Letter from Africa: Life after Ghana's 'greatest show'
In our series of letters from African journalists, Elizabeth Ohene, a member of Ghana's opposition New Patriotic Party, looks back at the legal challenge to President John Mahama's election last year, which has kept Ghana spellbound for in recent months. The case was rejected on Friday.
Now that the greatest show in town, aka the telecast of the election petition at the Supreme Court, is over I have no doubt we in Ghana are going to be afflicted with acute withdrawal symptoms.
For the past eight months we have been a one-item nation as we have followed the courtroom drama of the petition challenging the election of President John Mahama.
Here is my list of the things I will miss and some that I am definitely glad will now disappear from our newspapers, airwaves and television screen:
- I shall miss watching Phillip Addison, the lead counsel of the petitioners, in court. He is apparently the latest heartthrob and object of desire by the young ladies.
- I shall miss hearing the imaginative names of polling stations. The most famous among them is bound to be the Finger of God polling station, where strange things apparently occurred in spite of its name. Maybe it should have been called the Eyes of God polling station.
Presidential election results
- John Dramani Mahama, NDC - 50.70%, 5,574,761 votes
- Nana Akufo-Addo, NPP - 47.74%, 5,248,898 votes
- I shall not miss unimaginative spokespersons for the state broadcaster, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, complaining that they have lost or are losing revenue as a result of the live broadcast. Here they had a captive audience of the entire nation watching them and they were losing money?
- I shall not miss everything going wrong in the country being blamed on the election petition. At the top of this sub-list would be experts and analysts telling us our currency has been falling because of the election petition.
- I shall not miss the flourishing "peace industry". I have lost count of how many "peace events" have been held and how many "peace ambassadors" and clerics have bombarded us with their peace messages. Each one "sponsored" by some aid agency or the other. I will never understand why people needed to be sponsored to say: We need peace in our dear country, during and after the election petition.
- I shall not miss all the prophets and fetish priests and their predictions of doom and gloom.
- I shall certainly NOT miss the US Embassy in Ghana giving a travel advisory to Americans about possible dangers lurking on the streets of Ghana on the day of the verdict. They pay for "peace messages" and then advise their nationals to keep away and label us as a high-risk destination. I don't recall the last time I was so enraged.
- I shall miss the daily entertainment of trying to work out which comment could be deemed to be in contempt of court and how many people the court could possibly send to jail. In the event, two people went to jail for criminal contempt, two others were fined and given a most comprehensive verbal dressing down and one was cautioned and banned from attending the proceedings any further and the rest of the population took a deep breath and tried to work out the line between free speech and contempt of court.
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