Saturday, December 6, 2008

December 7

When I woke up today, all was peaceful. But tomorrow...

December 7 is the day. The day everyone has been talking about for the past two months I’ve been here. Election day.

I cannot tell you how sick I am of all the campaigning that has been bombarding all of Ghana in every medium since I first arrived two months ago! NPP, NDC, CPP, PNC, DPP... there are eight presidential candidates all together. The three major ones are NPP, NDC, and CPP, and CPP doesn’t really have a chance, so it’s between NPP (New Patriotic Party) and NDC (National Democratic Convention), basically.

Nana Akufo-Addo is the presidential candidate for NPP. He looks like a short, serious man when you see him on TV, but in all his campaign posters he wears a big, goofy-looking smile and round, wire-rimmed glasses. His campaign is all about “Moving Forward,” and his supporters have this forward-thrusting hand motion they do with both hands that kind of reminds me of an Egyptian hieroglyphic. Like all the big parties, NPP has a few theme songs, one of which goes something like, “The sky is the limit.” It’s a cool hiplife Ghanaian song, and I enjoy listening to it on the radio. Their colors are red, white, and blue, which reminds me of France, and their symbol is a blue elephant, which reminds me of how much I love elephants.

Professor John Atta Mills is the flag runner for NDC, and Dr. Paa Ndoum is for CPP. Their parties are similar. Ever since Barack Obama won America, both Atta Mills and Dr. Ndoum have started this “change” platform. CPP’s hand motion is rolling each fist over the other almost like the front of a conga line, and the NDC’s is the same except with the forefingers sticking out. NDC’s colors are red, white, green, and black, and CPP has the same colors except not black.

“What are the differences between each of the parties?” I asked.

Sister Anne hummed the campaign theme songs and did the different hand motions... moving forward... change... change...

“No, I mean in their beliefs and manifestos? On the debates they all say the same thing.”

“There isn’t much difference between the parties,” Sister Juliana said.

Then why all the commotion?

Almost everyone I know here is for the NPP, particularly Sister Juliana and her family, since her brother Emmanuel is an NPP Member of Parliament (a senator) and is running for reelection. When I met him in Homasi, he gave me a campaign shirt with a picture of his and Nana Akufo-Addo’s faces on the front. Also, the current president, John Kufuor, represents the NPP, and he has apparently made a lot of good changes for Ghana. If I had to choose, I think I’d vote for him, too, just from everything I’ve seen on the news. (This could be because the TV station we usually watch is biased toward the NPP.)

Sister Bibi is for DPP, which is a really small party that has no chance of winning. Their presidential candidate definitely looks the coolest of all of them. He has a big, white, curly beard, like a thin, black Santa Claus, and wears cool, traditional African clothes. I’ve met him a few times. He goes to Our Lady of Peace church in Madina, and sits in the same row as us. I like him. He’s nice, and his beard is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Sister Bibi is his biggest advocate. She’s convinced that he’ll win. The funniest part is that Sister Bibi can’t even vote! She’s Nigerian, not Ghanaian. She’s his biggest supporter and claims she’ll make up for her inability to vote by convincing others to vote for him. As far as I’m aware, she has yet to recruit anyone. Because their slogan mentions God (“With God all thing are possible,” or something like that), Sister Bibi swears that God will create a miracle for him to win, that all the angels are voting for him. I just laugh.

PNC has a palm tree on their flag and a female running mate. That’s all I know about them.

NDC scares me, from everything I’ve seen and heard. Most of the political unrest comes from supporters of NDC. Their campaign ads are hostile to other parties, attacking their rivals instead of promoting their own values. There was talk earlier in the campaign about how some people in the NDC had attacked some women. The idea was to make women feel unsafe, so that they would be dissatisfied with the current NPP government and vote for NDC to make a change. I haven’t heard anything about that in a while, so hopefully they’ve dropped that plan. Also, on the news last night, they talked about how someone has uncovered a plot to drop packets of ink into the ballot boxes, which would ruin the ballots and the votes inside. The plan allegedly was to target polling stations in Kumasi, which is heavily NPP. I hope they’ve figured out a way to put a stop this.

The NDC was in power was in power for 19 consecutive years, before John Kufuor became president in 2000. From what Sister Juliana tells me, when Jerry Rawlings was president before Kufuor, you couldn’t talk badly about the government, even in your own house. Your children could report you, and they’d come into your house, take you away, and kill you.

“That’s tyranny!” I exclaimed when she told me.

“Yes. But they have to win. If NDC loses, they’ll cause problems. They’ll try to start a civil war. They’re hungry. They want the money in their pockets. They want to eat, but they don’t want to work,” she said. “Did you see their rally on TV last night? They started singing, ‘Christian soldiers, march to war.’”

From what Sister Juliana says, it seems that Ghana is screwed either way. If NDC wins, they’ll have a tyrannical government. If NPP wins, they’ll have a civil war.

However... Atta Mills is NOT Rawlings. He’s the same party, but a different person. If he were to be elected, hopefully he wouldn’t be as corrupt as Rawlings. Also, most people are optimistic that Ghana will remain peaceful no matter who wins.

Fred invited me to his place tomorrow. “Don’t worry about the elections. Nothing bad will happen,” he assured me on the phone.

I prefer to believe Fred.

Well, whatever will happen will happen. I can’t do anything about it, except to pray for world peace. And tomorrow is the day...


KatrinaMaezing said...

Wow... I can't imagine what it's like to live in a place with elections like that! I mean, handmotions and theme songs and everything... that's serious! Seems like the differences between the parties are really ambiguous... so different from our system! Thanks for posting this, I hope the results are good and help the state of the country...

Anonymous said...

That's a very interesting summary Kate!