During the last year, as I joined Ambassador Gene Cretz to pay courtesy calls on Ghanaian government officials and politicians, one thing which struck me was the constant reference to President Obama's visit and his speech in Accra in 2009. For most people, President Obama's call to build strong institutions in Africa was most intriguing.
Most people I have met in Ghana indicate that the destinies of the United States and Ghana have increasingly become intertwined. Earlier in the month, as I witnessed President Mahama's inauguration, I wondered how Ghanaians viewed their inauguration vis-à-vis ours. On Facebook, we asked how Ghanaians viewed the U.S. inauguration and President Obama's second term. We received some interesting responses from over 60 Ghanaians. Whilst congratulating President Obama, some also drew comparisons between the United States' and Ghana's inaugurations, while others held greater hope for deeper engagement.
Yesterday, about 30 young Ghanaians joined me and other mission staff to watch the 57th U.S. Presidential Inauguration. The discussion that followed was rich and memorable. Here are some highlights from our discussion:
Alhassan Suhuyini, a broadcast journalist, told me that he is looking forward to what "the U.S. can do with Africa" rather than what "the U.S. can do for Africa" in the second Obama administration.
Mary Nartey, a Legal Officer at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice, was touched by President Obama's mention of ensuring equal rights for gays and lesbians. Sharing her experience from a trip to the United States, she said Ghana could also continue the discourse to ensure equal rights for every human being irrespective of sexual orientation or gender.
The theme of "unity" is what touched Jemila Abdulai, a graduate student and blogger. Likening it to President Mahama's inaugural address a few weeks ago, she is interested to see how the unity talked about will be achieved in the coming years in the face of the political divides in both countries. She wondered whether Ghana will take any cues from the United States.
With all the thought provoking comments made in response to the inauguration speech, it occurs to me that these are precisely the people that President Obama seeks to inspire. These young Ghanaians and opinion shapers have the vision, drive, and openness to address any challenge which comes Ghana's way, and our quest shall be to create durable partnerships and encourage hope to persevere and innovate.