Thursday, 29 August 2013

#August29 #ElectionPetition : #TheVerdict

#August29 #ElectionPetition #TheVerdict

The above will link to long discussions about the election petition.

The Verdict is as follows:

1. Overvoting - Dismissed 5-4
2. Voting without biometric verification - Dismissed 6-3
3. Absence of signature - Dismissed 5-4
4. Duplicate serial numbers - Dimissed 9-0
5. Duplicate Polling Station Numbers - Dismissed 9-0
6. Unknown polling stations - Dismissed 9-0

On twitter there is undoubtedly a buzz and now the conversation has shifted from the emptiness of Accra to the celebrations of NDC supporters. John Dramani Mahama (well his media team) came out to celebrate online.

Nana Akufo-Addo released a speech by phone asking his supporters to take pride in the way they have conducted themselves throughout. Whether we're happy with the result or not, it's finished now. Let's hope we can use the next 3 years to avoid the problems that have blighted the country in the first 2 quarters of this year.

Chapter closed.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Run Up to #August29: Verdict Prediction

GhanaDecides as already put this question out there. How do we think the verdict will go?

To which I say:

This is a well-informed prediction. I'm trying to be realistic and not biased. My bias may lead me to want different things but how I see it happening is how I've described it above. I've said it's the best possible outcome because I think the outcome of the other option is not as assured to bring us peace. I don't think any party would take it lightly that they were in power for 8 months and then suddenly not. We will see if my predictions are correct. Let me know if you think my justifications are too.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Run Up to #August29: Winner Takes All versus Democracy

Now all this "power sharing" came from the idea that "Winner Takes All" is bad. The phrase winner takes all in the democracy context derives from the first-past-the-post (FPTP) method of candidate selection and often means majority government. It is what governs the way we choose our parliamentarians but not our President because the President requires 50% + 1 vote. Now we have two different methods of selection in Ghana. This also means that it is technically possible for the President to represent a different party from the majority of parliament. Someone said on JoyNews that we have "majoritarian politics" with the Executive and Legislature - that's not exactly true. Parliament is majority NDC and if Nana Akufo Addo was to win he would not import with him MPs to represent all the constituencies in which he manages to overturn votes. So he would be President with an NPP cabinet and an NDC parliament. But I've digressed a bit since the likelihood of that is slim to none.

Winner Takes All now means in Ghana that whoever controls the Presidency pretty much controls everything. Why? Because Ministers and Deputy Ministers do not need to be elected persons, in whom the public have shown trust. MMDCEs are also not elected but nominated by the President. The Assemblies are not elected. Everything leads back to the President. That means Ghana is a centralised democracy. It almost leads me to use the word democracy very loosely indeed. The winner would not take all, if there were greater autonomy in the metropolises, municipals and districts. The people could hold their local representatives to account and this would ease tensions against political parties on a national level. In Adenta, the Assembly is not happy with their DCE because she is not doing enough to promote NDC interests in the area, but the position of DCE is a state position, not a party position. She owes it to the people she governs to prioritise real life matters above the NDC's interest and if she's been making those correct priorities she's about to be punished for a job well done! See what party politics, winner takes all, we-care-more-about-3-little-letters-than-we-do-about-policies-and-development mentality does to our country. Even the Accra Metropolitan Chief Executive, self-titled Accra Mayor did not find it necessary to apologise for a massive mistake that was received terribly by the people of Accra until "his oga" the President ordered an apology and marched him down to an old lady's house for a photo-op to confirm the apology. Winner Takes All in Ghana means we live in a dictatorship, and we can change the name and face of the dictator and his crew every four years, if we choose to but the longer they maintain this dictatorial structure the harder it becomes to differentiate the difference between the two because our experiences of them (in the way they interact with us) are the same.

What is needed therefore is not power sharing between parties in the Executive but real decentralisation, real competition by policies and real governance by policies. I've spoken on how Ghana uses the #MyOgaAtTheTop mentality which is a product of the Winner Takes All structure of the country's governance. Change that and we'll all be winners taking what's needed!

