Live from the Woods: How Akufo-Addo missed 'political sensitivity' test on independence day

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The landscape of Accra was dotted with the red, yellow, green and black star flag on Monday. It was one of those moments you're unashamed to call yourself a Ghanaian.

It wasn’t one of the usual days in the life of the country.

The day as I reckoned was the first of its kind on the world’s calendar. The country marked the 60th anniversary of its independence from colonial domination on March 6, 1957. It couldn’t have been a normal day. Yet it was a usual day for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia as they refused to adorn the Ghana@60 independence anniversary cloth.

Former President Jerry John Rawlings

By all standards, the programme was well organised despite some few glitches. It was crisp. The finest Ghanaian culture was displayed to the delight of the world. There was also an excellent display of marching skill by both students and contingents from security agencies.

Albeit needless defense by supporters of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP), I think the two leaders disappointed the whole nation. Could the President have avoided the controversy that has arisen out of his failure to wear the cloth as did by two of his predecessors?  My response is that YES.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Former Presidents J.J Rawlings, John Mahama and 2016 Presidential Candidate of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet were few of the people who wore the cloth to the celebration ground.

You’re the sitting President at this time the nation is marking its 60th independence anniversary - such a momentous day - and it's your responsibility to showcase that to the world, but he failed. He missed the mark.

2016 President Candidate of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet

It was important for him to have sent a good signal and a loud one to both locally and internationally about the celebration. And this message could have been done by owning the celebration as his predecessors did. Pathetically, some NPP supporters are justifying it saying the President wore the cloth a day before so he didn't need to put it on. Funny. He wore one the day and so what? Did they print just one color for the cloth? Babies with metallic teeth will always rise to defend the indefensible.

Wearing fubu to the celebration is not a bad thing to do, but the President could have proven his political sensitivity by wearing the anniversary cloth - something the fubu didn’t achieve for him.

Former President John Mahama

A leader cannot get everything right, but he has to get the basics right and most of these things are common sense. You don’t need to be politically correct to know this. You need to think about the political implication of whatever you do since everything revolves around politics.

Another needless adventure by the President was his distorted narrative about Ghana’s independence struggle. It won’t be unfair to say that President Akufo-Addo is the second Ghanaian leader with an impeccable oratory skill after the nation’s founder Kwame Nkrumah.

Ghana's first President and nation's founder, Kwame Nkrumah

He knows his scripts – something he gained because many of the controversial events in the history of Ghana had revolved around his family. As a result, he speaks with an insider authority. He has gained a voice, the kind that’s reserved for people who have firsthand experience of events. He did.

However, his narration of events leading to the independence of Ghana has always tried to ‘subjugate’ the role played by Nkrumah. He has not shied away from elevating his uncle, J. B. Danquah and his father Edward Akufo-Addo over Nkrumah.

The political 'big six' of Ghana credited for the independence of the country

At the Black Star Square in Accra, President Akufo-Addo didn’t disappoint as he credited his uncle, father and friends for Ghana’s independence, giving little voice to Nkrumah.

The debate about the true founders of Ghana is an issue that will not be settled or wished away by a speech of a leader. There’s a sharp disagreement and even among the elitists in the society, the battle is subtle and serious. No one is willing to yield turf to the other.

Nkrumah with some of his CPP compatriots on the eve of Ghana's independence

The President could have avoided the fruitless debate his statement will trigger in the country in the coming days.

It might be too early to take on the President as some people have suggested, but if coming events cast their shadow, it appears our nation is in for more incorrectness.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Multimedia Group Limited or Myjoyonline editorial policy. Austin Brako-Powers a journalist with Joy 99.7 FM and could be reached via www.brakopowers.com or Brakomen@outlook.com