Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Samia met Abena: Two Daughters, Two Legacies and One Meeting

Between waves of stomach bug-induced nausea this past weekend, something caught my eye in the Saturday's Daily Graphic newspaper (19-9-09). According to an advert in the paper, the popular TV3 interview programme Kwaku-One-on-One hosted by seasoned journalist Kwaku Sakyi-Addo was scheduled to have two guests. One of the guests was going to be Hon. Ms. Samia Nkrumah, Member of Parliament for Jomoro and only daughter of our first president Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The other guest was Professor Abena Busia, Professor of English at Rutgers University and daughter of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia, Prime Minister of the Republic of Ghana 1969-1972.

During their lifetimes, Nkrumah and Busia can best be described as political adversaries on opposing sides of the political divide. On the one hand, there was the Nkrumahist ideology: the leftist, pan-African socialist force that led us after independence from 1957 until 1966. On the other hand, there was the Busia legacy: the liberal democratic right of centre force, that underlines the 'Danquah-Busia' political tradition and is associated with the Kufuor administration from Jan. 2001 to Jan 2009. So despite, my weird stomach bug and promises of a scheduled power outage by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), this was one show I did not want to miss.

Yet I missed the first 5 minutes. I missed the initial exchange of pleasantries as both women in their beautiful afro-centric themed outfits recounted their first meeting sometime in 2007 or 2008. Their smiles were beautiful, the atmosphere was warm and one thing I noticed was how both women bore striking resemblances to their respective fathers.

The first sign of controversy revolved around a statue. In 2007, a number of parks in different regions were renamed Jubilee Parks as part of the celebration of 50 years of Ghana's independence. This included the Kwame Nkrumah park in Sunyani, the capital of the Brong-Ahafo Region. A statute of Dr. Busia (being a son of Wenchi also in the Brong-Ahafo region) was erected in this very park. Apparently they are calls to rename the park and remove the statue. Prof. Busia was appalled about being called by radio stations to answer whether she felt that the statue should be removed.

Ms. Nkrumah agreed that the park should revert back to its original name while Prof. Busia did not see why the statue would have to be removed. After all, is her father not one of the most famous sons of the Brong-Ahafo? Ironically, Kwame Nkrumah can also be credited in creating the Brong-Ahafo region in the first place. During the commercial break, the two women came to an interesting compromise; maybe the park can be renamed Kwame Nkrumah (Jubilee?) Park with the statue of Kofi Busia allowed to remain. They both laughed at how little say they actually have in the fate of the park or the statue.

Most of the show was devoted to both women recounting their differing stories of forced exile and the bravery of their respective mothers in the face of family upheaval and adversity. They talked about the effect of the political turmoil in Ghanaian history on their own family units.

I learnt something very interesting from the programme. According to Prof. Busia, in 1959 when her father escaped from Nkrumah's Ghana, the person who warned her father about impending danger and precipitated his exile was none other than Kwame Nkrumah's ebullient loyal minister Mr. Krobo Edusei. Imagine that?!

The tone of the interview was civil, conciliatory, full of stories of separate but paralled histories and also quite emotional. Both women avoided the finger-pointing that is so characteristic of Ghanaian political discourse today. The show convinced me more and more of something; we need more intelligent, strong women as political leaders in Ghana. Ms. Nkrumah has made already made a brave and dignified entrance into the murky Ghanaian political scene and I quietly await Prof. Busia.

Prof. Busia and Hon. Ms. Nkrumah. Unfortunately, the positioning of the cameras meant that we got more side views of Ms. Nkrumah more than anything.

23 comments:

Kwegyirba said...

I'm glad these two beautiful women showed the 'bush' men how we do politics!(Sorry, couldn't help it.) Love the article.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

I watched this interview and was inspired. It tells us that there is no right or wrong. If we think in earnest of who is right or who is wrong we would never reconcile. Interesting piece.

Esi W. Cleland said...

