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Update from Amanda Lewis in Ghana: “Peace”

amanda-lewis-venturer-more-than-nets-vbmbAmanda Lewis serves as Venturer in Ghana in support of More Than Nets.

She posted this entry on her blog today. Be sure to check out her past posts to see what’s happening!

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Wednesday everything was quiet in Yendi. In a town that has more than 50,000 residents and equally as many cows, sheep, and goats, quite is a noticeable departure from the everyday hustle.

The police trucks were seen driving to fuel up, but they were some of the only vehicles on the roads. Everyone was waiting.

The Presidential Election of 2012 was a close race here, so close that when accusations of voter fraud were levied against the winning party, the case was taken to court.

The party which lost the election by a small margin believed that if evidence was shown that some of these votes were illegitimate the results of the election could be overturned placing their candidate in power, or if necessary sending the whole country back to the ballot box.

This case was in the Ghanaian Supreme Court for months. Though I do not have a television here the only thing that I’ve seen people watching on television other than soccer and Nigerian films are news broadcasts focusing on the developments of the case.

After eight months of trials the court adjourned. Throughout the case there were a handful of unruly figures who were clamoring for retaliation. Even though each party’s political figures spoke out against those who were trying to incite violence, the potential for chaos could not be ignored.

The announcement of the verdict was delayed, with that period of time set aside to intentionally campaign for peace. The media was saturated with the message of peace, and politicians called for their constituents to accept the verdict no matter what the ruling. The churches here in Ghana were in the mix, too.

Instead of choosing sides, there were sermons on the importance of peace, prayer vigils and in one area a sex strike so that the Christians could spend the allotted time praying for the safety of the people of Ghana.

Thursday morning the nation collectively held their breath. The clouds opened up, and the rain poured down on Yendi. The street in front of my house was empty, and the only person that I saw moving around was the police officer who lives next door heading to work.

A little after lunch time the verdict was released: the current president would remain in power. While there were people who were happy, and others who were sad, most importantly there was peace across the nation.

This is the first time in the history of the Ghanaian government that the Supreme Court has handled a case of this magnitude. Though the eyes of the world were turned elsewhere, West Africa was watching.

Ghana was the first of the West African countries to gain independence from its colonial oppressors, and its economy has developed farther than the majority of its neighbors, making it a role model for other African nations.

While I know little of Ghanaian politics, my interest is vested in the public reaction to the verdict, instead of the verdict itself. This is something to be celebrated: they chose peace.

The people of Ghana have been able to put the health and safety of their fellow countrymen ahead of their own political ambitions. There was potential for utter chaos, but there was no bloodshed.

Today is Friday, and in spite of the drizzle, life in Yendi has spilled back onto the streets. People have returned to the market, kids are running up and down the street, and for one of my coworkers, music blared from speakers outside of his house as he and his wife hosted a naming ceremony for their first child.

Today is a day to celebrate. We celebrate the birth of a beautiful baby girl, and even more than that we celebrate that she was born in a beautiful country that chose peace.