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Of a demonstration, a ‘hot’ slogan and a dramatic U-turn

BY: Ajoa Yeboah-Afari

A few days ago, I chanced on the video of the hit song ‘Krom ayɛ shi’ on a TV channel. Listening to the lyrics, I began to wonder if the slogan of last week’s demonstration by the Arise Ghana Movement, was borrowed from the song’s title.

Intriguingly, their demonstration was hash tagged ‘#Krom ayɛ hye’. But if they took inspiration from the song by Afropop Ghanaian singer Wendy Shay and her Shay Gang, I wonder if the Movement paid attention to its lyrics and message.

To the uninitiated, the following is the first verse of the catchy tune titled “HEAT (Krom ayɛ shi)”:
Krom ayɛ shi, bɛbiaa ayɛ shi
Sika no aloki, bɛbiaa abloki
Nso yɛmma yaba mu mbu oo
ɛyɛ dɛn aa ɛbɛfa
ɛbɛfa, ɛbɛfa, ɛbɛfa oo, ɛbɛfa!

I have attempted a loose translation of Ms Shay’s freestyle Twi lyrics as follows:
The country/city/town is ‘hot’; heat everywhere
Money is under blockage, everywhere/everything blockage
But we will not lose hope

No matter what, it shall be well!
Although Wendy Shay is complaining about hard times in a country, she is also pointing out that no matter how bad it gets the situation will improve. Thus its main message appears to be the opposite of the Movement’s.
Of course there may be no link. Perhaps the Movement picked that slogan out of the blue, but that would appear to be too much of a coincidence!

Anyhow, the song’s last verse, too, is a defiant: ɛyɛ dɛn aa ɛbɛfa ɛbɛfa, ɛbɛfa, ɛbɛfa oo, ɛbɛfa! meaning ‘it shall be well, it shall be well, it shall be well!
But is optimism the message the Arise Ghana pressure group wanted to convey, that there is still hope? Obviously not! Their posture before, during and after the two-day demonstration, on June 28 and June 29 definitely did not give any hint that they find any positives under the ruling New Patriotic Party.
According to them, it has been just a catalogue of woes that the administration of President Nana Akufo-Addo has inflicted on Ghana, hence their demonstration.

Unbelievably, there is even a video circulating online of Arise Ghana leading member Sammy Gyamfi, who is also the National Communications Director of the opposition National Democratic Congress, leading a group chanting death wishes to President Akufo-Addo! Singing in Twi, they are asking God to “kill Nana Addo for us, he’s destroying the country”!

Death wishes on the President because of a cost of living crisis the whole world is suffering, not Ghana alone?! What kind of politics is this? Undeniably, most of us are battling a ‘hand-to-chin’ existence, but is that enough reason to wish the President dead?

And in recent times former President Mahama has been increasingly fiery in his condemnation of the Akufo-Addo Government’s handling of the economy. On June 30, speaking at the launch in Accra of a new think tank, Think Progress Ghana, he accused the Akufo-Addo administration of being “clueless” about the economy and urged them to seek outside help.

Clearly it was ‘payback time’ as the Akufo-Addo team, particularly Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has been noted for their trenchant criticism of Mahama’s economic performance when he was President, and his IMF bailout then. Memorably, he had tagged Former President Mahama as “incompetent”, which the former President is evidently still smarting from.

For the record, on July 1, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah issued a statement announcing that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has authorized Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta to commence formal engagements with the IMF, inviting the Fund to support an economic programme put together by the Government, “in the face of challenges induced by the Covid-19 pandemic and, recently, the Russia-Ukraine crises".
Furthermore, the President had already had a telephone conversation with IMF Managing Director Ms Kristalina Georgieva, about Ghana's decision.

The shock generated by the announcement stems from the fact that some members of the Akufo-Addo Government have been known to state emphatically that Ghana would never seek IMF assistance under their watch.

However, conceivably, following the impact on the Ghanaian economy of the global events, despite their previous stance, President Akufo-Addo and his team having come to the conclusion that there was no other alternative, probably started the initial steps with the Fund weeks ago.

The IMF delegation arrived in Ghana on July 5 to start the discussions the following day, so something must have been going on long before the July 1 announcement.

Incidentally, according to reports, countless numbers of countries similarly affected by the pandemic and the Russia aggression, not to mention Climate Change disasters, have turned to the IMF for support.

Notably, even the woes of just ousted UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson have been blamed on the pandemic: “He’s a victim of Covid”, as one commentator put it. It’s apparently only in Ghana that some people claim that the present economic misery is solely the fault of the Akufo-Addo Government, and nothing to do with external factors!

Interestingly, this week the country Director of the World Bank, Pierre Laporte has been quoted as expressing confidence “in the leadership of President Akufo-Addo to turn the Ghanaian economy around despite the global economic crisis.”

At a forum in Accra on July 6 to launch a $10 million tourism grant, the Daily Graphic reported that Mr Laporte said: “Despite the current macro fiscal challenges, the World Bank is confident that Ghana will rise through it.”
As to those who are lambasting or mocking President Akufo-Addo for the U-turn, the issue is, should a government refuse to resort to a different tactic if the compelling circumstances of the time require a change of plan, even a U-turn?

An apt saying by Australian theologian Desmond Ford comes to mind: “A wise man changes his mind sometimes, but a fool never. To change your mind is the best evidence (that) you have one.”
I think that sums it up perfectly: “To change your mind is the best evidence (that) you have one.”

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