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15.10.2008 Feature Article

WWW. Prospective First Ladies' Campaigns.Com

We are in the Internet age, we keep hearing that. Yet in affluent America, Senator John McCain, presidential candidate of the US Republican party, was busy last July, trying to acquire some IT skills to connect with the young electorate, having admitted to the world that he had none.

Indeed, he had never sent an e-mail in his life.

Meanwhile, some youth in my Ablekuma South Constituency are busy behind the computer as a visit I made to some local Internet cafés could confirm.

Can I confidently boast to Senator McCain that all my Ghanaian presidential candidates and their aspiring first ladies are up and about with IT skills?

Oh, and I am told that very soon every Ghanaian child in the public school and between the ages of five and 12 will have a computer. Great news.

Reflecting on what one has been reading, hearing and seeing lately in the print and electronic media, one cannot help noticing the glaring agility of the prospective first ladies and the colour they are adding to the political campaigns.

Their stories will be colourful for their blogs or their husbands' websites.

Personally, I have been admiring the encouraging initiatives of these ladies as they embark on campaign trails around the country.

 I have been wondering what is sustaining them. Is it hours of walking, jogging, swimming or gymnastics?

Has anybody noticed the multiplicity of skills the prospective first and second ladies of the three leading political parties have been displaying of late?

 Indeed, a training college for grooming future first and second ladies in public speaking, inter-personal skills, lobbying, public relations, media relations, and what have you will be great. A one-stop training centre.

I see a job in the offing for some entrepreneur.

I was beginning to lose hope in 'politics of inclusiveness' the minute the CPP elected their running mate.

I had come to the conclusion that no matter how hard women tried to attain the political leadership, the politicians of today simply will not give them the opportunity.

My hopes are, however, being re-kindled for a different reason, though. I am getting some kicks from the new crop of prospective first ladies who are leaving no political stones unturned as they criss-cross the country campaigning for their husbands and their political parties.

The buck is not just stopping with the aspiring first ladies. The second ladies are also charged with their batons.

With just some two months to go, nothing is stopping the ever ready spirits of the ladies. In the Daily Graphic of Tuesday, September 30, a beautifully designed page 16 displayed photographs of the potential first ladies of the three leading political parties, New Patriotic Party (NPP), National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Convention People's Party (CPP) campaigning across Ghana. Their core messages were essentially on peace, women and the youth.

While Rebecca Akufo-Addo was advising some market women about peaceful elections at Juapong through Kpassa and Nkwanta to Dodo Amanfrom, Kadjebi and Dzemeni all in the Volta Region, Yvonne Nduom was speaking at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, appealing to students to preach the 'yeresesamu' and 'adwumawura' messages of her husband and his CPP to their relatives and friends. She made a stop at her alma mater and donated a computer to the girls.

Ernestina Naadu Mills found comfort in Accra making health her campaign message as she visited Ussher Town Polyclinic and James Town maternity clinic making donations to both inmates and the institutions.

 She is even alleged to have stopped by an NPP local office to exchange pleasantries.

The precedent being set by the aspiring first and second ladies would be a hard nut for the future generation of young wives of political flag bearers if they happen to have much younger children.

Once started, it will always be a benchmark for the future.

What is admirable about the political campaigns of these ladies, however, is that they are treading so cautiously and not wading into murky political waters.

We will plead with them that when they meet at home with their husbands to compare notes and take some more briefings for their next campaign trekking, they should underscore the message of peace before, during and after the elections.

We have only one beautiful Ghana.

Touring some markets last week, Mrs Mills was carrying the 'I care for you' message to the market women at Chorkor, Zabon-Zongo and Sukura. We have not heard the 'I care for you' slogan for a very long time.

What is going on?

Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo took her message to Kokomlemle where she is reported to have reminded the electorate that the NPP will continue to make issues and welfare of the youth and women its priority when it forms the next government.

She said this last week when she inaugurated the refurbished old NPP national headquarters serving as the secretariat for the party's women and youth wing.

Listening to the passion with which they talk about their husbands, what they are and what they are not, what they believe in and what they do not believe in one can only guess how cosy some marriages are.

The feeling of pride talking publicly about the virtues of their husbands reminds me of the once upon a time British Television favourite game show 'Mr and Mrs', where how well a husband and wife knew each other was put to the test.

Did anybody watch Mrs Yvonne Nduom and Mrs Cecilia Mahama on GTV's Stand Point the past two Fridays?

I have been imagining in my mind how the cards would have played if it had been the other way round.

The late Dennis Thatcher of Britain was said to have remained quietly in the background as his wife Margaret, with iron fists, led the Conservative government of the UK for two terms.

Joachim Sauer, the husband of Mrs Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is said to be enjoying a quiet privacy. Would the picture be any different in African politics?

All said and done, are these ladies adding anything to the fortunes of their husbands' political bids?

Is the electorate taking them seriously for what they are preaching? If what Michelle Obama suffered at some point is anything to go by, then I will say yes.

Her comments that she had never felt proud as an American than now cost her some public ridicule.

No amount of corrections by her husband's campaign strategists worked. She was later referred to in a controversial cartoon as a militant.

I have been enjoying the latest dances in town, particularly the dancing steps of CPP's Dr Kwesi Nduom and the NPP's Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo when they do the 'yeresesamu' and the kangaroo dances respectively.

Dr Abu Sakara and Dr Mahamudu Bawumia are excellent students too. They are learning very fast. While the feet move in one direction, the hands move to signal the message.

Oh politics!

Is anybody recording these new dancing steps for posterity? Meanwhile, some of us are anxiously waiting for Professor John Atta Mills's creation — will it be 'yeresesamu' step two?

I am looking forward to Christmas 2008. It will be fun with new dances and new tracks. We will be looking out for the political album of the year and the best political dancer of the century.

May the lady with her best foot out wear the crown come January 2009 when Mother Theresa bows out with her husband. We will look out for their websites.

By Vicky Wireko

Vicky Wireko
Vicky Wireko, © 2008

This author has authored 6 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: VickyWireko

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