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.