​​World Class-Ghana, Inc.

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Board member Susan Chase on the Ghanaian presidential election

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Fresh from the turmoil of our own Presidential election, we found ourselves in the final days of the Ghanaian presidential campaign, with the incumbent President John Mahama being challenged by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party.  Much was familiar -- campaign billboards everywhere, folks handing out political paraphernalia, even (alas) warnings of "fake news" and advice to voters to check with reliable sources.  Some was not-- like our bizarre encounter with candidate Akufo-Addo's motorcade which suddenly swerved over into our less-clogged northbound lanes in downtown Accra in order to proceed south to where a giant election rally was taking place.  In the process, a motorcycle was pushed into our taxi's fender, damaging it, and leaving us to imagine what more serious accidents might occur as the motorcade's cars and trucks barreled the wrong way up the busy street, as well as incidentally costing Akufo-Addo the vote of our taxi driver who until that moment had been undecided.

On Election Day, we visited two voting places to watch the process (all taking place outdoors) of voters waiting in line to have their credentials checked, using their inked thumbs to indicate the candidate of their choice (and simultaneously preventing them from attempting to vote again elsewhere) and then dropping their paper ballots into locked boxes.  Election Day is a national holiday -- schools are closed and most people have the day off from work; all seemed orderly and peaceful, although we later heard reports of some polling places running out of inkpads.

The Ghanaians we encountered were all fervent supporters of challenger Akufo-Addo, citing corruption of the current president and his party as the main issue; they were all increasingly concerned when two days passed without an official announcement of the election results even though vote totals showing their candidate to be the clear winner had already leaked to the press.  They were ultimately relieved and overjoyed when the incumbent finally conceded on December 9, announcing that Akufo-Addo had won with 55% of the votes and thereby adding to the twenty-plus year history of peaceful democratic transitions of power in Ghana.  

It was interesting to note how well-informed many Ghanaians are about US politics; many with whom we talked (the local chief with whom we met to plan details of the next World Class water project, our taxi driver in Accra, the staff of the Joy Family Lodge where we stayed, and the staff and Ghanaian directors of World Class) almost immediately asked about our recent election, expressing both their support for "Mrs. Hillary" and varying degrees of puzzlement, surprise, and  questions about future policy implications.  For us, it was a relief to be away from non-stop US election news coverage; but, also, a sobering reminder that US actions affect people around the globe.

 

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​Photos from December 2016 visit to Ghana

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