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Presidential run-off and democratic deepening

Tue, 23 Dec 2008 Source: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi

By Kofi Akosah-Sarpong

Despite praises all over, the December 7 general elections that produced a hanged system doesn’t necessarily mean Ghanaians are grasping with democracy as motor for progress. I hate to hear word like “maturity,” as if Ghanaians or Africans aren’t matured as human beings.

The fact is Ghanaians, by measure of the coalition of the 56 ethnic groups that form the country, are innately democratic and firmly rooted in democratic ideals. That makes them matured. The political immaturity talks in the wake of the very successful December 7 general elections has more to do with the nature of creation of the Ghana state by the British colonialist who didn’t consider the core traditions of the 56 ethnic groups, as the nation, that formed Ghana. That has made the ‘nation,’ as a coalition of the 56 ethnic groups, and the ‘state,’ as chief source of political power moving diametrically opposite directions.

Over the years, as African nation-states face the alleged issues of political maturity and appear to be crumbling (as Zimbabwe show) because of the rupture between their ex-colonial legacies and African indigenous values, the London, UK-based African Confidential newsletter (January 6, 1995) explained that “There are signs everywhere that the era of the nation-state is fading and nowhere is this clearer than in Africa, where its roots are shallowest. The awkward marriage of the ‘nation’ in the sense of an ethnic coalition and the ‘state’ as the principal source of political authority is coming under pressure from above and below.”

The fact is the roots of African nation-state aren’t immature or shallow, for it stands firmly in African traditional values that have been containing the long-running disharmonies from the incompatibilities between Ghanaian traditional values and the neo-liberal ideals. What is unripe is the “state,” as ex-colonial, non-African creation, not skillfully weaved into the “nation,” as the pillar of ethnic groups that form Ghana.

Yes, Ghanaians are matured democratically but it depends on ones understanding of the ‘state’ and the ‘nation’ and how these two structures play out within the Ghanaian environment. Ghanaians have democratic depth and sense that dates back to the pre-founding of Ghana. The December 7 general elections’ fairness and orderliness was authentically Ghanaian as part of their innate democratic values. The fast deepening release of freedom energy, as the Ghanaian democracy evolves, is partly responsible for the democratic enlargement as the country increasingly work to integrate its traditional institutions into the neo-liberal structures running Ghana. The buzz word here is “decentralization,” as motor of the democratic and development processes.

The fuller demonstration of democratic grace on the 5th multi-party democratic elections on December 7 by Ghanaians tells the world the 21 years of mindless military juntas and threatening 6 years of one-party system that Ghana went through were uncalled for and hurting. Ghanaians elites were asleep but as democratic growth show they are gradually awakening. Ghanaians are democratically matured. What they need more and more is the politically correct atmosphere, in the form of freedoms, by its elites from sides of the political and traditional aisles to unearth their maturity

Columnist: Akosah-Sarpong, Kofi