Years gone by, it would have been e a sacrilege to pour out in thousands to tell it as it is to a government by way of demonstration. The law enforcers would definitely have swept over them in no time.
Yes, demonstrations are constitutional rights but the typical Ghanaian’s psyche has always been that demonstrations had their limits and that certain things are best left as they are. That was the non-confrontational Ghanaian of yesteryear. Those days are sweeping past. There is a new awakening. The new Ghanaian is gradually evolving.
The “fa ma Nyame”, literally meaning, “Give it to God” syndrome in the yesteryear Ghanaian is giving way to the “let’s challenge it first” posture. The “enye whee” or “it does not matter” demeanour is now changing to “eye biribi”, meaning “yes, it matters”. The new Ghanaian is beginning to be more assertive.
And so in the last few weeks or months, we are increasingly seeing what could be described as positive moves to get authorities to listen to the cries of the people, be it economic, social or bad roads. Though the new Ghanaian believes in the omnipotence of God or Allah, people equally believe in the saying that Heaven helps those who help themselves.
In what has been described in the media as workers’ demand for action, last Thursday’s planned demonstrations across the country to protest the prevailing harsh economic conditions is the true picture of a new Ghanaian who takes pains to know their constitutional obligations. Rather than remain aloof, and “leave it to God” to solve the problem s, the new Ghanaian believes otherwise.
Apart from the planned demonstrations of organised labour, we have witnessed members of the Industrial and Commercial Union (ICU) in Tema also coming out. Chiefs and elders in the Eastern Region reportedly organised in their masses and staged demonstrations to bring attention to enduring bad road networks in their communities. I have been around for decades but this is the first time I recollect Nananom taking such a collective action.
The emerging Ghanaian is in with the times making effective use of the new media to mobilise citizens as indeed it happened on July 1 with the organisation of the “Occupy Flagstaff House” demonstration. Through social media channels such as twitter, face book, and whatsapp and mobile phone devices such as texting, crowds gathered to match in the rain to the seat of Government to present their protests against the economic hardships.
There are reports that the “Occupy Flagstaff House” demonstration has now been replicated by Ghanaians living in the US and the UK christening theirs as “Occupy the Ghana Embassy/High Commission”.
But the emergence of a new Ghanaian is not only being seen on the streets of our cities and towns taking up issues and pressing for what is right on behalf of the citizenry but also in our law courts. The Ghanaian of today is not taking no for an answer and where in doubt, is using the law courts for clarity and justice.
Thanks to the example shown us by the former Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Mr Martin Amidu and the election petition last year at the Supreme Court which was widely shown on television, going to court has been demystified. It is common now to see people using the law courts to test cases which formerly would have been “left to God” or dismissed as non-issues.
It is therefore not surprising that the Electoral Commission has been dragged to the Supreme Court by three citizens who are suing the Commission over the use of National Health Insurance Scheme cards as means of identification during elections.
In the mean time, a card bearing member of the New Patriotic Party throws in confusion somewhat, seeking a restraining order to stop the party from going ahead with the vetting of seven aspirants vying to lead the party in 2016. This same member last month went to court to protest the regional elections conducted by the party because according to him, the elections were hurriedly organised. Challenging the status quo is becoming the order.
It is refreshing to see the new face of the Ghanaian scrutinising and working assiduously with the Constitution, making inputs where necessary. On hindsight, the new countryman is even asking for more time to review the already reviewed Constitution to make it more meaningful to today’s age.
Calmness is in the nature of the Ghanaian. That is good. But what is even more commendable is the spirit that is coming up, shunning the “it does not matter, give it to God” attitude and pressing on for citizens’ participation and inclusion. Indeed, to the new inspiring Ghanaian, everything matters and so people should not stay passive.