[p.s. if anyone could put me in touch with other decentralisation campaigners in Ghana that would be greatly appreciated. my twitter handle is @thebellower ]

The Run Up to #August29: Judgement Day and Peace

Here are the buzz phrases in Ghana this week:

"Winner Takes All"
"let us share"
"judgement day"

Now I'm not surprised about "judgement day" Ghanaians always find a way to super impose concepts of religion into life. "Judgement Day" in Ghana takes two interpretations. One the surface it is simply the day that the verdict of the court proceedings will be announced and confirmed. But in reality in the minds of every Ghanaian, it is the day they will have to look back on all they have seen, said and done this year and ask "was it all worth it?" just as we will have to on the real Judgement Day. Judgement day in Ghana is a test for our temperament apparently, since everyone thinks Ghanaians are going to recreate, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire or Kenya up in the place! That all comes with no historical basis and for that reason I implore journalists and bloggers to refrain from speaking as if it does. Yes we would like to be declaring "peace" before rather than after chaos, but as my very Nigerian father likes to say "if I call you three times, it should be enough". Think about that.

 Now onto the solution to judgement day, to apparently guarantee this peace - "power-sharing". If I understand correctly this first popped up its head when Dr. Adjei (Chairman of the NDC) gave a speech at the NPP's 21st Anniversary in which he said "we've all been in opposition from time to time, we've all been in government from time to time, there's no need for winner takes all...let us share" (paraphrasing). It was received well by the opposition party, maybe because they were already in a joyous mood, maybe because everyone is now treading on eggshells in relation to disagreeing with people, maybe because that's what they wanted all along! Either way it was received well. Few others, including men of God have since come out to say that they've been praying for that all this while - I wish they would have told us earlier so we could have told them not to bother God with such foolishness.

A power sharing agreement does not help any country. I beg those who suggest it to name one country that has prospered economically, and in terms of progressive policies and successful implementation, as a result of power sharing. The two major parties in Ghana look to be closer to centre than they are to their own respective polars because they don't really campaign on policies but rather on what they dislike about each other and who can afford the most Chinese-made tshirts to distribute for free! In reality, they are different and even if they worked on their similarities for the next 3.3 years both parties have not had an impressive anti-corruption record. I fear as some have already pointed out that it will mean rife corruption of "you take some, I take some" all in the name of fairness and sharing that will leave Ghanaian citizens who are not in the political class powerless to demand reform. Multiparty democracy - it does what it says on the tin so stop this "power sharing" nonsense.

*UPDATE* I forgot to say that President Mahama also felt the same way as me, at the Times CEO Summit in the first half of the year he is quoted as saying "Ghana does not have the danger that Kenya has" CASE RESTED.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Preparing for the move.

So I initially set my date of departure at 1st October 2013. I was thinking "new month, new life, new environment" but in comes the need to be realistic and so I've had to set back that deadline to 15th October, which will give me the time I need to wind down after my dissertation and to enjoy all the goodbyes I have to say.

In terms of preparation to go, life hasn't really changed much for me since I wrote my post 'Preparation. Preparation. Preparation.' Today is 18th August 2013 and with 57 days to go I've not yet booked my ticket. I hear Tuesdays at 3pm is the best time to book a flight ticket cos the price is low, only problem is I always remember this... on a Wednesday evening.

I've got a box that I'm starting (see pic below). I've packed with the bare necessities such as long life milk, cereal, teabags etc. I hear now in Ghana the brands I'm used to over here in the UK sell for much more than Sainsbury's or Tescos price them. This is obviously because they are imported, which is understandable and so I'm importing my own and if I buy the produce I need on sale or at Costco/Bookers etc. the box becomes very much worth the shipping costs. So there's something to consider.

I don't know how to suggest doing this, but if you can find out if the items you want are relatively very expensive in Ghana (or the country you're heading to) then you can buy on sale or in bulk and ship them ahead of you. At the same time, please don't kill local industries. Ghana doesn't produce Cheerios, so I'm packing Cheerios, but they do produce rice, tomatoes, pineapples and mangoes, so don't pack those. Your endorsement of local produce might even encourage others to patronise the organic food made in their locality. 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm Moving to Ghana

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: (especially for all the Ghana-based readers out there) I'm moving to Ghana this year! It'll be for a year, or at least that's the time I've managed to buy from my parents, so in about just over a year from today they'll be asking me that foolish question "what are you doing with your life?" to which I must have a good response lest I release the truly authoritarian African Parent within each of them that they have so far managed (successfully) to suppress in their attempt to assimilate into British culture.

