In America the demand for change was also on the menu ushering in ideals of what could be in the future after a time of Bush/Cheney melancholy and depression where the nation was fed up with the elite and political dynasties as middle class security crumbled, which created a local and global movement that elected President Obama as the first African-American president of the United States. At that time America and much of the global market was in financial crisis with a nation that seemed comatose in a sense of brokenness that was desperately seeking a way out with a new light at the end of the dark tunnel. This was an economic depression that was new to this generation because unlike “Reganomics“, no one was safe from the hardships of the experience, not even those who once thought they were untouchable because they had always lived lives of privilege and stability for so long. The nation needed hope and change and perhaps toexorcise its long seeded demons of racism that everyone said they wanted out, yet no one wanted the responsibility in owning how it came to be and has been nurtured and maintained for centuries for us to confront and exorcise it out of our society today. President Obama came in as the perfectly palatable package of new and cool for the youth to quickly embrace and to push as the future, while bringing the majority of the nation together in support of putting all their hopes in a history making moment that would somehow usher in a post-racial America, while eradicating and absolving the nation of its past ills with a bold step to push the dreams of the dreamer forward.
As an American and as a Black person, I was intrigued and hopeful for my nation to have this first, but as a Ghanaian and as an African my enthusiasm could never come solely from the fact that President Obama came from one Kenyan, African and Black parent and married into a Black American family because I had seen Black presidents and Black First Families all of my life. The Black presidents whom I admired most like Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Thomas Sankarahad become so rare in their exemplary leadership that they have gone unduplicated in their concrete achievements by subsequent leaders of their nations. I learned a long time ago that “not all skinfolk are kinfolk and not all non-skinfolk are your enemies or will not do more for you than your kinfolk”.
Many African-Americans in amisinterpretation of Toni Morrison’s words dubbed President Clinton, the first Black president of the USA because they felt a special affinity to him in having their best interests at heart, and then the real Black President came in physical representation with the election of President Obama, which found the same if not greater affinity amongst African-Americans, while unemployment, lack of access to appropriate and good education, housing and healthcare along with mass incarceration and death rates were all rising disproportionately amongst African-Americans. Now African-Americans are digging deeper to realize that the man who they once touted as the first black president because he seemed to have Black interests at heart, directly created and enacted policies that have spotlighted American hypocrisy in selling its citizens and the world on Democracy based on freedom, equality and justice for all, while subsequently incarcerating more of its citizens than all developed nations combined, with the number of those incarcerated overwhelmingly counted amongst its minority populations. And at the same time the actual real first Black president has not been able to do very much to lessen the statistics norchange the overall quality of life of Black citizens in America.
Today my two nations are looking to make history based on gender in finally electing its first women presidents with the candidacy of Hillary Clinton in the USA and Samia Nkrumah in Ghana. Ironically both women come from political legacies which many have called dynasties because of the local and global influence of their names. Legacies and dynasties which many citizens of their nations want them to answer for in its past ills, while chastising them for basking in its past accomplishments. While Hillary Clinton has had local and global recognition as FLOTUS, US Senator from New York, 2008 Presidential Candidate, and Secretary of State of the US;Samia Nkrumah has a lot less local and global recognition in the fact that she is fairly new to the political scene in Ghana and the world, in her return less than a decade ago to join and revive the CPP party founded by her late father. Samia’s reintroduction introduction to Ghana’s political scene first came with the 2008 election to a seat in Parliment and then as Chairperson of the party in 2011, a position which she has now left to become its 2016 candidate for the president, an honor first bestowed on her father. Both women’s rise to the presidency has been controversial in the sense that many question if their rise has been largely based on the legacy of their names and influence in an unspoken yet well orchestrated sense of entitlement to the presidency.
