I knew I was in trouble when I hummed “Stand up, stand up for Jesus” to myself on my way to work and found myself singing, “From victory unto victory, the NDC …” I quickly stopped myself, a shy smile spreading across my face. In the moment, I also remembered I’d heard the NDP’s anthem, a corruption of “Will your anchor hold?” Sadly, the politics of the day had infiltrated my mind and I was swept up by the national mood.
Everywhere you go, there’s one politician or the other on a poster, banner or billboard smiling, coaxing, promising the world, the sky and moon dust, just so on 7th December, I put my fingerprint against his face.
At Dzorwulu Junction, just opposite Fiesta Royale Hotel, the president’s face is all grim seriousness on a green background. Another one, I thought to myself when I first saw it. Like a mind-reader, a perfect stranger, also risking his life speeding across the George Bush Motorway with me, shook his head in obvious frustration. He was mumbling, “Another signboard. The things that are important, they won’t do them.” I made the mistake of making eye contact. In Accra, you don’t need to know someone to share your thoughts with them. “When Atta Mills died,” he continued, “they put his picture there. Then they put the old and new presidents together. Then President Mahama was raising his hands. Now this one!” I nodded in agreement. It looked like the pictures were changed weekly! I listened with the attention of a psychologist.
We walked on, like two long-lost buddies catching up on experiences at the hands of wicked school seniors. “Massa, four years ago, I was campaigning for them. Today, look at me. I’m still taking trotro!” I wasn’t amused by the last bit. It directly affected me as well. How apt, that he should say this just as we got into a battered trotro that would drop me right in front of my office. Thankfully, that was the end of the conversation.
One morning, as the mate shouted himself hoarse at Shiashie for passengers to Kwashieman, the driver chatted excitedly with a friend under the shade of the bus-stop. The panellists on Radio Gold were lambasting Lawyer Atta Akyea, if I remember right, while rigidly defending the government’s position on whatever it was they found so important. “Away, away!” the mate shouted. The driver slowly climbed in, bumping his head to a song only he could hear. He was a beefy youth, perhaps only having earned his own elevated status as driver weeks ago. Staring down at the radio in disgust, he changed the station as an irate caller launched into an argument.
Cries of protest followed quickly. He would have none of it. “Driver, put it back! We’re listening!” one agitated commuter shouted from behind. Speak for yourself, I shot back in my head. The driver casually shook his gear as he replied, “We don’t listen to politics in my car.” End of story. Some complained. I wasn’t quite in favour of Miss Naa’s off-colour jokes and quirky comments on Y FM either, but that morning, anything was better than a bunch of self-seeking politicians on either side of the divide building castles in the air, while getting the populace excited about grandiose plans which too often have gone up in smoke.
It’s amazing how some people need to know what every aspirant has said on the remotest of campaign platforms. I once had the misfortune of sitting beside a middle-aged man with a crackling radio glued to his ear. He listened attentively. To me, it was just an inconvenient nuisance. A politician was being interviewed by the radio host. I couldn’t recognise the voices. I reasoned that my fellow passenger would no doubt be casting his vote against the ruling party on election morning. He would be one of the many who would queue from 4am, impatiently waiting to exercise his franchise like a primary school boy who badly needed to pee. He was seething. From the way he was voicing his displeasure at the radio it was clear that nothing the government did pleased him. He had all the answers to the nation’s ills. Thankfully, I was rid of him when I got down three minutes later. Only God knows what happened to his temperature as we passed a row of NDC flags lining the Tetteh Quarshie Interchange.
The excitement is gathering momentum. Commuters who have never seen each other are freely declaring their stance, and spreading the gospel of their chosen party when they can. Clearly, the era of “My vote is my secret” is over. Minds are made up. Now can we just get it over with and return to our lives?