It's been a week since we celebrated your 100th birthday. It's been ages since I last wrote to you. Coincidentally, my last letter was about your birthday and the debate about the Founder's Day celebration and holiday. No one listened to my suggestion and you were celebrated (alone) on your centenary with good measure. Everyone was talking about you, including the folks at Ghanablogging.com. How did you spend the day? Reflect on your regrets and achievements. Kwame, I find myself regretting way too much in my life these days. If it will make me grow old quicker than I want, please warn me. I am already worried about my age, but let's leave that for another day. What I want to know is, were you a little lucky to be born in 1909? In essence, were you a little lucky to be Ghana's first president instead of its 4th? Is there a little luck involved in creating and leaving a legacy? I will like to argue so.
This is a little late but September 21 was the 100th birthday of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. He's being honoured in Ghana with September 21 instituted as Founder's Day, a national holiday. Many people travelled to Ghana to celebrate his centenary. I wanted to take this opportunity to honour Ghana's founding father and remember him once again. I don't really have much to say about Nkrumah today, but I will talk about him later on. So I'll use this blog to recap a bunch of recent Nkrumah related blog posts.
The last time I wrote to you, your daughter, Samia, had become a Member of Parliament. Now, she is in the news again praising Ghana’s new president, Asomdwoe Hene Atta Mills for proposing a Founder’s Day to honour you. This national holiday would commemorate your 100th birthday, September 21, 2009 and would be a yearly affair just like Martin Luther King Day in the USA. I don’t know why this bit is not surprising, but the folks in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) have opposed this proposal and getting this legislation to pass is going to be a battle in parliament. This opposition is being branded as a feature of the “Mate me ho” folk, which dates back as far as you emerged on the scene as Ghana’s leader. The National Democratic Congress’ majority will probably chalk another democratic victory so felicitations again, Osagyefo, it seems you are about to chalk another feat.
I hope you are doing well and getting into another gear for the festive season. As for me, I'm following Kaakyire Kwame Appiah's 24 song to the tee, I'll be going to Sikakrom to spend Christmas. Even though there is a credit crunch, I still have some money to purchase a ticket from one continent to the other and buy Christmas gifts. It's called 'saving by being chisel and hustle' . I'll be going to meet a Ghana I haven't seen in awhile, a Ghana that is gearing up for an election. That should be interesting. Ghana's election is going to a second round. The NPP and NDC would be going at it. One person who will not be going against anything is sure to be Samia Nkrumah. She's the new member of parliament for Jomoro.
Osagyefo, your daughter is a wonder o! Many people didn't give her a chance to wrest the parliamentary seat from Hon. Lee Ocran, and besides the NPP did have a candidate in the Jomoro race. Your name does do wonders! Samia's opponents were running against your name, the name that rings synonymous with Ghanaian independence. It could be likened to running a long-distance race against an Ethiopian or Kenyan. Maybe Jomoro voters were enthralled by the beauty of Samia Yaba in that ballot box. Fair-coloured woman with an Nkrumah last-name? Done deal. There was talk of her campaign being funded by the ruling NPP government. That didn't break her down. Her brother and your ‘prodigal son’, Sekou, fired shots at her from the camp of the NDC, but that didn't rattle her. I wish Sekou had run for MP too. Imagine if he run against Ellembelle Mugabe? Samia still trounced Ocran and is now the sole CPP parliamentarian.
Forgive my insubordinate self for not keeping in touch. I know my letters have become occasional but it's not because you didn't send me that stimulus package. I will change. But as you can guess, there is an occasion. Coming up in two days is the election in Ghana. Ghana will be electing a new president as Traveller John steps down after two-terms. We know for sure there will be a change in who our first citizen is. Would there be a change in what our first citizen does? The world is looking at Ghana wondering if we'll pass another test in our democracy. We'll be praying for peace and a free and fair election.
