People feel truth. Truth has an interesting way of piercing the conscience of mankind; it dwells in as us all, whether we are conscious of it or not, and so whenever we encounter truth, we can genuinely connect to it.
The truth is always powerful, and sometimes, overwhelmingly so.
Well, here is my truth: if it resonates with you, if you find yourself nodding in agreement while reading, then the message is credible.
The tragedy of an independent ‘politician’.
“What do you do for a living,” an acquaintance asked. This is a question I often grapple with. “I am a politician”, I replied hesitantly. “What political party do you belong to,” he further probed. “None.”, I said.
It is always a bittersweet feeling whenever a discussion like this comes up. I am deeply passionate about statecraft and nation-building. I have been fascinated with the idea of politics since I picked up a book, authored by Kwame Nkrumah, titled ‘I Speak of Freedom’ at age 14. The book is one of the memoirs of Africa’s first Prime Minister, a revolutionary, which covers his political experiences. I found purpose within those pages and, more importantly, it came with a realisation of what my talent could do to help improve society. But although I have kept the fire burning since age 14 when I developed an obsession for politics, a bit of that youthful idealism which shaped the political career I envisioned has waned.
10 years on, it is already bad enough that I am not aligned to any of the major political parties. The social prejudices against an independent politician in Ghana is crippling. At best, as I have come to realise, whenever I am engaged or engage someone in a conversation, non-alignment could protect your integrity. This is what I normally encounter with citizens who, although partisan, have grown frustrated with the state of affairs. It provides temporary joy and, perhaps, a bit of hope in a new political movement that could receive the goodwill of the masses. But the reality is daunting: history has revealed that citizens rarely support independent politicians in Ghana. It’s often a lonely road to the grave with a heavy load of lofty dreams and a grand vision.
I understand. No one can do it on their own. Politics is about unity under the banner of an organisation for the pursuit of shared aspirations. And to a large extent, institutions are more likely to be accountable to the public than an individual. Power cannot be centralised in the human palms of one man or woman.
I Speak of Independence from the Political Establishment.
However, when I speak of independent politics, it isn’t exactly referring to a solo quest for political office. Rather, I speak of independence from the political establishment. When I envisioned a political movement about half a decade ago, I thought of a third force that would attract a calibre of independent politicians with one focus: statecraft.
I have waited so long for an existing political party to prove itself credible but it does not seem realistic at this point. I have constantly battled the idea of getting compromised. There are times I concede that, perhaps, it is better to effect change from within an existing political party. But I always find myself digressing into the hope of a revolution; a revolution of grace, the possibility of a golden age in Ghanaian politics, the belief in the common good of our citizenry and that new organisation would emerge.
Every time I assert my independence from the political establishment, there is always one question that follows: “Where are you from?” Half the time, I am tempted to reply “I am Ghanaian you dimwit”.
But, in this context, it is about what tribe I am from and has nothing to do with the ignorance of what my nationality is. As an Ewe man, to many, it is already clear where I must belong. Society has already taken that decision on one’s behalf without their consent. I have succumbed to this out of frustration sometimes. Partly because merit is undermined and standards are dropped, typical of privilege. And also, because, as an Ewe man, I cannot possibly stand on the Manhyia set and get elected, regardless of how proficient I may be as a politician.
I am a Djokoto, a member of the Tenge-Dzokoto Royal Family of Anyako, and therefore I am expected to represent my ancestral state. I am proud of my heritage, don’t get it twisted. The issue is that, whenever it has to do with Ghana in politics, I am suddenly not regarded as Ghanaian anymore; it is about what tribe I belong to.
There are many times after I answer that question of you do not belong to any political party. As an Ewe man in Ghana, it is very clear where I belong, society already puts you in a place. There are many times that after I answer that question of: “I don’t belong to any political party” the next logical question that people ask is that what is your last name and where is your hometown? And they often say well you’re a Djokoto and you’re from a powerful family in Anyako, Volta Region and therefore your chances clearly lie with the NDC.
Whatever the future holds, one fact is clear: there does not appear to be a centrist-led third force that’ll shake the political stronghold of the NDC-NPP in the next election. But all hope is not lost; keep the faith.