Forget the US election, that’s done and dusted. The Ghanaian vote is the only one that matters now, and all eyes are on the country to see how it plays out. Ghana has long had a history of being a leader in the democratic process and holding (mostly) peaceful elections in a sometimes volatile region.
In one corner you have the National Democratic Congress, the NDC, led by current President John Dramani Mahama, vice president from 2009 to 2012, who took over the presidency when John Atta Mills died.
In the other corner you have the National Patriotic Party, the NPP headed up by their flag-bearer Nana Akufo-Addo, who was the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General under previous president John Kufour. The road to Flagstaff House has been far from smooth with accusations of bribery and corruption surfacing every other day.
Celebrity endorsements are a staple of any election but not all Ghana’s celebrities have come out firmly in force on one side or the other. Reggae dancehall supremo Stonebwoy played a massive peace concert to a 50,000-strong audience in an attempt to encourage fans not only to vote but to do so in a peaceful manner, stating that ultimately, there’s nowhere else to call home.
He also said that fans should vote for the candidate they believed in, not necessarily the one who would offer them money. Ultimately everyone wants change, he admitted, and that all Ghanaians, whatever the result, should help the winner work towards that.
Actress Lydia Forson is another celebrity who, without endorsing one party or the other, has given her opinion. Drawing on lessons from the American election, her blog post addresses Hillary Clinton’s gaff in calling the Trump voters ‘deplorables’ making them less likely to admit to pollsters that they would vote for him. She says the same thing is happening with NDC supporters:
‘When Hillary called half of Trumps voters deplorable, she only gave people who were probably on the fence about voting for Trump another reason NOT to vote for her.
Now I’m not in anyway likening the ruling party to Trump supporters, just drawing from their experience.
‘Which is exactly what a lot of people in the opposition are doing… The silent majority does exist, and when a group of people feel silenced because of their position, they will band together to prove a point. Now I’m not in anyway likening the ruling party to Trump supporters, just drawing from their experience. I may be wrong with my prediction, and we’ll know in a couple of days…’
Stonebwoy or Forson might be shy but a celebrity endorsement means legions of fans following their idols to the ballot box. The NPP counts Afrobeats star Kwabena Kwabena, highlife legend Daddy Lumba and veteran actress Maame Dokono amongst their loyal supporters.
The NDC on the other hand can count on John Dumelo. Earlier on this year he tweeted, ‘I have nothing against Nana Addo, but I only see one person being sworn in come January 2017 and it’s not him (Nana).’ Popular actor Papa Nii is also actively campaigning for the president.
Social media has also played a huge part in the election – who can forget the Kalyppo challenge? It all started when NPP leader Nana Akufo-Addo was pictured sipping Kalyppo. His opposition thought releasing the picture would make him look like a weak man (he was drinking ‘a kids’ drink’) but in fact loads of politicians and supporters jumped on the band wagon and started posting their own pictures of themselves sipping on a sweet Kalyppo.
Sales of the drink when through the roof and as they say – no publicity is bad publicity. With only days to go before the election, The Kalyppo challenge is still fresh in everyone’s minds and most definitely one of the turning points in the election.
Polling day is nearly upon us and whether you decide to vote for the party Kwabena Kwabena or John Dumelo have endorsed or just hope the elections goes off without a hitch like Stonebwoy, one thing that’s clear in this election is the appetite for change.
2016 has certainly been a year for ‘anything can and will happen’ when it comes to politics so there’s no way to predict the result. Let’s just hope polling can be peaceful and Ghana can maintain its place as democratic leader on the continent.