Hilary Clinton after being the First Lady Of The United States from 1993 to 2000, took up residence in New York with her husband and daughter, and with no real roots in New York became its Senator in the US Congress from 2001 to 2009. With a failed presidential run in 2008, she gave up her senate seat to become the selected US Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, where she then resigned her position to prepare her path for the 2016 presidential nomination. Samia Nkrumah after being first daughter of Ghana from 1960 until 1966- when her family was forced out of Ghana because of a military coup; took up residence in the Jomoro constituencyin the Western Region of Ghana, with no real roots there and became its MP (Member of Parliament) in 2008 after living in Rome for years prior as a consultant and freelance journalist. With a failed attempt at a second term in Parliament in 2011, Samia Nkrumah went on to continue not only to make history for the CPP, but also for Ghana in becoming the first woman to ever head a major political party as theCPP’s elected chairperson in 2011. Like any individual trying to pave their own road through legacy or dynasty, both women have the battle of balancing the name recognition which has been a major factor in pushing them to the political forefront, and standing on their own merits and political records in showcasing that their ambitions are based on concrete achievements and platforms that can negate the past ills of their name affiliations, while also not solely resting on the past achievements of said names. Both women have to set a real direction for the future that is not solely based on being women and a sense of entitlement to continue their family names and influence at the presidential seat of their nations.
“She was only 5 years old when she woke up one morning at the sound of gunshots coming from the garden. It was hard to overcome the fear but she and her brothers did, eventually. It was February 24, 1966, the military coup that changed the history of Ghana for ever. On that day her mother told her to pray and immediately after insisted that “if they fire at you, nothing will happen to you”.Samia is now back in her country and at the end of last year was elected to Parliament, in Ghana’s 5th multi-party elections since 1992. “It took many years and much experience of living and working in Ghana, Egypt, the United Kingdom and lastly in Italy, to come full circle and realize that the Pan-African project as articulated by my father, Kwame Nkrumah, offers the best response to our ongoing challenges”, says Samia with a deep smile. Nkrumah’s vision, as outlined in his books, are guidelines for Ghana and Africa and they remain as relevant today as they were in the 50s and 60s. “Achieving political and economic liberation, social justice and national and continental unity including the African Diaspora are yet to be realized” continues Samia. “It is our task today to continue from where Nkrumah left, while remaining flexible as we adapt to changing circumstances”.Till the moment she moved back to Ghana in early 2008, Samia lead a “normal” life. She lived in Italy for the last 10 years with her Italian husband and their 12 years old son Kwame, and she did not think about going back to her country of birth till the moment she met her father’s literary executrix (her name is June Milne; she is now 90 years old and living in England). This meeting opened up her heart. “This woman told me the most unbelievable stories about my father and she especially made me understand what an incredible spirit he had. He lived all his life for his cause and his people and while she was telling me these stories I felt that sooner or later, I would have to revisit his lifework”.READ MORE
Once again as a Ghanaian, American and a woman I am intrigued and hopeful for my two nations to achieve these firsts, but my enthusiasm can never come solely from the fact that Samia Nkrumah and Hillary Clinton happen to be women because while the USA and Ghana have been late to the party to elect a woman president, there have been multiple women Presidents and Prime Ministers in nations all over the world whom have not necessarily proven to be any less nor greater leaders than their male counterparts. In 2016, it should not be seen as extraordinary for two democratic nations that tout themselves to be enlightened and progressive to elect a woman to lead the nation. Once again my two nations are at a cross-roads in needing some real nurturing, guidance and healing that seemingly would be brought in its greatness through the image of a maternal figure as its leader. At a time when both nations face instability and breakdowns in oureducation and healthcare systems, in our fight for food sovereignty and transparency within an agricultural sector that is free of toxins, along with massiveincome inequality, chronic unemployment crippling the middle class, and an ever growing youth population; if neither Clinton nor Nkrumah can showcase platforms that enthusiastically speak to their base in getting out the vote and effecting change for the future, then being a woman alone will not and should not be anyone’s litmus test in electing them just for the sake of making history.
