Tag Archives: NPP

Hooked on Politics

NPP Logo. http://theghanaianreactor.blogspot.com

This past week in Kumasi has been all about politics. The New Patriotic Party (NPP), the main opposition to Ghana’s current National Democratic Congress (NDC)-led government, held their primary elections on Saturday where Nana Akufo-Addo was reinstated as the party’s leader and presidential candidate for the 2012 elections. Akufo-Addo, the most politically-established candidate at 66-years-old, celebrated a huge win, claiming 78 percent of the delegate’s votes. His opponents were Alan Kyeremateng, former Minister of Trade and Industry;   Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, the CEO of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and the director of Ghana’s National Cardiothoracic Center; Isaac Osei, a Member of Parliament for Subin (Ashanti Region), Ghana High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, and CEO of the Ghana Cocoa Board; and Rev. John Kwame Koduah, a reverend and lawyer. These five men have basically dominated all aspects of the Ghanaian media- their names and pictures were plastered on the front page of almost every newspaper, they were talked about compulsively on most radio and television newscasts, their faces were plastered on billboards and posters, and their campaign vehicles blasted their platforms from loud speakers all over town. Although I recognize the significant role politics plays in society, I would never consider myself a politics enthusiast. I find most politicians showy, insincere and decorated, whose campaigns are built on empty rhetoric that rarely ends up benefiting the common person or reaching the grassroots. However, since we started working with Mufty on his daily show “Straight Talk” that deals primarily with political topics, there was no escaping the NPP hoopla. We spent three two-hour programs debating which candidate would make the best party leader and potentially the next president. Our guests included campaign representatives, political journalists and social commentators who focused more on the candidates’ brawn than brain, arguing their favorable physical and personality traits instead of their plans to improve the country, or who would best represent Ghanaian people.

The excessive media coverage of the NPP primaries overshadowed other pressing local issues that occurred this past week and need more public attention. For example, last Wednesday, the Anti-Trafficking Unit and Tema Regional Command rescued 284 children between the ages of 3-15 who were being taken to work illegally in Yenji’s fishing industry.  On the same day, The Ghana Union of Physically Disabled Workers (GUPDW) appealed to government, complaining that the majority of physically challenged workers haven’t received their Disability Allowance. Both stories deal with major human rights violations, but because of the politically-dominant stories occupying most major Ghanaian media houses, such crucial social issues are often cast aside as second-rate-news or page-fillers. Since human rights stories are not typically considered “hard news,” public awareness and concern are often not generated where they are needed most and for the people who could benefit greatly from media exposure. Dr. Charlotte Abeka, former United Nations (UN) chairperson, and serial guest on “Know Your Rights” expresses her discontent with the current state of Ghana’s media, describing it as having an “overemphasis on politics” that prevents human-focused stories from reaching the forefront. She blames media houses and other powerful institutions that have the ability to influence society on a larger scale and increase the coverage of human rights stories, but insists the average person is just as guilty for not demanding it themselves. In her opinion human rights issues “need to be preached loud and clear”- this should be the media’s priority at all times.

Dr. Charlotte Abeka

Valuable life lessons often come from unlikely sources

Politricks

Valuable life lessons often come from unlikely sources

It’s 9am on a Thursday at the African University College of Communication. I’m sitting at my desk on the third floor, in complete darkness and complete silence. Three hundred some odd students are away, presumably studying for exams, and we’re experiencing yet another power outage.

I’m thinking about a conversation I had earlier in the morning, with Kwame, the young, dread-locked cabbie who drove me to work. I usually try to save cedis (the local currency) by taking the tro-tro, which is the cheap minibus, frequently packed with commuters like sardines in a rusted tin. However, on this fateful morning, a lengthy flirtation with my snooze button led me to a taxi stand and the following words of wisdom from my driver: “My sista, all we need is love.”

Kwame’s words instantly broke my hypnotic trance. I’ve often found that some of the most interesting conversations, in any city, come courtesy of taxi drivers. After all, who knows a city more than the people who make their living chauffeuring characters from all walks of life around it? It was the unsolicited depth of Kwame’s comment, about 10 minutes into a rather silent ride that intrigued me and prompted my equally deep reply: “Ah.…What?”

Well, deep for 8 a.m.

“Sista,” says Kwame, as he shifted his glance from the side window to the windshield, “things are not working well. It’s a backwards country. You can even hear it on the radio.”

Proof came shortly thereafter, in the form of a fired-up caller on a radio show that I suddenly realized had been on the entire time. Funny, how you can tune things out when you don’t understand the language. The topic on Peace FM, a station known for sympathizing with the opposition, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), was the mismanagement of Ghana’s economy by the ruling New Democratic Congress (NDC).

Conversations like this take place on a daily basis in the press here in Ghana, whether it be on the radio, TV or in print. Political appetites are high and the Ghanaian media’s main bread and butter for their front page is politics, or “politricks,” as it’s referred to by my coworkers around the office.

Media houses often align themselves squarely on one side of the political fence–blatantly so, in fact. Libel-esque mudslinging is common and though Ghanaians may be somewhat divided politically, most can agree that their government should be held accountable for their nation’s progress, or lack thereof. Political apathy is not an option here. Everyone has an opinion.

Cabbie Kwame was no exception.

“I drive around all day,” says Kwame pointing out the windshield. “The streets are not even clean. The youth are frustrated in the city. There are no jobs for them so they turn to crime. The institutions are not working and the politicians,” adds Kwame, pausing to make a scoffing sound,  “they lie.”

“So what’s the solution?” I ask, offering a curious ear, as the notebook I pulled out a moment earlier overflowed with all the cab confessions I could immortalize in ink.

“We must forget NPP and NDC,” says Kwame. “Even amongst ourselves, we are divided. This nation belongs to all of us. We must work together, my sista. One love.”

Around 9:10, as I thought about Kwame’s words on love and politricks one more time, the lights finally went on in my office.