Ongoing uprising in Kenya: Lessons for Ghana and the need for thoughtful demonstrations

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If the current economic challenges, inept governance, and failure to address the needs of the majority of citizens continue over a period of time, regardless of which government is in power, an uprising and public outcry are likely. I support any cause and call aimed at improving the quality of life for ordinary citizens. It is essential to carefully consider several factors, including timing, intentions, and the driving forces behind such calls.

For me, and at this point, timing is especially crucial, as it should be for every law abiding and patriotic citizen. An uprising, protest, or riot in Ghana, with the intensity of those happening in Kenya currently, just six months to an election and the formation of a new government, is not ideal and will be ineffective.

Citizens should not react impulsively before elections, as we have the democratic option to vote based on genuine feelings, facts and the current economic situation. Without caution, these demonstrations could be exploited, sponsored, and fueled by individuals, political parties, and entities with deceptive motives.

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Bright Ofori

They might hide behind our genuine intentions for better lives to fulfill their own agendas and score political points. Every demonstration must have a specific theme and focus, with real meaning which goes beyond hashtags. For instance, #EndSARS, which was a decentralised social movement and series of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria that mainly occurred in 2020.

The movement’s slogan called for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of the Nigerian Police known for its long record of abuse against Nigerian citizens which was later dissolved and disbanded few weeks in October 2020. Similarly, the #BlackLivesMatter in the USA also known as the George Floyd protests, were a series of riots and demonstrations against police brutality that began in Minneapolis in the United States on May 26, 2020. The #RejectTheFinanceBill is a continuing series of decentralised mass demonstrations in Kenya that opposed a proposed tax hike put forward by the Parliament of Kenya.

In May 2024, Kenya’s Parliament introduced the “2024 Finance Bill,” aimed at restructuring the tax system to address national debt. The bill is facing significant criticism, particularly from younger Kenyans alarmed by the tax increases, who have been instrumental in guiding the protests. Recently in Ghana was the #HandsOffOurHotels protest which urged the government to stop the sale of sixty percent shares of SSNIT hotels to a company owned by a government minister.

While almost every protest ultimately is a call to improve the lives of citizens, with the supposed upcoming protest in September in Ghana – just three months before national elections (as seen on social media) – what exactly is the theme? What specific cause are we fighting against or demanding to be implemented? We missed out on addressing issues like the bills on e-levy, COVID-19 levy, SML scandal, and many other specifics, including allegations of grand corruption cases.

The worst outcome and alternative now would be to award our President the dubious honor and “noble-prize” of the worst Ghanaian leader ever. Posterity should judge him in the future as we judge him as a failed president now. There is also the option to vote against his ally, party, and favored candidate in the next election. Some may argue there is no bad time to seek good governance and quality of life from leaders. While this may be true, exercising wisdom and being strategic in executing noble causes at the right time makes these efforts more rewarding and successful.

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Mass protest in Kenya led to the killing of demonstrators by armed security men

Wise men understand the importance of timing in their actions. I support demonstrations and calls for change until we see progress in making Ghana the country we dream of – Nkrumah’s Ghana.

Our country, over the last two decades, has not made substantial progress. Successive governments have performed below average, but this current government is even worse. To our leaders and those in power: always remember that when patience ends, defiance and rebellion begin.

A luta continua; vitória é certa. Bright Ofori Youth Advocate Founder, The Bright Future Alliance @IAmBrightOfori.

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