Ghana's Growing Democracy
WEST AFRICA'S SHINING EXAMPLE OF DEMOCRACY
Photo : Wiki Commons
Freedom and Justice. Ghana’s motto is written boldly on the Independence Arch in the country’s capital.
Accra is a bustling and chaotic city. With mates yelling from tro-tros, small road-side stalls and dusty side streets, there is no doubting that Ghana’s capital is alive and well.
For westerners the lack of street signs and order within Accra can be disorientating and confusing. Yet within the chaos Ghanaians are steadily striving forward as citizens of one of Africa’s most promising democracies.
As well as embodying the progress Ghana has made since gaining independence in 1957, Accra’s Independence Square paves the way to a bright and fair future in which all Ghanaians can enjoy Freedom and Justice.
The recent elections are proof of Ghana’s maturity as a nation and nascent democracy.
In December last year President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) declared a narrow victory over the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Nana Akufo-Addo.
Since the elections there have been widespread allegations of electoral fraud.
In the moments after the results were announced the NPP claimed the Electoral Commission tampered with the results.
Opposition protesters were dispersed by police with tear gas outside the Electoral Commission’s office on the Sunday evening following the election.
Despite the discontent non-partisan groups including the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and the African Union (AU) declared the election mostly fair and free.
Yet even with the widespread allegations of voting irregularities and the initial protests Ghana hasn’t descended into the violence that has overtaken other burgeoning democracies across Africa.
President Mahama has been able to form government, while the NPP have taken their grievances to the courts not the battlefield.
This is democracy working as it should be.
Ghana’s democracy extends beyond the parliament and justice systems.
Just like all healthy democracies Ghana’s citizens are afforded a number of freedoms and rights, including free speech.
Ghana’s position on homosexuality differs greatly from the west. While in Ghana homosexual acts are illegal, nine states in America legally permit gays and lesbians to marry.
But despite the illegality of homosexual acts the topic isn’t off limits. Ghanaians have been given the freedom to openly debate and discuss the issue in public.
Just last week the Minister designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, said while she will not promote homosexuality she will protect the human rights of all Ghanaians, including gays and lesbians.
It is this type of discourse that will serve Ghanaians well, and the people know this.
On the streets of Africa Ghanaians are proud to be the first Sub-Saharan nation to become independent of colonial rule.
They are also proud to be making the transition to democracy.
They are happy to be at peace with their brothers and sisters from different political parties and religions.
It is with this proud history in mind that Ghanaians should move forward into the next chapter of history.
Ghana’s democracy is not perfect. There are many ways in which it could be deepened and extended throughout the nation to create more freedom and more justice for its people.
In this respect Ghana is not alone. There is no country on this earth who can honestly claim to be perfectly democratic.
If Greece, the proclaimed birthplace of democracy, hasn’t been able to get it right in century’s no-one can expect Ghana to get it right in a few years.
Yet both abroad and in Ghana the signs are promising. With the will of the people and a belief in Ghana’s motto of Freedom and Justice progress will continue to be made towards a prosperous future.
By working together within a democratic system, Ghanaians can mould their country’s future to make Ghana what they want it to be.