I Have a Dream-ocracy
December Seventh was an interesting day.
People woke up MAD early.
People stood in long lines for MAD long.
People went MAD when there was a breech of ANY kind at the stations.
I went to a polling station with some friends, one of which wanted to take a picture of the overall scene for cataloguing purposes. Just to capture the moment on film. She was immediately apprehended by a police officer…
then an election official…
then military personnel…
and then, most notably, every body we passed in the line when walking away.
In another scene, we went to another polling station (a different one, since we aint want no problems… fight club style… with the last polling station people). When they were counting ballots, Agyarko, one of the NPP MP’s comes to the station and crosses the crowd barrier to watch and listen to the ballot counting. At that moment, the crowd went wild. One old man even started singing “AWAY clap clap clap clap AWAY”.
Aside from the hilarity of it all, it showed how committed people were to free and fair elections. Some were murmuring that if he wanted to be there then all the other candidates should come, others said he should not even be there. The candidate himself was going on about how the law says he can have ‘unfettered access’ to polling areas during counting (like people are outchea readin’ laws on election procedures… <bbm gtfoh face>) So when he finally left, and the crowd calmed themselves, I found my heart racing again when the ballot counter accidently skipped a number in his count. Another eruption.
People were SO passionate about following Election Day rules.
I was proud.
After a year of: songs about peace, propaganda for free and fair elections, videos and leaflets and commercials to make election procedures and rules accessible— the Ghanaian psyche around voting had been made so sensitive to anything that did not align with the messages of a truly democratic election. This proves that there is hope. When people make a pointed and directed effort to change and adjust the mindsets of people, it can absolutely happen. Were there breaches? Yes! But a recurring narrative was that people were generally peaceful and they took their right and opportunity very seriously. Furthermore, people assumed much of the role of security and enforcement by crying foul whenever there was a breach or inconsistency. So what could this mean for accountability?
This means that if someone… anyone (preferably a non-partisan relatively unbiased rich person and/or consortium of orgs— not that I have thought about this at all… ahem.) would take a stand, make a stake and invest heavily on jingles, commercials, billboards, radio ads, t-shirts, YouTube videos, twitter handles, sachet waters and all other promotional items… we could challenge Ghanaians to take their responsibility as citizens a step further and QUESTION their government, DEMAND answers and REQUIRE results. Ghanaians need to learn to ask their politicians 6 simple questions:
- WHAT are they planning to do about a particular need?
- WHO is responsible for getting this thing done?!
- WHEN will they get it done (timeline)
- HOW are they planning to do it (phases, mechanics, etc.)
- WHY are they doing it that way (explain the nuances)
- WHERE will they implement these needs?
What if Sarkodie created a song around those questions?
… And Yvonne Nelson starred in a 2 minute commercial on those questions?
… And Shirley Frimpong- Manso created a few short clips released on YouTube about what Ghana could become if they asked questions?
… And T-shirt designers created a brand around those questions?
… And Kojo Oppong- Nkrumah led a broadcast centered on these questions?
What if we built our democracy from the dream of people asking questions and thinking critically about the connections between their votes and their living circumstances?
Now that Ghana has decided, the next step is for Ghana to Account. Ghanaians must make sure that the leadership, whether they chose them or not, is doing what they said they would do. If the leadership fails to meet the standard, that leadership must own up to these mistakes by the answers they give to these questions. Asking is not the end all be all of accountability, but even that level of interest will challenge our politicians to be very mindful of their actions. The questions are the beginning, the next step is action based on our dissatisfaction with their answers. Whatever action looks like, people will finally have something to rally behind, like they did when Agyarko jumped the fence trying to watch the ballot counting or when my friend tried to take pictures or when they suspected strange behavior at Airport West in the EC collation room.
Like Martin Luther King, I have a dream… that one day little Ghanaian girls and Ghanaians boys can look at their democracy with pride. They can say that we are a country that truly understands the merit of democracy because we have made our decisions by weighing the information that WE have sought ourselves. That one day our form of governance will be the standard and therefore the dream-ocracy to which others will be compared and contrasted.
So this is a call to all benefactors, angel investors, ghost donators, do- gooder orgs, champions of democracy… be part of a dream-ocracy and invest in the state of affairs in this country. If not you… who?