Recent debates over the costs for the National Awards that took place on July 3rd in Accra make me think of the campaign in my birth country long before I was born where social democrats fought for social benefits before medals to the affluent. It seems like that is still a battle that needs to be fought.
Apparently only the medals for this big gala with the theme "Branding Ghana for a Prosperous Future" cost more than 1,4 million USD. Of course that annoys people in a country with many, many problems that could be helped significantly by that same amount.
Not surprisingly, the sitting president defends the the gala and claims all the medals were "legitimate" and "constitutional".
Its been a whole circus, starting when the opposition leader was nominated for a big medal and later turned down the honor. Others were happier saying that this exercise proved that Ghana was a real democracy. Then there were information that there had been no bidding for the medals, then that the contract, and thus cost, was given to provide medals not just for this year, but for the following two. However, the biggest discussion has been around the most expensive piece of gold, the "Grand Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana" or the medal President Kufuor created for himself - as the newspapers write, he himself suggests it is an insignia which each new President will be given as he or she is sworn into office, to be worn on all formal national occasions and be given a replica when stepping down only if desired.
The president's spokesman's addition to the same discussion was not convincing:
"We hope no one is suggesting that the State Chain to compliment this sword should come in brass."
- Ehrm, yes! Brass would have been wise and done more for the "Branding of Ghana" than the dusty ol'image now provided of an Africa with leaders in gold chains and big palaces oblivious to the strife outside the castle walls.
Pic of the discussed piece of gold, borrowed and slightly cropped from ghanaweb.com
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