I find it interesting that you thought their "afro-centric" clothing note-worthy. They're African woman. What other clothing should they be wearing? It's like Chelsea Clinton showing up on CNN and someone commenting that she wore Western-style clothing. Of course! Speaks to how even what should be normal/mainstream in our context has become "the other" simply because we've bought so much into Western ways of doing things. Also, isn't it just African clothes they were wearing? Why do we use the language "Afro-centric"?

Please don't get me wrong. I'm not disagreeing with you or gasp! attacking you. I'm just pointing out the way in which your language says something quite interesting:)

Abena said...

Hehehehe! Thanks Kwegyirba, 'bush' men is completely appropriate! *Sigh*

@Nana F-A: could not have said it better..there is actually no right or wrong and as long as we try individually to push our own agendas, we will not get very far. Well said.

@Esi: Thanks, that was very astute of you..amazing attention to detail. You are right. "Afrocentric" is a poor choice of word since I think it encompasses more of a philosophical and conscious effort to embrace 'African-ness'. Besides, wearing Ghanaian?/African? attire probably comes quite naturally to these two women. I did intend to emphasize the non-western attire though because it is (sadly) different from our current mainstream since as you said "we've bought so much into Western ways of doing things".

Thanks for the reminder on how use of language (especially on the internet) may convey a different tone or meaning than what is actually intended!

Nana said...

I really wanted to watch the show but had to go out...I saw 5 minutes and even that was heart-warming. Yes, I think Professor Busia will make a great politician. She is very supportive of women's rights and women's leadership. In fact I think we all need to enter politics rather than leaving it to the "bush men" to run our politics and our country

Disclaimer: Of course not all men are bush.

novisi said...

first comment:
unlike Esi, i have no apology for attacking nobody! it's a free world of words. and feel 'overly' free to disagree with me if you may (or may not!).

again, unlike Abena, i disagree with Nana F-A that there's no 'right or wrong' (even though i kind of understand what he's driving at. love you Nana). but to put it like that generally is almost like turning things up-side-down.

i wonder how that can be. we live in a world of right and wrong. there's good and there's bad. we can't suddenly see Nkrumah and Busia on tv together and wish (wish) to change what is to what is not! that is bizarre.

cheers!

novisi said...

second comment:
i have not problem if even the women appeared on the set in their birthday suites- naked as they came! i've no problem if they wore kabba or underwear! talking of underwear wouldn't it be fun to know where each got hers? made in Ghana or Africa or Western or Asia?

what is the big deal? sentiments or economic? for me, no bid deal.

what did they talk about? statues? representations (name of a park)? not bad. but they should grow out of it. it doesn't matter!

finger pointing? i don't see why there should be no finger pointing! if anyone does wrong we should all point our fingers at them. we should even add our toes!

Nkrumah did some wrong and we should point it to him-- putting his face on Ghana coins, denying workers right to strike etc etc. Busia too did some wrong and we should point it to him--after speaking against PDA he practiced he had similar during his term. At the time people were fighting against the inhuman SA apartheid govt he was almost endorsing them with his dealings with them. he opposed Nkrumah uselessly that the Akosombo dam should not be constructed.

let us separate the issues appropriately so we can truly identify our shortfalls for a better match forward instead of just admiring how beautifully our faces look and how sweetly we talk when we might not be making good sense anyway!

cho boi!
now, let someone say "yei"!

Abena said...

@Nana: *LOL* Between us we watched the entire show (you= 5 minutes + me = 55minutes)! This was actually the first interview I had heard with Prof. Busia and I found her quite impressive. I think it is great when you have women supportive of each other rather than succumbing to petty rivalries. Ah yes and I'm in total agreement with the disclaimer; not all men are bush.

Abena said...

Ahh Novisi, I do enjoy your passion!

Glad to hear that you make no apology about attacking anyone but I disagree that it is a "free world of words". Words can also be spiteful, full of hate and incite people to violence. Words are powerful. I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion and it is always lovely when differing views are expressed in a polite and respectful manner.

