Followers: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
11th October 2016
One of the projects I worked on during my two week break was a story that i have been developing for several months now. I needed some information from a presidential staffer, so i booked an appointment to see him at Flagstaff House. while going through security, i noticed two women at a reception desk. They were staring at me. I smiled and said “Hello”.
They both kept glaring at me for a few more seconds. Then one of them said, “So you too, you come here? After criticizing our President, you also come here? For what? What do you want here? You’re lucky we don’t throw you out.”
As usual, I just smiled and went about my business. But i didn’t stop thinking about it. This woman obviously believed that the Flagstaff House was only open to those who didn’t criticize the President. As far as she was concerned, the presidency was there only to serve supporters of the president, and nobody else had the right to visit the place. So she wondered how i had the nerve to show my face in “their house”.
To be fair, this kind of thing happens a little too often. Just yesterday, on my first day back, i interviewed Alan Kyerematen about the just launched NPP manifesto. Someone msged me after the interview. He was unhappy with the way i had questioned Mr Kyerematen – which is absolutely fine. I always welcome criticism, because it’s a chance to improve. But when i asked him to tell me specifically what he was unhappy with, he passed the strangest comment. He said, “We all know you’ve been against NPP since Day 1. Always trying to catch us out. But #changeiscoming and you can’t stop it. Just wait and see what we will do to you when Nana wins”.
Interesting, isn’t it? Not so much the fact that each party supporter is convinced beyond a doubt that i belong to their opponent’s camp, just because i have challenged their beliefs, but the fact that the people in whose name they are attacking me, simply don’t care as much about these things as they do.
Does the President lay awake at night thinking of ways to prevent me from visiting Flagstaff house? Definitely not. Does Nana Akufo-Addo sit around all day planning how to punish me if he wins? How absurd. Politics is a high stakes endeavour, but those who are at the top of the totem pole – those who have the most to lose if it comes crashing down – well, they’re simply not as fanatical as those lower down the pecking order. And that, to me, is fascinating.
How many pictures have we seen of Presisent Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo shaking hands, sharing a joke, laughing their heads off together? So if you claim to be following them, why do you have no tolerance for your opponents?
We are heading into a crucial election this year. No Presidential candidate will engage in blows over it. No parliamentary candidate will snatch ballot boxes. No appointee or advisor will carry a machete and go looking for a bloody fight with their competitors. All those things are usually done by fanatical followers – many who have never even met the people in whose name they are ready to kill. I’ve lost count now, of the number of times i’ve said these words: we have not always been blessed with great leaders, but we have always been cursed with excellent followers.
My dear friend, you are smarter than this. Please, let’s go into this election with our eyes open. Let’s go, make our choices and go home. Whomever you support, you can’t insult or fight him or her into office. You can only vote them into office. So do just that and nothing more. The leaders you idolise want nothing more from you. Just your vote. No insults, no violence, just vote. Vote for You.
My name is Kojo Yankson, and elections are about choices. So let’s all choose peace.
GOOD MORNING, GHANAFO!