Monday, January 02, 2017

Change came to the B.A.D in the Annus Horribilis that was 2016

Queen Elizabeth II called 1992 an Annus horribilis which basically means disastrous or unfortunate year. 2016 was pretty much an Annus horribilis on a global scale; a year full of political shocks and celebrity deaths. 

2016 will be remembered by children of the 80s as the year that saw the passing of many adored icons. There was Alan Rickman, David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, George Michael....just to name a few. There were other musical icons who passed on such as Glenn Frey of the Eagles, Leonard Cohen and of course the Kwaito legend Mandoza. The political surprises seen worldwide in 2016 were pretty spectacular. The conflict in Syria continued and became even more deadly as the year progressed. In early December, the Gambian strong man who has been in power since 1994 was beaten at the polls. Earlier in the year, the United Kingdom opted to leave the European Union which also coincided with the near-annihilation of the opposition Labour party through self-inflicted implosion. Later in the year, to the surprise of many, the US electoral college system voted to make Russia great again. 

Over in the Beacon of African Democracy (the B.A.D), something quite unexpected happened. The opposition managed to beat the incumbent government at the polls without the need for a run-off election.

Some may attribute this electoral feat to the eerie trend in which Ghana has followed the US electoral direction since 1992. The trend is simple; when Democrats win the US Presidential election, the National Democratic Congress wins in Ghana and when Republicans win, the New Patriotic Party wins. There are also supposedly ideological parallels to this. This would make sense if the winner of the 2016 US election was in fact an established Republican as opposed to a Democrat turned Independent turned Republican. However, I digress....

One of the best explanation for why (the soon to be erstwhile) Mahama administration lost the presidential election in 2016 came from a stinging article published in The Economist in November entitled Nkrumah's Heirs. The article coincidentally also refers to Ghana as the Beacon  of African Democracy and was pretty harsh on both political parties. What they had to say about the ruling party was severe but pretty informative:

Patronage, uncontrolled expenditure, burgeoning public debt, insouciance on the part of the President, squandering of oil money, pot-holed roads and incessant power cuts were just some of the factors at play that decided the fate of Ghana's National Democratic Congress. 

So there it is. Ghana will have Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as President for the next 4 years. The effect of change has been interesting to witness. Many people appear delighted and some traders dropped prices in the market over Christmas. Cynics may view the latter move as a tad disingenuous...but that is just cynics. Throughout the land, there is an undeniable air of optimism, hope and NO space for complacency from Ghana's new leaders. The Ghanaian electorate has proven once again that it is powerful, discerning and unforgiving. 

New billboard up in Accra of the President-elect of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo