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10.07.2009 Politics

Why Mills Must Serve Obama Some Beans

By Daily Graphic
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“NOW way our man dey for top, Charlie, man fit go Yankee minus visa and all dem and dem.” (A Guinness stout-swigging young man on the Obama Presidency and the prospects for Ghana-US immigration.)

The bloke who should be updating the standard international online dictionary appears to have snoozed off or something, Jomo. This morning, my computer speller kept throwing “Osama” back at me whenever I typed Obama in text.

I refused to “correct” my “mistake” but the darned machine persisted with its Osama nonsense.I said to myself: Jumping rabbits! What the f…k (excuse me) is going on? Has the editor of the online dictionary not yet woken up to the fact that the son of an African man from the Luo tribe in Kenya , with this admittedly rather strange name, is the new boss in the White House?

When the highly improbable comes to pass, some folks with inherent dispositional and psychological fixations cannot get over the fact but never mind, Jomo…

On each of the previous occasions a president of the United States visited our great Republic, two things tickled my curiosity: One has always been the inscrutable, deadpan, Sphinx-like countenances and mysterious body language of the secret service agents in trademark dark suits and Mafia-type sunglasses who accompany the most powerful man on the planet.

You wonder what makes them tick but then you don’t want to find out either! The second source of curiosity has always been the plane which carries the president on his travels: I never cease to marvel at this super high technology jumbo jet.

Air Force One carries 96 passengers including a crew of 26 and has enough floor space to host several World Cup matches simultaneously.

It has a living quarters, a presidential suite, bath, offices for the president and presidential staff, a conference hall/dining room, a wing for reporters, a gymnasium, a pharmacy and a medical room.

This plane does not need to land anywhere for refuelling, Jomo. It has a system for continually refuelling while in flight. Should there ever be an emergency, this technological marvel can stay airborne almost indefinitely.

(There is always enough Yankee food on Air Force One to keep a hundred restaurants in business for weeks).

Telephones, computers, television sets, radio and fax machines there are galore on board. This second White House in the air is equipped to jam all enemy radar and throw missiles fired at it out of range, oh yes sir…

Anyhow this is not about planes but about Obama: From the KKK to Obama, the United States has had a quite a bumpy and tortuous ride through history, don’t you agree?

Now that racial prejudice has been dealt a mortal blow by the incredible dynamism of this advanced social institution called the United States of America, it is only appropriate that we celebrate the evidence made flesh in the very person of Obama who arrives in Accra tonight.

Everyone has been asking the same question: Why has Obama chosen Ghana over obvious first-stop choices like the more economically and politically powerful South Africa and Nigeria and his father’s native Kenya?

The man wants our oil. True, but Obama himself told the press early in the week that he is consciously show casing Ghana for emulation by the rest of the conflict-ridden continent and for the following reasons:

One: Ghana has an important place in African political history. We were the first African country to compel our former colonial masters the British to lower their almighty Union Jack forever and head back wherever they came from.

Two: Ghana has been a strong contributor to regional stability through her peace keeping missions. Three: Ours is one African country which has worked the miracle of having held five successful elections in a row since the end of military rule.

Four: Ghana is now in the global club of oil producers.

Five: Ours is also one African country where most unbelievably, two opposition parties have come to power in two straight successive elections.

At this point, Jomo, it is my miserable duty to ruin the party, for though I am a true nationalist to the core like everyone in town, I have not been feasting on ostrich meat:

Behind closed doors, Mills must spill the beans and let Obama know the truth. If he does not, for fear of our losing Obama’s high approval rating, the consequences could be dire some day.

He should tell the man that our nation is so politically polarised and our politics so dangerously antagonistic beyond the limits of normal sectarian rivalry, that each of our past elections has brought us progressively closer to the kind of volcanic upheaval that nearly destroyed his father’s native Kenya, and for which reason he has found it prudent not to visit Kenya yet.

Mills must confess that unless we work hard at a more mature approach to politics devoid of malice and screaming hypocrisy, we could go the way of Kenya one day while he (Obama) is busy in his White House office or elsewhere!

There after, Mills must spill some more beans: Obama, old chap, (excuse the undue familiarity) but I have more confessions to make:

I have inherited a bizarre and morbid internal security situation: Ghana has been over run by ruthless and extremely dangerous armed terrorists.

On a daily basis and almost by the minute, the ruthless killers have been rampaging across the country from coast to Savanna, killing, raping and robbing my people.

Armed robberies are not uncommon in some countries, but what is going on in Ghana is an entirely different proposition altogether.

Large sections of the population have been robbed, killed, raped or physically maimed and left traumatised. No one is safe. Everyone is living in fear:

The rich man and the poor fellow with a last tattered cedi note in a hole-riddled and rumpled wallet, ordinary citizens, Members of Parliament, lawyers, doctors, tourists, business people, clergy and local political leaders have been victims.

The bandits are ambushing transport vehicles on our highways, making road transport very risky in Ghana these days. They are attacking currency exchange bureaux, Internet cafes, shops, petroleum stations, banks and residences almost unhindered.

The point of all this? We need specialised, professional help not only to rout the beast, but also to investigate the origin and source of organisation of what is going on, because it is all as strange as it is frightening and no one seems to have an answer.

Mills is also in a favoured position to pinpoint the most pressing and critical national development problems we face and seek Obama’s support to deal with them. What time frame do we have in mind for dealing with each one of them? What budget will we require?

I am not preaching dependence, old chap. As a matter of fact, I am wondering if we are going to depend on foreign aid and grants forever:

As William Easterly has argued in his book, “The Whiteman’s burden”, aid has only served as “a counter productive distraction from the achievement of stable economic growth” in Africa .

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