Letter from Africa: Life after Ghana's 'greatest show'

Supporters of Ghana's President John Mahama celebrate in Accra on 29 August 2013 The president's supporters celebrated their victory outside court

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

Ghanaian President John Mahama raises the staff of office after swearing to an oath of office at the Independence Square, Accra in January 7. 2013.
  • 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.

If you would like to comment on Elizabeth Ohene's column, please do so below.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I shall not miss the request for further and better particulars.

    I shall not miss the SC because ' You and I were not there'.

    I shall miss Gloria Akuffo because she probably knows what retrospective punishment is by now.

    Oh what a country. Ghana my beloved motherland. "The land of mighty talents". (late Ishmael Adams,-DAMAS CHOIR).

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Killing,Killing, Killing. When will killing stop in Somalia? Please Somali leaders come on a round table and iron out all your problems to bring calm, peace and unity to the Somali people. Remember we are losing hundreds of lives every day in Somalia,We need peace and unity in Africa.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    In Africa, Lawyers are in favor of the higher classes of people neglecting the lower classes, because of something for something and nothing for nothing slogan where the lower classes could not afford. Please ICC, take record of all the lawyers in Africa and test their ability of judgement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I will miss 'amicus curiae' Lawyer Benoni Amekudzi and his earth-shattering comedic triumph! in the highest court of the land. What a star! What hazaacas !
    I will certainly not miss all the 'election pink sheet' pink-related headlines, song titles, shop names and even baby names that cropped up in this time.
    small correction:Ghana has 10 main regions..

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I will miss the belief that elections results can be changed in favour of the main opposition party using the court system

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Correction; the judgement was given on Thursday 29th August and not Friday

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Even if the petitioners had valid claims, no self-respecting supreme court would want to take the historical blame for causing political fracas. Just look at what has happened in Pakistan where judges (including the SC) and lawyers are always plotting and exacting vengeance on one group of politicians or the other.


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