Am I excited? Hells yeah! Ghana is my home. It's where I might not feel comfortable but I definitely feel happy. I'm not excited to go just because it's now a fashionable place for the African diaspora, I've always wanted to head out there. I even told my mum that had I been bringing myself up I might have sent me to school out there. Yeh, big words.. which UK born young person would ever regret not getting sent?!!!?!?!

I've spent the past year trying to set up work experience and internships at a number of places. One of them with GRA. No not the Ghana Revenue Authority, but the Ghana Rugby Association. So I get to do something exciting, something I love, in a place that I love. This isn't going to find myself... I know who/what I am, I'm not lost, all roads have led to Africa for over a decade now. This is me going to sow the seeds for a happy existence, not getting trapped in the first graduate job I came across. Many people have advised me to work here for maybe 5-10 years and then eventually move my life over to Africa when I'm more stable. But all I hear when they say that is that I should put my life on pause and live some sort of Groundhog Day in the UK until I give up on thinking there is any alternative to life than the one they taught you at school.

Little tip for people: going travelling for a year isn't putting your life on hold if all you want to do in your life is travel. Working for a year or two or ten in one job, to have 1 year of travelling somewhere down your life track is putting your life on hold. Start as you mean to go along.

Last time I used this blog to speak about a long-term adventure was almost three years ago. Back then I was going to Singapore, a country I had visited once before and admired but knew very little about. This time round I'm heading to Ghana, a country I have visited 3 times before, sometimes get frustrated about and probably know too much about to make this truly exciting. What I do know is that I've only visited 4 out of 10 regions in Ghana and I hear there is so much more to be discovered in the other 6.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Please don't go Marge, wait small small. Things might change.

Can the Ghana government stop taking the piss. Really. It's time they take life a bit more seriously and stop thinking everything is about NPP-NDC and the Black Stars line-up. Here's an article stating that the government is going to be meeting heptathlete Margaret Simpson about her threat to switch nationality to Mauritius. She has enjoyed Mauritius' hospitality for 10 years so I think it's only fair that she represents them if they'll have her.

What I don't know is what this government expects to get out of an emergency meeting with Maggie. No one wakes and just decides well I like the weather here, let me stop representing the country of my birth and heritage. What happens is that they complain, and complain, and complain, and complain, and beg and beg and beg, and make-do whilst young bucks sitting in Europe on millions of pounds throw fits about bonuses which would represent less than half a day's wages on what they're currently being paid, and out-of-shape politicians who think the remit of their position applies only to the aspects of their job that they personally find entertaining, play a little father-son game of tug of war. They show no respect for people like Maggie, one might even say they treat them with contempt. But in the end, when people like Maggie grow tired, they host emergency meetings and advertise the fact that these meetings are taking place, because at the end of the day the rate of desertion from the sinking Ghana sports ship "doesn't speak well of the country".

What doesn't speak well of the country is a showing of 7 athletes at the biggest sporting event in the world, not even a football team despite us trying so hard to embed our footballing "success" into Brand Ghana. When other countries contribute hundreds, when even peer nations (in terms of wealth) have much larger teams which part of that speaks well of the country. When we overlook sporting heroes to rename stadia again and again after our best friends or best friends dads, or some of the largest sports in the world, and some of the cheapest sports in the world are non-existent in our nation because we've thrown all our eggs and some of our neighbours' into the one basket; when we can be certain that our minister of sport will be at a tournament although we're not sure whether we'll find a full line up of sporting stars that the minister's just forked out thousands to go and see (it's not a holiday he promises) which part of that speaks well of the country.

