So today I went to the #dumsormuststop vigil in the Legon-Tetteh Quarshie area. It has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a good march against government policy/performance. In the UK, it seems we’ve become quite accustomed to it, but in Ghana if you ask anyone if they are going to such an event, the reason is often “but it won’t actually solve the problem!”
Civilian agency is so limited here, because successive governments have successfully brainwashed people to believe that the only time they have a voice and a say in the way the country is run is at the ballot box every leap year. And that’s wrong. Given how disgustingly vague manifestos are in this neck of the woods, people need to get used to the idea of scrutinising government policy day to day.
There were glimmers of a middle class awakening in July last year, when I had gone back to the UK for my graduation. The Occupy movement then, however had not gained the traction it had expected and was unfairly mocked by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Since then, there have been more demonstrations, all as politically charged as the first, speaking out about government. But it still hasn’t been enough to change the open rhetoric.
#DumsorMustStop led by Yvonne Nelson has captured the nation’s hearts and I don’t think it is simply because she, Yvonne Nelson, said it and therefore people started caring, no! I think people are really beside themselves as to how to navigate around this crisis in the same way that they have navigated around healthcare failures and the scam that is the education system here in Ghana. I don’t think it was about politics or the NPP. I think the millenial love for all things gadgets has contributed and that is a good thing! If the desire to keep up with all things techy means that Ghanaians start demanding the basic utilities from their government then bring on the tech that cannot handle erratic power supply! Drop That Yam, because it will lure you into a false sense of thinking that you’ve been given sufficient electricity for the week!
I think we must also thank, the idiots who tried to silence the celebrities through insults and idiocy. Their words and actions stirred up the people to defend their idols and make fools of the critics. Those NDC boys thought they were helping quench the fire but they only ended up fuelling it further.
Look back, those of you who marched in July, or January or February or whenever and then look at the pictures of the vigil. Have those numbers been seen in any demonstration of PostColonial Ghana? The median age is more in line with Ghana’s median age than its “Honourables”. Every year around March 6 we compare Ghana now and Ghana then. I think it is fair to say that the population are growing and evolving. Things are not the same and maybe this is the turning point. I salute and thank the celebrities who pushed this agenda, those who stuck to the script and didn’t use it as an opportunity to pout and raise their own profile. We”ve all been given talents, [as in the parable] they’ve used theirs to give a voice to the people, what have you done with yours?
Update: some related thoughts on activism in Africa http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/07/why-was-there-no-african-sprin-2014724133730619939.html