Last week Friday was one of the most exciting days of my life, not because you won (no offense, that is also exciting) but because of something else.
For the first time in a very long time, I saw Ghanaians unite in the most extraordinary way to celebrate your victory.
From Tamale to Techiman, through Kumasi to Sakumono, people took to the streets. Daddy Lumba’s Nana yɛ winner and Dee Aja’s Onaaapo were on full blast for the entire universe to hear. And just in case you could not hear the music, the people were chanting the refrain to both songs in unison. Men were embracing other men they had never seen before and the women had enough white handkerchiefs to make it look like a Key Soap advert. NPP enthusiasts were covered in talcum powder. There were tears on the Adinkra pie seller’s face. The ‘Fridays Sakumono’ taxi driver had his hand on his horn, perpetually honking, as though he was stuck in thick traffic and the woman in his car was about to deliver a baby on his second-hand leather seats.
The ‘Nana oo Nana’ shouts were deafening. One would think there was a rally happening right there, in the middle of the street. The women in Accra Central were cashing in on the moment- everything, from NPP branded boxer shorts and handkerchiefs to flags and vuvuzela-like whistles, was selling at twice the price they had been sold for the day before. The fireworks shot the colours blue, red and white colours into the otherwise clear dark sky. The joy was infectious. Social media was on fire. The trolls were working over time, unleashing the memes they had kept in their drafts for God knows how long. Young men were dancing in the middle of the road to ‘John 3:16’ and causing traffic jams. On any other day, drivers would be honking impatiently and yelling for them to get off the road. But not on Friday.
Friday was special.
It was as though we were throwing a worldwide party. There was no venue- There wasn’t a place big enough to contain all that excitement. All you needed was Ghanaian blood flowing through your veins. There was even room for ‘Ghanaians by association’- people who had eaten enough waakye and fufu to claim to understand the Ghanaian story. There wasn’t an official time- it started as soon as President Mahama called to concede. People came out of their hiding places and poured out on to the streets, jubilation mode fully activated. Even the ‘neutrals’ were quietly jubilating in their hearts. I won’t even start with the victory church services.
I had never seen so many Ghanaians this happy in one place – not since we fell out of love with the Black Stars, or according to those who are old enough to testify, since Osagyefo declared ‘his beloved country Ghana free forever’. You see, Mr President-Elect, for a long time now, we seem to have lost all sense of national pride. Many people have lost faith in this country and its systems. That is why I believe you have a unique opportunity to rekindle our love for Ghana, given the wave of euphoria that swept over the country this weekend. I teared up many times during your acceptance speech, not only because it was well-written but also because it stirred up hope in me.
Mr President-Elect, I know you already have a game plan for how things should be done, but I would like to point out a few things that stand out for me:
- National Pride- We must go back to the days when our hearts were bursting at the seams with pride for our motherland. Let’s remind ourselves of the people and things that make this nation great and celebrate them. Nkrumah and Kofi Annan aren’t the only exemplary Ghanaians. There are many Ghanaians (I am saying it the way you pronounce it) who are doing amazing things in this world. Let’s project them so that the young people of this country will have Ghanaian role models to look up to.
- Communication- I already know from the way you pronounce the word ‘Ghanaians’ and your well-written speeches that communication matters to you- what is being said, who is saying it, how it is being said. I think we have a unique opportunity to rebrand our nation with the kind of image we project to the world. There is a lot of rebranding to be done. Let’s control the narrative.
- Culture and Tradition- Our foods, clothes, stories and traditions should be documented. My friend Efo Dela was remarking about documenting the Ewe creation story and it occurred to me that we were letting our history and indigenous stories die with the people who know them best.
- Sanitation and Waste Management- Our capital city is filthy. I am looking forward to seeing constructive solutions to our waste management problem. Mr President, one of my favourite radio personalities said that ‘Ghanaians do not do what you expect, we do what you inspect.’ Please enforce the many laws we have to make sure that our country stays clean.
- Arts- I believe that this is one of the ways to repair our economy. Music, theatre, dance, photography, culinary arts, painting and the literary arts remain largely untapped. An effort to set up a framework to capitalize on these resources will go a long way to boost our ailing economy, in my opinion.
I wish you the very best, Mr President-Elect.
An overwhelming majority of the Ghanaians who voted believe that you can deliver.
Four years of this nation’s destiny have been been entrusted to your care- please don’t let the many Ghanaians who voted for you down!
I will end this with a few lines from one of my favourite Ghanaian compositions:
Hail to thy name, O Ghana,
To thee we make our solemn vow:
Steadfast to build together
A nation strong in Unity;
With our gifts of mind and strength of arm,
Whether night or day, in the midst of storm,
In every need, whate’er the call may be,
To serve thee, Ghana, now and evermore.
God bless Ghana!
God bless us all!