It’s an election year again and the peace messages have already begun. In a religious country which prides herself with the peace enjoyed through both civilian and military rule, religious leaders still maintain their relevance in the Ghanaian political environment; only coming under the radar to stay apolitical. The military, knowing how powerful they can be in our part of the world and looking back at our history, are still relevant. Working with other security forces, they maintain peace and order and ensure incident free elections. We know what else they are capable of.
The most important group we look up to in this time is the media. They can make and unmake the development chalked to this point. They, however, don’t want to lose their spot in the political discourse and are eagerly battling the ambiguous legislative instrument to control media content. Through our independence and post-independence era, one true voice that has continuously waned in its relevance especially in the fourth republic is the veracious voice of the youth echoed in student movements.
In 2015, students in South Africa scored a big victory after plans to raise university fees were scrapped after weeks of nationwide protests while black students in Ivy League schools in the US campaigned against racism. We had a glimpse of our own version here in Ghana with the payment of utilities led by various SRCs and NUGS showing signs of life. Though most student activism focuses on schools, curriculum and educational funding, much can be done politically; from influencing policies that affect the youth to questioning and fighting against decisions that put the future of the nation, which is the youth’s future, on a dark path.
Student activism is a platform that has groomed politicians some of which we admire till date. Kwame Nkrumah remains the idol of many. After leading the West African Students Union, he matured to break the chains of colonial rule in Ghana and spearheaded the dream of total liberation of Africa. Student movements at some point in our political history fought to restore constitutional rule; notably during the regime of the National Liberation Council (NLC) giving way to Dr. Busia’s Progress Party.
However, student activism is quite costly. The time to fight for a course other than concentrating on your academics might push many away. The fear of rustication for stepping on the toes of the “big men” is inevitable but the big men might also have infiltrated the student front already. TESCON and TEIN have become leaders in the political discourse among the youth but their views are evidently polarized to favor their mother-parties. Have all these factors contributed to the silence of a vibrant student front?
Although student movements have been characterized by violent protests and destruction in the past, it is important that the voice of the youth is peacefully heard once again making constructive contributions to the political discourse. The year has just begun. We wait to see what our future leaders have for Ghana.