I have not seen the Black Panther film and I don't plan to. Who needs Hollywood's stylised fiction about a non-existent African country when there are 54 to 56 (give or take) real gripping national stories on this continent to marvel at? There are many many moments when in spite of the plenty deep-seated gripes I harbour, fester and share about conditions and issues in this our homeland, that I am deeply grateful to be a Ghanaian, living today and at home.
Burundi's soccer-loving President, Pierre Nkurunziza is born again. A minor detail in a country where 80 percent of the population is believed to be Catholic. The Church there, depending on which side you approach has been seen as the font of fermenting civil unrest against government or advancing the cause of human rights. Nkurunziza, the son of a member of parliament who was a provincial governor with royal links, has abbreviated himself, his credibility and the image of African leaders in the 21st century, even further. Ghana is talking trade not aid, this brother is talking forever.
The National Council for the Defence of Democracy, the political party in the de facto brutish one-party state he has squatted on since 2005, has declared and deified Nkrunizinza. Why not? The man was a teacher, one-time lecturer, a political activist who was once condemned to death in absentia, in 2014 he banned jogging, for security reasons. Nkurunziza has been named the 'Eternal Supreme Guide'. No one is allowed to disagree with him. Even our own Osagyefuo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, our first Prime Minister, President and for some, a living god, had his critics. Nkrumah also wielded to devastating effect, a Preventive Detention Act, in case you had contrary ideas and attitude. And that was 50 plus years, 4 coups and republics later. We have mercifully and quite rightfully moved on. Amen.
Give Charlotte a break
Nkurunzinza's controversial 're-election' in 2015 for a third term - less than 30 % of the electorate turned out - sparked widespread protests, the exodus of refugees and bloodshed. See why perhaps we should be nicer to our embattled Chairman of the Electoral Commission, a certain Charlotte Osei? I should work on beginning to warm to her. After her impeachment matter is over.
The new elevation to demigod status comes ahead of an election in 2020 and a national referendum, he will inevitably win both, enabling Nkurunziza to stay in office until 2034. He will be 71 years old before he ignores or amends the constitution again, or with any luck, peacefully leaves office. Handing over of course to his wife, Denise, or one of his official 5 children. Wakanda? Try Burundi, if you dare.
Shadows in the light
Close to Burundi, Raila Odinga, shadow President and Uhuru Kenyatta appear to have found enough internal peace to talk 'unity, peace and development and an end to ethnic tensions'. By tweeting #MbelePamoja, Odinga and Kenyatta appear to be following a well laid out bromance script. After repeatedly calling each other out, publicly, with nuclear menaces, even the US President Donald Trump is prepared to meet directly and talk to his apparent, nemesis, North Korea's Kim Jong-un. It is unlikely that they will be sharing the contact details of each other's barbers, both First Gentlemen have such unique coiffeurs.
Even as I write this column, Mr Trump has dispensed with the services of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State. In the Ghanaian context, Tillerson was our equivalent of the Foreign Minister, he has now been replaced by the Director of the CIA, for us that would be the Big Man at BNI or National Security? Anyway, let's focus. As and when they meet, Tillerson will not be there. At all. And, the world hopes that other minor issues, such as standing down the perennial tensions brought on by tweets and press statements threatening armageddon will occupy the 2 leaders. Some of us are trying to trade not aid.
In our neck of the woods, on a familiar note, Sierra Leone has decided to do a Ghana (pre-2016), and Liberia. They will proceed to either a recount of votes at 154 stations where ghosts, witches and wizards apparently held an all-night session and did not cruise, so far, to victory. With 75% of the votes in, the opposition is as I write, leading for the first time.
A runoff for the presidential elections remains a likely possibility, that is if neither of the top 2 candidates delivers more than 55% of the popular vote. Here we go again with the Ghana scenario. With a difference. Whosever wins eventually, Sa Loh will have 132 members of parliament, compared to our 275 'Honourables' and unlike us, whilst they are at it, they also directly elect some 511 local government officials. Why watch a film when reality, frame by frame, here and out there is so much more gripping?
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