On the Dumsornomics of OccupyGhana on Twitter

“If the frog tells you that the crocodile is dead, do not doubt it.”

I start with this quote from my Ghanaian elders because it is perfect for the occasion. When “we” went on the #OccupyGhana demonstration some months ago, we were met with insults and mockery. Not only from politicians in government, which was expected, but from ordinary young Ghanaians – our “friends” on twitter.

I’ve thought long and hard about posting screenshots that illustrate this, and I have decided it is not necessary. One of my personal favourites was “Go and occupy wo na” which literally means “Go and occupy your mother — it’s more insulting that it seems (lol). There were also several snide remarks about OccupyGhana being a “middle class protest” and declared that the people demonstrating shouldn’t be complaining because “they were rich”.

I was surprised, no, shocked… but as I thought more about it, the shock began to wear off. Of course there were the tweets from young people who were benefiting or had always benefited from the rot because their parents/ relatives were in positions of authority, and these people were easy to read. However, there were other people who shouldn’t have been so “relaxed” about the state of their nation’s economy. My best guess is that they were either drawn by a desire to fit in, impress internet peers or were indifferent. These young people, out of school and either jobless or in a crappy job – or people who are directly affected by government indifference or mismanagement – were very eager to rack up cool points online by mocking this demonstration.

In the past month however, there has been a transformation. I keep seeing tweets like “When is the next occupy demonstration? This time around, I will go” from some of these same people. This transformation is, as far as I see it, generally a response to the worsening power situation – 24 hours off and 12 hours on in many places in Accra and Kumasi at my last check.

“If the frog tells you that the crocodile is dead, do not doubt it” means that a frog, who lives in water with the crocodile is in the best position to confirm Miss Crocodile’s death.

So therefore, if “middle class Ghanaians” who should be comfortable in their wealth, stage a non-partisan protest about the state of the nation, you better have a good reason to think that it is pointless or should be dismissed.

I hope we will all be wiser in the future.

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4 thoughts on “On the Dumsornomics of OccupyGhana on Twitter

  1. I disagree with you on this, Kuukuwa. And I hope I won’t be labelled as another bitter young Ghanaian stuck in a “crappy job”.

    I remember that day very well. I also remember tweeting about the OccupyGhana protests; it seemed from the onset to be a gathering of cool kids with “a desire to fit in, impress internet peers” or “rack up cool points online”. And this was confirmed by subsequent events such as the appearance of the cheerleaders on Al Jazeera and the BBC. These relatively well-off professionals didn’t fail to impress upon us how their cool lifestyles have been interrupted by the worsening power cuts. Mind you, the media also captured it as a middle-class protest because it wasn’t that difficult spotting the absence of the seamstress whose shop has been closed for days now because of power cuts or the teacher who now must deal with the dread of paying taxes and still mark assignments in darkness and walk miles to fetch water!

    I’m young. I’m also friends with some of the people behind the OccupyGhana protest. I’m optimistic about Ghana’s future, but I won’t settle for this piecemeal, incremental approach to progress. We want change now, but that change must be inclusive of all Ghanians. How do you stage a protest in Accra and not directly engage the University of Ghana students, one of the finest voices for dissent in this country? The very nature of democracy — and by that I mean it’s design — suggests that it needs an educated and active citizenry for it to work. Granted, change is sometimes driven from the top, but the nature of the problems facing Ghana is such that our calls must mirror the fabric of the Ghanaian society.

    So it’s nice seeing our usually apathetic — growing, albeit small — middle-class lead the calls for change. I agree with you that there has been a transformation and we all want to be involved in this process, but let’s do so with some respect for differing views on how we approach these issues.

    • 1. You sat going through social media posts about the upcoming protest hoping to get a personal invitation requesting your presence at the protest? Really?
      2. Your ” I won’t settle for this piecemeal, incremental approach to progress” followed by “the very nature of democracy” actually made me laugh out loud, sorry. What do you think is the “very nature of democracy”? And if an educated citizen like yourself dismissed a protest as middle class because some “cool kids” annoyed or intimidated you, then education might not necessarily be the key here, don’t you think?
      3. I think it’s time for you to accept that there are rich people and there are poor people, as well as all sorts in between. That is life. And the fact that someone is rich in Ghana doesn’t make the government less accountable to them. This is part of having a democracy. Middle class citizen have every right to voice their concerns too.

      And in conclusion, if they ask the government to do better, and the government does better, doesn’t that also help the seamstress and teacher you seem so concerned about?

  2. So to bring this to closure, I gather that:

    1. You do agree that the OccupyGhana protest was organized by some rich people for their middle class friends. And that, that’s a fact I must learn to accept and live with. Fair.

    2. You also think that my point about democracy is inconsistent with my concerns about this trickle-down progress you’re advocating; let the middle class be heard first and then the working class. Well, democracy wasn’t designed to tolerate a bastion of middle class chauvinism and it’s accompanying trickle-down progress. Of course, like I mentioned, there are competing interests, but we can — and we must — always make room for all.

    3. And you also think that it wasn’t education that prevented others from showing up at the OccupyGhana protest, but rather apathy, or worse hate/envy. hmm…..

    Anyhow, it’s nice that we can at least debate these things without someone knocking on our doors. It’s early days, but if we can have such conversations more often, then maybe next time we’ll all turn up for OccupyGhana.

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