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Opinion | Jul 10, 2009

Obama is coming, so what?

Obama is coming, so what?

Through no fault of his Barack Obama is getting on my nerves. His impending visit has unleashed an unprecedented bout of Ghanaian foolhardiness and it's annoying me. Yes, I am nobody – but I am annoyed all the same.

Both government officials and some private individuals are behaving as if Obama's visit will end all of our problems and turn Ghana into a mini-America. They make it sound like a messiah is coming to save us from the wretchedness we have wrought upon ourselves.

The false impression has been created that Obama's trip to Ghana is the best thing to ever happen to this country. And the chorus has been something to the effect that we should all be excited about it. I don't see why I should be excited that Obama will be here for less than 24 hours.

But many Ghanaians – much wiser than I am, of course – have gladly allowed themselves to be caught up in the senseless Obama buzz. So they are doing some pretty outrageous things to receive the most powerful man on earth. And that's besides the whitewashing, clean-ups and re-paintings we usually do to create a squeaky clean image for visiting dignitaries instead of letting them see and feel how our country as it truly is – filthy and stinky! For Obama's trip, the outrageous preparations have been taken a notch higher.

For starters, police used the flimsy excuse of his visit to secure a court order to stop a demonstration by a group of disgruntled Ghanaians. The police administration argued in court that they were working on security arrangements for Obama's trip and so they couldn't deploy officers to protect the demonstrators – who had planned to hit the streets one clear week before Obama's arrival. How stupid is that?

Because of Obama, the Ghana Police claims it cannot deploy 200 officers for less than four hours to protect Ghanaian citizens claiming their democratic right to demonstrate. And they got a silly judge to grant their request.
A few days after securing the restraining order, the police (in concert with other security agencies) issued instructions that all businesses operating in the airport area should shut down about three hours before Obama arrives – and re-open only after he has left. The business owners in the area must be thanking their stars that Obama will be here for less than 24 hours.

As the day of Obama's arrival draws near, the roads he will be travelling on are being deprived of the potholes which have adorned them for months – if not years. It's seems someone has deceived our government into thinking that Obama's limousine (known as 'The Beast') has very weak shock absorbers and could suffer irreparable damage if it travels on our pot-holed streets. On the Burma Camp road, for example, construction workers laboured through the night – under floodlights – to put the road in shape for Obama.

Mr. Obama's wife, Michelle, wife is scheduled to visit the La General Hospital on Saturday. In preparation for her arrival the hospital is being whitewashed to welcome her. Instructions have been issued for the OPD to be closed for about eight hours on Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, in Cape Coast – where the Obamas will go for sight-seeing for just about three hours – funerals have been banned on Saturday. The chief there insists that everyone in the area should be happy about Obama's visit and so even those who are mourning should suspend their funerals on hold, put all wailing on pause and start smiling – just because Obama is going to be in town.

Still in Cape Coast, league matches at the main football pitch there have been suspended until Obama has come and gone. The pitch is to be used as the helipad for his chopper.

Back in Accra, former regional minister, Sheik IC Quaye is planning to spray the city so that Obama does not suffer any mosquito bites when he arrives. Musicians are composing special songs to welcome him – songs he will never get to listen to.

In the corridors of power, there is a lot of excitement about Obama's breakfast meeting with President Mills and ex-presidents Kufuor and Rawlings. Kufuor, especially, must be very delighted that he has been invited to join the party. There is talk, already, that this breakfast meeting will help thaw the relationship between Kufuor and Rawlings because Obama might try to knock some sense into their heads. A radio station in Accra spent about 20 minutes of its primetime news bulletin discussing this breakfast meeting.

Elsewhere people are pushing for government to try and get Obama to visit them as well. A group in the north claims that Obama's wife might be a descendant of someone from that area and so he should be sent there to look around. The people in Elmina are also very annoyed that Obama will choose to go to the nearby Cape Coast Castle instead of their own.

With all of this senselessness it's very clear that the Obama bug has really struck Ghana and I am one of the few – if not the only one – who has not been affected. I feel I need to do something – under peer pressure – to let everyone know that I am also ready to welcome Obama. I can't afford the Obama cloth. I don't want to wave an American flag and I can fix an Obama sticker on my bum. And I don't want to join 'Friends of Obama' because I am not his friend.

But I seriously don't want to be left out. I have decided, therefore, to scrub my teeth with 'Vim'. After scrubbing I'd use 'Parazone' as mouthwash – I can't afford the one Muntaka bought – and wait for Obama. In the unlikely event that I get to wave and smile at him, Obama should be delighted to see that my glass-breaking teeth (se-bor glass) are as white as snow! That's the least I can do to get him off my nerves.

Credit: Ato Kwamena Dadzie

Ato Kwamina Dadzie
Ato Kwamina Dadzie, © 2009

This author has authored 146 publications on Modern Ghana.
Author column: AtoKwaminaDadzie

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