Blackouts and Black Stars

2015 is rolling off to… well some sort of start. Between rolling blackouts and the Black Stars rolling around in new cars, there’s a lot the public wants to discuss this year. And the people are beginning to push their views forward.

Blackouts aren’t new. There are areas of the globe that are frequently left in the dark. It’ a common phenomenon in India, for example. They’re terrifying the South African economy at the moment. And now, they’re crippling Ghana. It’s not just a matter of returning home from work to discover your perishables have gone off; the factories are scrambling to keep production alive.

As Accra residents deal with outages lasting 24 hours (only to be switched on for 12 hours in between blackouts), the opposition organised a protest. Nana Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), might just find this an unexpected advantage in the 2016 elections. Many Ghanaians blame President John Dramini Mahama’s government, accusing the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of mismanagement. If the power minister Kwabena Donkor does indeed step down next year (as promised if the situation isn’t rectified by January), there will certainly be a lot to discuss before campaigning officially begins.

But, if you step away from the blackouts for a moment, the biggest news may just be the Black Stars. The Ghanaian football team brought home the silver in the recent African Cup of Nations (AFCON). And, although Ghana was hoping for a win, it’s certainly been a boost given the recent performances of the team.

However, no matter how much the public love their Black Stars, they weren’t exactly happy to learn that each player received Jeep Grand Cherokees for their performance. After all, if the suburbs are in darkness for 24 hours at a time, it’s difficult to condone a large gift from the government. Except, the government did not pay for these vehicles (nor were they involved, except to perhaps issue a tax break). That’s important to note – the Black Stars are not causing the blackouts.

But, another type of star almost was knocked out. A famous music promoter is reputedly gay. That’s not to say that he is – or he isn’t. But, an angry crowd descended on him recently, filming his beating and taunting him for his supposed sexuality. Ghanaian law dictates that homosexual relations are illegal. But, Ghanaian celebrities are speaking out for their friend. Indeed, they’ve taken to their social media profiles in such force that even the BBC has covered the story.

Celebrities may not own the vote, but Akufo-Addo may want to take note of this issue now. If not, it may come back to bite him. After all, it’s unlikely that the government can make such a hasty reform of the electricity situation in the country. But, at least it’s all on the table at last. Blackouts, black stars, star knock outs; this country is never boring.

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