Thousands held the streets of Accra hostage Wednesday in protest against a military cooperation agreement which they say takes Ghana’s sovereignty hostage.
In a demonstration that bore all the hallmarks of success – numbers, passion, personalities, media – the protesters dramatised their opposition to the deal.
For them, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has turned Ghana’s coat-of-arms into a cup-for-alms. The US giving the first ‘seed money’ of $20 million.
The conveners were mainly leading opposition politicians until government found a way to become an unwitting lead organiser through a rather tactless arrest of an opposition politician Koku Anyidoho.
So right from the Obra Spot at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange, the Akufo-Addo government witnessed its first political demonstration 14 months in power.
They came as early as the 10pesewas-begging-street-preachers. Several former government officials and NDC gurus geared up for a demo that had a health advantage in addition to its political aims.
Spio Garbrah, Hannah Bisiw, James Avedzi, Anita De-Sooso, ABA Fuseini, Dzifa Attivor, Joyce Bawah-Mogtar.
They waited until the entry of NDC General Secretary Asiedu Nketia signalled that the protest machine could now row.
The clamour around the lean, charismatic NDC leader showed his hold on the party is intact even if the party was in tatters following a bad defeat.
It was also a demonstration on wheels, two trailers leading the charge forward. Two spinners installed on them, songs blurred into the crowd, ranging from Ebony to Bob Marley.
The Rastafarian contingent of the protesters who had been singing about Babylon for years were happy to jump in this demo to call out America and Akufo-Addo as Babylons.
But the favourite hit on the trail was Shatta Wale’s Freedom. It loosened the women and the young men to widen their legs and protrude their backsides in sensual acrobatic dance moves.
Right from the blast of the horns, the protesters marched passionately and needed their leaders to urge them to slow down.
This was not Accra Milo Marathon. This was a protest – the slower the march, the greater the public attention, with of course, the collateral damage of frustrated drivers who had to endure heavy, hectic traffic.
Often the protesters would sit on the street and sing jama songs as bored workers run out of their offices to take videos, photos and dance to Ebony’s ‘Mame Hwe’.
Hassan Ayariga made his triumphant entry into the demonstration on the back of a horse. Almost messianic on his high horse, he leaned to grant media interviews and run commentary on the protest.
Occasionally the demonstrators would sing the national anthem – God bless our homeland Ghana- some butchering the lyrics in a musical attack on Ghana’s sovereignty.
A woman preferred silence to the torturous effort of singing the line – ‘the cause of freedom and of right’. She recognised it was better safe than sorry.
Some of the faces were quite familiar to the Montie 3 protest in front of the Supreme Court in 2016. Others were simply interested Ghanaians who just believe the deal is bad, whether they understand the issues involved or not.
A woman said she bathed her children and left them at home to join the demo.
The nearly 4km walk from Obra Spot to the Hearts of Oak park at the Arts Center revealed remarkable stamina of the likes of Dzifa Attivor and Spio Garbrah.
The NDC Unity Walks appear to have installed a stamina app in Joshua Alabi, Spio Garbrah and a host of former government officials in their bye-gone era of V8 Convoys.
In the end, the NDC will frame this demonstration as a pre-Easter success. You could see it on their faces -smiling, hugging, cuddling, hi-fiving each other in a bromance unseen since the electoral defeat that appeared to confound them.
The government did a good thing by bringing a bad 2018 deal to parliament, years after they did a bad thing by keeping a 2015 bad deal from parliament.
Apparently, two wrongs have made the NDC right in demanding that this deal be withdrawn immediately.
Of all the promises they are eager to hold government accountable to, they have actually got the government on the one thing the NPP did not actually promise – a security cooperation between Ghana and the United States.
The NDC would say they have found reasonable motivation from a treasonable comment to hit back at government. And they have also promised to try for treason, the Defence minister who submitted this deal to Ghanaians with little reason.