THERE are many historic dates in Ghana, but none would resonate in the minds of Ghanaian political historians as July 24, 2012, as far as the history of the 4th Republic is concerned. We are at a new crossroads.
A sitting President has suddenly passed away and a Vice President sworn in to be President. General elections will take place within four months. This is historic, as historic as the events from June 4, 1979, in the lead up to the beginning of the 3rd Republic.
The late 70’s are quite different from now. What is significant about our time is the reality of our democratic dispensation as a nation. Secondly, it is also the fact that the December 2012 elections is going to be a showdown between powerful political parties, all determined to gain or retain power.
However, with the sudden death of the President, the political narrative has suddenly changed. Where do we go from here? These are deep historic questions that every nation, at one stage or the other, would be forced to answer, depending on the prevailing circumstances of their history.
Today, we are faced with a challenge that calls for deep-thinking Ghanaians, statesmen and women, chiefs, clergy, Imams and all the political and economic stakeholders within the country to proceed with caution and circumspection.
Recent events in the history of the country, starting with the incidents of violence surrounding the biometric voter registration which sparked off the Nii Lamptey Vanderpuye and Kennedy Agyapong’s dramatic political saga, the incidents of ethnic and religious-inspired disturbances in the Volta, Western and Northern regions; one is compelled to wonder if this country would proceed peacefully toward the December 7 elections.
The contentious and acrimonious nature of our politics has permeated every aspect of our political and social life, including our traditional institutions; which includes the many struggles and disputes over chieftaincy, with its added challenges in relation to land and inheritance issues.
However, with the death of President John Atta-Mills, there has been a sudden shift of the political landscape. Power has been transferred peacefully and the mood of the nation is poised for something new in a peaceful way. Though we mourn, there is also a sense of an ending and a silent expectation for something new and different yet to come. Even in my constituency-the wind of change is blowing.
Hope is finding its way back into the hearts of the people who desired to see the constituency unite, develop and prosper. As it always happens in history, the death of a significant leader gives an indication of a new sense of beginning. We are in such a moment of history and we must take it by the flood to change our ways as a people.
The death of John Evans Atta-Mills marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new epoch in our democratic dispensation. He was more of a symbolic head of peace, stability and the representation of a vision for a Better Ghana. His persona and political demeanor stands in direct contrast to his party and political processor who was the representation of the radical and populist tradition of politics. Atta-Mills represented the scholarly character and the gentle personality of a man who could have a great giant. But the ironies of history and the mystery of life and death come together to cut short his time on the political stage of Ghana’s history.
In this regard, it is significant to explore the relevance of the passing of John Evans Atta-Mills in the symbolic sense of the word and its relevance to the future of our democratic experiment. In my estimation, I will use this defining moment to make a national call for unity. Unity was the clarion call of the founding father of this nation, Kwame Nkrumah. By linking our independence to the total liberation of Africa and the unification of the continent, Ghana under Kwame Nkrumah became the example by which Africans around the world emulated. Through our example of national patriotism, passionate nationalism, vision of industrialization and self-government; Ghana became the shining star of hope for Africa and the Pan-African world.
Today, my call for the unification of Ghana is a political call and a means for the consolidation of our democracy. No nation can truly democratize if it is divided along tribal or highly contested political lines, where politics has become so contentious it can turn out to be contemptible.
The passing of the President symbolically means that his death is meaningless unless it is linked to the consolidation of our democracy and the evolution of a national philosophy that would actually fulfill the promise of the “Better Ghana Agenda.” Unity is a pre-requirement for national development and for social transformation. Ghana must unite, so that we can open a new Chapter of Peace and Prosperity (CPP) to validate our vision of ourselves as a Country of Peaceful People (CPP). This means that, come December 7, 2012, there will be Communities for the Protection of Peace (CPP) everywhere around Ghana to guarantee the successful outcome of our elections.
Lest we forget, in 1700 AD, Dutch historians recorded in writing the story of the unification of the Ashanti under the leadership of two historic figures- Osei Tutu and Okomfo Anokye. It was a historic act for which the significant is still being felt today. There have been other attempts at unification in Ghana, examples of which are the formation of the Fanti Confederacy or the federation of the Ga States. Other examples speak to the need among Ghanaians to unite during pre-colonial times. However, since the lead up to independence and the quest by certain sections without society who called for federalism, the political division has remained and once in a while it rears its head in ways that none of us would want to discuss the issue of tribalism, partisan politics, ethnic-based cronyism and its consequence on our political culture. Too often it arouses deep sentiments and inflames passions which can lead to conflict, hence our silence.
Nonetheless, we are now at a new tipping point whereby we must find the symbolic means and the political willpower to bring Ghanaians together under the new banner of nationalism. We must do again what Osei Tutu and Okomfo Anokye did on a national scale. Our leaders must forge a new vision of national unity in Ghana that transcends tribe, the politics of acrimony and the rigid adherence to party dogma.
Ghanaians must learn to practice the democracy of manners and self-respect and cease using foul language and insults as a means for the communication of their frustrations. Great leaders inspire, motivate and always display a strong sense of passion for their dreams of the future. Let us therefore find cultural and social cohesive mechanisms by which we will be able to see ourselves as Ghanaians, rather than as people of different ethnic groupings and partisans of different political parties.
Ghanaians must have the political courage to start the process of dissolving tribal bonds and learn how to make the peaceful transition to become a real nation-state. Our democracy must be consolidated, mature, grow and evolve to become a mechanism for the manifestation of industrial development and financial security. Ghana must unite for the sake of peace, prosperity and the possibility of creating a new future that is based on industrialized and technological development.
Ghana must unite so that we can have a new sense of national identity based on a literate sense of self-awareness, a culture that is based on scientific thinking, secure our democracy, guarantee the fact that the politics of continuity and change can happen at the same time and in peace.
Let the passing of our late President John Atta-Mills be a turning point in our history, to summon the better angles of our nature to lead us forward towards a real and genuine better future as Ghanaians.
Source: Daily Graphic.