I still agree with Nana F-A. I'm not saying that there are no moral rights or wrongs but it would have been hard to really reach consensus on rights and wrongs in this specific context. Or would you have preferred that each women go through point-by-point list of all the wrongs done by each of their fathers and shout at each other about it? That would have been absolutely futile and pretty primitive.

Abena said...

@Novisi: your second point. You are entitled to your opinion that what they were wearing was completely unimportant. Still not sure what how their underwear fits in ?

As for the discussion of statues and parks, I thinking the "growing up" statement is best directed to the people who debate these things on a daily basis on our airwaves. That is how the discussion came up in the first place.

As for fingerpointing, again I think that would have been an exercise in futility that would have taken longer than an hour.

Just curious, did you see the show? I did not think it was simply a case of:
“admiring how beautifully our faces look and how sweetly we talk when we might not be making good sense anyway!”.

If that is the impression you got from my post, then I have done a great disservice!

Again Novisi, you are entitled to your fascinating opinions as always!

Edward of PathGhana said...

hmmmm, interesting piece.

novisi said...

A FREE WORLD OF WORDS (in some detail):
@Abena,
i love you! the world can't do without disagreements! we would have a 'stale' place in no time then- lack of challenges! i respect your opinion lovingly.

okay! so here we go!
i actually hope to write a book on my crazy ideas about how to have conflicts alright and still maintain harmony. until then they would keep coming in bits and pieces!

conflict is not a bad thing. it's natural. it very unnatural not to have conflict. the important thing is how do we manage the conflict???? that is what makes the difference!

so i dare say to all who read admonishments from books like the bible to be wary of what they say 'because the tongue is like a double edged sword' to rather disregard such admonishments and speak freely!

it's true that "words can be spiteful, full of hate and incite people to violence" and i dare say that is what words must do. words must incite you to violence. words must posses you with their power!

but then again, what is it that makes us rational? are we to say that our rationality is limited by the power of words? i dare say not!

so comes the test: words don't gun down people, it's human beings who do! and so the test is 'tolerance'. how tolerant are we of other people's opinions????????????

so for me that is it. we either have tolerance or we don't have it. rule of thumb if you want.

and so if i say it's a 'free world of words', i mean no one human being or group has monopoly over words. nobody owns the words in this world for him or her to determine which one must keep a life and which one must terminate a life. more so when even a complement could be read wrongly to mean an attack on a personality!

that said, desires apart, i'm not against descent language just as i'm not against 'indescent' language. and even these comes with levels of responsibility for me. who owes who descent language? i believe people in public office owe the populace they serve 'descent language'. but i believe the other way round is not a 'must'!

novisi said...

@Abena,
on Nana F-A,
maybe i was reading Nana too literally.

but then again words/expressions must have meaning. so what if i took a knife and chased after Nana F-A because i feel incited 'to violence' by his expressions which don't hold a truism 'literally' and basically??? hehehehe @Nana!

i do agree about building consensus. indeed it's another tool for advancement just as disagreements are! but must we for the sake of promoting consensus hold an expression which doesn't hold a truism as okay? i have a difficulty there! Nana are you there????

the literature must carry the spirit of the truth! and this fact we don't have control over! it must just happen! else we'd have to redefine the meaning of the words!

but i get a sense of what Nana is driving at like i said earlier!

novisi said...

