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She may have been crushed but she is BOLD   
 
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15-Jul-2011  
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Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings
 
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We have all one way or the other, probably sympathized, laughed or snidely remarked on the monumental Ďfallí of the one and only Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, a former first lady of our proud country during the just ended NDC congress.

I strongly believe that no Ghanaian, man or woman would, at this moment, want to be in her position - a resounding defeat, not only in the face of party members but the whole nation including her lovely husband and children. Indeed the bitterest pill for anyone to swallow.

She sat there with her daughter as her only companion, on the podium, completely ignored and unacknowledged as voting took place. Letís not forget we are talking about the wife of the founder of the National Democratic Congress, Flt Ltd Jerry John Rawlings (Rtd).

A woman whose presence at any function in Ghana, once upon a time, evoked spontaneous and rapturous cheers from Ghanaians Ė now sitting down lonely among a crowd of over 4000 people?

She was and still is the President of the 31st December Womenís Movement; a woman who is noted as the unforgettable driving force behind the promotion of the economic and socio-political status of women in Ghana. This woman; completely crushed? Unbelievable!

Like my mother always tells me... ďAll things will pass except the word of GodĒÖ it sounds more poignant when she says it in Twi. But I digress.

People, Nana Konadu is the woman we are talking about. She has been on the front-page of every newspaper, the topic on most radio and television stations during the past few days.

Tongues are wagging uncontrollably upon these recent events. Some say that her gender inherently even destroyed her chances of ever being president, others criticize her audacity to contest a sitting President, did she think the mandate to lead the party was her God-given right?; and the prophets among them predict Nana and family may likely never recover from this blow.

That notwithstanding, it looks like Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings happens to be the name on everyoneís lips although President Mills is now the flag bearer of the NDC. It is as though sheís been made famous all over again.

Not because she threw an extravagant party or she bought a ridiculously expensive ring, no, she stood for an election that was to determine the future of the ruling party and perhaps the whole country. How many Ghanaian women can boast of such a feat? How many of us can face such overwhelming opposition?

I watched the controlled, composed woman as she made her way onto the platform, smiling, ready to take on the PRESIDENT of the country, all I could think was ďThis woman has got some iron balls" (excuse my French). Sheís BOLD alright.Ē

Do not think me a FONKAR or an NDC member. I have nothing to gain from writing about this woman nor have I been wronged by her. It is definitely non-partisan. This is purely one woman trying to understand and see life through another womanís eyes.

How did she feel? Was it an easy decision to contest in the first place? How did she take the lukewarm reception by members at the congress ground? Did she feel vulnerable or scared at any point? How is her family coping with all of this? With all these questions and thoughts in mind and being a woman myself, I canít help but admire and commend this woman on her bravery and resolve.

What an exciting life sheís had! Itís almost enviable.

You will agree with me that everyone craves some sense of normalcy; to wake up, go to work ordinarily and unnoticed, to come back home to your lawyer or clerk of a husband and your two little children; nothing dramatic right? Wrong.

That has not been Nana Konaduís life, not when your job for some nineteen years was not only to manage your home but to assist your husband run the country! She doesnít stop there and decides to be president? Mrs. Rawlings has certainly not led a dormant life.

Do not also forget, that an election of any kind is no small business. I remember when I was in secondary school, in the final term of my second year, I stood for the position of an entertainment prefect (before you express your surprise, let me tell you that I was quite the dancer. Iím old and gray now).

For the first time in my life I was moving from class to class campaigning, making posters trying to convince others to vote for me. My nerves were on an ultra high.

Everyday till the voting day was trying and nerve-wracking. I remember how pretentious people were back then.

Although it looked likely that I would win and I did (a personal achievement I cherish dearly), it was something I hope never go through again.

You see thereís nothing more frightening than being in a position that puts you at the mercy of others especially when your intentions are noble.

So friends try multiplying this election anxiety by a hundred, after that maximize it to a national level and what do you get? For me, it would be a total mental breakdown or serious high blood pressure! Keep in mind that Nana Konadu is not a young lady anymore.

The point Iím trying to make is that I believe that the former first lady must be applauded and celebrated for sheer guts and spirit if for nothing else.

Itís common knowledge that in Africa and most parts of the world, women have struggled to find a voice, a place to positively assert themselves; to be heard and respected; to function, not just as a woman whose purpose in life has already been defined before she even began to understand what it was; a struggle that persists still.

This is what Nana Konadu rallied against on the 9th of July, 2011 in Sunyani.

No one thought she could do it. Many said she did not have a proper measure of what she was getting into.
Between you and I, reader, I actually hoped she would concede with the last shred of dignity she had left.

But she did not run; she went ahead regardless. She went forth and practically surrendered her political future into the hands of the party delegates, even when she had been asked by some to step down.

As I write this, most of us are even wondering what the future holds for Mrs. Rawlings in the NDC.

At the end of it all, when Nana Konadu turned to leave the stage, trampled and alone, I became ashamed of my own faithless thoughts. I was ashamed that I found myself resigning to the fact that this is how it would always be; that the Ghanaian woman could only go as far as society would let her. What did she expect?

However as the days passed with the topic of the former first lady raging on, from parliamentarians to market women, I started to see what the real fuss was about. The woman had crossed the line. She had pushed boundaries; violated the status quo. She had undertaken a challenge no Ghanaian woman had dared to take; hate it or love it, youíve got to hand it to her, she is something, isnít she?

This isnít a feminine stance but the truth is that to contest for a position in a bid to run for President is an exploit many men and women would cower from.

Forget the politics; forget who is NDC loyal, who is anti-Rawlings; who is winning and who is not. Frankly, I find Ghanaian politics tiring, but itís one thing to have a conviction (a big one at that), it is another to carry it through to the very end against all odds.

When I think of Mrs. Rawlings, I reluctantly give in to that existential part of me that believes, to some extent, that human life only becomes meaningful when we breathe essence, determination, inspiration and purpose into it. If we do not do this, then life really makes no sense. I believe this woman embodies this perception.

For me, it is not her political endeavors that astound or interest me but rather the principles that were fundamental to those political choices. Those principles are the very things young men and women should strive for.

If people could put aside their personal and political prejudices, they would see that Nana Konadu is a woman who has simply made the most of life, making maximum use of opportunities presented her; that she has attained heights women all over the world, until recently, had been denied.

Nana Konadu, in my opinion, epitomizes valor and strength of a thousand people, a trait we all must try to inculcate and nurture. She lost but she will not be forgotten. After all isnít that what life is about?
Making a mark? Leaving a footprint?

I donít know about you but Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings struck a chord in me. I must confess Iím inspired and so should you. Like Albert Schweitzer rightly said:

ďAt times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within usĒ.

The former first ladyís experience should not discourage you or incite pity or joy; I think it should serve as catalyst to motivate you to do better; to understand that the bigger picture is never really out of reach and if it goes sour, hey whatís the worst that could happen? Trust me, the humiliation will pass.

Think about this though, it is highly probable that your unborn children will one day learn about Nana Konadu in the history books. Will they read about you too, I wonder. Admit it, she may be defeated but she certainly is Bold. Be bold!
 
 
Source: Kwakyewaa Owusu-Nyantakyi
 
 

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