It seems to me that we have a very funny definition of what constitutes success on this continent. Whilst most people would agree that doing exceptionally well at a task, or perhaps just well enough, would constitute success- we seem to think success means nothing but just being rising high enough to occupy a certain position.
The actual level of your performance is moot.
Of course, there are always the issues of politics to consider as well. Because politics is a game where the truth is at a premium, honesty is virtually non-existent; and the only language that matters is that of expediency.
Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has had a very fulfilling time the past couple of weeks. Trying to square my experience of Ghana as it is with the obvious accolades being showered on the man is leaving me with a severe case of cognitive dissonance that threatens to wreck my brain.
Two weeks ago, the people of Kasoa in the Central Region of Ghana enstooled the President as a chief in the area. The President was endowed with the stool name Nana Asomfo Dramani Atopi.
And then just this weekend, the University of Ilorin honoured the President with an honorary law doctorate,followed by the Offa Kingdom of the Kwara State of Nigeria conferring an honorary chieftaincy title on him. A huge ceremony was held where they sang the President’s praises, culminating in him receiving the stool name AARE ATOLASE OF OFFA KINGDOM.
All of this was triumphantly broadcast by the FlagStaff House communications team to Ghanaians. To them it serves as a sort of vindication that the President receives all these accolades from outsiders. To them it serves as proof that the President is indeed the man they daily proclaim him to be, the saviour of this country who is not appreciated by his own people.
And to the President, I would imagine it would give him the warm, fuzzy feeling that he is indeed the right man to run Ghana. It would give him the strength to continue down whatever path he has laid down, convinced that his efforts are really yielding fruits for the people of Ghana, so much so that he is earning recognition both domestically and internationally.
Of course, it is none of those things. There is no objective measure via which this President can be declared to have done enough to merit any accolade being thrown on him. This is why I began by invoking the rule on which politics runs, that of expediency. So perhaps he deserves the accolades on the grounds that he is good at that game- but certainly not because he is any good at running a country.
Why? Well, because Ghana has been in the grips of a power crisis for most of the past three years. The President’s supporters love to point out that the power crisis is nothing new, but we have never experienced it to the degree and scope of this current one. And considering it has run that long, we have never heard of any proper long term plans to fix it. For most of this year a supposed power barge that was initially slated for arrival in April is still not here. I shudder to think of the levels of f*ck ups needed at the highest levels to miss a deadline for something that the government itself admits is crucial to handling this never ending crisis.
How about the economy? Where Ghana’s debt stock just keeps rising and rising under a Finance Minister whose only solution to a lack of capital due to crippling debt, is to enter more debt. Since this government won elections in 2012 I have come to know, and comprehend, what a roadshow is.
Prices of goods and services keep going up, whilst wages remain at the same level. Industrial action is like the bread and butter of this government. It is an experience they have gone through so much that they’re pretty numb to it.
And I’ve not even dug into corruption. Lame duck initiatives such as SADA and GYEEDA to suck huge sums of money that eventually disappear without trace, and with no one being punished for the financial malfeasance. How about suspicious judgement debts, where even when the person is caught red handed, all they are asked to do is to refund the money and that’s pretty much it. Or the suspicious relationship between the President and his tycoon brother who is now possibly the richest man in Ghana?
One could go on and on and on, but the result is all that matters. The results is a country mired in a seemingly never ending power crisis that affects industry, an economy teetering under insurmountable debt, a populace struggling to make ends meet as the odds seems to be eternally stacked against them. There is the crashing health system, an obsolete education system- and a populace forced to turn to religious charlatans who are exploiting this desperation to the best of their abilities.
The President probably has some good points I’m glossing over, but my point here is to show that this is not the time to be making our President feel like he is the man. I know the NDC lives in an alternate reality where everything is roses and unicorns; but those of us who live in the real world have massive problems that this government’s incompetent and apathetic responses to have done little to alleviate.
So yeah, I look at all of the above and seem dumbfounded that the President keeps amassing these titles. Maybe there is an irony to the whole thing I’m not seeing. Like I said, we have a very funny interpretation of what success is on this continent. Doing ok, or just about average, is not success; and performing abysmally is certainly not success.
John Dramani Mahama would certainly go on to acquire more accolades, because when you rise to a certain level that is simply the way things are done. Besides, we’re all subjective beings, aren’t we: one man’s poison is another man’s meat.