Madam Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to make this Statement on the floor of this honourable House on the elections in America and the election of President Barack Obama.
Madam Speaker, on the 20th of January
2009, history was made in the most powerful nation on earth. Against the background of unprecedented spectators proudly waving the American flag, an African-American took the Presidential Oath. Barrack Hussein Obama became the 44th President of the USA. Even the number was significant. School children will never forget President No. 44.
The lessons of the event make very
useful analytical study and are very relevant to us in Ghana.
Madam Speaker, first, it was a victory
for God - our God. It tells us He never sleeps. To those who trust in Him, God says He is able to do exceedingly abundantly, beyond their wildest imagination. God could have used another Black American but He chose one whose father had come direct from Africa still holding his African name - Obama. Incidentally his name is pronounced Oba Ma in his village.
Many African-Americans have wept volumes because they had lost their names and their identities. When the time came for a Black President, his Africanness had to be distinct. Hence Obama from Kenya. Obama was raised by his mother as a single parent at one stage; he was raised by a step-father at another; he was finally raised by grand parents. He went through all the trials of youth. And God still fulfilled His purpose in him.
Second, Madam Speaker, it was a
victory for the Black race. The country founded by slave owners; the country where State Governors ordered troops to shoot down Blacks who sought to attend University; where our Finance Minister K. A. Gbedemah was ordered out of a restaurant in Washington because of his colour; the nation where “nigger” has for a long time been the most piercing term of insult; that nation had voluntarily and overwhelmingly voted for a “nigger” to
rule America from the White House. A myth indeed is broken. Madam Speaker, this should be a perpetual encouragement for the youth of Ghana, especially those from broken and poor homes. They can make it!
Discrimination is deep-rooted in humankind and even has philosophical foundations. Aristotle justified slavery and went on to say that by their very physique some human beings are designated as slaves by God. Cicero was later to challenge him and opine that no human being exposed to virtue is incapable of attaining it by virtue of his/her race. Discrimination has been justified on even religious grounds. We wish President Obama well and pray that the success of his Presidency will sound the death knell of global discrimination.
Third, it was a victory for the White
Race in the USA. Blacks are only about twenty per cent of the population. Those who voted to elect Obama are white and we should never forget that. They saw sterling quality in Obama and they voted for him to lead the nation.
Madam Speaker, ethnicity, if it continues to deepen, may have grave, unprecedented consequences in Ghana. We should learn to open up and vote on issues and principles devoid of tribal considerations. Tribalism does not pay. In our marriages, in our work places, in our politics, business et al, let us do away with tribalism. The tragic traits of tribal politics should be eschewed in Ghana.
Fourth, Madam Speaker, it was a
victory for a man who knew what he was about, committed to his cause, undaunted in his course and who succeeded against all odds. Every Ghanaian child should say in the future, “Yes, I can” and our nation will move forward. Let no Ghanaian child think that the heights attained by great men
were attained by sudden flight; while their neighbours slept, they burnt the midnight candle. Obama is a first class scholar; holds a doctorate cum summa laude from Harvard, University Professor, lawyer et cetera. He was Editor of the Harvard Law Review, community worker, U.S. Senator et cetera. With commitment, a focused mind and principled life, you also will get there. This is the message to the youth.
Fifth, the ceremony itself provided
lessons. The day before inauguration was the Public Holiday established in memory of Martin Luther King, assassinated in 1968. President Obama attended the ceremony and stood on the same steps on which King made his famous Speech in 1963 - “I have a Dream”. If anyone ever thought King died in vain, that person must have revised his/her notes that day. Let us stand for the truth and for Ghana. If you die in the process, you will not die in vain. Indeed, King's eyes were opened by the Almighty God to foresee and forecast the day in America when human beings would not be judged by the colour of their skin; when all shall be free; when all shall have equal opportunities; and justice shall prevail.
Madam Speaker, we must work to create this equality. We must ensure that the Northern Development Fund, for example, of $1 billion is established. That the rights of women are enhanced. That trokosi is no more; and Affirmative Action Law is passed before this Parliament ends its term. As lawmakers, we should use the law as an instrument of social engineering to emancipate Ghanaian women fully and finally.
But the victory was not for Martin
Luther King alone. The victory was a victory for Malcolm X, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, General Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and other Black
Leaders. The seed one sowed, others watered and God gave the increase. Our politicians may well learn. We can only play our part.
Sixth, Madam Speaker, we also need to
preserve our heritage in Ghana. Obama had a hero in his political career - Abraham Lincoln. And Obama used the Bible which Abraham Lincoln used for the Presidential Oath in 1861. Can we today find the Bible President Nkrumah used in 1960? Perhaps some day a CPP President-elect might want to use it. Role models are crucial in getting our youth to aspire to greater heights. We should build our institutions and preserve our heritage. Maybe, we want to start from Parliament.
Madam Speaker, the American
ceremony was definitely elegant and worth of emulation. Dignity prevailed. There was an opening prayer and a powerful closing prayer with a Benediction. The flags we saw were American flags. It was a national programme. God was given honour. A nation had come together for a celebration in glorious harmony. Ghana is a Godly nation and it must show on such occasions.
Madam Speaker, this House has recorded how chaotic our programme was. We should learn. It is clear we have to hold our election early November and let the President assume office in January as in the USA. The advantages are many. The victorious party has plenty of time to celebrate and make room for an inauguration for all Ghanaians. Electoral disputes can properly be resolved and if a party has a case it wants to pursue in court it will not look as if that party wants to be disruptive. Run-offs can take place without creating problems. There will be time to have Ministers chosen, et cetera. What must be done, must indeed be done well.
Madam Speaker, on his road to be