With the Hollywoodisation of the US presidential race, important local news is getting tougher to find, laments Kweku Yeboah Koranteng.
* You could be forgiven for thinking that Ghana’s presidential elections on December 7 - just a month after the much-feted US elections - might be more important in African media than a visit by Obama to his grandmother
OR * Ghana’s upcoming presidential election may not be as dramatic as Obama’s ailing grandmother, but it is our news and we should hear more of it
I couldn’t take it any more and flung the newspaper across the room, almost toppling the withering flowerpot which until then had been starved of attention.
I’m a chilled kind of guy - any more chilled, a friend once said, and I’d be dead. So what caused a shy and mild-mannered character like me to resort to such a “revolutionary” action?
The proverbial last straw was a simple headline in a national newspaper. As a Ghanaian now working in South Africa, I yearn for news from my country and spend hours scouring local papers for news of Ghana’s upcoming presidential race and Africa in general. This is getting tougher to find, with the Hollywoodisation of the US presidential race.
Tucked on page 2 was the headline “Obama visits ailing grandmother”. I’m the first to agree that the US election is important for Africa, so thought the article might hint at a policy promise to provide more aid to Africa’s elderly or some such. But the headline had said it all: Obama was simply visiting his grandmother.
Many of Africa’s democracies are at a delicate stage. And Ghana, with its fifth election since returning to democracy, now has a chance to consolidate its democracy, clearing the path for other African countries to follow. So you could be forgiven for thinking that Ghana’s presidential elections on December 7 - just a month after the much-feted US elections - might be more important in African media than a visit by Obama to his grandmother.
It was with some relief when I found some news on Ghana’s presidential race in a British magazine. Seemingly, the Brits are more interested in African news than Africans themselves.
Although the policy differences between the three major Ghanain parties contesting elections are minimal, the two leading parties - the National Patriotic Party (NPP), the current ruling party, and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the former ruling party - have served two consecutive terms, giving Ghanaians an opportunity to judge both parties based on their records. This has led to Ghanaians engaging in healthy debates about real issues as supposed to trivial analyses of the candidates’ wives’ looks and their possible effects on the electorate.
I was proud to note that the three major candidates of Ghana’s presidential race are not career politicians looking to rescue their life of underachievement with aspirations of being presidents, but astute professionals with long track records of significant contributions to their societies.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the NPP is a lawyer by profession. He studied economics in Ghana and read law in the UK. He became a barrister in Ghana and secretary general of the People’s Movement for Freedom and Justice, a broad-based coalition of activists that ultimately brought about the downfall of Acheampong’s military government in 1978. As attorney general in Jerry Rawlings’s government he drafted the National Reconciliation Act, which established the national reconciliation commission to investigate past human rights abuses in Ghana.
Equally impressive is John Attah Mills, the NDC candidate. A teacher by profession, Mills studied law in Ghana and took a doctorate in taxation and economic development in the UK. He has pursued a long academic career and also served as the vice-president in Rawlings’s government.
Papa Kwesi Nduom, the Convention People’s Party candidate, is a business consultant. He studied economics in the United States, after which he joined the international auditing firm Deloitte & Touche in 1981 and soon became one of only five black partners in the company. In the 1990s, he established Deloitte & Touche West Africa consulting.
None of this may be as dramatic as Obama’s ailing grandmother, but it is our news and we should hear more of it.
Kweku Yeboah Koranteng is a business analyst, currently living in South Africa