Opinions Sun, 22 Aug 2010

Some Thoughts On Akufo-Addo's Acceptance Speech

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.

I am still trying to recover from events leading up to the New Patriotic Party’s August 7, 2010 presidential primary. I am still in a daze and feel a little bit traumatized by the extent of rancorous rhetorical exchanges, incriminations and recriminations, to which humans would venture in our bid to grabbing for power, even elective and/or democratic power. And I must also painfully confess that this is not a pretty sight! Then again, though, who, except for the pathologically superficial, said that politics was fundamentally a beauty contest?

Not to contradict myself here, but it can scarcely be gainsaid that, indeed, politics is a beauty contest, a contest of ideational pulchritude, to be certain. This means that the discourse of electioneering campaigns, at least the productive ones, ought to be about the marketing of civilized and progressive ideas which, put into effective operation, are bound to dramatically improve the quality of life, health and mindset of the people. And so far, I must observe without any fear of contradiction, whatsoever, that his second and latest acceptance speech also marks the closest extent that Ghanaians have approached democratic culture as a vigorous and salutary contest of ideas. This, of course, has not come without a lot of hard work, patience, endurance and learning and growing pains – no pun is intended here, of course – on the part of the triumphant candidate, in particular, but also on the part of the proverbial foot soldiers and best brains of the Danquah-Dombo and Busia-inspired New Patriotic Party as a whole.

The question now, therefore, becomes: Who is/are this/these “New Patriot(s)”? The newly-anointed Presidential Candidate of the New Patriotic Party offered us something of a quite generous and inclusive definition in this direction as follows: “You heard the voices of the people on the ground and voted with them in mind. I thank you and them – the market women, the taxi drivers, the farmers, the workers, the students, the teachers, the nurses, the businesspersons, the professionals and so many well-meaning Ghanaians.”

If so, then the next logical question to ask is simply this: “Who is a well-meaning Ghanaian”? Almost definitely, a well-meaning Ghanaian is not one who, having been entrusted with the people’s business and well-being, decides to prioritize bribery – in the proverbial form of “palm-greasing” – over that which engenders the maximum of benefits and comforts at the most cost-effective amounts and/or levels. A well-meaning Ghanaian is also, of course, one who empathically engages the people at the grassroots level in order to accurately obtain an optimal sense of the direction and the level of acceleration at which the people want their Republic to be piloted. What the preceding simply means is that in the weeks and months ahead, members of the various professional suasions would expect their next President to sit down with them in a series of the proverbial Town-hall Meetings in order to amply and comprehensively hash out what each and every occupational endeavor requires to maximize its critical contribution to the greater national development effort. This is not to imply that the old-fashioned regime of mammoth rallies must abruptly become a relic of the past. Rather, it simply means that discursive intimacy ought to be accorded greater priority.

The good news here regards the alacrity with which former bitter rivals of the New Patriotic Party’s presidential primary contest appear to have remarkably rallied to guarantee not only that the party is returned to the reins of democratic governance come 2012. In reality, however, come Election 2012, it would not be the New Patriotic Party per se that would be returning to power; rather, Election 2012 promises to mark the salutary restoration of the democratic rule of law to the country. As Candidate Akufo-Addo clearly observed, the restoration of Ghanaian democracy also inescapably implies the vehement validation of continental African democracy, even as Ghana, the undisputed matriarch of modern African liberation, has putatively come to be recognized as “Africa’s Black Star.”

And being Africa’s Black Star, of course, implies a fundamental and thoroughgoing transcendence beyond flag-and-anthem nationalism. It implies the climactic assumption of moral centrality, or leadership, among the global community of nations. This, precisely, is what Candidate Akufo-Addo meant when he eloquently invoked the spirit of the undisputed Doyen of Modern Ghanaian and African Democracy, Dr. Joseph (Kwame Kyeretwie) Boakye-Danquah: “The dream of the founders of our tradition to build a thriving democracy and a strong market economy in our country – [one] which will deliver prosperity [to] the broad masses of our people under the rule of law, respect for human rights and the principles of democratic accountability, is still very much alive.”

I had intended to permanently retire from political journalism in the lead-up to the August 7, 2010 NPP presidential primary, having long decided that I have had enough of the “Special Education” kind of political culture and electioneering campaign which continue to inexorably dog our beloved nation. Fortunately, the historic turn of events on August 7 dictates that I, at least temporarily, set aside my retirement in order to facilitate the salutary and civilized restoration of modern Ghanaian democracy.

Long live the spirits of our founding patriarchs and matriarchs! God bless our homeland Ghana!! May God help us to establish a united, democratic Africa!!!

*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and the author of 21 books, including “Dr. J. B. Danquah: Architect of Modern Ghana” (iUniverse.com, 2005). E-mail: okoampaahoofe@optimum.net.


Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame