Opinions Sun, 19 Apr 2009

The Eagle versus the Kangaroo-Elephant

Since the inception of multi-party politics in Ghana, I have been wondering what really is the secret behind the selection of emblems by the myriad of political parties.

My curiosity has led me to question many political party insiders on their real motives. However, all my inquests have drawn a blank – it seems the political parties do not really have any reason for choosing a particular emblem.

It however became clearer through the search that some political parties have a knack for selecting animals as their symbols. That is why the Convention People’s Party (CPP), chose a cockerel, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) chose an eagle and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) chose an elephant (or a kangaroo-elephant).

The other day, I asked a friend in the NPP whether he knew the motivation for his party choosing the elephant as its symbol. The well-educated friend simply said that ‘it was chosen by the party’s founders.’ I had no cause to question my friend further, since my instincts told me that he did not have a clue!

Another friend of mine in the NDC, who works with a reputable international institution, told me that his party’s eagle represents a force or power – may be he was a bit reasonable in his reckoning.

I have also observed the demeanours of various leaders and the followers of the two most important political formations in contemporary Ghanaian politics vis a viz the lifestyles and anatomical classifications of the animals that represent them.

For example, ex-President Rawlings, founder of the NDC is renowned for his bombastic style when presenting his position on issues. His ‘positive defiance’ and other populist pronouncements have earned him the infamous accolade – ‘Boom’. The question is do his pronouncements on national issues and other political discourses have anything to do with the ‘eagle’ symbol he chose for his NDC?

Then enter the NPP. The elephant is renowned for its destructive nature. The truth however is that the GOP or the Republicans in the US have the same symbol. There are many other parties and various other social groupings in the world, which use the dangerous beast as their symbol. Another interesting thing is that the national symbol of Australia is the kangaroo!

During the last NPP primaries at the University of Ghana, the beehive contestants took advertising to amazingly crazy levels. In fact, the elephant was given a complete makeover and as my marketing colleague would say, ‘the candidates sought to outdo one another in terms of who could present the best elephant brand to the Electoral College.’

Then soon after the primaries, the NPP decided that the ‘official colour for the party’s elephant emblem should be blue.’ Consequently, in almost all the communication that followed the Legon congress, we started seeing a blue elephant. May be, this is another adoption from the GOP? However, the other interesting phenomenon of the NPP’s blue elephant is that it was branded as a ‘dancing elephant’.

Then again, as soon as the 2008 presidential campaign began to heat up, the NPP introduced another fanciful animal – the kangaroo!

As soon as the kangaroo came in, another very fashionable campaign communication emerged. The elephant started dancing kangaroo! I hope all of you took time of your busy schedules to watch the kangaroo-dancing elephant. In fact, the communication managers of the NPP and the NDC scored very high marks for the innovative branding of their parties prior to the 2008 polls.

After seeing the elephant dance the kangaroo dance, my curiosity grew wilder – I said to myself that there should be something more to these animals than meets the eyes.

I researched a bit more on the eagle, elephant and the kangaroo. I was so amazed at the sort of things I came across.

Yes, ex-President Rawlings has become ‘infamously’ known as somebody who always booms!

Interestingly, a group of kangaroos is called a ‘mob – or troop’, and the male kangaroo a ‘boomer’. The young kangaroos are called ‘joeys’. Another interesting fact that caught my curiosity was that if the kangaroos are happy, they could get into a destructive frenzy!

Is there any correlation between ex-President Rawlings’ boom and the boomer of a kangaroo-dancing elephant – may be it is just mere coincidence!

Answer this, what would make somebody choose the largest mammal with the ‘smallest’ brain as its official symbol? Mind you, both African as well as Asiatic male elephants will engage in same-sex bonding and mounting – call it gay marriage in the animal kingdom!

After thinking about the clash of the animal symbols and the behaviour of our politicians, I remembered a few things I want to share with readers – especially the ordinary Ghanaian voter.

During ex-President Rawlings’ reign, it was found out that his children attended very expensive colleges in the West. When some probing minds wanted to find out who sponsored them, the NDC’s spin doctors quickly said that it was ‘friends of the Rawlingses’ who sponsored the children!

Then, enter the NPP! When Richard Anane was found to have wired more than US$100 thousand to a mistress he met at an HIV/AIDS conference, Anane’s apologists and NPP’s commentators said ‘it was his friends who transferred the money to Mistress Alexander O’Brien.’

Do you remember Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey’s daughter’s education at the Brigham Young University – Utah? Jake orchestrated the sale of some prime property at Ridge in Accra to the Mormons, so they needed to reward him – they therefore got him to send his daughter to attend their university.

When Jake was questioned, he said ‘it was my friends’ who sponsored my daughter’s education – through a scholarship!

In conclusion, reader, please know that the politicians only find things that can confuse the average voter. Whether it is party symbols or party colours, they only find things that can engage the attention of the gullible Ghanaian voter!

As soon as the average voter is occupied by trivia, the politicians (be they NDC or NPP) can have their way to share the economic spoils! Don’t forget the ex-gratia debate!

In the mean time, God bless our homeland Ghana!

Source: Kojo Owusu-Mbire Email: Owusu-mbire@gmail.com

Columnist: Owusu-Mbire, Kofi