Nigeria, Zambia, Liberia, Cameroon are just some African countries that have held elections this year. As the documentary An African Election is screened at LSE on Wednesday, are there any lessons for future elections on the continent?
Ghana’s position as a leader in Africa is indisputable. The West African country was the first sub-Saharan nation to win its independence in 1957. In recent decades, it has been hailed as a model for the continent for its political stability and economic progress.
Yet, elections anywhere in Africa are always accompanied by nervous apprehension. This was indeed the situation in 2008 when Ghanaian voters paid their quadrennial visit to the polls to choose a new president.
Before 2008, there had been only one peaceful transfer of power. That was when JJ Rawlings of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) stood down after two terms in office in 2000 to make way for the new President John Kufuor of the National People’s Party (NPP). Could there be a repeat in 2008 as Kufuor himself prepared to give way after eight years as the spearhead of Ghanaian politics?
It is this process that the feature-length documentary, An African Election followed back in 2008 and it will be screened at LSE on Wednesday.
The rhetoric, as you can imagine, was fierce and infused with imagery.
“Do you want to go forward or do you want to go back?” NPP presidential candidate Nana Akufo Addo tells a huge rally of supporters.
His NDC counterpart, Professor John Atta Mills counters: “Do you want to move forward with lies?”
“Ladies and gentlemen, December 7th, protect your ballot boxes the way you would protect and defend your mother,” urges JJ Rawlings, on the campaign trail for his former Vice-President Mills.
For the Swiss-born director, Jarreth Merz, this was a labour of love. The 41-year-old spent seven years of his childhood living in Ghana in the seventies and can trace his lineage to the Ashanti tribe through his grandmother.
After a 28-year absence, Merz wanted to see how the country had progressed. What started out as a personal film about nostalgia became a story of the journey of a nation.
The product is an award-winning film that will be screened at LSE on Wednesday 23 November at 1730 in LG.08 of the New Academic Building. This event will be unticketed, so arrive early to secure a seat.
Watch the trailer
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