Harruna Attah Writes....We Can’t Breathe: #GhanaianConcernsMatter
It is right that I dedicate this commentary to George Floyd, whose tragic end at the hands of a US policeman has seared the conscience of the world. He was the victim of unconcern – the unconcern of those who would use the power and authority of the public office to pursue an agenda of delusional inerrancy.
A delusion that could end in loss of life as in George’s individual case or threaten the peace and security of a whole country like what Jean Mensa, Ken Attafuah, and Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo are trying to do to our country with their new voter's register.
Such public servants may or may not be in uniform (like in George’s case) but what they all wear is the garb of “I have the power and I will use it.” That is how come that to George’s cry of “I can’t breathe”, Derek Chauvin, the policeman, felt he should exert more brute force – his uniform, he felt, entitled him to choke life out of another human being. Adopting and adapting George’s cry as a metaphor is to me not a desecration of the brother’s tragic and painful end, but a consecration in recognition of what he and others (and in a way all of us) represent: The victims of unconcern.
It is not a benign wind blowing across our land. On January 7 2017, it was a land at peace with itself that outgoing President John Dramani Mahama handed over to the victor(s) of Election 2016. With January 7 2021 in sight, I am not sure what the portends for peace are. The whirlwinds of discontent, tension, distrust and possible violence are becoming ever more menacing just as the intransigence of impunity, arrogance and the lack of concern are equally raising the stakes and drawing battle lines…
The sounds of calls-to-arms fill the air and I am terrified. Voices are raising concern which are falling on the un-listening ears of those who took over a peaceful country from President Mahama almost four years ago. Problem is, time is drawing close for them to subject themselves to the kind of transparent peer review Mahama subjected himself to in Election 2016, but this lot are saying no and want to take it even before a vote has been cast. The main source of concern relates to how they can “win” an election with odds that do not allow anyone else the chance. And then there are the efforts of those who in the national interest have seen through it and want to thwart it.
On everyone’s tongue is one name: Jean Mensa, for those who regard her as an ally in their new register stratagem and the others who see in her nothing but a clear and present danger to our country. Concerns have been and continue to be expressed by patriotic individuals, groups, institutions and organizations spanning the entire gamut of the Ghanaian polity. One stands out as a very crucial message of concern: The call by our National House of Chiefs. No matter what we may think of them, they are the true reflection of our history, heritage, dignity, culture and traditions. The land now called Ghana was initially held in trust for all of us by their ancestors.
If there is one group of people whose concern must be taken serious, it is our traditional rulers, especially if it is as collective as their statement on the voters register... They have much to lose, unlike politicians who come and go…To treat them with contempt the way they have so far been treated on the issue is nothing but sacrilegious. And to think that the rather inarticulate general secretary of the governing political party can dare throw barbs at our chiefs – wow!!! They deserve better than the contempt of those whose only reason for such misbehavior is because like Derek Chauvin - the murderer in uniform, they feel their “Office” entitles them to keep pressing their knees on our necks even as we suffocate and cry out for the fresh air of fairness – the oxygen that allows democracy to thrive…
So much has happened these past four years to vindicate President Mahama’s watch. There’s one vindication, however, that, he must be praying, like a lot of us, never to come to pass: the suffocation of our peaceful homeland Ghana, the legacy he left behind in 2017.
The knees of unconcern keep pressing on the neck of our democracy. The cry is loud and clear. Our democracy can’t breathe and our concerns matter…Sammy Gyamfi’s cartoon on this plaintive wail is most apposite…
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