Both Clinton and Nkrumah have a problem with attaining the people’s outright trust, with Clinton’s issue stemming from people thinking they know her too well and Nkrumah’s stemming from people thinking they don’t know her well enough. The trustworthiness of Hillary Clinton in having many different voices on issuesas it suits her aspirations and audiences will be a big hurdle for her to get over, just as much as the seemingly reserved and voicelessness of Samia Nkrumah on many issues effecting the nation without her voice making any recognizable impact amongst Ghanaians outside of the hype of being her father’s daughter will be a great obstacle to overcome. Hilary Clinton has been on a pandering in chief tour with specific constituents, which has had her embarrassingly doing the ‘nae nae’ on live television and digging up her best negro spiritual voice while speaking to minority voters atchurches and youth at HBCU‘S (Historically Black Colleges). Samia Nkrumah while being a supporter of the Food Sovereignty movement in Ghanaseems to have a bigger hurdle in knowing how to massively and impactfuly woo any constituency outside of her party to her candidacy because she has yet to really set a concrete platform on issues that her presidency will be built on other than touting “Nkrumanist” past policies, which for the vast majority of today’s voters is just folklore and part of Ghana’s history that they barely learn in any depth in schools and have little to no knowledge of beyond symbolism in awareness that they continue to benefit from this history til today in global perception and adulation, infrastructure, education, healthcare and social programs. For generations til today, it has been easier to find books written byDr. Kwame Nkrumah outside of Ghana than in Ghana; therefore the history that Samia wants today’s Ghanaians to remember is one that has often been taught in the vain of folklore, nostalgia and political affiliation bathed in international adulation that has been left for others to remind us of where we came from in order to know how far we have come or not come, in determining where we are going or better yet where we must go. If Samia Nkrumah is running a campaign based on her father’s policies then she is at an advantage at a time when Ghana is ripe for change and competitiveness in the world if given a chance with a willing and worthy leader, in a return to excellence in education, arts, cultural appreciation, nationalistic pride with a global sensibility, and showing the world that after all the Black Man (Black woman) can handle their own affairs. Perhaps it is Samia Nkrumah’s time to be able to run a campaign that is not focused on the negativity that Ghana is enduring in all that it has not accomplished, but rather a campaign focused on all that Ghana has been in attaining global praise and respect, and all that Ghana can become once again with a leader who dares to take the bull by its horns and does not see mediocrity as achievement, but rather excellence as the only option because that is the cloth that she was cut from. Although no one can really say that Ghana from Dr. Nkrumah’s era has not experienced many steps backwards or at the very least not progressed to the potential it once possessed; there is also a budding renaissance amongst the youth, expatriates and repatriates in their will and hope to re-imagine a greater Ghana that is worthy of their dreams and built by them for them. They are more than ready to Sankofa!
“It is no longer very interesting to say Ghana is a shinning star in Africa. Ghana led the way in sub Saharan Africa towards independence. The first president of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was very instrumental in the independence struggle of a number of African countries and was recently honored by the BBC as the African of the Millennium. He is noted for his dream to create the UNITED STATES OF AFRICA….Its icons like Yaa Asantewa, a grandmother in her 70s in the 19th century, lead the war against the British in one of the fiercest battles the British encountered in their colonization of Africa. Formally known as the Gold Coast, this country is very well endowed naturally as well, with one of its cities’ TEMA, said to be sitting in the exact center of the world. With so many things going for it, it was therefore very alarming when countries we started off with, Malaysia and Singapore, whipped past Ghana in development so fast, it was a wonder the country didn’t spin!…As the world watches, and as Ghana once again makes history, let it be written that once again, this bright star in Africa is in flight… and may we land safely. May God, Jah, Jehovah, Allah and the Universe itself bless Ghana!” – READ MORE
“Miss Gombilla said through Dr. Nkrumah’s initiative, Prof. Emeritus J. H. Kwabena Nketia fashioned out a “cultural Policy Document for the country soon after attaining nationhood in 1957. This modern policy was adopted by UNESCO and since then successive governments have used it as a reference point. Nkrumah’s vision is relevant today”, she said. Miss Gombilla said Nkrumah inaugurated the Institute of African Studies in 1963, which he regarded as an intellectual wing of the pan-Africanist revolution. Dr. Nkrumah, she said, also had a personal interest and enthusiastically supported the arts and cultural institutions, including the Ghana Museums, Arts Council of Ghana, Research Library on African Affairs and the Ghana Film Corporation.
She explained that Dr Nkrumah’s intention was to bring activities in areas such as literature, cinema, theatre, music, visual arts, as well as symposia and conferences of specific topics with “African significance”. Miss Gombilla said Dr. Nkrumah helped popularize the Northern smock and Northern architecture, noting the Tamale and Yendi Senior High Schools, Bagabaga Teacher Training College and Tamale Polytechnic still had “round huts” as dormitories for students.