Now there are some sports that our athletes can't stop representing Ghana in, for instance, we've got Kevin Prince Boateng for life now. It's not a question of who he plays for but rather if he plays full stop and I think we can be guaranteed that as long as we keep making it to the World Cup tournaments we'll find him in a shirt at least for 1 month every 4 years. But the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports shouldn't have to be having these types of meetings at all. If the whole infrastructure needs to be broken down and rebuilt then they must do it, but we must see better facilities so that athletes can train at home, we must see a fairer divide of funds, the GFA must find ways to pay for itself because after 30 years without a trophy they really haven't justified the money they take. The government must think of ways to promote local sports and local leagues to monetise them. We can no longer be giving random appearance bonuses and cars for coming second - I mean can you imagine!?! A refocus of efforts to new (to Ghana) sports - such as rugby, kayaking, swimming - and extreme sports such as paragliding, longboarding and the Dakar rally is necessary now.

Oh, and the obvious one of listening and acting on the needs of athletes regardless of the sport before they decide to switch nationality is always good suggestion.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Words versus Time

You would think, given that I'm half-Ghanaian, that I would be fine at funerals. After all, aside from football, azonto and kente, funerals are our most recognisable traits. We love them so much we mark more landmarks after a person's death than a lovesick teenage girl does of her first 'relationship'. Sadly for me, I'm not very Ghanaian when it comes to funerals or the passing away of friends.

Today I had to go to a funeral and I found myself crumbling. Once the tears started flowing they just wouldn't stop and as I looked to other people around me, it seemed that they were handling it better. I think the frustration at feeling like I wasn't handling it as I should made me even more upset. Woohoo for emotions. :/

Before today I had been trying to find famous quotes and scriptures from the Bible that would help me deal with losing someone younger than me. They're funny things, words. They can embed into some times and be so alien to you at other times. You know when your a kid and an older kid pulls rank based on age to tell you what to do and your trump card is "yeh well at least I'll live longer than you". Yeh, well as you get older your brain knows that isn't true, but your heart is dedicated to that mantra. So I know that God calls us all when he sees fit, but when the person is younger it just feels like the whole world of nature is flipped on its head. Words of comfort become alien, it all seems unfair because my heart is still very much dedicated to that mantra.

It all takes time, I guess. It took 3 days before I could think about my friend and not be drawn to tears but even after 3 weeks I'm still not as strong as I thought I would be. I just look back on almost 6 years of friendship and thank God for time. Time with him, time with others, and for we who believe in heaven, time with Christ.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Could our national anthem have more?

Is it possible to alter our national anthem just a bit. I'm not talking a massive reconstruction effort don't worry. It's just that my sister and I have always cringed at times when listening to the national anthems of former European colonies. Many of them are clearly based on a European score. They reflect the use of European instruments and because of their form, European languages. I think more of the indigenous culture should be infused into all national anthems, especially Ghana's. Just like many people might know and enjoy singing the American anthem even though they are not American, I enjoy singing the first verse of the South African anthem "Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika" if for any reason, it is relevant as much to me as an African in general, as it is to South Africans in particular - "Lord Bless Africa" (literal translation from Xhosa). And yes I know that the tune itself is actually based on Welsh hymn "Aberystwyth". The fact that I can overlook that piece of trivia attests to the power of the African language.

I saw a clip of Samini singing the national anthem before a boxing match. Now Samini doesn't really have a singing voice, I knew I wasn't going to be moved by his singing. But then I was moved by a little extra-curricular thing he did straight after. He set off the "Ghana, Ghana, Ghana Oseyie" call-and-response. In that moment, I had a clear idea of how many Ghanaians were really in the room. The men (I can only assume it was majority male) belted from their guts. Bellies full with fufu and kenkey it felt like a war chant for a moment (highly appropriate for the type of sport about to be undertaken). The Kiwis have their haka, we are equally as superstitious when it comes to our ancestors (maybe more!) The call and response is our haka equivalent. It envokes the Ghana of the past, present and future all at once. That, or "Tsoboi!", although I think Oseyie is better and in keeping with song time.

So yeah, Brazil 2014 is coming up guys. Wouldn't it just be amazing if when the world thinks our national anthem is over we catch them with "Ghana! Ghana! Ghana! Oseeeeyieee, yieeeeee yieeeee Ghana ooooo! yie, Ghana oooo yieeee ayieee!" just imagine.....