Friday, December 26, 2008

The Scramble for Ghana: Christmas in the midst of Politicking

Christmas in Ghana came and went. Feliz Navidad seemed to be played in heavy rotation on a lot of radio stations this year and the Accra mall is definitely redefining the Ghanaian Christmas experience with mass consumerism and heavy traffic. On Christmas eve, I arrived at the mall early in the morning to avoid traffic and to do some last-minute shopping. Sadly, half of Accra had the same idea and the traffic was not a pleasant sight! The Harmattan has also arrived adding an eerie, gothic smog to the Accra landscape and covering everything with dust.

My Christmas day was well-spent. I arrived for mass on time at 10am but I soon realised that I had mixed up the time and was *sigh* one hour late. In the end, I had to find a suitable standing spot in the Church car-park along with other late-comers/time mixer-uppers. Christmas lunch with family was deep-fried and delicious. Ice-cream and cupcake rendered me catatonic and I settled into Christmas television only to be hit by the reality that we are indeed reaching the crescendo of the political high season and that the run-off election slated for December 28th is still very much "too close to call".

As I attempted to find some merry feel-good Christmas movie on the television, the two political parties in contention for the run-off ran alternating television ads that made my head hurt. At first it was entertaining and interesting to watch but lately political ads have lost their sparkle. Outside, Ice-cream vans in the neighbourhood have been replaced by vehicles patrolling the area playing campaign songs for the two parties.

Suddenly, for some reason, the fact that the race is too close has got me worried.
Will the losers accept the results? Will the winners rub it in their opponents face? Will Ghana still remain calm and peaceful? Anticipation has now become nail-biting.

It has meant that for two nights in a row I have been up all night watching news from Al-Jazzera, Deutsche Welle (English), BBC and CNN
It is amazing how different news source report the same news and how you can critically assess these differences at 3am. I was sad to hear about the passings of Eartha Kitt and Harold Pinter. Ironically, I was just reading about Eartha Kitt still going strong at 81 in the December edition of Ebony magazine. I did not follow much of her musical career but loved her in Lady Eloise ("Maarrr-cusss!")
Harold Pinter I will never forget for his unforgettable turn as Sir Thomas Bertram in the 1999 version of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.
Many years ago when I was 10 years old, I borrowed Harold Pinter's play The Caretaker at the Manzini Library in Swaziland . This book was clearly not supposed to be in the children's section and left me a little confused but was enjoyable though.
Anyway, I'm off to pack a light travel bag for our journey into the interior to cast my vote. Unfortunately, all the movies I have watched about Saigon, Phnom Penh, Kigali, Beirut etc. etc. are filling me with apprehension at the moment. I am clinging to the belief that Ghanaians are way too mature for political unrest. Clinging.


megat said...

your blog very beautiful and more info,I like your blog

Maya said...

Completely agree, Abena. After boycotting Ghanaian TV channels since runoff was declared, I made the mistake of flicking between Metro, GTV and TV3 all of yesterday evening and it hit me as well that whatever the results, we may not have a peaceful situation on our hands.

I guess we can only hope. Hope and pray for the best.

Abena said...

Thanks Megat..Very kind of you!

Abena said...

Indeed Maya, we have to hope and pray! I just got back from voting in the Brong Ahafo and generally things seemed peaceful but we did pass two different towns on the way to Accra where crowds had gathered and there was some activity involving military personnel. When we got to Kumasi around noon we were shocked at how few people were lining up to vote but were rather out shopping at the central market.

Abena said...

I stand corrected on Kumasi!
Apparently they were long-winding queues from early morning.

novisi said...

hi Abena and happy new year in about an hour's time!

wishing you mo blezzings as we continue to mark and count time...

Christmas has come and gone...amidts all the politicking...but elections has only come and come and come!

i hope we survive it as much as i'm not one who ever thinks there are any special human beings anywhere on this same earth...i just pray that common sense prevails above all the faking of peace songs and calls!!


Abena said...

Thanks Novisi, Happy New Year to you too!! On another note; "Change" has indeed materialised on the Ghanaian political landscape. My new year's wish is that President-elect Atta-Mills will be able to control the rank and file within his party that have been instrumental in bringing about the "change"!