She said Dr Nkrumah promoted mass education and encouraged the use of the Ghanaian languages, including Dagbani in the Ghana Broadcasting Corporations newscast and other programmes.
Miss Gombilla noted the importance of arts and culture in development and said these were the areas in which the disparities between the developing and developed countries were greatest, adding: “We therefore need to take culture and the arts into account in our development discourse”. READ MORE
While too much recognition in the political field with many associations in scandals may be a detriment for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the lack of recognition in the political field with little impact in the negative or the positive will be a detriment for Samia Nkrumah. There is very little known about Samia- the woman, the wife, the mother, and the daughter coming back to reclaim the dream and her place in her first home and nation which her father became its founding president and made a shining star of Africa, until the dream was deposed and deferred. With gender issues at the global forefront, it should seemingly give both women the perfect head start in developing winning platforms, where women and the youth movements are its champions looking for a candidate that they can be enthusiastic about backing and following to victory. President Obama created the blue print for today’s political underdog to be able to topple political Goliaths in using social media and technology to not only brand himself, but to also get the women and youth vote, which are more likely to be open to the hope and impact of history making change that pushes the underdog forward, when naysayers believe that drastic change in gender equality and becoming a society which takes care of its most vulnerable and least vulnerable alike in providing necessary social services is impossible. Hillary Clinton received a firsthand tutorial in 2008 on the impact of using social media and technology that has forever changed the way all information and particularly political information is disseminated to reach and motivate citizens to vote. She has been diligently navigating her way through utilizing social media platforms to rebrand herself on her own terms, at a time when the majority of citizens receive much of their political and general news through digital devices and spaces.
“With the 2016 presidential race heating up, tech-savvy political candidates are stepping up, and executing on, their social media strategies….As campaigning for the 2016 election increases, political strategies targeting newer social media sites will surely play a significant role. However, it remains to be seen how exactly how these efforts will influence voters and affect who becomes the next president of the United States….. Democrat Hillary Clinton is one of the most prominent examples of a political candidate with a wide array of social media initiatives. Clinton has a strong presence on the most popular social media outlets, with more than one million “Likes” on Facebook and upwards of four million Twitter followers. The Clinton camp also launched accounts on more niche social networks, including Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, and even created a Spotify playlist from Clinton that voters can listen to. The mix of social networks the candidate embraces allows for more types of content messaging targeted at voters, including some well-designed, carefully manufactured posts, as well as spontaneous and on-the-fly content — or at least content that appears that way.
Whatever kind of post it is, it’s probably carefully planned out with a strategy in mind, even if it seems to be off-the-cuff, says Bill Jasso, professor of practice, with a specialty in public relations, at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication. “The Clinton campaign has been very targeted and focused on specific issues and specific topics. It has not been a run-of-the-mill, drive-by tweeting type of situation. It looks as though it’s the execution of a strategy rather than just random [posts].” READ MORE
Both Clinton and Nkrumah have the hurdle of leaping past the idea that they come from privilege and are disconnected from the lives and needs of the everyday citizen, who may not look like them nor come from the same privilege as them.The staff, press corps and inner circle that both women come with to represent their campaign will have a lot of weight in overcoming this perception in its unspoken visual branding. If a voter can not see themselves amongst all whom you are surrounded by, then how can they expect that their issues will be represented at the table? An image of Hillary Clinton’s majority women press corpswent viral and created a debate on how she can have a platform touting commitment to diversity in the workplace when her own selected press corps represents part of the status quo in representing a women’s movement steeped in “white feminism”, which has often come in direct crossfire and cross-roads with the Black community and communities of Color who have found themselves in apposition to adress the ills of past and present women’s movements that often exclude their voices and specific issues. It wasn’t lost on women of color that the majority women press corps that was being celebrated as achievement had a limited amount of women of color. These women have decided to use social media to let candidates know that they are no longer willing to take a back seat in pushing forward an overall Women’s Movement that excludes their input in creating the narrative, even if it denies history from being made in having America’s first woman president. We can not talk about lack of diversity, racism, discrimination and income inequality in the workforce, while candidates asking for the votes of the adversely impacted minority communities lack diversity amongst their own staff and inner circles, and while said candidates have to be pushed and prodded in accepting andrecognizing movementslike “Black Lives Matter” in its necessity to address the ills of the nation toward significant and sustainable change.
