Monday, January 16, 2017

Farewell ode to the "Dead Goat" aka the uber-cool, dabbing President


Former President Mahama at the official launch of his re-election campaign in 2016...as seen on TV

On Saturday 7 January 2017 at exactly 12 midnight, the tenure of the 4th President of the 4th Republic of Ghana came to an end. Later on that day, the 5th President of the 4th Republic was sworn in but that's another story for another time.

The Dabbing Commander
Source: with the kind permission of @Kwakye_ade3f3 on Twitter
Former President Mahama will not only be remembered for being the only President of the 4th Republic to be voted out after one term in office but also for being relatively young, vibrant, tech-savvy and having a whole lot of swag

Another unforgettable trait of President Mahama is his skills in oration and communication. Who can forget the oratory gem he delivered to Ghanaians living in Botswana in March 2015? :

I have seen more demonstrations and strikes in my first two years. I don't think it can get worse. It is said that when you kill a goat and you frighten it with a knife, it doesn't fear the knife because it is dead already.......I have a dead goat syndrome

-President Mahama

March 2015

Goats may appear to be a strange animal for any analogy but in Ghana, we love our goats and what the former president was describing was how he was impervious to attack in what he termed having 'Dead Goat Syndrome'. Unfortunately for him, this statement seemed to shatter the thin line between being impervious and not caring. 

Over the past few years, I have struggled to find the right description for former President Mahama's public demeanour. Finally, in a scathing article in November 2016, the Economist provided the word that made the most sense to me: 'insouciance'. 



Sadly, I am sure the former President cared a great deal about governance and Ghana but his public persona over the length of his tenure did not always reflect this. State of the Nation addresses were mixed with laughter, jovial jibes and swipes at the opposition. These were very entertaining but showed a lack of some degree of gravitas. 

In the end it appeared that describing himself as having 'Dead Goat Syndrome may have played a part in sounding his own political death knell. He told the people that he did not care about being attacked and he got punished for not caring enough....among other things. Former President Mahama's legacy is indeed mixed; his tenure will be remembered for impressive infrastructural achievements blended in with a plethora of corruption scandals. Regardless of where one stands, on January 7th we bade farewell to a well-spoken, warm President with a great sense of wit, charm and perhaps a not-so-presidential demeanour. 
In retrospect, any current president adding their image to buses branded with images of former heads of state is probably not the best way to remain in power...especially if the costing of bus branding was a stand-alone political scandal

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