Ghana Demonstrates How It’s Done

Ghana has been called the beacon of democracy on the African continent. To be fair, it’s not the only country that the rest of the world has turned to with such labels. But, coming out of the 201 elections, it may have earned the title where others have failed.

There were warnings from international observers that Ghana must handle voting day peacefully. The world needn’t have worried – the day went off without a hitch. Ghanaians that want to feel a little salty about the comments, however, have a right to do so. After all, the country is a beacon.

And then the votes were counted.

One actually would have thought the race would have been tighter, closer, easier to contest than the American presidential election. But it wasn’t. Nana Akufo-Addo took 54 percent of the vote, while the incumbent president, John Dramani Mahama received approximately 45 percent. It’s a spread that’s hardly worth contesting.

It’s not just that people exercised their right to vote in the Ghanaian elections that makes this country the beacon it’s hailed as. (Indeed, fewer voters turned out than they had done in 2012.) It’s a matter of cordiality after the elections.

Instead of protesting in the streets, a communal outpouring of grief and fear, and the emergence of excitable masses attempting to overturn the vote (as seen in a country that warned Ghana to handle their elections peacefully), there has been optimism and maturity displayed at every turn.

Mahama took the time to congratulate Akufo-Addo and praised those that were unsettled by the elections but haven’t acted out their frustrations. All in, it’s about as civil as anyone should expect from an exercise of this nature, even if it’s not the behaviour we’ve become accustomed to in recent times.

You know exactly what we mean – both the English and the Italian prime ministers have stepped down following polls that didn’t go the way they wanted. In the United States, pockets of people are doing everything they can to stop President-elect Trump from taking office.

So, Ghana is a beacon, perhaps across the world and not just on the African continent. Now, it’s time to see if the Ghanaian President-elect can make the changes he pledged during his campaign.

His message is economic growth. And, he wants to achieve it by diversifying the country’s income sources; his aim is to move away from raw materials and into value-added goods. And, as he points out, it requires consistent efforts, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. Across Africa, it’s too easy to give into the urgent pressure to provide relief. So, we’ll see.

But, let’s be honest, Ghana truly has earned the right to call itself a beacon of democracy.

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