Politics is a tricky game where one must appeal to one’s base without alienating the majority of voters necessary to win. Those who have mastered this feat win because they are able to bring people together across the board in gender, tribe, political affiliation and private interests groups in the best interests of the nation. Hillary Clinton has worked with two of this century’s most savvy political masters in President Bill Clinton and President Obama. One does not have to do much of a search to find Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and life story because she has basically curated it all for inquiring minds through her website and social media. Samia has a large feat ahead in rebranding “Nkrumah” because the “Nkrumah” brand in today’s Ghana has ben defined by her youngest brother, Sekou Nkrumah’s political career in party flip-flopping and having a love/hate relationship with the Nkrumah name and legacy, which became more than he could ever live up to. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, was really one of the last presidents of Ghana to be able to unequivocally unite the nation in a true sense of majority support and impactful sense of nationalism across aGhana that was “Feeling Itself” in the possibilities of excellence! In order for Samia Nkrumah to make her impact felt by Ghanaians across the board, she first has to shift the minds and votes of the people who see her candidacy as a lost cause in a country deeply entrenched in a two party system that sees the NPP and the NDC as the only ruling and opposition parties in the nation worth their loyalties.
At a time when Ghanians on all sides are fed up with the discourse and chaos of internal conflicts that have been eating up headlines to the point of frustrating the citizens of Ghana enough to want to turn away from the same old crippling politics between the ruling parties NDC and NPP ; Samia Nkrumah is going to have to dig deep in channeling her father’s charisma and ability to touch the people- from the villagers to the elite, and the majority youth population who are determined to take back their future in Ghana by any means necessary. In the era of technology one should not have difficulty in finding any presidential aspirants platform and political achievements that have shaped said platform, but with Nkrumah, not only is little known and found in a google search about her political achievements and platform outside of a general CPP platform and touting the need for Ghana to go back to the policies of her father; but one is also hard pressed to find any information about her immediate family, which includes her Italian husband and son, who have not set any roots in Ghana while Nkrumah has been trying to set her own political roots in becoming the nation’s president. A Samia Nkrumah win as president of Ghana will not only make history in changing the gender of the image of the presidency, but it will also be the first time that Ghana will have a non-Ghanaian as the spouse of the president since her mother, Fathia Nkrumah.
Hilary Clinton’s overexposure has caused her to be very aware and calculated in her rebranding to the nation; while Samia Nkrumah’s underexposure seemingly hasn’t pushed her to put more effort in branding herself and her immediate family to the nation that will decide whether to accept or not accept her and her family as the new first family of Ghana. Samia Nkrumah has to take a bold step in running an “Obama Style” campaign circa 2008 with a strong social media and technologically savvy team of locally global staffers, who can best brand her in a manner that is appealing both locally and globally in the vain of her father who was determined to build Ghana locally with a sense of nationalism that would be embraced globally. With the instability of electricity in Africa and particularly in Ghana, mobile technology has become the direct and consistent source of contact with the people. Samia Nkrumah needs maximum impact to give her the boost that she desperately needs for the nation to take her candidacy seriously. This maybe Nkrumah and the CPP’s best chance to show a fed up and frustrated citizenry that they are the political outsiders needed at this time to deliver a greater Ghana and to shut down the chaos and stagnation that has been holding the nation back in a never ending tug of war of a two party system that has been riddled with self enrichment, tribalism, partisanship, corruption, judgement debts, vast youth unemployment, financial instability, breakdowns in the educational and healthcare systems, along with the grave impact to the future in the accumulation of endless debts, land grabs, selling of national assets, and having to fight for food sovereignty against GMO‘s at a time when Ghana imports more food than it grows, while its agriculture sector remains underdeveloped with farmers experiencing food waste with little means and laws in their favor for intra-Africa or global trade.