@Abena,
i've not 'blogged' for a while, so pardon me for 'spamming' your page with my crazy thoughts. lol.

on my second point:
i was actually 'attacking' Esi in a subtle way for her 'non-attack' on you about what the women wore. lol.

i don't see what big deal it makes to describe the attires as 'afro-centric'. and her point is that they are africans anyway-- so that is where the underwear comes in--that those underwear would 'miraculously' come from africa and what would we call those too? 'afro-centric' underwears?

about the statues and parks. i guess i didn't put my expressions well. i was in a hurry! hehe! but i still believe these two women still need some 'growing up' to do since Samia was insisting that the name be changed back the Nkrumah representation. it don't matter just as we don't need to change the name of Kotoka International Airport. that insistence is for me childish (hahaha wasn't i a child just some few yrs back? ahh, i miss childhood!). our history is not only about good. it's about the bad too.

finger pointing? i agree that the time might not help. but then again, we don't always have to agree before we can have a good show! for me it's the depth of ideas that matter! but i love agreement! nice! sweet!

Curiosity: Abena, i know i've raised your curiosity. lol. i never got to see the show. i slept the whole time. sleep is my other love when i'm in dire need of it.

but i did not get the wrong impression from your post. rest assured that you've done a great job. my earlier comments were mostly based on the comments of others! i like doing that. sometimes i just want to drive home(?), no public, a point. so don't mind me!

in fact, thanks for feeding me in cos Kweku Sakyi Addo's update on his site is not inspiring. last time i checked he was way behind his own programme!

cheers!

Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Sad I missed this one, although I personally think our talk should migrate from politics and political history to society and economics. Glad to hear it was mostly civil - I expected no less from those two women. I am wondering if they have a privileged position in Ghana, and, if they do, is it partly due to their heritage?

Abena said...

@Edward: Thanks! I think..

@Novisi: you have actually rendered me speechless! Thanks for the clarifications...I think it all makes sense now...I think...

@Nana Yaw: Indeed, you are spot one... less (political) talking and more building of the Better Ghana..As for the priviledged positions and heritage.mmmm....You are onto something. After all both the late Benazir Bhutto and the current Bangledeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina both had fathers who were leaders of their respective countries. In religiously conservative countries such as theirs would an ordinary dynamic woman have been able to rise to the top without the family connection? Probably not. I think I'm not thinking straight...blame Novisi!

Emmanuel.K.Bensah II said...

ABena, again, nice post. I like the way you give all your readers time and respect to comment. Kudos!

Let my chauvinism come out here. I watched the whole thing, and if I may be frank, Samia is a lovely woman and very admirable. As for Prof Busia, she is HOT! In fact, she is sexy--from the accent to her ostentatious pose (occasionally looking at reflections of herself to see whether her satorial eloquence was still tip-top;-) ) I was just staring at her--not Samia! It is true about the resemblance with Busia, but my, Prof Busia does have a beautiful face!!

But, but...I sensed she was playing to the gallery. At one point when she asked about the statue of Nkrumah, and where her father's was, I sensed some anger...maybe that's just me. But, because of her charm and good looks, she pulled off the task of convincing many she was not bitter.

If ever she was, I would not have blamed her. Would she not be human? I personally hope that Kwake let them talk waaaaaaaaaaay before coming to slug it out on tv.

Did I say Prof Busia is hot?!!

Abena said...

Thanks EK...Glad to hear someone else saw it! Hehehehe, you really put a smile on my face.

Between your reflections on the hotness of Prof. Busia you snuck by with some fascinating observations;

1 "ostentatious pose (occasionally looking at reflections of herself..)"
2. "sensed some anger..she pulled off the task of convincing many she was not bitter."

I totally, totally missed these but found them interesting that you noted them!

Gameli Magnus Adzaho said...

Really interesting perspectives. I'm wondering what everybody has to say on what Nkrumah would do if he were still alive. I've attempted to explore this topic here: http://gamelmag.blogspot.com/2009/09/what-would-be-nkrumahs-aspiration-for.html

novisi said...

@EK,
wow!
you've really got good eyes. i like how you focus your lenses!
just the kind of angles i would have been interested in if i watched the show.

thanks so much!

@Abena, lol.

Abena said...

@Gameli: I read your post. Very fascinating and optimistic! Nicely written...

@Novisi: Still speechless..

ekb on gmail said...

Novisi--thanks for praising my eyes:-) Abena--LOL!!

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