Written By Prof. Agyeman Badu Akosa - I have admired Akua Donkor from a distance. In a country such as Ghana where snobbery from the educated class is so sharp and caustic, I can only doff my hat to her and state to Ghanaians that we take life so seriously that we miss out on a lot of fundamental issues.
My admiration was further boosted by meeting her face to face and having a chat with her. On a Tuesday morning in August, I had checked in early for the Delta flight to JFK airport, New York, only to be told the flight time had been delayed for almost two hours. Instead of 9.15 a.m., we were now to leave at 10.50 a.m.
Akua Donkor (in a lovely Kente cloth) was at the airport too. She had in her company a young lady probably less than 20 years and a young man I assumed was her accompanying interpreter. My first reaction when I saw her was to state what has become her signature tune, "Nye no no," to which she responded with glee. I then approached her to ask where she was going and she said she was going to America.
I asked her what had been her reaction to the numerous media and political attacks on her and the President as a result of the visit to Italy with the President. She smiled and candidly said she does not understand why people cannot appreciate the fact that the tour had a lot to do with agriculture and she, as an accomplished farmer, was there to put the case for the practical side of agriculture in Ghana.
She indicated that somehow many people believe that if you do not have formal education then you are not sensible and deride her almost as if she is dumb, but she is an accomplished farmer, financed her campaign to become an assemblywoman and also through farming has managed to form her political party.
It is really not her fault that she did not go to school. In countries where education is compulsory and they make sure every citizen goes to school, every citizen goes to school and the likes of Akua Donkor who have the innate or natural ability to stand up for what they believe in then stand out. It is indeed snobbery to mock or laugh at persons who through no fault of theirs have been dealt a blow by the country Ghana and have contributed in no small way to some of us getting an education.
Let us examine what Akua Donkor has been able to achieve despite the setback of no education. She took to farming and has worked her socks off and, as she indicated, campaigned to become an assemblywoman and did her best for her community. She felt she had more in her and was determined to do more and so formed her political party to fight to become the number one servant for the country.
Having registered her party, she filed at the Electoral Commission but was disqualified for not completing the form properly. Undaunted, she aligned herself with another political party to continue to make herself relevant. Throughout the campaign, she held her own and did herself proud. The aftermath and the case of the Tundra was for me a further test of her nerves and resilience.
Post-election, she has continued in her endeavours, aligning herself with the ruling government, but having her say when she felt she had to do so, much to the annoyance of many in opposition and some on the government side. She is invited to every stakeholder meeting, including Senchi and the recent Electoral Commission forum on the voters register.
When she got up to speak, there were many who failed to listen to her but started laughing even before she could utter a word. She persevered nevertheless and made her point in a roundabout way. She did not think in such a short time we needed to change the voters register and she had made that plain to her Ghanaian audience in America.
The question I ask is: How many educated Ghanaian women can have the courage to do what Akua Donkor has done? The boldness to be able to say that even though English is the medium of communication and I do not speak it, I should be able to make my case in Asante Twi and that can be translated into any language in the world.
Let us recognise people for what is positive about them. I look forward to the day when another Ghanaian woman, well educated, articulate will confound all of us. For now, Akua Donkor has stolen the show and it is important that we recognise that rather than attempt to patronise her.
Is not possible for one of our designers to adopt this formidable woman and make her a model in our Ghanaian print? She will do ever so well because she is always in local cloth and can make a designer proud. In our chance meeting at the airport, I noticed that her seamstress did not do her justice, but all that can change. More grease to her elbow and to her detractors, think of what you can do for your country and do not detest those who make an effort.
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