Samia is on course with the food sovereignty and anti-GMO movement which she has been vocal about because Ghana needs to build it’s agricultural sector to feed itself and to be locally and globally competitive in fair trade, at a time when there is high demand and high yields for the organic food that Ghana has always grown with fertile soil and people capital to develop its nation with. One day the gold and oil will finish or new technological advancements will make them obsolete or less worthy, but the nation and the world will always need to be fed. The market women and the families they feed have always been the backbone of the Ghanaian economy in good times and bad times, and they are awaiting a voice to speak to their interests and generations of contribution to the nation’s economy. Yaa Asantewaa‘s Ghana has not been kind to her girls and women with maternal death rates at a high because of lack of advancement in medical care, the lack of pay equity and some times no pay at all that has disrespected the honor and service to the nation of her Black Queens, and the rise of fires inmajor markets and now the irresponsible and economically detrimental way that the FDA has dealt with the research, inspection and dissemination of information regarding the palm oil crisis. Palm oil is now even in high demand in “non-international” super markets in the West because just a few years ago Doctors like Dr. Oz with national and international platforms were tauting palm oil as the “miracle oil” and international chefs have been introducing the world to cooking delicious foods with palm oil and its many health benefits. Instead of capitalizing on this global demand to build up the local economy, some are rather corrupting the product and setting everyone back before they even have the chance to fully exploit the global marketing that has already been done for a homegrown product to soar globally, while creating more jobs locally through its export. Some Ghanaians are fighting for food sovereignty from GMO corporations while dream killers are bastardizing traditional organic foods because of greed and nonsensical thinking. The market women need a political leader who will be their voice and fight for their interests and livelihoods as they work closely and forcibly with the FDA to stomp out all enemies of progress who are about to kill a centuries old business, if this is not taken seriously and rectified immediately! These market women and most Ghanaians want a stop to the incessant politics talk, and for the nation’s leaders to start doing the job of the people so that the entire nation can see a greater Ghana.
The youth are also creating their own renaissance with everything Made In Africa from thearts, films, fashion , Beauty, cuisine, Wines and Spirits, and technology industries that has allowed them to see the world and to dream bigger, as they also seek a candidate who can speak to their interests and contributions to the nation’s future.If Hillary Clinton or Samia Nkrumah can motivate and be the accepted voice of the majority of women and youth in their nations, then 2016 will bring history to my two nations at the presidential seat.
WHAT GHANAIANS WANT TO KNOW
In the words of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah: “Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge – a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve – to achieve the highest excellencies and the fullest greatness of man. Dare we ask for more in life? Something in the nature of an economic revolution is required. Our development has been held back for too long by the colonial-type economy. We need to reorganize entirely, so that each country can specialize in producing the goods and crops for which it is best suited.We have the blessing of the wealth of our vast resources, the power of our talents and the potentialities of our people. Let us grasp now the opportunities before us and meet the challenge to our survival…We shall measure our progress by the improvement in the health of our people; by the number of children in school, and by the quality of their education; by the availability of water and electricity in our towns and villages, and by the happiness which our people take in being able to manage their own affairs. The welfare of our people is our chief pride, and it is by this that my Government will ask to be judged…It is clear that we must find an African solution to our problems, and that this can only be found in African unity. Divided we are weak; united, Africa could become one of the greatest forces for good in the world. Although most Africans are poor, our continent is potentially extremely rich. Our mineral resources, which are being exploited with foreign capital only to enrich foreign investors, range from gold and diamonds to uranium and petroleum. Our forests contain some of the finest woods to be grown anywhere. Our cash crops include cocoa, coffee, rubber, tobacco and cotton. As for power, which is an important factor in any economic development, Africa contains over 40% of the potential water power of the world, as compared with about 10% in Europe and 13% in North America. Yet so far, less than 1% has been developed. This is one of the reasons why we have in Africa the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty, and scarcity in the midst of abundance. Never before have a people had within their grasp so great an opportunity for developing a continent endowed with so much wealth. Individually, the independent states of Africa, some of them potentially rich, others poor, can do little for their people. Together, by mutual help, they can achieve much. But the economic development of the continent must be planned and pursued as a whole. A loose confederation designed only for economic co-operation would not provide the necessary unity of purpose. Only a strong political union can bring about full and effective development of our natural resources for the benefit of our people..”