New Year, New President

It is a new year and in Ghana (and very soon in the US) that means a new president! Nana Akufo-Addo, 72 years, was sworn in last weekend and the major event featured one positive media storm concerning President Akufo-Addo’s attire, and one negative concerning the heavy use of unreferenced material in key sections of the speech.

The negative aspect has gotten ample attention online, culminating in being ridiculed by Trevor Noah (who suggested Akufo-Addo also plagiarised Melania Trump, who in turn recently plagiarised a speech by Michele Obama). The administration’s new speech writer also apologised.

So let me move on to the positives…I was completely in awe of the President’s bespoke Kente/Adinkra/Gonja cloth. It was colourful (almost to the point of being psychedelic), regal (Kente is worn like the Greek toga over the shoulder, or perhaps it is the Greek toga that is worn like Kente?), and filled with symbolism.

The Kente cloth is traditionally woven is narrow strips later joined together. However here, it was not just Kente in the box of stripes, it was a national blend. Journalist Charles Benoni Okine explained in an article in the Daily Graphic:

“He’s taken the best of the various peoples represented throughout Ghana, and created a beautiful patchwork tapestry reflecting the traditions and the unity of the Ghanaian people. Ashanti kente with proverbs such as “Akokobaatan” – compassion and discipline, and “Nkyimkyim” – life is not a straight path. Obama kente which is derived from the Ga and Ewe people’s Adanudo cloth, and created with embossed and appliquéd patterns. Adinkra symbols, an Akan tradition, such as “Akoma” the heart and a symbol of love, “Bese Saka” a bunch of cola nuts and a symbol of abundance, and “Ohene Aniwa” which is a symbol of vigilance.  There are also pieces of Gonja cloth from the North of Ghana.”

Wasn’t it interesting it included an Ga and Ewe form of Kente known as Obama kente? And that textile from south to north was represented? That adinkra symbols were included with messages for the Ghanaian people?

In an article with more photos by OMGVoice, Twitter sources offered more clues. Apparently this type of joined, adorned, and appliquéd cloth is the highest form of Kente and reserved for kings (and Presidents), it is called Ago.

I wish we could know more, who designed it, who made it, how long time it took. Do let me know if you read it somewhere! Or perhaps the mystique around this centre stage piece of clothing adds that extra flair and elevation to Ghana’s new President? If so, I rest my Kente case.

Photo credit: Nana Akufo-Addo’s official website.

This Year’s Best Political News in Ghana: NDC to Change Primaries System

I just stumbled across the best news in politics for Ghana for the whole year – the leading party NDC is scrapping their electoral college for parliamentary primaries allowing all their membership to vote directly.

This just might have wonderful implications:

  • Primaries are gates for political aspirants and direct voting makes more sense – if many folks like you, you win.
  • Electoral colleges have earlier meant those who can pay off the relatively small number of people in the college wins, not the more popular.
  • When good leaders who are not rich (or make corrupt promises to the electoral colleges) cannot win, it creates political apathy – now there is a chance for the leaders Ghana needs! 
  • Hopefully this will also lead to that main contending party NPP and other parties also review their primaries systems, making these effects even more profound.

On Facebook under a link to this news, selected comments were “who cares” and “NPP and NDC are all corrupt”, but also “this is the way” and “I am strongly behind you”. I say it is the best political news this whole year.

What are your views? 

Opposition Files Complaint Against Election Results: Now What?

Just now, the news was released that Ghana’s main opposition party, NPP, has officially filed the petition with the supreme court over this year’s presidential election results. The news was expected, the continuation is not as clear…

Now it will be very exciting to see what the Supreme Court will do.

  • Will it speed up the trial process?
  • Will it make the evidence public?
  • Will it order a recount of the vote? (the Supreme Court cannot change the results, only at most order a recount).

Today was the very last day to file (officially 21 days after election results are declared, but as the 30th falls on a Sunday…) and NPP have been very sparse with information of their case. I was nervous they wouldn’t even make it! Yesterday, journalists were waiting in vain!  Finally, it was the party flag bearer, his vice and the party chairman who signed the petition as a registered voter has to complain, not  a party.

Hopefully, this examination of the election will close what ever loop holes is still out there and strengthen the Ghanaian democracy. However, likely, the investigation will take a bit of time and the president elect, John Dramani Mahama will still be sworn in as planned on Jan 7th.

What then happens if a recount is ordered by the supreme court and it indeed confirms the election results add up to a different result? 

These are indeed interesting times.

See TV3 and Daily Graphic for more details.