Obama for vice-president… of Ghana?!

The nation of Ghana faces a presidential election that’s almost the inverse of the election the US just experienced. Ghana experienced a transformational election in 2000 that brought opposition politician John Kufuor to power. In contrast to the US election in 2000, Ghana’s election was largely smooth, trouble-free and fair. And Kufuor was re-elected by a healthy majority in 2004 and has been celebrated for the past eight years for a record of stability and economic growth.

Now Ghana faces an election between perennial contender, Dr. John Atta Mills and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, former foreign minister for Kufuor. Early polling showed a very tight race, though a more recent poll shows strong support for Akufo-Addo.

Akufo-Addo is seen as a successor to Kufuor, who remains quite popular nationally and internationally. Professor Atta Mills served as vice-president to Jerry Rawlings, who took power in Ghana for the first time in 1979 and stepped down in 2000. There’s some fear that Rawlings would be controlling an Atta Mills presidency – a fear Rawlings recently addressed while lambasting the ruling New Patriotic Party. Of course, Rawlings also insists that the 2004 election – widely viewed as free and fair – was rigged, suggesting that just a little bit of partisanship might affect the ageing leader’s view of the world. And some of his statements do seem like he’s do better just to shut up: “It is foolish talk that the NPP is going round propagating that I will control Mills and kill him if Ghanaians vote for Mills, and give power to my wife.”

Because Ghana is blessed with a stable democracy and a free press, elections can be a pretty colorful affair. Joy Online reports that candy-sellers are doing a brisk business in sweets wrapped in partisan wrappers, the umbrella of the NDC and the elephant of the NPP. The other political parties, likely to get less than 2% of the vote, haven’t merited their own sweets, and the sweet sellers explain that they’re non-partisan, simply trying to make a buck… sorry, make a cedi. But this can get tricky: “‘The selling of these has become political. An NPP faithful will not take kindly to it if you give them an NDC candy,’ Maame Akua, a toffee seller at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle intimated.””


Screencap from a fantastic Africanews video, Accra.

Feeling the need to distinguish their candidate with something other than toffees, the NDC has begun an interesting electoral strategy. Instead of promoting a ticket of Professor Atta Mills and vice-presidential candidate John Mahama, the NDC has launched a new campaign with banners showing Atta Mills and US president-elect Barack Obama. According to reporters at the two major radio stations in Accra, NDC has also changed its election slogan to cement an Obama connection:

“The party has as well adopted a new slogan: ‘Obama Nie, Atta Mills Nie’, which translates ‘This is Obama: This is Atta Mills’ and printed it on its new campaign materials.”

The connection isn’t completely baseless, argues Isaac Yeboah of JoyFM – NDC is loosely associated with the Democratic Party in the US and the NPP with the Republicans, even sharing their elephant. But implying an Obama endorsement for the NDC is probably a bridge too far, and may reflect NDC panic at current polling numbers.

I’d call the Obama transition team and ask for their comment, but I somehow suspect they’re a little busy…

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9 Responses to Obama for vice-president… of Ghana?!

  1. Sam Adjei says:

    Had the NDC not gone with Attah-Mills for the third time going and had instead settled for any of their brilliant younger talents, they could have stretch their Obama connection. But as things stand at the moment, they can neither campaign effectively under the CHANGE banner nor use the current economic condition. They are in a fight for the very survival of their party. Loss and they probably have to carry out a total overhaul of the entire party structure. I do not believe in a place for a founder and life leader in any serious political party.
    Personally, I am looking toward the day when all the major parties in Ghana will have candidates who were born after independence. It is about time that people who grew up knowing that the highest post on the land was occupy by someone who looked like themselves.

  2. Bright B. Simons says:

    Ha ha ha Ethan,
    die-hard Umbrellaists wont forgive you for this irreverent take on the Obama-Mills campaign.

    There was a debate yesterday, which was fun to watch. Americanism has so pervaded the art of politics in Ghana that the CPP’s Nduom – self-declared heir to the Nkrumah Legacy – has undergone media-training in the Atlanta mould. And by the way, the CPP’s ‘chief strategist’ is a fast-talking, media-savvy, pundit (also in the Amerisque tradition) who swears his party is set to win the election. You offered them 2%! So, in effect, you’ve made two Ghanaian political enemies with one blogpost -:)

  3. Ethan says:

    Until the CPP has a candy, it’s hard for me to take them seriously, Bright… :-)

    I’d love to see better, more accurate polling for the election. I’m reading all I can get my hands on, but I’ve been a little frustrated that coverage of the Tamale debate focused more on the quality of the candidate’s batikaris than on their presentations. Is there a site that’s tracking polling, for instance?

    Sam, I shared your observation about the need for a post-independence candidate with a very learned friend, a Ghanaian prof in the US. He knows some of the candidates in this election well… and he agreed with you entirely. It’s going to be interesting to see if there’s a generational shift in Ghanaian politics that parallels the post-Vietnam shift America just went through with Obama.

  4. Bright Simons says:

    Hey Ethan,
    bet you’ve not seen this:
    http://www.atokd.com/blogContent.aspx?blogID=43
    Familiar, eh?
    I asked and was told that Ben Ephson is Ghana’s leading light in electoral polling. But he doesnt keep a blog -:( Will you consider calling?…

  5. Pingback: …My heart’s in Accra » Citizen video and windows on the world

  6. Bischoff says:

    You might also want to check out this video, if you are on facebook (in case you haven’t seen it before): http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=35953058117&oid=28677307798

    The world is indeed getting smaller.

  7. Pingback: Everybody wants to bite Barack Obama’s style « Africa is a Country

  8. hehehe Obama for vice president.

    ooh here is what I think.

    We all hope that Obama will make some changes for us africans, but the question is when will it come, and for how long will africans support him when they don’t see any changes. I only hope people gives him time. Bush messed things up very bad.

    I saw a funny thing on this site about obama
    http://www.yauwa.com/blogs.php

  9. Abdul Hakeem says:

    report-
    My expectation.this about areas and communities,welcome NDC part for the great job you have full proof.
    some take past to presentation of records,this not fair.we need equal status and legislation abid my people.yet lets called ghana our mother land,makers enough should be nice over affirm to the nation mutual and conduct.how many vice president hence sir,
    women of ghana-let your web-learn from website.
    my new job i say liking football to help my nation and very very good at mid field and defencing no network playing,only goals,coachs formate.
    thank you NDC-left with the work of the policing-madina division,and the rest of the enforcement unit,
    Abdul Hakeem said so,bye-from never say die-linkedin.let work solicity.

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