Kwame, people are saying Ghanaians are too 'chill' for post-election violence in case some group of people feel there is a stolen verdict. Kenya and Zimbabwe cannot happen in Ghana they say. Some credit you for pushing unity amongst Ghanaians, overseeing the development of our education system which encouraged Ghanaians to leave their hometowns and settle in areas where their mother tongue was not spoken and children attending boarding schools all over the country. Kenya has done similar things so what is so different about Ghanaians? It's because we have seen what happened there and various campaigns have been waged to curtail any violence. I think the presidential candidates should have joined Junior Judas and Traveller John in a short video to preach peace as well. We haven't taken this thing too seriously.
It's been two weeks since my last post. I didn't see this silence coming when I started blogging. But what you should know is, I got stories, lots of stories. Last Thursday, I attended a meeting regarding a new NGO set-up to raise funds for students in one district in Kenya. One of the founders has been my Swahili tutor for two quarters. To show that I belonged, I started speaking the little Swahili I knew to whoever would listen. "Why are you studying Kiswahili?" This is the question other people at the meeting asked me. I responded "Marafiki zangu 'plenty' wanatoka Afrika Mashariki" which means 'a lot of my friends are from East Africa'. My Swahili tutor went on to say 'This guy is a Pan-Africanist'. That is a cool thing to hear given my love for Kwame Nkrumah, but is it really a cool description? How are Pan-Africanists seen today? People blamed Nkrumah for concentrating too much on other African countries and he eventually began to alienate his own people. Will being a Pan-Africanist thread me on the same path?
Happy Belated Birthday Osagyefo,
Kwame, some people in this world are old, but as for you, you are grown. What! 99 years! I am struggling with my quarter-life crisis and am dreading the next few years; I can't even imagine a mid-life crisis. Happy belated again sir, and may you find rest and sleep at the same side of the bed you slept on September 20th. Do find that spot again because you smiled at your fans. You must have smiled when you read the news about the national launch of your rejuvenated party's campaign for this year's election. The CPP is back, new, vibrant and attractive.
Nkrumahists like us cherish your birthday like other holidays in the Ghanaian calendar. Were you called the African Showboy due to the flamboyant parties you threw for your birthday? Were you called the African Showboy because of how you lavished cedis (when they were as good as dollars) on your friends and sympathizers? September 21st is remembered as your birthday but the chapter has been re-written, the 2008 version will go down as the day Paa Kwesi Nduom's CPP launched its national campaign with a rally for the ages and introduced the running mate in the race for the FlagStaff house, the site of the new Presidential Palace. Actually, the Presidential Palace is on hold due to a myriad of problems, so let's call this election the race to be the first citizen of Ghana. Shall we?
A lot has happened since I last wrote to you. Chief among them, the Beijing Olympics just ended over the weekend. I share in your disappointment; our beloved country failed to win a single medal. Either our athletes are not good enough to earn our national anthem some airtime on the world stage or we are not investing enough in various sports disciplines so that we can be counted amongst countries with medals. We went there to make up the numbers. But we didn't even have the numbers - our contingent was less than a score (Ha, always wanted to use this expression). In the meantime, our current president handed out a ton of medals recently to about 200 people who have served our nation in various ways. Each 18 carat gold medal cost 33,000 pounds. Here's a good debate Kwame: should we have spent this gold medallion money on our athletes instead to save face at the Olympics? Are the Olympics that important or we should rather cherish celebrating our national heroes?
Please don't put me into your bad books due to this long silence. I have been thinking about you but I was preoccupied with thinking about my classes rather than dedicating time to preparing a letter to you. After all, no one is paying me to do this, but my classes are supposed to get me paid in the future. Eventually. So appreciate my efforts, Kwame, I am not being corrupted. I surely don't need any brown envelopes to share my thoughts on our beloved nation. Now think of those who are actually supposed to serve our nation. It's their job to do it. They are the ones whose jobs have been clouded in the controversy called corruption. It's a canker, but what can we do about it?
I've been back in Yankee for about two weeks now. I am sorry for not notifying you earlier, I wanted to settle in first. I am happier about being back now, a new quarter has started, I've spoken to a number of friends and loved ones, enjoyed fast internet for a while now, you know. I don't think I know much about what's going on in Ghana, even though there are countless media outlets to keep me informed. It just doesn't look the same you know. A discerning Ghanaian abroad may hear people making a big deal about one political party threatening fire and brimstone if an election goes a certain way on radio, but to the Ghanaian at home, there is nothing burning and no signs of smoke. but I never paid much attention to these popular news outlets online when I was home but I am stuck with them now. Where did the other sources of news and information go?
I hope you are doing great. I am in my last week in Sikakrom and I am wanting some more days to spend with my family. The thought of when I will see them again after I have returned to Yankee troubles me. A friend told me awhile ago that I have stayed in Ghana far too long so I should leave. The stuff I had in my polythene bag when I returned to Ogyakrom on Christmas Eve is finished. I didn't even pay taxes but the cost of living in Ghana is becoming unbearable for even the returnees. Imagine if I had to pay taxes!
Good day Osagyefo,
I told you I'll report back on this year's independence day. I managed to do most of the things I wanted to do. The other highlight was going to the Trade Fair Centre at LA (Labadi). They were having the 12th Ghana Trade fair and there were a lot of good deals. I bought a tourist map with info because I wanted to learn a little more about Ghana's tourism. I happened to chance upon the MKOGH store as well and couldn't resist buying something cuz the sales lady was too nice. I bought a T-shirt that had a quote of yours for half the price. It was a great deal. I bought it in the spirit of independence, whose hard-fought battle was led by you. But Kwame, I shudder to think, did you really win independence for us? Was it not the mosquito?
Happy Independence day Osagyefo,
I haven't celebrated this huge day in Ghana for a long while. I don't even know how I am going to celebrate it. As you guessed, it's a holiday so most of us are staying at home. Not me. What will I do if I stay at home? Watch the 8th and final independence parade under Mr. Sexy Eyes' watch? Not enough. The man would not find the faces of the hundreds of children who'll have to stand under the scorching sun for hours at the Independence Square sexy. I hope the children see this opportunity as an honour and not a burden. March 6th is a day to honour Sikakrom (or Ogyakrom) and is a more than an opportunity to stay at home and sleep in.
It's been 2 weeks since the African Cup of Nations came to an end. Trust your people to be still talking about what went wrong, what could have been done better and which heads should roll for the failure to annex the trophy for the fifth time. Not many people are calling for the head of Prophet Hakeem though which is okay. What I find most interesting is the disappearance of the goodwill Ghana enjoyed amongst Ghanaians during the tournament. Kwame, we are not wearing the red, gold, green colours anymore. You could argue that our true colours are coming out. We are wearing AIG clad Manchester United jerseys and England national team 'shadas'. "Now I see your true colours shining". You know that Phil COllins' masterpiece is a treasured song in Ghana, or don't you?
Lovely day Osagyefo,
Oya, love is in the air, can you feel it? Every Jesus will answer store is selling Valentine's Day teddy bears, chocolates, hampers, gifts, card, setc. I think that Kasapa, One Touch, Tigo, and MTN should give out free mobile phone units because of the barrage of lovely text messages flying around. Some people even think that this year's Valentine season would not be very successful since the recent Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations stole some of its glitter. Besides, for the few ladies that came out to wear red, you could easily mistake them for donning a national colour.
How will you spending Valentine's Day Kwame? Buying gifts or dashing out money? As for me, I'm smiling. Like Agya Appiah said, 'shyness is not love'. I am doing away with shyness today.I have decided to be bold. If that girl's red outfit is sexy, I will tell her. If that guy is wearing Otto Pfister, I will let him know. If my sister is getting on my nerves, I will let her know too. I will do all of this because I love them. Shyness is not love, boldness is. If my mother, ..... nah, I wasn't brought up to do that. How will our elders celebrate this special day?