expectation. Africans expect their leaders to be corrupt, that’s why accountability sounds slippery on African tongues.

In this mess, how can mass conflict be prevented in the state when the citizens have conflict within i.e identity crisis? Public education , the type the constitutions confer on our civic education organizations are good and should be intensified but lowering the barrier of electoral benefits by scrapping the winner takes all should be a short to medium term measure to protect our states from the four-year traumatic cycle akin to labor pains. Why can’t we, for instance, make the main opposition leader an automatic member of the legislative assembly?

Columnist: Asimenu-Forson, Kwaku

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