· At last, everything beautiful in its own good time.
On March 6, 1957, Ghana set the tone for independence in sub-Saharan Africa led by the Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah (1909 – 1972). In the continuum of Ghana’s premier role on the continent, equally historic was the December 2016 political elections that evolved so seamlessly, with the loser gracefully conceding defeat. Soon after the contest, a political cartoon went viral: The sketch depicted a Civics class in Uganda (East Africa), where – to the teacher’s question, “What is democracy?” – various hands went up, with the decisive answer, “Ghana”. For those two feats alone, the nation needs to pat itself on the back, stand taller, and prop itself for the future of economic prosperity which it so clearly deserves and has to pursue relentlessly.
Nana Addo’s victory
This is a most opportune time in Ghana’s history. The tailwinds are in Ghana’s favour. And as William Shakespeare would advise, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat, And we must take the current when it serves, Or lose our ventures.”
There are victories, and there are victories! The 2016 electoral victory of Nana Akufo-Addo as the president-elect is astounding; it resonates impressively beyond the borders of Ghana. Without a single shot fired or a fatal machete brandished in the electoral process, Ghana has made Africa proud once again. The nation continues to be a beacon of democracy on the larger continent, worthy of international collaboration and investments.
The enduring flame of political stability confirms the country as an oasis of peace, to be replicated across the parts of the wider world experiencing political instability and destruction. The spirit, experience and maturity of the man who endeared the people’s mandate so decisively matter. For that reason, Nana Addo must be commended, and wished well with God’s blessings and guidance.
The battle to the top
The former British prime minister, Sir Winston Churchill (1874 – 1965), devoted a chapter of his book, Great Contemporaries, to Joseph Chamberlain (1836 – 1914), “the Radical Mayor” of Birmingham. In celebrating the man, Churchill wrote: “The amount of energy wasted by men and women of first class quality in arriving at their true degree, before they begin to play on the world stage, can never be measured. One may say that sixty, perhaps seventy percent of all they have to give is expended on fights which have no other object but to get to their battlefield.”
He added, “but it was not Chamberlain’s fault that he had only arrived at the commanding viewpoints in later life. He had meant to get there all the time, but the road was long, and every foot of it contested.”
That memory resonates with our own Nana Addo, born in 1944, now 72 years old. Like Chamberlain, he, too, had meant to get there all along, and fought several political battles, tooth and nail, angling for the prize, the room at the top. From his education, international exposure, years of activism, fluency in the French language, service to the nation and the sub-region, he’s clearly most prepared to lead Ghana.
The milestone adventures
By design or faith, he had prepared for his political future with sets of adventures which served him as complete careers. With measured steps he advanced and expanded his objectives and they helped to pivot him for the top spot. The milestones speak for themselves:
He co-founded Akufo-Addo, Prempeh & Co in 1979, where many of Ghana’s outstanding lawyers cut their legal teeth. He used the practice to champion human rights, rule of law, democracy, and equal access of all political parties to the state-owned media. In 1991, he served as the chairman of the organizing committee of the Danquah-Busia Memorial Club which evolved into local organs of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In 1995, Nana Addo led the “Kume Preko” demonstrations of the Alliance For Change. He was elected three times between 1996 and 2008 as a Member of Parliament, and from 2001 to 2007 appointed as Cabinet Minister, first as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, and then as Minister of Foreign Affairs in president J.A. Kufour’s administration.
In his presidential bids, he lost the NPP primaries to Kufuor, and lost the presidential contests twice; one to John Atta Mills, and then to Mills’ successor John Mahama, both of the National Democratic Congress (NDC). The lessons we take from failures can be the stepping stones to later success; they serve as case studies of persistence and resilience, in the love of God and country.
There’s a blues song that came out in the 1960s or so titled, “At Last”. It had been sung earlier by the iconic Nat King Cole, but the rendition by Etta James shot her straight up into stardom. The lyrics flowed like this: “At last my love has come along / My lonely days are over / And life is like a song … / I found a dream, that I could speak to / A dream that I can call my own / I found a thrill to press my cheek to / A thrill that I have never known.”
The lyrics happen to be metaphoric: To win a bride – against a competing brigade of suitors, and prepare a sumptuous wedding to knot things up – is one thing: To make the marriage itself work fruitfully thereafter is another matter. In other words, once the state is secured – as this happens to be our case in point – the progress and well-being of the various districts across Ghana are the dominant duties of the new leader.
Will he succeed or will he falter? As Winston Churchill asked about the United States president, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 – 1945), during the Great Depression. He added, “That is not the question we set ourselves, and to prophesy is cheap.” But when, at last, he is in office, Ghana’s new president must prevail. The electorate is counting and courting his accomplishments. When he succeeds, it will be a “win-win” situation for both Ghana and the larger African continent. Amen!
Brilliant piece, my brother. In a sense Nana has a huge task to overcome. By the grace of God & support from the citizenry, I pray he succeeds.
Great piece from the bossman. Very educative and insightful.
What a joy to read such a beautiful and flawless recap of what Ghana has shared with Africa and to the larger world!! Proud to be a born Ghanaian.
The challenges are huge and monumental as reflected in Ghanaians cries for change & progress. Hopefully the president elect is a thinker (which many African leaders are not) and a doer.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown and we all wish Nana well & God’s guidance to deliver to his people. Amen