It’s finally come. August 29th, 2013. The day many Ghanaians have waited for to come and pass. At long last, the Supreme Court of Ghana is going to deliver its verdict on the 2012 presidential election results – a verdict that is expected to mean absolutely nothing, according to pundits like Murtala Mohammed – because after all, the Supreme Court has no power to reverse the results. At best, Ghana’s elections process will go under review, which is actually a good thing. It means we are progressing. Remember when Al Gore contested the results after George Bush won in 2000? Remember all those elderly White men holding up cardboard slips of paper to the light to see if the hole(s) were punched all the way through? It wasn’t a good look for the world’s last Super Power, was it? Now America has fancy voting gadgets that make it harder to rig elections. This is a good thing.
My hope is that Ghana will reap the same rewards come tomorrow afternoon.
As I always do when something of note happens in the Motherland, I call on Kwasi Gyekye, man about town and master of give-it-to-me-straight for what this and other life altering events like it mean. Here’s how the conversation went:
“Hey… Abena Owusua!”
“Nothing. I was just calling because we haven’t spoken in two weeks.”
“Ahh… I thought you were calling about the Supreme Court ruling.”
“I was going to ask you about that eventually.”
He paused and chuckled. Then he became serious.
“The mood in town is very tense. People are stockpiling food.”
“Ehhh. Beh we don’t know what will happen after the verdict is announced. So people are keeping enough food to last them a week in the house, and not going out just in case.”
“Wow. That’s serious.”
And it is. Considering that the power is certain to go off and stay off for up to two consecutive days and water could shut off at any moment depending on where you live, that’s a lot of preparation to be made. I’m sure the markets were emptied of gari, rice and similac by days’ end Wednesday.
“Do you really think anything is going to happen?” I asked, my tone grim. “Do you think Ghanaians will descend into anarchy?”
My dad almost spat.
“Sheeeit. For what? Whether NDC, NPP, ABC, we are still suffering in Ghana,” he philosophized. “It’s every man for himself, and always has been.”
“I see.” I remembered something I had read online. “I hear they are doing military exercises as well.”
This made my dad laugh.
“This is why the mood is so tense in town,” he replied. “You see these soldiers driving around town in their fatigues with guns in the air; they say they want to show any troublemakers ‘they are ready’. That’s not how you show troublemakers you are ready!”
“What do you mean, Daddy?”
“Have you ever seen an American soldier or FBI agent brandishing his gun?”
He didn’t wait for me to answer.
“No! The American soldier just tells you he will kill you, and before you know it you’ve been shot! He doesn’t go showing off his weapons. You know these FBI agents, they carry 10 -12 guns on them at one time.”
“But I don’t think there will be any violence,” he mused. “Ghanaians are more sensible than that.”
“I hope you’re right, Daddy.”
“Of course I’m right. But the annoying thing has been our media. Instead of them to inspire faith in the people, they are inciting fear. They are also adding to the tension!”
“That’s a shame,” I murmured. “They should rather be appealing for calm. After all, if Ghanaians wanted to fight over election results, we would have done it last year immediately following the elections.
I heard him snap his fingers on the other end of the line, proclaiming that God was in control.
“What do you mean?”
“Ah. God has planned this thing veeery well o! You know they are reading the verdict on Thursday afternoon. If there are any skirmishes, it will be that evening. The next day is Friday, so the Muslims won’t fight. Then Saturday will come, and the SDAs will go to church. And you don’t mess about on the Sabbath.”
(My father is an SDA member who will accept many interpretations about many things in the Bible, but on the notion that the Sabbath is on Saturday, he remains resolute.)
“Then on Sunday the rest of the Christians will go to church,” he concluded. “By Monday, everyone will be prayed up and ready to go back to work. Maybe 5 – 10 people will die, sure… but those are the fools who will go out looking for trouble. Finito!”
“And don’t forget, the university girls will also want to go clubbing Friday, Saturday and Sunday night… any fighting would just ruin clubbing time.”
He told me to stop being silly… but I was dead serious. The weekend is prime feeding time for university students. That’s when all the sugar daddies come out to pay and play. No one comes between a Brazilian weaved, platform heel wearing marketing major and her payday!
“So how are you going to spend Thursday, Daddy?”
“Me? I’m going to the ATM to withdraw some money and then I’ll come to my house and fry some fish.”
That sounded like a good plan. I told him as much.
“Yeah… you would think so, except my teeth are breaking.”
“Hmmm. Malaka. I was eating bread just four or five days ago and I felt something crunch in my mouth. I thought the baker had left a stone in her flour. But it was my tooth! I had bitten a piece of my tooth off!”
“It’s not easy to grow old ooo,” he mused. “You are literally watching yourself fall apart, piece by piece.”
I could tell he was having a mental play out of his body falling apart limb-by-limb, like some sort of sun scorched Lego man. He cackled with delight. Then he told me that the sneakers I’d sent him were too small and hurt his feet. I told him I’d order another pair.
“Yes…Get it right this time.”
There was a brief silence, which meant the conversation was over. I told him I loved him and I’d talk to him soon.
“I’ll call you Thursday to let you know we are all fine,” he said. He was smiling. I could hear it. He had the upmost faith in his country. I decided I would have faith as well.
After all, this is a pretty big test for Ghana (or so the rest of the world says. This all seems pretty standard practice for an exemplary class of human beings – those being Ghanaians – to me.). The last time presidential election results were contested was 1996 after Rawlings won 57% of the vote. No one knows if those numbers were true – of course the opposition (and most of the country) knew the elections were rigged – but he served out his term and the rest is history. My hope is that Mahama will also serve out his term with distinction, we’ll get better biometrics and training for our electoral polling staff, the price of kenkey will be stabilized and the rest will be history. Only today and time will tell.