The unexpected victory of opposition candidate Atta Mills in Ghanaâ€™s run-off presidential election is a reminder that sometimes elections do matter in Africa. After eight desultory years under theÂ avuncular but ineffective John Kufuor, the dominant New Patriotic Party put up a complacent candidate to go against two-time loser Atta Mills, who triumphed in a squeaker. My good friend Nana Kofi Coomson, publisher of the Ghanaian Chronicle, the leading independent newspaper in the country, views the unexpected victory by the protÃ©gÃ© of former dictator Jerry Rawlings as potential a turning point in Ghanaâ€™s democratic history. â€œMills has surrounded himself with brainy people, lots of talent,â€ Coomson writes. Among the talent is dynamic vice president John Mahama. While fears abound over the integrity of a Mills government â€“ especially given the vast amount of foreign aid Ghana receives, especially from the U.S. â€“ the peaceful transfer of power between political parties underscores the commitment in Ghana to a new style of African politics.
Archive for January, 2009
I made a surprise visit to Andrew Mwenda in his Kampala offices today. One of the giants of African journalism, Mwenda owns and edits a remarkable weekly magazine, the Independent. With the eve of Barack Obamaâ€™s presidency, Mwenda proposed that I writer a weekly column on Africaâ€™s place in the world in the time of Obama. Iâ€™d been thinking about such a column myself, and we quickly chose a name. My debut article will come in advance of the Big Oâ€™s inaugural speech later this month. Africans eagerly wait to learn whether the arrival of a black man to the White House â€“ and the son of a man from East Africa â€“ signals a profound change in Americaâ€™s stance towards the rest of the world â€“ and towards its important African-American minority, In â€œFrom Obamaland,â€ I plan to explore many facets of contemporary Africa from the perspective of political economy, society and identity.