“IF GHANA WINS AFRICA WINS”
As civil and tribal wars still rage ferociously in some parts of Africa one man, in fact an illustrious son of Ghana, and his train of political attendants and yeomen met in a plush West End location in London a couple of weeks ago, amidst a cocktail of deliciously prepared finger-foods and carefully selected wines to reinforce his intension to become Ghana’s next president and ask for financial help from guests and sundry.
With the wine working and probably not giving a thought or two about the intense tribal, cultural and political divisions that have cracked open Africa like a rough desert terrain, speaker after speaker declared then: “If Ghana wins, Africa wins”.
Whether this was the theme for the night or not was not so clear. Whether this is the fighting mantra for his political campaign I did not quite get it clear.
To be frank, whether this slogan will even work for a ‘primaries’ political campaign I do not honestly know but the impressions I left there with was that, this is a man who is definitely passionate and committed to the path that he is treading now.
As I stood there and listened to their speeches, I was struck with the symbolism of the location and event that night, albeit soliciting for funds.
Was hosting an event like this in a swish Edwardian mansion and in a library room housing the works of Defoe, Churchill, Wilde and the likes deliberate? Wouldn’t it have been appropriate to host this where most Ghanaians and African’s could go? What about the mainly white patrons who sat and enjoyed their candle-lit evenings outside in the foyer and their thoughts on what was clearly being said to their hearing? Would this have been an intentional or unintentional challenge at breaking the barriers that have threatened African’s socio-economic development for so long? Would this have been a message to subtly tell guests of the reach of this presidential hopeful?
Would it even have been a show to signify this guy’s great and big dreams or just an insight into an easily committed unwise show of extravagance that have plagued many African leaders for so long whiles the majority of the people live in abject poverty and squalor?
Would this attempt at leading Ghana to win for all of Africa be a corpus vile – (a person or thing fit only to be the object of experiment) - as one guest described it indirectly to me?
I cannot actually tell. The man himself would best answer these symbolic questions. However, if experiences, successes, knowledge, networking and ambitions coupled with ability go some way to make a man successful of achieving his dream politically (mind you, not political dream) then, ironically, more often than not this does not happen in politics, at least not in Africa.
Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbral, Ghana’s presidential aspirant in question has real and serious hurdles to jump if he and his cortege of yes-men are to win for Africa. I shall tell you why very soon but please, allow me to make my stance clear at this opportunity.
I like everything African. I like the idea of one man rising out from the ordinary to declare that his vision in the long run is to unify Africa and making her, in turn, rise up from the doldrums of inactive underdevelopment to an attractive international business partner and competitor. I like people who dream Africa, sing Africa, chant Africa and would do anything, no matter how small, to try to tell the African story.
So far, Dr. Spio-Gambral’s men have sung the mantra. The obvious questions now are who is this David threatening to beat up the Goliaths, first in Ghana, and then win the African debate and battle to face present-day mighty and global Colossae?
The first hurdle is to fight for the approval of his NDC (National Democratic Congress) party on 20th December 2006 as their presidential candidate. Then he would be eligible to represent them in the national presidential contest in 2008 comprising of not less than four others, including one from the incumbent party – the NPP (New Patriotic Party).
Then after he would have to win the global debate on Africa in order to champion his dream of translating Ghana’s success into African bliss, if he had been successful at home to begin with.
The other hurdle, by far the most important and crucial is the one that drew us to the centre of what signifies western affluence in Pall Mall, which in itself signifies the great battle ahead of him - not so much of the cash he is seeking now but … So how on earth would someone be tempted to trust a man with his money and support for such a daunting task? Only if they know such a David willing to fight Goliath (as Spio-Garbrah himself sees it) is not a mere dreamer, a romancer, fantasist, and frankly, a lunatic.
Although, Dr. Ekwow Spio- Garbral is willing to leave his £90,000.00 plus cozy day job as CEO of Commonwealth Te l e c o m m u n i c a t i o n s Organisation in London for a fight that could see him loose valuable time with his family among other things, he cannot be taken as a mad man. He says, “It’s a sacrifice which I’m happy to give”.
True! We might have heard this sort of rhetoric somany times but as I stood listening to him I could not help but fall in love with the big ideas, confidence and conviction he spoke with. One particular thing he said that night that still strikes chord with me was, “…you can take away all the mineral and natural resources from Ghana and just leave me with just the human capital and I shall turn the country around with them in just four years”.
Big ideas! Can one take him serious? Who is this guy professing to be Ghana’s messiah, then Africa?
Born to Fanti (Akan) parents in Kumasi in the historical Ashanti capital in Ghana, multi-lingual Ekwow has risen through a decent upbringing to become minister of state during ex- President Rawling’s reign in various capacities. He had been Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA and Mexico from 1994 to 1997.
His international career and experience span from working with United Nations, World Bank group, African Development Bank and now as CEO of the commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation.
It is obvious to deduce from the above that he is a welltraveled and well-connected man who says he has the reach to be the in corridors where Africa’s development issues and decisions are debated. .
Academically, too, he is armed to the teeth with good qualifications from Ghana and the USA. He has been awarded LLD (Honoris Causa) by the Middlesbury University VT, USA, for his achievements in government, business, diplomacy and communications.
To cap it all, he says he has been a farmer for about eight years and understands the needs and anxieties of the many farmers that form the bulwark of Africa’s economies.
All said and done, we all know from experience that sergeant-majors, generals, captains and flight-lieutenants, just to name a few have struck chords with African’s impoverished populations than the likes of Einstein, Newton, Allotey and Ackah-Mensah.
This is where some of Spio- Garbral’s problems lie were he to get the yes-vote from his party in Ghana. But he knows this too, very well.
In fact, the politico-NGO group working in London and Ireland to help him achieve his dream (they are called Draft Spio 2008 Movement) knows that very, very well too. They know that they need lots of money to sell their candidate very well. That is why the fund-raising event was organised a couple of weeks ago.
We could go on and on about the debate on political party funding in Ghana or Africa but for now our attention should be focused on who is right to represent our interests and views at home should we find ourselves holed up in the diasporas. As someone with pan- Africanist sympathies, I see the “Ghana wins, African wins” mantra as a good sign emanating from a local political party. Kwame Nkrumah tried this and was loved by most Africans, though; he was frustrated in his tracks. However if a younger compatriot of him can muster the political balls (don’t mind my language) to even go half the mile he traveled, I will like him.
Should people (Ghanaians and African’s in general) give money to Spio’s cause? I will not say yes or no. What I want people to do for now is to take the opportunity to read about him, study his manifesto, get to know a bit more about him and see if he represents what you want to see happen in Ghana and other parts of our dear continent African.