Ghanaians have two favorite pastimes; Football and Politics. What better instrument to enjoy both these two passions than the radio! Indeed, the radio is the medium of the choice to reach masses all over the nation and there are a plethora of stations in different languages such as Akan, English, Ga, Ewe, Foreign-Acquired Brooklynese and even Ghana-Acquired Brixtonese!
Anyway class, I digress, our lesson today is about the aspiring politician and how the radio can be a useful tool to share views, ideas or stupidity. If you are a politician and making a radio appearance then there are some important phrases you should be familiar with that are well-understood by listeners across the country.Some people may call these clichés but I call them 'useful catchphrases.' Examples are below:
- "Ghanaians are discerning". Perhaps one of the most overused catch-phrase in recent times especially since the 2008 election appears to support the validity of the statement. For the aspiring politician, this phrase will be sure to endear you to many but may seriously irritate others tired of hearing it.
- "In 2008 a ball of kenkey cost 20 pesewas as against 30 pesewas in 2009". If you listen to the radio, you will discover that the real barometer for the cost of living is the price of a ball of delicious kenkey. If it is not the price of kenkey then it will be a 'tin of milk' or perhaps a 'tuber of yam'. If you will ever use this cliché then be sure to make a quick trip to one of the large markets to ensure that your price-list is current. Nothing worse than a politician caught quoting out-dated prices.
Tubers of Yam
- "Under the current administration, the people are suffering": This is a versatile and timeless must-use phrase. It is applicable to any regime in fact anywhere in the world. Let's face it, the masses will always suffer.
- "Sycophant": Its a big word. Its hard to prounouce and do we actually know what it means? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a sycophant refers to a 'servile self-seeking flatterer'. In Ghana, it appears leaders of all shapes, hues and political colours enjoy surrounding themselves with 'servile self-seeking flatterers'. Well, at least that is what people on the radio keep saying!
- "Grass-roots/foot-soldiers/cadres": These all refer to political party supporters known for doing all the leg-work to ensure a party takes power, remains in power or will come back to power. Discontent among this group can lead to real problems for any party. Keeping foot soldiers happy appears to be a priority for many a political party in power.
- "I have studied the terrain": Politico-speak used to demonstrate an expertise or profound knowledge in matters affecting the masses. Usually the terrain surveyor knows squat.
- "Come 20XX, we will vote them out": I missed most of "Come 2000...", was around for much of "Come 2004..." as well as "Come 2008...." and there are already grumblings of "Come 2012....". This expression can be used by any opposition politician looking to galvanize support and give the masses confidence in the potential of people power.
- "The ordinary man living in Chorkor": Has any regular radio listener noticed that the Accra neighbourhood of Chorkor seems to provide a barometer for how the masses are living and feeling? One wonders if the people of Chorkor have seen improvements in their area since every politician seems to have them at heart!
Polling Booth in Chorkor, Accra. December 2008
Source: Associated Press/BBC
- "I know the true situation on the ground": Any politician claiming to know how the masses or political foot-soldiers are feeling will claim to know the situation on the ground. Someone who knows the situation on the ground is also likely to use the kenkey barometer or claim to be a regular visitor to Chorkor. However, like the terrain surveyor this person is NOT likely to know much about the true situation on the ground.