Awhile back, when I entered the tweetosphere fellow tweeter and blogger Kobby Graham started sending out what seemed to me random tweets about Ghana’s constitution. With the perplexion of a man who does not know his skin tastes sweet, and tries to swat a fly away, I kind of frowned and thought, ‘why’s Kobby sending these tweets about a constitutional review?’ It took awhile for it to sink in that my friend was at the heart of something quite amazing happening in Ghana. An actual democratic review of their constitution. One might expect Ghana to be resting on its laurels – after-all they’ve just recently conducted an election in which two old men did not set about destroying their country into rival camps. Discovered oil, and having pretty good economic growth to boot. And they’re rightly proud of it.
Nevertheless, it’s been almost 20 years since Ghana returned to constitutional democratic rule. Speaking to that fact, Professor Emeritus Albert Fiadjo, emphasised in his keynote address for the constitutional review’s consultation in London (Friday 8th April 2011) that it is important for the Ghanaian people to have ‘ownership’ of the constitution.
You might be wondering what all this has to do with the ‘Save the Africa’ Centre Campaign. A lot.
Like the Africa Centre, Ghana as a country belongs to its entire people, not just those who by dint of power, influence, elections or just plain luck happen to be decision makers. It’s admirable that its leaders have taken the plunge in consulting Ghanaians and crucial not only Ghanaians in Ghana but those in the Diaspora as well, on what they would like to see in the constitution.
In Ghana, the review included a televised live broadcast of a regional hearing, touring all the administrative districts in Ghana– twice. And themed consultations on the constitution. (Dude, they even have a New Media Officer, Kobina Graham – who’s been tweeting for – well, for Ghana, to ensure there’s full coverage of the commission’s work and the Ghanaian population).
Ghana’s leaders are obviously wise to the fact that people are more likely to engage in a vision for a future they’ve had a hand – and a say in deciding.
No doubt, the realisation thatGhana’s Diaspora is as much a part of this future prompted the Commission’s presence in Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, and also here in London. It’s unfortunate that the event could not take place at the Africa Centre, which I understand was the first venue the Commission had in mind – yet, their example offers a model of open, public conversation that the Africa Centre’s trustees can follow in deciding on the future of the Africa Centre.
Dele Fatunla (on behalf of the STAC Campaign) with thanks to E.D for notes on the Ghanaian Constitutional Review event at SOAS, 8th April 2011