Ongoing Uprising in Kenya: Lessons for Ghana and The Need for Thoughtful Demonstrations by Bright Ofori

If the current economic challenges, inept governance, and failure to address the needs of the
majority of citizens continue over a period of time, regardless of which government is in power
an uprising and public outcry are likely. I support any cause and call aimed at improving the quality
of life for ordinary citizens. It is essential to carefully consider several factors, including timing,
intentions, and the driving forces behind such calls. For me, and at this point, timing is especially
crucial, as it should be for every law-abiding and patriotic citizen.

An uprising, protest, or riot in Ghana, with the intensity of those happening in Kenya currently,
just three months before an election and the formation of a new government, is not ideal and will
be ineffective. Citizens should not react impulsively before elections, as we have the democratic
option to vote based on genuine feelings, facts and the current economic situation. Without caution,
these demonstrations could be exploited, sponsored, and fueled by individuals, political parties,
and entities with deceptive motives. They might hide behind our genuine intentions for better lives
to fulfill their own agendas and score political points.

Every demonstration must have a specific theme and focus with real meaning which goes beyond
hashtags. For instance, #EndSARS, which was a decentralized social movement and series
of mass protests against police brutality in Nigeria that mainly occurred in 2020. The movement’s
slogan called for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a notorious unit of
the Nigerian Police known for its long record of abuse against Nigerian citizens which was later
dissolved and disbanded few weeks in October 2020. Similarly, the #BlackLivesMatter in the USA
also known as the George Floyd protests, were a series of riots and demonstrations against police
brutality that began in Minneapolis in the United States on May 26, 2020. Currently,
the #RejectTheFinanceBill which is a continuing series of decentralized mass demonstrations in
Kenya opposing a proposed tax hike put forward by the Parliament of Kenya.

In May 2024,Kenya’s Parliament introduced the “2024 Finance Bill,” aimed at restructuring the tax system to address national debt. The bill is facing significant criticism, particularly from younger Kenyans
alarmed by the tax increases, who have been instrumental in guiding the protests. Recently in
Ghana, #HandsOffOurHotels protest which urged the government to stop the sale of sixty
percent shares of SSNIT hotels to a company owned by a government minister.

While almost every protest ultimately is a call to improve the lives of citizens, with the supposed
upcoming protest in September in Ghana – just three months before national elections (as seen on
social media) – what exactly is the theme? What specific cause are we fighting against or
demanding to be implemented? We missed out on addressing issues like the bills on e-levy,
COVID-19 levy, SML scandal, and many other specifics, including allegations of grand corruption
cases. The worst outcome and alternative now would be to award our President the dubious honor
and “noble-prize” of the worst Ghanaian leader ever. Posterity should judge him in the future as
we judge him as a failed president now. There is also the option to vote against his ally, party, and
favored candidate in the next election.
Some may argue there is no bad time to seek good governance and quality of life from leaders.
While this may be true, exercising wisdom and being strategic in executing noble causes at the
right time makes these efforts more rewarding and successful. Wise men understand the
importance of timing in their actions. I support demonstrations and calls for change until we see
progress in making Ghana the country we dream of – Nkrumah’s Ghana. Our country, over the last
two decades, has not made substantial progress. Successive governments have performed below
average, but this current government is even worse.
To our leaders and those in power: always remember that when patience ends, defiance and
rebellion begin.
A luta continua; vitória é certa.
Bright Ofori
Youth Advocate
Founder, The Bright Future Alliance